The grunge movement of the early 1990’s took America by storm—not just impacting the Seattle area where it originated, but places as far east as Hampden, Maine felt the effects of that signature guitar combined with teenage angst. So when a grunge band popped up in a corn field from southern Indiana, no one was overly surprised.
In 1995, an experimental rock/metal trio called Dead Reckoning was formed. Their sound was similar to a Pantera or any other really hard rock band. Lead singer Travis Meeks felt that genre of music was best to vent his frustrations—he came from a broken home, he had a learning disorder and a problem with substance abuse. Therapeutic as it may have been for this band of teenagers, it seemed apparent early that style didn’t fit their talents very well. So a move to a more post-grunge/acoustic style was in order. And since their original band moniker was so focused on metal, a name change was also on the docket. From that point on, Days of the New was born.
In mid-1996 the band recorded a couple of demo albums and would begin to gain some major steam in the area. A couple of tracks caught the attention of some major labels—and a 17-year-old Meeks and company were on their way to record a full-length record.
Woodland Studios in Nashville invited the band to come and record their debut Self-Titled album at the request of Geffen Records. Often referred to as the “yellow” or “orange” album because of the cover and liner notes, it was almost an instant success.
Backed by lead single ‘Touch, Peel and Stand’ which rose to #1 on the Billboard chart, the entire industry was taking notice. Band like Alice in Chains and Metallica were calling the label to book them as an opener for their world tours.
It became obvious shortly after the touring began that problems were afoot. The day they concluded touring, Meeks’s father picked him up from a show in Dallas, Texas and drove him home. At that point, the remainder of the band took off and started something new, but 1.5 million albums were sold—not bad for essentially one year’s worth of effort.
Bands like this that sort of come-and-go still have their place in history. About eight years ago I was DJ-ing a party for a friend and someone came up and asked if I could play some Days of the New. Odd as it seemed at the time, the band is actually still going with a new lineup and making albums. Perhaps they blend in a little bit sound wise with other bands from the era, but Meeks vocals are somehow both distinct and yet repeated at the same time. (I always assumed he was also the lead singer of the band Tantric – but that assumption was way off base.)
The “yellow” album has a pretty good vibe, clearly garage-band grunge but at the same time maybe a little more dark than your typical album from the period. Perhaps if Soundgarden made a less-poppy record and recorded it in a dark corner of a studio, that’s sort of how it feels to me.
The album spawned three singles, which will end up being my Top 3 tracks below, but after that the success really never repeated itself for Days of the New. Their “green” album follow-up is barely certified gold today – and their last studio release was in 2001. I can’t help to think of what could have been with these guys, and am happy to relive the good ol’ days going back to the debut today for $5 bucks. Well worth it.
Top 3 Tracks: