A new ‘Day’ for rock

Gillian Perazzo

Maine native Howie Day graduated high school, skipped college to get a jump on his career, “but wound up spending a lot of time touring college campuses,” the 22-year-old singer-songwriter said. “Four years later I’m releasing a new record instead of getting my degree.”

While some Y100 listeners could easily write Day off as a mellow artist singing his youth-written bubbly, sunshine-day music, fans adamantly say, “that’s where you’re wrong.” Howie Day’s guitar riffs and vocals may be a blend of John Mayer, Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz, however, what sets Day apart from all the Johns, Jacks and Jasons, are his compelling live performances. By using loops and delay petals, Day can alter the sound of the guitar to engender rhythms and melodies and manipulate the audience into believing there is a band hidden somewhere within his solo act.

His strong fan base also sets Day apart from other major-label breakthrough artists. While Day may be a new name to many, manager Shawn Radley set up a incentive marketing program that created Day’s strong grassroots support. Like other bands such as the Dave Matthews Band, Day allows fans to bring recording equipment to concerts and tape his performances. The beauty was that the delay petals and ever-changing lyrics cause the songs to sound different every time. This unique approach encourages listeners to trade tapes of concerts and provides Day with the best publicity he could ask for: word of mouth.

Additionally, Radley instituted a rep program where each audience member could act as a representative for Day. Concert-goers were permitted to leave the gig with 10 copies of Day’s independent release, “Australia,” and sell them on an honor system. Those who sold all 10 would be permitted to attend Day’s shows free of charge. Coupled with a web site, the Howie Day Trading Board, acting as a contact base for tape traders, Day has essentially turned every fan into an independent public relations agent. Not a bad deal, really.

Day is set to release his major-label debut album, “Stop All the World Now” on Oct. 7. This is Day’s first full-length record for Epic Records and includes guest appearances by Jay Clifford of Jump Little Children, ex-Verve bassist Simon Jones, L.A. guitarist-keyboard player Les Hall, London drummer Laurie Jenkins, as well as an orchestra accompaniment on several songs. He is set to hit the road this fall, but this time with a band to back up his sing-along vocals and addictive tunes.

With credits that include the 2003 Boston Music Award for “Outstanding Male Vocalist,” “Debut Album of the Year” for “Australia,” and a feature on the “I Am Sam” soundtrack, Howie Day looks to have staying power for the days to come.