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"Silent No More"
Text By Eddy Burke • Photos by Laura Roberts
Cave country is what they call the area around Crawford and Harrison Counties. It's the home of Marengo Cave.
But to Wasted Days vocalist Chris Davis, guitarist Jeff Bockhold, guitarist Chad Nugent , bassist Travis Beals and drummer Klint Kaiser, it's the home of the Wasted Days compound, a big rock-'n'- roll, three-and-a-half acre ranch/compound in the style of David Koresh's Branch Davidian compound in Waco. Half the band and manager Bizkit lives there and it's also where the band practices and plans for taking over the earth. These days the band is fed up, fighting mad and ready for action against the dark forces of political bureaucracy, world hunger and some folks in town who won't give Wasted Days any chances to shine. And they aren't afraid to say what's up.
"We are just a bunch of good ol' Southern Indiana boys who are tired of being passed by when it comes to the big shows and opening for nationals. We feel that we are every bit as good as any rock band in the area," asserts charismatic singer Chris Davis. His assertion is not just hype and braggadocio: there are those in Louisville who agree with them.
Of course, they didn't come out of the shoot ready for prime time. In 2001, guitarist Chad Nugent, bassist Travis Beals and original singer Matt Allinger formed the first configuration of what was to become Wasted Days. Some six months later, after much disappointment in trying to get things going, things were falling apart. Then guitarist Chris Bockhold and drummer Klint Kaiser joined the band. A two-and-a-half-year period of band limbo followed, during which the band played pretty much anywhere they could, including several unflattering shows. During the last year of that time, there was growing discontent within the Wasted camp that was pushing a wedge between vocalist Matt Allinger and the rest of the band. Finally, there was a mutual agreement that Matt Allinger would leave the band.
Then something that would change everything happened.
The Magic Man
A friend of the band, Kevin Ekart, of the band Lotticks Corner, told them about an available vocalist who he thought would be perfect for the singer-less Wasted Days. His name was Chris Davis, formerly of the band Superface.
The band members had heard of Superface and were very interested to see what was up with this at-liberty singer. They gave him a call.
Chad Nugent talked to Davis on the phone for over two hours and got along well, so they planned a rendezvous to see if there was any musical magic to be had. The band had a vocal-less demo CD, so they played it to Chris to see if he could do anything with it. Boy, did he ever.
Chris instantly started to freestyle some vocal harmonies and some quick lyrics that just popped into his head as he listened to the music coming forth from the stereo. After only about ten seconds, the band knew that Chris was the man for the job.
In record time, Chris had worked up a full set. It only took him one month to have it down and be ready to play out. Their first gig was a BBQ party at the bands Waco-esqe compound and it was a blowout.
Word of the new vocalist in the band spread and soon, Wasted Days got a spot on the Original Rock Showcase at the Phoenix Hill, due in no small part to Davis' reputation. Shortly thereafter, the band became a staple at the Phoenix Hill.
Bizkits and Gravy
As a young boy growing up in Crawford County, drummer Klint Kaiser met another young boy, Richard Pullen. who went to the same school and lived close by. Pullen began hanging out with Kaiser and his brothers, kickin' it as only country younguns, (also known in Crawford County as bugeaters) know how to do.
A rather goofy and lovable character, Pullen's friend Steve Smothers dubbed him Bizkit, saying Pullen looked like a chubby Fred Durst, of the band Limp Bizkit. The name stuck. In September of 2004, Klint asked Bizkit to take an active role in helping the band, since he was always around anyway.
So Bizkit went to work promoting the band, working merchandise, getting the band gigs, getting word out every way imaginable about this great new band. It was fortuitous that Bizkit had connections with rock radio stations in Louisville, including a spell interning with WLRS 105.1, plus, Bizkit knew many people in Southern Indiana.
Having such a hardworking ally, the band started to get some decent exposure, playing more gigs than ever and starting to build a good following.
Enter A CD
With all the momentum building and an ever-growing fan base the band needed to complete a CD, one that would open doors and erase any doubt from naysayers. In the summer of 2005, the band set to work at Canyon Studios and, with the assistance of engineer Chris Cassetta, completed a self-titled, twelve-song CD that ended up doing quite well on Louisville radio plus selling well.
The CD's sound quality made it quite evident that a boatload of money was put into the recording, mixing and mastering of this CD Rarely does a CD sound this good without major record company help or a bigtime producer/engineer in the control room.
Suddenly, several of the band's best songs were in regular rotation on the original music radio shows and as any original musician knows, there is nothing better than hearing your songs on the radio.
After the release, the band set about booking shows to support the project. With a killer CD, they found themselves getting better shows and some well-earned exposure. They played the Hard Rock Café; many Phoenix Hill shows; parties; redneck outdoor events; out-of-town gigs in Cincinnati, St Louis and Youngstown, Ohio, (to a fat crowd of 450 people).
Then the band won $10,000 cash in the Rustic Frog band battle in 2005. In a thirty-eight band competition, Wasted Days was declared the winner in a nail biting elimination competition.
"We had to be escorted out of the building by a security guard with a nickel-plated 357 Magnum, because we had the whole $10,000 in cash on us," explained Chris Davis. "It was a wonderful feeling and having $10,000 to boot made it all the sweeter."
The Band Behind The Music
Guitarist Jeff Bockhold, 26, who lives with his girlfriend of three years, Sarah, started on guitar at age 15 on a crusty old acoustic given to him by his uncle Stan LaGrange, a songwriter in Nashville. His uncle also showed young Jeff a few chords and riffs to get him on the right path. He has since graduated to a Paul Reed Smith McCarty guitar punched through a Mesa Triple Rec amp, Marshall cabinets and Boss effects.
