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Clock-punchers: (l-r) Baldes, Bell and Pauley. Photo: Cassi Suen

Work It
Longtime power-pop trio the Day Jobs have finally moved into the world of recorded product—and hope to become all they wanted to be
By Kirsten Ferguson

Posted on a Web site for disillusioned young professionals (www.dayjob.com) is this epigram from Nobel Laureate poet Octavio Paz: “Beyond myself/somewhere/I wait for my arrival.” The stanza has significance for those in the workforce who bemoan the soul-crushing nature of modern cubical life; it describes the period of restless waiting (also known as having a “day job”) before personal success and fulfillment finally arrives.

The term “day job” has a negative connotation these days, since it often refers to the sort of meaningless toil that tides people over until they can get paid for doing what they actually enjoy. No one ever aspired to collate copies for a living, but minus a trust fund, every aspiring artist/writer/musician has to pay the rent somehow.

Just ask the Day Jobs—an Albany power-pop trio who are well aware that their name holds a certain degree of irony. By giving your band such a moniker, you’re admitting that modern rock life has more to do with overnight shifts at Kinko’s than it does with the “rock & roll Babylon” mythology that many of us grew up with in the 1970s (you know, Mick Jagger, groupies and Mars Bars). “In one sense, the name is a way of showing solidarity with other bands who are in the same situation,” acknowledges Day Jobs frontman Rich Baldes.

At the same time, it’s no secret that most musicians would jump at the chance to make their band a full-time profession. “Part of the irony of our name is that I’ve always considered the relevant portion of my life to be playing songs and writing music,” adds Baldes, who formed the Day Jobs in 1999 following stints as a sideman in other area bands like the Explosives, the VodkaSonics and the Staziaks.

“If the right opportunity came up, I’d love to make this my day job,” interjects Day Jobs drummer Dan Bell, who previously made a name for himself as the hard-hitting drummer in the now-defunct Lughead. Former Lughead and Bloom bassist Mike Pauley now rounds out the Day Jobs lineup (which occasionally becomes a four-piece, depending on whether an extra guitarist is recruited to play live).

Since their formation, the Albany trio frequently kick off their bristling live sets with “Day Job.” You could call it their theme song: Over the insistent beat, Baldes spews humorous invective for all the “ditch digging/corn shucking/toilet scrubbing” indignities of a day job. During the chorus he asks, “Why can’t I be like I wanted to be/How I wanted to be?” It’s a line we’ve all probably heard in our own heads before. At what point does reevaluating your aspirations become giving up on your dreams? “That song came to me on the bus,” Baldes explains. “I wrote that song on the bus on the way to work to a job I wasn’t enjoying.”

Appropriately enough, the Day Jobs have named their new debut album How I Wanted to Be. Written in the past tense, the title indicates that the dream may be gone. In talking to the band about their new recording, however, the Day Jobs exude a level of optimism that indicates the dream may be just starting. “We finally have a recording. This has been the one hurdle we’ve had to get over,” Baldes says, describing a multiyear process that found the band refining, recording, scrapping and then rerecording songs at DMS Studio in Clarksville.

“I think it’s taken close to three years,” Bell adds.

For some fans who know the band’s song material from live shows, the long wait for a Day Jobs recording may have been a bit puzzling. Named the Capital Region’s “best pop band” two years in a row in Metroland, the Day Jobs have been called the area’s most “criminally underrecorded” band on more than one occasion. Their songs are wound up in a brisk power-pop framework, but Baldes clearly has a gift for lyrical and highly melodic songwriting.

Although Baldes rubs his fingers together to indicate that money (or lack thereof) was a factor in the recording process taking so long, one suspects that there were elements of perfectionism at work as well. “We wanted to do it at a good studio,” Baldes explains. “As money would come up, we’d work on it. It ended up taking longer than we’d planned. But it was worth the extra time and money. While the whole recording was going on, there was always a sense of anticipation. We were always looking forward to when it would be finished. One of the benefits of the time we took was that it gave us a lot of time to be critical of what we were doing. Because we weren’t in an enormous rush, I think the outcome was better.”

Now that the album is finished, the band view the recording as an opportunity to up their profile. They’ve been critically acclaimed in these parts, but as many local bands know, that doesn’t necessarily translate into whopping attendance at gigs. “Hopefully the CD will bring more people out to shows,” says Pauley.

“I think the more people know the songs, the more people will want to see us,” Baldes says. “I think the CD will make people want to see us. We’re just hoping that people will like the songs. If anything good will happen, it will happen from that.”

The Day Jobs will celebrate the release of their debut CD How I Wanted to Be at Valentine’s on Saturday (June 28). Also on the bill are area singer-songwriter Brian Bassett and Boston bands the Brett Rosenberg Problem and the Rudds.

ROUGH MIX

WHO FIRED ROGER RABBIT? It’s not often that someone leaves their longtime band stating, “I’m just glad I don’t have to wear a bunny suit any more.” Well, those very words left Rob Skane’s lips while discussing his departure from garage-band freaks the Lawn Sausages. Skane performed sizzling guitar work for the group, and, at times, dressed to resemble cute and cuddly farm animals. He wasn’t alone in this, as the rest of the group costume up every chance they get. Most people don’t know them in their street clothes, as a matter of fact. But Skane would sneak out on stage in plain clothes on occasion. Perhaps this was a factor in the rift.

Skane continues on with his many singer-songwriter gigs, performing his trademarked “garage-folk-rocknroll music” (it’s “garage-folk-rocknroll music for hangovers” when he performs those morning coffeehouse sets), and getting notice from various media outlets. Indie-music magazine and tape label BlissAquamarine.net, for one, has included a few of Skane’s songs from his SelfNoise album on its compilation tape for July, and, he was recently a featured artist on Capital News 9. He’ll perform two morning shows this weekend: one at Beanheads in Cambridge on Saturday (June 28) and another at the Niskayuna Starbucks on Sunday (June 29). You can search out more Skane info at robskane.net.

IN A (HOPEFULLY) UNRELATED NOTE: Art Fredette, an ongoing member of the Lawn Sausages, will close the doors of his Troy establishment, Artie’s Lansingburgh Station, after this weekend. So head there to see Rocky Velvet and the Lawn Sausages (Friday) and Niki Lee and Mass Chaos (Saturday), and help Artie close another bar. But, keep your eyes peeled, as he’s already plotting his next gin joint in the Collar City.

STAR QUALITY: Local pop celebrities gone national, Count the Stars, just keep on rising. From their humble Delmar beginnings, the band have gone and gotten signed, toured extensively, and have seriously increased their visibility. One example: Count the Stars now have a video on MTV.com— it’s for their single “Taking It All Back,” from their Victory debut Never Be Taken Alive. The band also are planning another whopper of a tour, so head to countthestars.com to stay informed.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO HOME: Instead, you can revel in The After Hours—by the end of the summer, anyway. That’s the scheduled release date of area hardcore act Last Call’s first full-length, which they’ll follow up with a tour. If, however, you can’t wait that long, you can catch a sneak preview tomorrow (Friday, June 27) when the boys do their thing at Valentine’s with Scissorfight, the Bruise Bros. and Great Day for Up.

—Kate Sipher

 


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