Technically, Dark New Day are a new dream team, but the band was actually more than 12 years in the making.
The story began when guitarist Clint Lowery and his brother, bassist Corey, were in their teens jamming in rural North Carolina with their neighborhood friend, guitarist Troy McLawhorn. With dreams of stardom, they formed the melodic hard-rock band Still Rain and toured through the Southeast playing to dismissive crowds in divey clubs.
On the road, they bumped into singer Brett Hestla and drummer Will Hunt, who were playing in other bands, and they struck up fast friendships. "We used to say to each other, 'Man, we'd have a ripping band if we all played together,' " Clint said. "But we were all doing other things. Over the years, we'd get back together and jam and write stuff from time to time, but we were all committed to other groups."
These weren't just any groups. Clint was in Sevendust for almost 10 years, Corey co-formed Stereomud, Hestla sang for Virgos Merlot and then became Creed's touring bassist, McLawhorn played in Doubledrive, and Hunt performed in Skrape and contributed to Tommy Lee's solo project. But even when powering ahead with their main gigs, they were always looking over their shoulders to see what their pals were up to. "We remained friends and huge fans of each other's bands over the years," Clint said. "So that window to get back together was always open."
It was Corey Lowery who dragged his pals through that window a little over a year ago. At the time, Stereomud were disillusioned by their lack of success and basically on life support, and Sevendust were coming off the sales disappointment of their most mainstream offering, Seasons (see "Sevendust Sober Up, Emphasize Hooks On Seasons"). When Creed broke up (see "Creed Break Up") and Skrape fell apart, the members of Dark New Day were finally the displaced heroes they needed to be. The only big problem was Clint didn't want to quit Sevendust.
"I wanted to do both, but that just wasn't possible," he explained. "I didn't want to leave Sevendust because of the brotherhood I had with those guys. I wanted to do another record with them and continue on, I just knew I couldn't tour with both bands at the same time. And, in the end, Sevendust saw how much I wanted to do this project, and they wanted someone that was gonna be there for them 110 percent. So we both decided to end it."
With the Sevendust cord finally severed, Dark New Day started writing songs for their just-released debut, Twelve Year Silence, the title being a reference to how long the band remained in limbo before being conceived. To say it was worth the wait would be apocryphal, but songs like "Taking Me Alive" and "Brother" should make the heavy-rotation playlist of anyone that likes moody, anthemic metal with surging riffs and strong melodies.
"We called the band Dark New Day because the music pulls out emotions and topics that are generally pretty dark," Clint said. "It has this aggressive, sad nature to it, so you don't put it on when you want to clean the house. But it's not woe-is-me kind of music and it's not self-loathing at all. It's more about taking these difficult situations and dealing with them."
Much of Twelve Year Silence addresses missed opportunities, personal trauma and the sometimes hefty price of circumstance. Clint wrote "Brother" about how a career in music has distanced him from his loved ones, and "Lean," which was penned by Hestla, is about Clint's struggle with alcoholism. "I read the lyrics, and I was like, 'Huh, some of this is really familiar,' " Clint said. "Then, when we were in the control room, he said, 'This is about you.' I thought that was really touching. He was writing about being my friend through that experience no matter what happened."
The lyrical turbulence of Twelve Year Silence parallels the storms Dark New Day weathered in the studio — not the metaphoric type, but the kind that blow roofs off houses and send trees crashing through cars. "We did the record in Orlando [Florida], and there were five massive hurricanes when we were there," Clint said. "Corey and Troy would be driving from Atlanta to Orlando and everyone else would be driving the other way to evacuate the city. It looked like a nuclear bomb was about to drop or something and it really created this somber feel to everything."
While Dark New Day were in a rush to finish the album, they weren't that pressed for time, and many of their friends and peers were dumbfounded that they refused to leave the area. Looking back, Clint laughs at the band's stubbornness, but he still considers the decision more of a test of faith than an act of stupidity.
"The whole time the winds were kicking all around us and stuff was getting demolished, we were like, 'Hey man, should we be doing this?' But we kept going because we felt like, 'Well, if we get through it, maybe it's a sign that it will be worth it.' "