Bockhold works as a merchandising vendor for Meiers and also is a radio on-air personality on Marengo, Indiana station 89.9 WBRO, where his show, "The Fuzz Factory," airs 8-10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.
His most memorable gig story involved a show at a tattoo parlor in the sticks of Indiana.
"We played a gig at a tattoo shop in the middle of nowhere and it was one of the first shows with Chris, when right in the middle of a song , the music is cut off, this guy who looks like an anorexic Danny Devito comes running up to the stage holding a toilet tank cover, all redneck-like and yelling, who broke my f***ing sh*tter! This guy stopped the whole show and held everyone in a lockdown till the culprit was located."
Second guitarist Chad Nugent, 27, started guitar at 11 on an old Dickson electric that "sucked really bad." Both sides of his family were musically inclined, so he was always around it. His grandmother Monica Stahl played guitar and so did his dad, Lloyd Nugent, who began teaching Chad various chords and picking. He was influenced by 80's metal thrashers Testament, Motley Crue, Slayer and Metallica but now gets into Killswitch Engage and Thrice.
Chad has a day gig with Hitachi but really loves playing in the band Wasted Days, so much so while playing a show at Uncle Pleasants, he broke his foot mid-song from the pure energy of the performance. But he finished the set.
Chad plays a Schecter C-1 elite with Duncan pickups, a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier amp, Mesa cabinets and Boss and Digitech Effects.
Bassist Travis Beals, 31, who lives at the compound, cites Joe Satriani and Hetfield as major influences and inspiration to get a guitar at age 21 but switched to bass in 2001. Beals' mother, Beverly, sang gospel and played saxophone; his dad, Bill, played bluegrass guitar and his uncle, Steve Beals, played guitar as well.
Travis swears by his Warwick corvette pro line bass and Ampeg amplification. Travis works for Jasper engines and transmissions and is single. These days he's into jamming out to Atreyu and Lillswitch Engage.
Drummer Klint "just let me puke" Kaiser, 27, in English, Indiana with Carly, his wife of a year-and-a-half. He started banging on the drums in the 4th grade and was inspired by his mother, Debra Ann. who sang in cover bands for thirty years.
His influences are Jon Bonham, John Theodore of Mars Volta, Lars Ulrich and Danny Cary of Tool. He currently plays a Mapex Pro M Series drum set, complete with Zildjian and Paiste cymbals and tests construction equipment for Quore Property Sciences as a day gig.
Klint picked up his nickname after eating some bad fast-food burgers before a show in Evansville. The band was set to go on, but Kaiser was sick. He told the band "just let me puke," then ran towards the toilet. His intestinal discomfort continued throughout the show and all the way home.
Singer Chris Davis, 34, lives in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with his girlfriend of three years, Abby. Chris got a lot of his vocal inspiration from his mother, who sang country and church music and his grandfather, who played guitar and sang bluegrass. H was a bit of a black sheep in his family, constantly jamming to Prince, Depeche Mode and Stone Temple Pilots.
In the late Nineties, Davis was the vocalist in Superface, a rock band that did well, even showcasing for record labels in NYC and opening for Kid Rock. A better-than-average band, Superface had a solid following, but they were not very reliable and had a few issues. The group lasted from 1997 to 2003.
Chris recalled a memorable night playing with Superface: "We were opening up for The Kiss Army at The Toy Tiger in late '99 and Travis Meeks of Days Of The New was buying shots of Jaeger for everyone by the trayful. After about seven shots, I was plastered and commenced staggering around, knocking the Tiger's time clock off the wall and basically throwing up all over everything. It was a mess."
"Money is the root of all evil. We aren't in this for the money at all.
"Sure, having money is great but we are in it to get the message out, what the meanings behind the songs are. To reach the individual. In this day and age, that often gets lost in all the website / promoting / networking opportunities out there. Having the average person get the meaning through the emotion of the words and music is what is important to us as a band."
The Next Level
The band wants the opportunity to open for some nationally touring rock bands. The lack of those opportunities really gets under their skins.
The band is currently working on a brand-new five-song EP that includes one of their new songs "Not About You," which blew away the crowd when the band broke it out a few months back at a Phoenix Hill show.. As of now, the music is completed and Davis has begun to get his vocals together for the recording of the vocal tracks.
Then comes the mixing and mastering.
So look for the release of this fine southern Indiana bands new EP in the coming month or so.
Silent No More
"WLRS 105.1 has repeatedly given us the brush off for no good reason.
"We have been trying to get on a LRSfest for a few years now and have tried to get airplay there, yet we can't seem to get past the hypocritical political BS of it all.
"We believe all has to do with our manager (whom we don't blame one bit), whom WLRS doesn't like because he has friends at The FOX who let him on the air every now and then. We don't understand how this is reason enough to keep us, one of the top bands in town, from getting on LRSfest, or getting some airplay?
"It's not fair and it does get on our nerves very much so."
Chris Davis adds " I would like to give a big f**k you to the local newspaper , The Giveaway, in my hometown of Scottsburg Indiana, for utterly no support whatsoever for this band. I tried to show pride in my hometown and ended up being dissed."
We Wuuuuuuv You
"We've got to show some love to the people who have been with us and supporting us through thick and thin. Our girlfriends, who have always been behind our musical goals 100%, Bizkit for working his butt off trying to spread the word as best he can, our family (with great love), Chris Cassetta for doing an excellent job recording us and being so helpful, 93.1 the FOX for the constant support, Mudd is the best, Louie, Scott Clark and of course Eddy Metal for the help from the beginning. We also want to give a shout-out to our friends in Slokill and Asleep."