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Concert Reviews and Interviews:  Nine Days

Interview by: Mike Farley

It's been a couple of years since Sony recording artists Nine Days released their major label debut, The Madding Crowd. Since then they have toured extensively and enjoyed the success of the record. Most recently they have been putting the finishing touches on their sophomore album for Sony. 

I had the chance to talk to Jeremy Dean, keyboard player for the band, about life as a musician, sports and babes.


Mike Farley: You guys have been busy in the studio working on your second release for Sony. When is it expected to hit the streets?

Jeremy Dean:
We're still not too sure about the street date yet, but we're hoping sometime this summer for the album and maybe late spring for the single.

What are the immediate plans for promotion and touring?

We'll probably start up with the more serious touring right around the time the single hits radio. That gives us a great reason to get out there and support our upcoming album.

The studio you are recording at is in Los Angeles. What studio and who is producing the record?

We did drums, bass and some guitars at NRG in LA, and we did keys, vocals, and the rest of the guitars and guest appearances at House of Blues Studio in Encino. Ron Aniello is producing. He's probably best known for co-writing and producing Lifehouse-No Name Face.

MF: We are a sports-oriented Website. Our readers are going to love the fact that the studio has a batting cage. Was this a good release during the down time?

John (Hampson, vocals and guitar) and I are baseball and softball fanatics. When we're home, Sunday mornings are always about softball. The batting cage at the studio was definitely awesome. Any time you needed to let off a little steam, there it was. We went to a local batting cage and just started getting faster and faster. By the time we left, we were hitting 80 mile-an-hour fastballs. I was pretty proud of that for a musician.

Are any of Nine Days' members big sports fans otherwise?

Brian (Desveaux, vocals and guitar) is a hockey fanatic and both John and Brian love football. The Dallas Cowboys to be exact. I'm pretty much a baseball fan. Detroit Tigers are my team, but they're not too hot right now. Spending most of my life in New York has made me a fan of the NY teams too. I'll root for the Mets then the Yankees, but I'm always happy to see a NY team win. John is a Mets and Red Sox fan, and Brian likes the Yankees. The other two guys aren't too much into sports although Nick (Dimichino, bass guitarist) likes to watch the ESPN baseball highlights and I think he roots for the Yankees.

I also see that John Hampson, one of your singers, issued a softball challenge to anyone wanting to face you guys when you're on tour. Care to comment on that?

Like I said, we love softball. Honestly, our road crew isn't big enough to put up a whole team, but he and I will vouch for any challenge made on our behalf. We like the celebrity softball games until people start goofing off. I think we're just too serious about the sport.

MF: You had some pretty awesome success when "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)" became a hit. Did that change all of your lives instantly and how?

Honestly, there was no instant change. We were still the same five guys except we heard ourselves on the radio and saw ourselves on TV sometimes. It almost seems like someone else though once it's out there. What did change was the amount of time we were on the road. We toured pretty much straight for most of a year. Seeing people there to hear you play was a really big deal too. It was inspiring and flattering at the same time.

Do you remember where you were when you first heard "Absolutely" on the radio?

I remember hearing an acoustic version of it after we had just played a tiny gig at a tiny bar and grill where we were stuffed into a corner and we couldn't even set up all of our stuff. We were leaving that and driving around with a safety cone on the top of our van and laughing every time we'd pass a store window and see the vans new "hat." All of a sudden in the middle of nowhere, there's John singing a previously taped acoustic version of the song. That's when it hit me that this thing really might have a shot.

What's the biggest crowd you've ever played in front of? Where and how did it feel?

I'd say Madison Square Garden at the Z-100 Jingle Ball 2000. It felt great. Like the prodigal sons return kind of thing. Nothing can really compare to the adrenaline rush you'll get from and audience like that. It makes your heart swell and your skin tingle.

MF: Any funny stories from the road?

