Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Q&A


Indie rock group Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. will be putting on full-throttle performances throughout SXSW, including a show at the Warner Sound Showcase later on today. (Photo by Jeff Snow)

Elijah Watson

Indie rock group Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. glide gracefully to the finish line like the race-car driver they take their name from. In their melodies you can hear the jubilant atmosphere of The Beach Boys, accompanied by electronic percussion that would make late producer J Dilla proud. Just one listen to their song "Nothing But Our Love," and you'll hear the two-piece's (three-piece live) knack for creating dazzling arrangements, all centered around a focal narrative.

The group is scheduled to play the Warner Sound Showcase Wednesday, featuring Kimbra Gary Clark Jr. Daniel Zott, multi-instrumentalist and co-vocalist for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., spoke with The Daily Texan about karaoke, songwriting and touring experiences.

Where: The Warner Sound Showcase
When: Wednesday, March 14, La Zona Rosa at 7:30 PM
*Badges and wristbands welcome; limited tickets for sale at the door
Photo cap: Indie rock trio Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. will be performing at La Zona Rosa tomorrow for their Warner Sound Showcase. Photo by Jeff Snow.

The Daily Texan: You guys recently finished up a tour with Fitz and the Tantrums, correct?
Daniel Zott
: Yeah. We had a January tour with them up in the west coast.

DT: How was it touring with them? Any memorable experiences?
It was great. It was great playing to a different crowd, rather than returning home and playing to the same people. They're [Fitz and the Tantrums] are a little bit older, so the crowd was a little bit older. But it was cool playing to people who may have never heard of us before. It was a good time on that trip; we had a lot of fun doing karaoke, and had some of our own headlining shows in LA, and a performance on the Conan show.

DT: Any notable performances during karaoke?
I'm really good at doing Creed, or anything that has the Pearl Jam-y, Creed voice. I was bringing the house down, but then I got trumped by this random dude wearing a suit and trench coat, who dropped Prince on everybody. It was unbelievable; that was the highlight of the night.

DT: You guys are also scheduled to do this year's Bonnaroo. How does it feel to be a part of such a festival, and who do you hope to see?
It feels great. Whenever you're on the same bill with groups you respect, it's just really exciting. We did Austin City Limits last year, and it was so much fun. Now that I know what it's like I always look forward to playing festivals, and playing in front of really large crowds. I imagine Bonnaroo will be pretty hot; I'm thinking of getting a dunk tank and allowing fans to dunk us in the middle of our set.

DT: That would probably be the greatest onstage prop ever.
(Laughs) It would be awesome.

DT: You guys recently had a competition where fans remixed your song "Simple Girl." How did you guys go about choosing your winner?
Well, Josh and I sat down one day and listened to all of the remixes we received and just rolled through it. We narrowed it down from 72, to our top ten picks, and made a decision on just one of them. The reason why, I think, we picked the PETA Chip one is because, it kept the melodic nature of the song, but also created its own melody. It was really fun to see people mix the song, and hear what they would do when given the opportunity to make something new.

DT: You recently tweeted about how all of Notorious B.I.G.'s records with all of the Puff Daddy filler needs to be muted out. I found that super funny. What other hip hop groups are you into, and have you ever slow danced to "Big Poppa?"
Of course, man. (Laughs) Although it's not my favorite, there's this cheesy movie with Keanu Reeves Where he teaches kids how to play baseball [Hardball]. In the movie the pitcher can't pitch well, and when he does it's because he has "Big Poppa" playing in his headphones. I love that movie, it's so sad, but it's so amazing to me. As for other rap I listen to all sorts of it; Kanye West had the largest effect on me.

When I was in high school I heard "Through the Wire," and it was just really inspiring. I went and bought the record that day, and since then I've been really into him. We he hired Jon Brion for Late Registration, that was one of my favorite records because I loved Kanye at the time, and Brion is one of my favorite producers. So that album blew my mind; the reality of it is, is that Kanye is really smart. There's no rapper close to making beats like him, and mixing samples with real playing.

DT: What I really enjoyed about your latest album, It's a Corporate World, is that the narratives behind the songs showcase your guys' knack for songwriting. Does the melody usually come first and then the lyrics, or do both feed off of each other?
They both feed off of each other. I may have one word for a line of a song, and once I get the rest of the melody, the melody kind of tells you what to say. But then again, there are times when there's something that I've written, but I have to find the right way of phrasing it.

DT: I know you guys have performed in Austin many times. What would you say has been one of your more memorable performances here?
We did go to Austin for a week, where we rented a house, and played two Modest Mouse after-shows, two days in a row at Stubb's. We also went to a movie theater and played Jurassic Park, and talked about why we liked the film. I felt like I was able to see Austin for what it really was; that's the best time I've ever had in Austin.