For fans of classic rock and the throwback sound of the 80s, those raised in that generation should hold no reservations that rock and roll is dead. The emergence of the classic rock style has been reborn in a new, invigorating way thanks to the help of five Gen Z’ers based in California. Formed in 2019 after meeting through TikTok and Instagram, Classless Act is composed of five former strangers —Derek Day/vocals, Dane Pieper/guitar, Griffin Tucker/guitar, Franco Gravante/bass,and Chuck McKissock/drums— who quickly formed a brotherhood bonded through their ambitions and passion for rock music. The band’s debut single “Give It To Me” was released in the summer of 2021, garnering immediate praise for their simultaneous fresh and timeless sound.
Already making noise in the industry, the band has worked with world-class producers including Bob Rock, Michael Beinhorn and Joe Chiccarrelli, who have helped craft hits for the likes of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Soundgarden, and The White Stripes. The band’s debut album Welcome to the Show was released June 24, 2022 under Better Noise Music, named Billboard’s #1 rock label for 2021. Receiving high praise, their music echoes all the hallmarks of previous generations, with anthemic rhythms, shredding guitars, and soaring vocals, yet anchors itself in modernity with cutting skill and clever arrangements. Their high-charged sound is electric enough to assert themselves as a new force plowing into the mainstream. For these polished up-and-comers, it’s only the start of something amazing.
Fresh off the road from The Stadium Tour, this summer’s 36-date, co-headline trek with Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Poison, and Joan Jett, Classless Act is well on its way to achieving its collective goal of becoming a next-generation defining act. Music Existence caught up with lead singer Derek Day while on their life changing tour.
How’s tour been going so far? Stadium shows are no easy feat especially when you’re the first act on.
Hello Music Existence! Tour has been so fantastic. You can only imagine. I mean, it’s quite a different experience but really, the whole band is just, we’ve been waiting for this our whole lives. We’re using every square inch of the stage and I’m on the thrust, or some people might know it as the catwalk, I’m on that a lot. We’re having a blast and we’re learning so much. We’re having a great time. No crazy speed bumps, literally and figuratively, just all good fun and vibes!
What’s the biggest thing the band has learned so far from being on such a massive bill?
One of the biggest things the band has learned on this massive bill is gratitude. We drive overnight sometimes and we lose a lot of sleep. But one thing we notice is how friggin grateful the crew is. How all the bands are. Everyone is just happy to be there. They make it a pleasant working experience. We’ve learned how to be more grateful just from working with these professionals. At the end of the day, they are fantastic, working human beings. They really know how to solve a problem, how to be professional and do their job to the utmost perfection. We see how happy they are. They do it with a smile and when problems arise they handle it professionally. So we’re learning to be more grateful. Short answer: Gratitude.
You guys play a football stadium one night, then headline a club the next. How do you approach such varying live experiences?
I am not embarrassed to admit that going from a stadium to a club show is actually very difficult for me personally, but I might be speaking for the band as well because of the whole scope of sound differentiation going on. We use in-ear monitors from Ultimate Years for the stadium shows so we get the perfect mix in our ears. But in a club show, you never know what to expect. Sometimes you’re playing to a brick room, or sometimes you’re playing to a wooden walled room or a cemented room. Plus the amount of people there changes the sound drastically. It’s all about reverberation so it’s really about trying to find your footing in different environments. It’s actually been pretty difficult but we’re learning. We’re learning and it’s great to play a full, long, lengthy 1 and a half-hour set. So it’s a lot of fun. We take that in stride. We love to take our time with the headlining shows. We’re headlining so we can take our time, talk to the audience a little bit more. So difficult for me, but we’re getting there. It’s a work in progress. One show at a time.
How has the new album been translating live on stage?
I gotta say the new album has been translating live really well. People don’t know us. They’ve never heard us but they come in the stadium bopping their heads. They’re digging it, you know. We’re playing only our original material. They’re down. I don’t know what else to say except I am quite happy with the response and the vibe people give back to us. So, far so good.
