Default Aren't Wasting Their Time, Thanks To Nickelback

Vancouver band has fan in Chad Kroeger, who produced their first LP.

Relationships bear the strangest fruit. While a successful one can yield sweet happiness, ones gone sour leave behind a tough nut of a lesson and occasionally — as was the case for Default's Dallas Smith — they inspire a hit single.

The pulsing "Wasting My Time," the first single off Default's aggressively melodic debut, The Fallout, stemmed from Smith's rough evening spent contemplating the value of his romantic involvement with a special someone.

"We had the melody for it, but I was having a hard time writing lyrics," he said. "I went out to a bar one night with my girlfriend and got into a huge fight. It was actually the night we were doing demos for the new recording. I was drunk and pissed off, and that's what came out. ... [So the song's about] being in a relationship and realizing it's a dead-end situation. Realizing that, after a while, you've wasted your time."

Smith eventually drew the conclusion that his relationship wasn't all for naught (the couple is still together), though the evening's revelation left him richer in more ways than one. "Wasting My Time" is #13 with a bullet on the R&R Alternative Top 50, and the clip, in which the group is transported into a woman's wristwatch, receives considerable spins on video outlets. For the past nine weeks, the band has been exposing its repertoire to thousands of potential fans by opening for fellow Vancouverites Nickelback — an inevitable match, considering how Default got their start.

Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger produced an album by Default guitarist Jeremy Hora and drummer Danny Craig's former band. When the two split from that group to form the Fallout, who would later change their name to Default, with Smith, they recorded a handful of demos and had Kroeger take a listen. The tracks met with the Nickelback frontman's approval, to say the least.

"I was blown away," Kroeger said. "Right away, I think [I] called [them] at one o'clock in the morning, and I'm like, 'Guys, the stuff is good. We've got to get back into the studio and do another record.' "

The band, which now includes bassist Dave Benedict, didn't have the money to afford studio sessions so soon after cutting the demo, and Kroeger "didn't really feel like putting up the cake for their album." With borrowed money from Smith's father, they recorded The Fallout in a few weeks, with Kroeger producing.

"They're really becoming a great band. It's fun to take these guys on the road with us, because every night they keep on getting better and better," Kroeger enthused. "Dallas has got almost perfect pitch. I don't think I've heard the kid sing flat once in my life. They're going to be a great band."

After their current tour winds down December 19, Smith plans to vacation in Mexico before rejoining Nickelback for a two-week Canadian stadium tour, beginning January 17. Then, he predicts, Default will return Stateside for more shows.

At that point, Default's second single, the bluntly punchy "Deny," should be infiltrating airwaves. The group expects the video to be a big hit, pun intended. Recently shot by director Noble Jones, who also helmed "Wasting My Time," the clip features the band performing while boxer Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammad, trades blows in the ring. Each time Ali takes a punch the effects are felt by Smith, who is left bruised and swollen by the end of the video.

Whether or not Default achieve Nickelback's level of platinum success, Smith said he wants to return Kroeger's favor to another band on its way up. He's already got his eyes on hometown heroes Morning Maker, led by former Econoline Crush guitarist Rob Morfitt. Default already tapped the group for their first Canadian tour.

"I'd love to get into producing and doing the exact same thing [Chad] did for us," Smith said. "We always take demo CDs when people give them to us. We listen to them. There's been a couple that we thought were pretty good. We might eventually give them a call and see if they want to do something down the road."