As members wander in from the afternoon heat, conversation between band mates is pure business. Lead singer John Gray hands a wad of Grand Sierra Resort tickets to guitar and keyboard player Jeff DePaoli. Dry-erase white boards with scribbled handwriting line the eggshell-white walls, which blend into the dirty cream-colored carpet.
The Reno band has been playing in its current five-member form since October 2007, which along with Gray and DePaoli includes guitarist and vocalist Dan Johnson, bassist Matt Andrew and drummer Brian James — who Gray dubs “The best drummer in the world.”
Gray said he has been playing with Johnson and James since July 2006. Although the group has only been playing less than 10 months, band members have a clear path sketched out, which is clear from the scribbles on the white boards that track the band’s progress. Song writing progress. Album recording progress. Trying to stay sane progress.
Days No Different can check “record stellar album” off the list. The band will play its first CD release party for the album “Surrender The Mystery” on Friday at the Grand Sierra Resort in the Grand Theater.
“To have a good time is really the point,” James said. “We want to make it an event to showcase the CD. It means a lot to us.”
Recording an album came as an afterthought. Spurred by a solid line-up and the urge to play music that would bring a buzz to Reno, the band chose to take a break from playing shows.
“We said, ‘Let’s take a break for a moment, practice our songs, come back and play a great show,’ ” Gray said.
“We wanted to take a breath and play a show worthy of the people coming out to our shows,” James said. “It just seemed like a good thing to do.”
In February, Days No Different re-entered the music scene with a performance at The Little Waldorf Saloon on Virginia Street. The break proved that the band could bring in the crowds the members had hoped for.
“It was an awesomely big show,” James said. “It was packed.”
Packing shows seems to be a trend for Days No Different. The band was the May winner of radio station KRZQ’s “Spring Forward By Paying It Forward” concert series. Days No Different was able to raise the most money out of competing bands for the Nevada Humane Society. The reward for the band was having the single “Some Days” put into regular rotation on the station.
“Some Days” is one of the nine songs on the “Surrender The Mystery” album, which the band explains was recorded with picky precision with Tom Gordon at Imirage Sound Lab Studio in Sparks.
“It took two weeks to record,” Gray said. “But it took four months of work to prepare for it.”
Part of that preparation is the creative process the band goes through to come up with new songs.
“A lot of it will start with Dan or myself bringing something to the practice space,” Gray said. “Whether it be a guitar part or a song.”
With five members, Gray admits that making music that meshes isn’t always easy but that all the band members have well-rounded musical inspiration.
“As a band, as a whole, there is not a whole lot we agree on but we all have our own backgrounds and styles,” Gray said. “We all have a very large span of music that we like.”
The span includes music from Circa Survive to Foo Fighters, from Sevendust to Paramore and from Aerosmith to Heart.
“I am an old rock kid,” Gray said. “It’s just straightforward and good.”
Whatever the band’s influences might be, it’s working. And as the band members try to define the sound they seem to have effortlessly captured onto a shiny piece of plastic, DePaoli interjects, “Future Top 40,” and smiles at the description.
“The best I can say is mainstream rock,” Andrew said to describe the sound. “It’s difficult to classify.”
“I think that’s the thing that’s helped a lot,” DePaoli said. “We do that kind of music that we can just go play. In that respect it’s mainstream.”
“Surrender The Mystery” covers a span on genres, which slams the listener against the wall with opening songs “Lock Down” and “Vulnerable.” Both songs show a harder, somewhat tougher side to the band’s diverse sound. “Some Days” is slow and melodic, and while band members chose it to be the single played on KRZQ, it is not the strongest song on the CD.
“If we could record every song we have, we would. But you have to choose what represents you best and sounds good,” James said. “The nine songs show the diverse style of who we are and what we play.
“The album is the time capsule of where the band is at, at that moment,” James said.
“Eightthroughfive” would have been a good single with a deeper and quick beat and less depressing lyrics, but “Credits At A Standstill” would give “Eightthroughfive” a run for its money with a catchy melody and smooth vocals, reminiscent of Incubus, and moody lyrics that are easy to remember and sing along with.
Either way, the five band members have come together to record an album that complements each member’s mastery of their individual instrument and, most importantly, Gray’s voice, which is strong and well suited to rock music: gritty and raspy, melodic and smooth.
As a whole, “Surrender The Mystery” is well produced, even though it wasn’t necessarily easy, or cheap, to get there.
“We had my family members help out a lot,” Johnson said. “They were really supportive, especially my uncle, who said it was a donation.”
Johnson’s uncle can consider that a donation to his nephew’s future. Along with Andrew, Johnson attends the University of Nevada, Reno but isn’t sure of his future at the college.
“This will be my job,” Johnson said with certainty. “I won’t have a desk job for anything.”
Johnson’s band members echo his sentiment and with the hard work they have put in to promote the band and the performance on Friday, there is no doubt Days No Different will be in the future Top 40 on the Billboard charts.
“We see ourselves doing this instead of our day jobs,” James said. “Just selling records and playing shows.”
Friday’s performance at the Grand Sierra Resort is $5 and starts at 8 p.m. Days No Different will play along with local bands Wayward and Promises Promises. For audience members 21 and up, the ticket to the show will waive the cover charge at Nikki Beach for the after party.