Music

Guess Whodunit When the Daybreaks Start Feeling Those "Bad Vibrations" (premiere + interview)

Photo courtesy of the artist

Nashville-based pop band the Daybreaks get into the act of filmmaking as stars of a suspenseful tale with an ending not as black and white as it may seem.

The Idea of You
The Daybreaks

26 October 2018

The Daybreaks might not be as mysterious as their sexy, film-nourish music video for "Bad Vibrations" that premieres today at PopMatters, but they look as cinematically cool as the characters each of them plays. Yet there could be questions from the few without a clue.

Who are these folks? What is their goal in life? When will they spill the beans? Where did they come from and where are they going? Why is there smoke in the air?

Figuring out the pieces of a puzzle involving this band of mostly unsung heroes — sizzling singer-songwriters Heather Bond and Kaleb Jones, along with producers Bobby Holland and Adam Bokesch — should be a snap for anyone in and around the Nashville city limits. But separating the fictional saviors from the villains among the group of enigmatic alter egos in this black-and-white who-done-what might take longer than the running time of three minutes and 42 seconds.

Along with the biting lyrics, that's what makes "Bad Vibrations" feel oh so good. "All the energy / That you sucked right out of me / Came right back and I could breathe."

Bond, who could pass for Queen of the North if Games of Thrones were set in the Al Capone era, plays Jules, a desperate woman embodying a role described on her shirt during a Gone Girl-like getaway scene. Earlier, she sings the explosive song while looking (passionately?) into the eyes of Sammy "The Smoke" Falco, just a hunk, a hunk of burning love portrayed by Jones. But what was that shiny, pointy object in her hand and that unidentified person in her bed?

Draw your own conclusions while viewing the Daybreaks' presentation of "Bad Vibrations", then read on to find out more about the players in this self-described synthpop band, their current and future projects, and why — perhaps the greatest mystery of them all — they performed at 35,000 feet aboard a Southwest Airlines plane.

The music video, directed by Chad McClarnon and produced by his brother Trey McClarnon for their independent film production company Best Part Productions, gave the Daybreaks a chance to become immersed in a stylistic project that seems to be a leap above what many Nashville-based indie bands can do while trying to make ends meet.

"We approached this video a lot like a short film," said Jones, who shed more light on the Daybreaks by answering several email questions for this article while receiving input from other members of the group. "We scouted locations for a couple days, plotted out a story and shot over several more days. Chad even built a lot of the set pieces we used and even made homemade sugar glass that you see Adam punching out through a custom door frame."

The Daybreaks have worked on several previous projects with Chad McClarnon. It started with the video for their debut single "The Machine" from their first album Find Me at the End of the World, which was released two years after the band was formed in 2015.

Fast-forward to the video for "Bad Vibrations", its intriguing, back in the crime-does-pay day concept conceived by the McClarnon brothers. Jones said, "Chad had a vision to bring this song alive, so we were basically just on board to be his creative guinea pigs."

There does appear to be a smoldering chemistry between Bond and Jones as they harmonize engagingly in the video, but credit that to his "acting" ability rather than a true romance. (Jones and his wife Allison have been married since October 2011, according to his Facebook page.)

In fact, when asked who was the better performer on screen, Jones said (apparently with a twinkle in his eye), "I think I speak for everyone in the band, especially Heather, that I, Kaleb Thomas Jones, am academy-level good. That's just my humble opinion.

"For real though … Adam Bokesch (as Ira "Shuga Fist" O'Rourke) has that look."

So where do Jules and "The Smoke" wind up? Let's just hope there's a sequel.

Meanwhile, the Daybreaks have returned to their regular day/night jobs as musicians involved in individual and group projects.

"To me, this group is like an imaginary musical captain planet," said Jones, a Nashville artist for more than 14 years who has performed in other bands and appeared on Season 3 of NBC's The Sing-Off as one of nine a cappella singers in the Collective. He went on join a cappella group Street Corner Symphony, the second-place finishers in a field of 10 in The Sing-Off's Season 2. His first solo album, Open Ocean, was released in 2014.

"Everyone's strengths and successes individually only build us up as a group," Jones said of the Daybreaks. "And together, it's pretty dang cool. It's indicative of Nashville as a community. We root for each other and we work our asses off to make all of our passions not only work, but work together. It's hard, and juggling schedules can be a nightmare. Our priority is making great music, connecting with people and sharing love. This band has been an incredible vessel for all of us to do just that. We want it to grow as much as it possibly can."

There's no word on a follow-up to The Idea of You, the 2018 release that was the group's second album, yet Bond, who calls Louisville, Kentucky, her hometown but has resided in Nashville for the past decade, was billed elsewhere as a "piano–pop starlet" after dropping her own record So Long in September 2015. Following successful song placements on TV shows ranging from Jane the Virgin to Sesame Street, her sophomore solo album (with producer Viktor Krauss) is in the works for a 2019 release.