I remember we were playing a radio show in South Carolina with a bunch of heavy bands. We went on right after Disturbed and before Fuel and STP. A few people were throwing things at the stage, which will happen at any concert. John was so adept at catching and deflecting these items that he actually won over a pretty heavy crowd within the first couple of songs. All except for one 14-year-old kid who kept throwing stuff. So John says into the mike in front of 10,000 to 15,000 people. "I see you...right're about 14 years old. (Kid's laughing and elbowing his friends.) How would you like to get your ass kicked by the guy who wrote 'Story of a Girl?' (The audience roars...kid looks around nervously while his friends inch away.) You throw one more thing and I'll get your ass thrown out of here and then you won't get to see Stone Temple Pilots." (The audience roars again...kid looks very embarrassed, lamely tries to give us the finger and then stands there politely for the rest of the set.) Crowds want to be won over. People love an underdog. When you play some of these shows with really heavy bands around you, you just have to prove that you are worth your salt. Not that you have to be as heavy. You just need to be a great live band, have a sense of humor, and impress them a little bit.

MF: You talk on your site about morning walks and Slim Fast shakes. How tough is it to eat right and exercise when you're on tour, or for that matter, in the entertainment field?

It really gets tough out there. You have no set gym to go to, so it makes you lazy. Road food usually consists of fast food and bags of chips or sandwiches. It's very easy (and fun) to let yourself go. Here's a for instance: You've just spent an entire day eating right and then played a show at 9 pm. You signed autographs for a half an hour and get back to the bus at around 11 pm. You're starving and trying to think about something else other than food. All of a sudden there is a knock at the bus door. Three pizzas have arrived for your post show enjoyment. Oops. Six slices and a world of guilt later, you're ready to fall asleep. That's the life….

MF: Our readers will want to know what the groupies are like on the road or in general. What can you share about that?

I myself am happily married and would like to keep it that way so I shy away from the groupies. The truth is, it's there if you want it and if you look a little bit for it. We're not a real party band by nature. I love watching movies on the bus and hanging out. I don't really drink (too many calories) and I like peace when I'm done playing. So, too many people you don't know on the bus can get pretty rough sometimes. The bus is your home. How often does your average person want a group of people they've never met in 
their homes? But there are groupies and they do get "seen to" by the members of the band who are not otherwise involved.

Britney or Christina and why?

Britney if I had to choose. Christina is too skinny and looks like Dee Snyder in the Moulin Rouge video. 

You guys seemed to buddy up to Splender and Lifehouse, even co-writing a song with Splender. Is there ever any friendly competition between bands?

No. No competition. I think that kind of thing would come into play in a gigging atmosphere, where you'd want to impress the crowd more than the next band. As far as friendly competition, though, there is really none. They're all really cool guys who we happen to know. (One of the perks of the entertainment industry. You get to be friends with famous bands and not even think of it as strange.)

You've probably met some famous people, more so than usual, in the past few years. Has anyone made you feel starstruck?

The President, Lenny Kravitz, John Travolta.

MF: If you weren't a musician, what would your ideal job be?

Rock photographer.

MF: What's in your personal CD player right now?

U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind, and the rough mix of our new album.

Who are your influences as a keyboard player?

Charlie Gillingham of the Counting Crows, Rami Jaffee of the Wallflowers, Roy Bittan and Danny Federici of the E Street Band.

How much writing input do you have in the band?

Not too much right now. John and Brian really do most of the writing and then it's up to us to make it sound like Nine Days through our parts and playing style.

MF: Finally, here are a series of words or phrases to which you answer "rock" or "not rock." Examples would be: Barry Manilow: not rock; Getting laid: rock

The Grammys
JD: Not rock

MF: Tour buses:
JD: Rock

MF: McDonald's food
JD: Taste: Rock; effect: not rock

MF: Nelly Furtado
JD: Not rock (see #5)

MF: Vomiting:
JD: Not rock (see #4)

MF: Vomiting after biting the head off a pigeon:
JD: Ozzyrock

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