Wed, Jan 18, 2023 1:35 PM
For Blenheim brothers Jayden, Jesse, and Jonny Paul, music is in the blood. The siblings, plus their mates Rick Everard and Cody Wilcox, are making it big with their now Auckland-based band, Daily J.
Kate Russell catches up with lead singer and guitarist, and oldest bro, Jayden, about their unprecedented overseas success, new music, and an upcoming tour back home.
If you are not familiar with Daily J, think indie-rock with a touch of electronic pop and catchy melodies all blended with delicate guitar hooks. Pretty nice stuff. The band has racked up over 40 million streams on Spotify, and released one EP and one album thus far, with new music dropping next month.
Jayden, now 28, learned how to play the guitar at age 10 and says music has always been a family affair, “Our mum taught us to sing when we were young
She is a great singer and plays the piano, so she was the musical influence on us. Music was always playing in the house.” They started a covers band called The Gap with a mate, Riley Stubbs, and they spent their nights playing in local pubs.
He says it is hard to recall the moment when it switched to being “a thing they actually did”. “About five years ago we were starting to write more songs and were really enjoying it, so we decided to move to Auckland to try and make it a thing.” And a thing it has certainly become.
After relocating to Auckland, they started the hunt for a drummer, and Jayden says they’ve gained a new brother in Rick, “Finding a good drummer was no easy task, to be honest. But luckily through our manager, we were introduced to Rick at a party. He turned up to the first practice with some Speights which we thought was very serendipitous. Maybe it was meant to be, it was a good sign.”
Rick was already playing in a band called The Rambling at the time but was easily persuaded to jump to the Daily J ship. “He heard our music and fell in love with it. He is like a brother now after five years,” says Jayden.
Their first EP, The Other Side “was a bit of a home job” in 2017, and their first full album in 2020 was Venus Ate Mars. “We were lucky enough to get album funding through NZ on Air which helped a lot as it is no cheap venture,” says Jayden.
Following the success of the album, the band went on to tour New Zealand. Along the way they met guitarist and producer Cody Wilcox, who joined the band onstage for some of the live performances. Cody has stuck with Daily J since and has gone on to produce their last three singles including 'Blue', 'Stay' and 'Tides.'
Cody and the boys are now working on a two-part EP, set to be released this year, with the first part expected in February, “It will be the same length as an album, but we decided to break it up into two EPs, which will also be pressed on vinyl,” says Jayden.
“We’re just experimenting. We find that in today’s music world you’ve got to release as much music as you can and as frequently as possible to keep up with everything.”
Their Australian fan base is huge, and they have four times the listeners over the ditch than they do in New Zealand. In the USA, they have three times the listeners. The boys completed a much-anticipated six-show Australian tour at the end of 2022, “It was our first international tour, and we were pretty excited because my brothers and I hadn’t actually been to Australia before,” says Jayden. “We were pumped to get over there and play to our fans, it’s been a long time coming, we’ve had to cancel two Australian tours because of the pandemic.”
Jayden says playing in Sydney felt like a homecoming show. “It is our top listening city in the world, so everyone was just so excited and singing all the lyrics. It was a pretty surreal experience. I feel like it will forever be a ‘pinch me’ moment.”
Getting back to shows after the Covid-19 pandemic was a bit of a learning curve for the band, though. “We had a year and a half with no gigs so it was like learning how to walk again. All the preshow jitters came back,” says Jayden.
He says they are slowly getting used to the fame side of things. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve kind of just been slogging away so it still feels quite new. It’s really cool after a gig to have a photo and a yarn with people. It’s nice to have people message us or tell us how much our music has impacted their lives.”
Although the band has only done one collective tour in New Zealand, with the odd show in between, they are planning on touring the land of the long white cloud this year. “We are talking about doing a larger New Zealand tour and we’ll try to hit up not just the main centres, but the small coasty towns as well.” And of course, Blenheim will be one of the most important stops. “It’s been about three years since we’ve played in Blenheim, so we’re pretty excited. We’re keen to get back to the roots and perform to all the people who have been involved in our lives from the get-go.”
It has been a while since they have done a Marlborough show, but Jayden says they head back there often to visit their parents and their dog. “Our parents have a neat little spot in Waikawa and we try to get back as much as we can. We love the water, fishing, hunting - all that good stuff that Marlborough has to offer. “We do miss it, but we love Auckland for its music scene, it’s a happening place - not to say that Blenheim isn’t,” he jokes.
One of their biggest musical influences is American rock band, Kings of Leon, who are also made up of three brothers, plus their cousin. “They would have to be the biggest one. We got to see them for the first time in concert recently and we lost our minds as you can probably imagine. It was mind-blowing and probably our coolest concert to date - probably because they have influenced our music so much. “I think that they are good songwriters and come up with the best hooks and melodies,” Jayden adds. Tame Impala and Arctic Monkeys have also influenced their sound, Jayden says.
Jayden says although they have their moments, it’s pretty cool being in a band with his brothers. “It can be quite brutal being brothers, we’re very honest. But we get along so well, we’re best mates.”
And did they think they would get this far with their music? “People always ask what you want to be when you grow up, but I had no idea. I have always loved music but didn’t really see it as being a feasible thing,” says Jayden.
“It’s one of those things where you love doing it and you know you’re going to give it a go anyways and if doesn’t work out it's okay. I’m also a big dreamer, and I believe. It’s not the easiest ride but it’s a truly rewarding one when things do pay off, you find that along the way.”