Holland whose character in "Bad Vibrations" is called Big Twinkle, is actually the lone Nashville native of the group, and attended Middle Tennessee State University. As a producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist, he has worked with Love and Theft, ZZ Ward, Aaron Tippin, Maggie Rose and many others. Currently a "resident" at Pentavarit Studios in Nashville, he was the engineer on Kesha's Rainbow, joining a list of nominees for best pop vocal album at the 2018 Grammy Awards.

From Youngstown, Ohio, Bokesch has also spent more than 10 years living in Nashville as a producer, engineer (Chely Wright, Emily West) and solo instrumentalist, collaborates with Holland at Pentavarit, and some of his work has been featured on short films and television. Like Jones, he attended Belmont University.

The Daybreaks are currently on tour (see dates listed below), and hope to eventually get some international dates, "the more unconventional, the better," Jones said, regarding his dream places to play. "Until then, Red Rocks would do just fine."

Their most unusual performing experience so far (Jones also called it "odd and exhilarating") might have been in 2017 aboard a Southwest Airlines plane at 35,000 feet on a Nashville-to-Los Angles flight for the company's Artists on the Rise residency program. The Daybreaks were one of six bands competing for a chance to open for the Fray that June at the majestic Red Rocks Amphitheatre west of Denver.

"It's a strange feeling having your audience literally trapped in front of you. 'Well, I sure hope they like indie music 'cause that's what we got …' was a constant refrain stirring in the back of my mind," Jones said of their Live at 35 session. "It turned out amazing and overwhelmingly positive, besides the dude that was trying to watch the finale of Breaking Bad on his iPad."

During relatively humdrum road trips in the van, Jones said he, Holland and Bokesch become fanboys who enjoy passing the time by discussing the merits of Game of Thrones, especially after the show's HBO run ended to mixed reviews.

"Overall, GOT is the best television ride I've ever been on," Jones said when asked to give his impressions. "Beautifully written, acted, costumed, shot, stunted, makeup-ed … like everything was engrossing and great. For me personally, the finale was just my least favorite part of the amazing ride. It didn't crush my soul into a thousand pieces. It just surprised me. And isn't that the most GOT thing they could have done?"

Perhaps Jones and the rest of the Daybreaks also learned a lot about the art of presenting suspense for "Bad Vibrations", which is a reel good feeling to know.

Five more for Kaleb Jones of the Daybreaks

What were the most and least enjoyable things about making the video?

Videos usually entail long hours and juggling lots of schedules, which is exhausting on all levels. But when you work with passionate, brilliant people, it feels more like family just hanging out. We get to be creative together and make something we're all proud of that couldn't exist without each other. The work and hours are always worth it.

Who wrote the song "Bad Vibrations," and what specifically motivated you to write it?

The best part of The Daybreaks' process is we have a lot of really good filters to run songs through in each other. The song started as a rough demo I made at home. Then Heather and I defined the idea and the melodies more. Then we take it to Bobby and Adam at Pentavarit Studios to breathe life into the ideas.

This song in particular is pretty self-explanatory. Some people give you bad vibes and you're just not meant to be everyone's best friend. It doesn't mean they're bad people even, but everyone should surround themselves with people that build them up and add life rather than tear them down and suck it away.

What's the short story behind your group name the Daybreaks?

I spent a lot of years waking up well before the sunrise to go to work at a coffee shop called Sam and Zoe's in Berry Hill here in Nashville. It's how I supplemented my love and passion for music. Starting work crazy-early meant I could work a whole shift in the morning and still pursue writing, session work, rehearsals and all of my other musical endeavors on the other half of the day. Most of the music industry machine doesn't start till 1:00 pm anyways. There were long nights of shows and early mornings of smiling at mean people but at the end of the day I had the freedom to get to where I am. I remember watching the sunrise on my way to work one morning. I have a note in my phone titled "band names," which is a running list of, well, band names. That morning I wrote down The Daybreaks and it just stuck.

Can you also summarize how this group was formed?

Jones: Hard work. Opportunity. Chance. Luck. Friendship.

There's a term in Nashville that goes, "Hey, we should write." It has almost become a social nicety as common as hello and goodbye here. But one fateful day at the Sputnik Studios Annual Christmas Party, that phrase became reality. And a co-write became a demo, a demo became an EP, an EP became a band, and that band became a vision, and that vision keeps on growing every day.

What's the idea behind your album The Idea of You?

Jones: Happiness = Expectations - Reality

Explore a lot on this album both sonically and lyrically but it all wrestles with real life, real feelings and real honesty in a world where we celebrate fabricated versions of those things.

TOUR DATES

6/6 - Bowling Green, Ky. @ Tidballs
6/7 - Chattanooga, Tenn. @ Nightfall Concert Series
8/3 - Gallatin, Tenn, @ Fire On The Water Music Festival
8/8 - Lexington, Ky. @ Sunburn Concert Series
8/10 - Huntsville, Ala. @ The Camp

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