COREY LOWERY SPEAKS: THE LOW-DOWN ON DARK NEW DAY’S SECOND RECORD
After years of waiting, Dark New Day fans finally got to hear the band’s second record, Hail Mary, this past August, along with an equally impressive B-sides collection. For those of us that had waited patiently the release of these two albums was heartily welcomed, but it also raised a number of questions: why’d it take so long, and why now? what went south with the record label? why do all of these songs sound so different?
There hasn’t been any press whatsoever surrounding Hail Mary‘s release — the band put it out quietly and independently through digital retailers (they’re on Amazon) — but bassist Corey Lowery, whose past bands also include Stuck Mojo and Stereomud, agreed to chat with me last week about all things Dark New Day. We also got to talking about Corey’s new band Eye Empire, an incredibly talented group who I cannot recommend enough to fans of Dark New Day and Sevendust.
With everything that you guys went through with Dark New Day, it seemed like the second album came out of nowhere. I know that fans had known that there were some songs available on the internet for a while. Why did you guys finally decide to release it and why now? What events led to that as far as record company drama and anything like that?
I think just the fact that all of us being back out on the road and all the different bands we were in… Troy and Will are with Evanescence, Clint’s with Sevendust, and I’m with Eye Empire, but there’s not a night that goes by without somebody coming up and saying “Dark New Day.” It’s not just 20 people [in the world] saying “What about that Dark New Day record? It was never released.”
For us, it was about the fans anyway. We grew up together and loved each other and did well together as a band – especially when me and Clint released the song drawing our story. Clint, Will and I talked and said “you know what? We’re sitting on 60 songs over here”. Being signed and all that stuff, we were wondering, “Are we gonna get in trouble?” There’s music that we’ve never released to them [the label]. For us it was important to let the Dark New Day fans hear what we actually did. We worked really hard on that stuff. They kept us off the road. We came off the road to do the second record, but we ended up writing probably 2 or 3 records during that time. We just wanted to let the fans know where we were going and to put it out. We also felt all this love from the fans while we were in different bands touring and having all those Dark New Day fans going to Evanescence, Sevendust, Eye Empire shows and still supporting bands that we’re in now. It was a total respect thing going on. It helped build the future but it felt like an empty hole for the past without giving them that music.
I guess everybody is secure in their own bands. Everybody in my band, Clint’s band, Will and Troy’s band had such a high respect for Dark New Day. Everybody is loyal to their bands, but everybody in our bands are fans of Dark New Day and they were positive towards what we were doing. We were happy to release the stuff, but it really comes down to the fans at the end of the day. The fans told us “I love you” without releasing the music, and we didn’t say it back. It was an awkward thing until we could finally do it. Dark New Day fans were awesome to us from back then and still supporting the bands we’re in now. We needed to go ahead and do this. It’s not about the money anymore. It’s about the true love that they have for us and they had such nice things to say about the band all the time.
Were there any legal issues with getting the masters back from the record label or anything like that?
No. They didn’t own a lot of songs. The songs that they did own, we didn’t release. It was songs that we had written way before we even had a band.
Got it. So some of this stuff is actually really old and some of it was written with the intent of it being for the second record?
Oh yeah. Some of it was old, some of it was new. We had already finished the second record but just kept writing. We were sitting there waiting for something to happen. The one thing we do know how to do is sit around and write songs together. We had all that off time and started building a catalog. Everybody in Dark New Day was always writing songs. Clint would be like “here are 10 songs, here are 15”. All of us had so many ideas and that was the fun part about that band, man.
Yeah. It sounds like, when you listen to it, that some of the songs on both the second record and the B-Sides record sound like songs that could have been on the first album, whereas some of them sound completely different. Is that a representation of different guys in the band contributing in different ways?
Absolutely. There were certain guys in the band who liked heavier music and certain guys who liked a different style of music. We never cared what was heavy or light. We just wanted to write great songs. There were so many different personalities in that band and it was always fun to play something that you didn’t come up with. There was a huge respect from everyone for the writer. You had a lot of different sounds. We were all producers ourselves, too. At the end of the day, we just wrote what we felt like.
