Q&A with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is a talented duo from Detroit. Blending electronic elements with traditional rock instruments and vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Beach Boys and Paul Simon, they have crafted a unique and catchy sound.  Their live shows demonstrate their flair for the dramatic- with hand-crafted marquees flashing their moniker “Jr. Jr.”, bubble machines, and fans-onstage dance parties. Riding on the high of playing Lollapalooza 2011 this summer they are touring the US, spreading good times and harmony as they go.

Co-founder Daniel Zott took some time out of his busy tour schedule to chat with WLDC’s Alexia Kauffman about the band, their roots, and living your dreams.

Alexia Kauffman: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for We Love DC! What musical projects/bands were you in before this one?

Daniel Zott: Josh is in a band called “The Silent Years” and I am in a band called “The Great Fiction”

AK: What did you listen to growing up?

DZ: We both had fathers that forced us to listen to a lot of Motown. There was also a lot of Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, John Lennon, and Paul Simon.

AK: How did you each first start playing music?

DZ: Josh was in bands since he was really young. I think he was in a band with some early twenty-year olds when he was 15. I dreamed of playing sports growing up, but had a knee injury and had to pick up a hobby at 12 years old. My dad bought me a guitar and I never played sports again.

AK: How did you two meet?

DZ: Like every long-lasting couple meets: over the phone. Actually we both knew about each other’s bands and had respect for each other’s projects.
He called me out of the blue one day, though, and asked if I’d like to make some music with him. The first day we got together we wrote “Simple Girl”.

AK: For the music nerd in me, can you tell me about the instruments you play?  I see that both of you play multiple instruments- what all do each of you play?

DZ: We both are amateurs on several instruments. I play a 1973 Fender Telecaster thinline. Josh has some sort of vintage Tele as well. My favorite pedal is my micro-synth by Electro Harmonix. It makes the distorted bass sound in “Nothing But Our Love” at the end. Josh loves to use his Kaoss pad to loop random things. In studio our favorite is the vintage Space Echo.

AK: What is the songwriting process like for you?

DZ: It’s different every time. We try to channel karaoke from the future.

AK: What are your influences?

DZ: Anything that is memorable. I think that is why we have such an affinity for Motown music. It seems as though those songs have been eternal.

AK: You all harmonize really beautifully together vocally. Did you grow up singing/sing in choruses or choirs?

DZ: I sang jackson 5 songs from a really early age. Josh didn’t make the choir cuts in high school. It’s almost like the “Michael Jordan” high school situation.

AK: Do you feel like you’re a part of a music scene in Detroit? What is the scene like there right now?

DZ: Of course. The scene is very hopeful. I think there are a lot of young bands that have ridiculous potential. Josh and I have produced other bands in Detroit and are continuing to try hard to stay relevant. What’s great about Detroit is that anyone can do anything. Living costs are very low and there isn’t a highly competitive scene. It is a good formula for creativity.

AK: I see that you all played Lollapalooza this summer. How was it playing for such a huge crowd?  Any favorite moments, or artists that you met?

DZ: That was the best show we’ve ever played. We felt a greater sense of energy when you have that many people to feed off of. We became one step closer to feeling what it’s like to be a professional athlete and perform on the grandest of stages. My favorite moment was being backstage for Eminem and having Shawn Marion from the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks say hi to me. He apparently is a JR JR fan.

AK: You all have been touring a lot this past year- how is that going?

DZ: Tour has always been a surprise for us. It seems to get better and better. The feeling you get when you show up to a town where you don’t know anyone and have hundreds of people wanted to see what you do is still a big thrill for us. I don’t think that will ever get old.

AK: If you could play a show or collaborate with any artist/band, who would it be?

DZ: Paul Simon

AK: What are you listening to now?

DZ: Lauryn Hill never gets old. Digesting the Danny Brown record. Um- Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (Jimmy Mack is my jam)

AK: Plans for the future?

DZ: We had a goal when we started to play Lollapalooza. Now we need some new goals. Out sell Ricky Martin in South America?

You can see Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. perform live this Thursday, September 22nd at the Red Palace.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

w/ People Get Ready

Thursday, September 22nd 

Doors 8pm

$12/advance// $14/day of show

Red Palace

Alexia Kauffman

Alexia was born and raised in Arlington, VA. She has been a cellist since age four, and a lover of rock & roll soon after. The first tape she owned was “Make It Big” by Wham, and the first tape she bought was Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” and she still loves both. She was a member of local synth-rock outfit Soft Complex for several years, and has recorded with bands including Engine Down and Two if By Sea. By day she works for a non-profit distributing royalties to musicians and labels. She currently plays cello, lap-steel guitar and tambourine in the DC post-folk/Americana band The Torches.

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