You hear a bit of Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard and even Joan Jett in your sound. Have the legends of rock passed along any advice so far?
I think it’s fantastic that you hear a bit of Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Joan Jett in our music because we are definitely influenced by these bands. I grew up with them as a child. I’ve been listening to them forever. They do give us little pieces of advice here and there. Just little tidbits and if not wonderful pleasantries that come off as wisdom for us to take in you know. Even in their hellos and goodbyes, you hear the experience and the rockstar awesomeness in their tone of voice. They give that vibe off and they’re not afraid to say hello and show us warm welcomes. They’re always lovely. Every band has been fantastic in their own way. So we’ve gotten some advice, talked to some people about some stories and we’ve got some cool little memories.
What’s the hardest thing about being on the road?
For me the hardest thing on the tour is probably the lack of sleep. Just because my voice is my instrument. You know, it’s difficult to sleep on a different bed every night. The other thing is monotony is a big thing on the road. You can get very bored if you’re not challenging yourself and trying to stay on top of some kind of regimen whether it be working out or writing music. But at the same time, it can be difficult to do that. Your body is tired already, your mind is tired because you’re trying to survive. So on top of that, you’ve gotta try and make life interesting. It’s a weird little mind trip being on the road. You have to not be bored but you’re too tired to be interesting. But hey that’s why we crave the stage. Classless Act will always give 1000% because we’re always ready and waiting to do it.
Have you been able to write on tour? Or have you just been focusing on the new material lately?
That is so funny. The last answer is relevant to this question. We are constantly writing. Everyone in the band writes. We all know how to write a song. We relish in it. But it is difficult. I don’t know what it is, just being on the road, being in a van. It’s hard to be creative because you’re trying to survive. You’re trying to eat right, you’re trying to focus on sore parts of your body. You’re very physical and you’re also trying to be professional and on time and a pleasant person to be around. You know, all sorts of things that can take away from art. Art is all about being gross and blegh in front of everybody. But I thought about how in the last tour with Dorothy, from March until May and it was a two month tour right before this one. I brought all my instruments. I brought my acoustic guitars, recording devices and little mics and cables. I didn’t get to use it. I barely used it and I was so ashamed of myself because I didn’t know it was difficult to write on tour. You would think it would be easy but it’s actually not. I made it a point to bring all of those devices again and actually write. It’s been beautiful. It’s been so fun. Everyone in the band is constantly writing forever. But you won’t be hearing his new material until a little bit later down the road. Because we just released our first album! We’re so excited we can’t wait to share it with the world. A little bit later you’ll hear some new stuff.
Five dates in Canada this summer! Who’s your favorite band out of the Great White North?
I can’t believe we get to travel to Canada. We just came back from Ottawa. We got to play our own headlining show there and it was fantastic. Beautiful people, beautiful land. Our favorite band Canadian band if you ask Chuck our drummer, you know what he is going to say, you already know it, it’s Rush 100%. I love bands like, Sum 41, they came out of Canada. They’re a great band. Lead singer’s name is Deryck as well, just saying. Loverboy of course. Actually, Bob Rock produced Loverboy and Bob Rock produced the first half of our album. Funny little tidbit. You can’t beat bands like Arcade Fire and Nickleback, The Guess Who. These are classic, classic bands. Just to name a few, love what Canada produces. I’m actually a big movie buff. I love Canadian actors as well. They’re fantastic you know, the classics, Mike Myles, Jim Carey, Seth Rogen, Will Arnett, Ryan Gosling. Incredible actors. Good stuff coming out of Canada man.
What’s next for Classless Act?
Touring, constant touring. We just want to show ourselves to the world. We want to go abroad. As soon as we get home from this summer tour, we’re going to sleep for two days, maybe eat a little food and then go right back on the road. So expect to see us physically. We’re just so happy that the world is open again. It’s been such a crazy pandemic. We’re so grateful to be able to share music with people live again. We’ll be out on the road for a while. We’re gonna push this album and we’re just happy to be here.
Thank you by the way for having me. Music Existence is awesome. Hope to see you soon!