There were still more of them. There was a series of phone calls “I love this song. How about this song? What about this one?” We listed a bunch of songs that everybody liked. “What was your favorite from this collection and that collection?” There was no pressure because it wasn’t like we were able to tour it. Everybody just picked some of their favorite songs.
Very democratic process.
The 5 guys in the band… I know that there were some lineup switches with Will taking some other gigs a little bit earlier and Clint going back to Sevendust. Are the original 5 guys in the band the ones that played on all of the songs released or were there some different characters?
No, that’s all us. If we’re going to release Dark New Day stuff, it’s going to be these 5 guys. At one point when Clint was getting back into Sevendust, we all supported whatever we wanted to do. The one thing we know how to do is tour and stay out on the road and play. That’s how we made our living. So to kind of just be sitting there and writing a bunch of songs and waiting to go out on tour, there were a lot of politics behind why we couldn’t do this and that. We kind of just sat there stagnant for too long.
Ideally, we all just want to play music. I was glad Clint got back into Sevendust. I was a huge fan of what that group of guys did. It was good to see him come back. It was the same thing with me when Morgan was helping with Eye Empire. Brad and I started writing songs and I had a drum machine happening. Morgan was off because Sevendust was off, so I gave him a call and said “brother, can you come down to the studio and lay down some drums for me?” He said absolutely. We all grew up together. I remember reading some things claiming that one person was talking about another person; there was never any of that stuff. We are all brothers and love each other to death. We grew up together and taught each other how to be in the bands that we’re in right now.
You’ve definitely had a long career in a number of bands, obviously way before Dark New Day, so congratulations on that. You’re certainly doing something right. Does it bum you out that Dark New Day didn’t work out in the long run?
Thank you. I love that band. Me and Clint will always write songs together. Clint wrote on some of the Eye Empire songs. I often ask him about music and I co-produced the last Sevendust record. We always help each other out. A lot of fans wanted to see Clint come back to Sevendust, and I knew that was the right thing to do at that particular time. Troy got the opportunity to play with Seether, and Will went to Black Label and both of them are now in Evanescence. The respect that a lot of the bands had for Dark New Day was unbelievable. We knew that we did something right.
You were very much a musicians’ band in a lot of ways. You were appreciated by people who of course weren’t all musicians, but I think people who were musicians had a little something extra to appreciate.
Yeah. It’s a very humbling experience when you look up to a lot of these bands and they give you that much love back. It’s like “wow, all the work has paid off”. You sit in a room for hours, days and months and you write all these songs. At the end of it, you’re like “wait a minute, now everybody’s got to hear it”. That’s where some people go into judgment mode and some people just appreciate music. All you’re trying to do is just be as sincere as possible. What Dark New Day did for Eye Empire, Evanescence and Sevendust, I think as songwriters to get back together and do Dark New Day and go back to those bands brought new sincerity to Evanescence, Sevendust and Eye Empire.
Yep, sure. Let’s talk about Eye Empire a bit. You guys are out on tour now. That’s great. Are you getting good reactions from the fans?
Yeah, absolutely. We’ve done a few shows with Sevendust and we did a run with Wayne Static and one with Mushroomhead. Our singer Donald was in Submersed and our drummer was in Texas Hippie Coalition. To have all those fans from those bands come out and still show the love and stuff like that, they come out and give it a chance. It’s not like starting at the bottom, but at the same time you’ve got to prove yourself as a new band. We took our time. Coming out of Dark New Day I really wanted to have a band that’s going to match it or be better, so you want to find a group that you take your time with and you don’t jump in. There were a million times that we could have settled on this or that, but we’re very proud of our record. We know that we put all our work into it.
