We Get Sweet On Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. For ‘First Date’


By Rya Backer

A year ago, MTV News production assistants Rya Backer and Steven Roberts realized that their devotion to chasing stories was seriously getting in the way of their love lives. That’s why they dreamed up “First Date,” a regular feature that allows them to get up close and personal to some of our favorite hot new artists.

Hello, again! The last time you all saw me, I was being wooed by Lil B the Based God at Joe’s Shanghai. And while that was a magical (or rather, #rare) time, I realized I had to move on. So when I found out that one of my favorite acts from last year’s CMJ, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. would be in town, I knew we’d have to go out classy.

Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott are two very sweet, very married men who are the main forces behind the Detroit act. Their music can best be described as melodic, harmony-heavy and all-around fun — for a better idea, listen closely during our date to hear “Morning Thought,” the first single off their new album, It’s a Corporate World, out June 7. In keeping with those vibes, we decided on going to the renowned Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (just up the street from my date destination with Lil B) and celebrate the first super-nice day of spring.

We shared great conversation, which wavered from Josh’s commitment to a gluten-free lifestyle and Dan’s dry quips, and great ice cream (though unfortunately for Dan, the Ice Cream Factory was out of his favorite flavor, chocolate peanut butter). We also shared a moment when Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, walked across the street with his family. After trading pleasantries with city traffic between us, we learned that Josh and Mr. Smith attended the same high school in the Detroit suburbs, and Smith performed at said school while Josh was still a student. Apparently it all took place in an auditorium, where the “Under the Bridge” video was projected on a wall as Chad Smith added live drums, and Josh and his classmates walked over a “symbolic bridge.”

Unfortunately, there’s no video footage of that, but hopefully our First Date will suffice.
Enjoy it! Let me know who I should go out with next!