Is it frustrating for you having to start again all fresh like that even though you have the legacies of all those other bands? It seems like it’s kind of been (for you in particular) constantly having to do that, with the exception of Stuck Mojo, going into Stereomud and then Dark New Day and now Eye Empire. It’s always like a fresh, new start for you. Is that kind of frustrating?
You never want to see your band fall apart for any reason. Looking back, I can live in the past and go “I wish we could have done this or that to make it different” but I’m always trying to grow in music and I look at it like a chapter in my life and doing the best I can to be proud of it rather than wish and regret. I’m friends with all the bands that I’ve been in. They call me and I call them. We still talk about music. That’s what I’m all about anyway. To be in all these bands, I try to look at it as a blessing rather than a curse. With Eye Empire, I took a lot of time to find the right guys. I went and jammed with the Switched guys, and then I wanted to contribute and produce. Brad [Kochmit] and I wanted to go out on the road and play. We had a certain chemistry that I hadn’t found since Clint and Troy. I think if Clint and Troy could have a baby, it would probably have been Brad.
As far as guitar style, he has a really unique style, and you’ve got to be able to live with the person. Halloween was the two year anniversary of Eye Empire as far as signing our singer. He flew in two years ago on Halloween and sang “I Pray”; he was on the same page as Brad and I and just blew us away. While he’s singing, I’m trying to sneak texts to Brad “oh my God, we found the dude”. You know instantly. When you hear that voice with the music that you’re making, if it makes you freak out inside and gives you goose bumps and all that stuff, you know that you’ve got something.
He’s a really good singer, absolutely. Is it harder this time around coming from two past bands where you had the support of a major record label with the way that music industry is these days? Are you finding any cons or pros going the more independent route?
You have more control and you’re doing a lot more things and don’t have to waste money. The cool part about being in some of these bands was I would see tons of money going in the wrong direction. I see tons of money moving and I know that we have to pay it back. So we’re trying to be a lot smarter in the ways that we spend money and we have a lot more control. We have a partnership agreement with the label we have and being signed now to an investor/record company. It’s kind of like the Wild West out here. You can look at it like a jungle or a playground. To us, it’s more of a playground. We have a good time out here. The fans keep coming out and it’s building. In 2012, we’ll release it on shelves and stuff like that.
What else is in the work for you guys? You mentioned earlier that you were going out with Sevendust at the end of the year. Are there any plans besides that?
We have so many friends in bands and stuff like that. We want to be a band that can headline and build on our own merit and credibility. We have some great friends that are in bigger bands like Seether, Evanescence, Sevendust and all these bands that want to take us out – we’re always glad to go out with them. It’s pretty much bands like that that help build our career. Their fans are cool and give Eye Empire an opportunity to show them what we got.
That’s great to have that support. Are you continuing to work on your recording and production career in the downtime?
Oh yeah. After the Sevendust tour we’re going to do HDMS [Hello Demons Meet Skeletons, Clint Lowery’s solo project] and track some more of that. I get to pick and choose a little bit more of who I want to work with. Right now it’s Eye Empire. We’ll get back into the studio because we’re starting to write some new songs. Right after the Sevendust tour, me, Clint and Morgan do some tracks for HDMS, so that’s going to be real exciting. This won’t be acoustic. It’ll be a lot more electric. I said to Clint earlier today “let’s just go in there and do what we’re going to do. Let’s have fun”. He’s already starting to write some stuff and get some ideas. We’ll do what we’ve always done, but this is going to be a little heavier, a little more progressive and certainly a different sound for HDMS for sure.
Great. Thanks a lot for taking the time. I really appreciate it. I think with the Dark New Day stuff, there wasn’t really any kind of press around for the release of that record. I think a lot of the very loyal fans want to know all this stuff.
We appreciate it. This is the first interview about it, actually. We appreciate you all and it was important to let the fans know that they’re the reason that those records can come out. It was the support that they gave us and to the bands that we’re in. It gave us the courage to be able to put it out.
Photo credits: Corey Lowery solo shots by Kelly Lloyd of Hard Rock Reviews, Eye Empire shot by Angela Villand