Doc Holiday: An Explosion of Sound

Just like lighting a full bag of fireworks right in front of the listener’s face, (something this band actually did while out on the road), Doc Holiday present an explosion of sound that is wondrous to behold.  Comparisons to Norma Jean and The Chariot may abound, but Doc Holiday is their own musical beast, presenting a kaleidoscope of sonic artistry.  With a compelling new release entitled Risqué Business and unforgettable live shows, the passion Doc Holiday exudes for their music is highly infectious.  We spoke with two of the Doc members to find out more about this up and coming band.

David Lee – guitarist

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Doc Holiday, and how long the band has been together.
My name is David Lee and I am the guitarist for Doc Holiday. We started out as just a concept in December, 2009 but slowly started coming together around Spring of 2010. I actually joined after Doc Holiday’s first show. I really felt the direction of the music, pulling away from every day metalcore and creating something different. It was really rough still back then but I could tell that this is something I would want to devote my time and heart to creating.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
The band is based out of a wonderful concrete basement at our drummer Brandon’s house in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Our real scene is based out of the next town over in Spokane, Washington. All I have to say about our scene is that we are truly blessed with such a great environment. Other local bands become brothers and the show-goers have become our family. The support and love everyone expresses both at and outside of shows is just phenomenal. This scene has become my life and I would never trade it for anything.

Is there any story or concept behind the title Risqué Business?
The basic concept is based around the fact that everyone has had struggles, life experiences, and their own stories to tell. Lyrically, every song is so different in it’s own ways. Zack, AJ, and myself all wrote lyrics that were used on this album and once we threw them all together and tried to find the common theme amongst it all, it all just came down to life. In the end we all have many different stories to tell so with everything thrown together it just made sense to call the album Risqué Business.

Please select any two songs from Risqué Business and what inspired the lyrics.
My lyrics that are used as spoken word on our interlude “Respite.” are actually very dark and based around self-destruction. Those lyrics were written after having to stay with heroine and meth addicts just so I had a couch to sleep on because I was homeless. It made me realize how our choices effect our future. The last line is “We created our own demise, now watch me die.” Those lyrics personally hit me really hard every time I hear or read them.

Then there’s the song “Three Sheets to the Wind“. We like to party. And well, it’s about grabbin’ your gun, hittin’ the streets, and telling’ Ma we’re gunna party tonight! ‘Nuff said.

What could one expect from a live Doc Holiday show?
Have you ever seen a lion take down a gazelle? Well, that’s a good start. We like to tear shit up. Breaking things is a common occurrence during a live set. We basically love to move. For me personally, every time we play we want to create a new environment and give the crowd not just a show, but an experience.

Has Doc Holiday ever played in the Los Angeles area or plan to do so in the future?
Not yet, but soon. We have some tours in 2012 in the works that will be taking us all over the West coast.

What was the experience like going on Warped Tour with Dear Future Records?
It was beyond life changing. The whole experience was more than I could ever ask for. I was asked by Alex Triplett to go with them only a few days before we left for California. I dropped everything instantly to jump on the opportunity. The moment we all got in the bus (well technically it was an RV for the first couple dates) and headed out I knew we were in for a crazy journey. Lots of ups and downs but overall some of the best times of my life.

Any unusual road stories while on the Warped Tour? And has Doc Holiday done any touring yet?
Well there was a flash flood in Boston where my laptop got fried. That was pretty awesome. It went from a normal, hot as balls day with no clouds to down-pouring windy hell in a matter of minutes. It was the only day on the whole tour that I ever brought my laptop to the tent since I had some graphics to finish up for some clients. I finished everything up and worked in the tent for a couple hours before the flash flood started so I had forgotten that I hid my laptop in the tent. Then once it started pouring I was so focused on saving the shirts and displays that I totally blanked that my laptop was hidden. So after we saved everything we could we dropped down the tent and a ton of people crouched under it while I took a “shower” in the rain since it had been a while. After the rain stopped there was about an inch of water on the ground. I ran to the bus to load up some wet shirts and when I got back Alex came up to me and said “David, try not to freak out but I found your laptop, picked it up, and poured water out of it” as he pulled it from behind his back and set it in front of me. So I freaked out since it was a $2000 and my only source of income. Then I went to the bus to calm down. 2 hours and a pack and a half of cigs later I finally calmed down. I helped load everything up since we decided to leave early to sort everything out. Before we left Alex and I went to stop by The Greenery’s tent since that was the only date they played on Warped Tour. I bought their new CD that wasn’t coming out for a couple weeks and talked to the vocalist for a bit. After I explained my day of hell he tried to give me my money back since he felt so bad. I told him shit happens and to just keep it. So we left and I listened to my new CD. My shitty day was still a shitty day, but at least I got to hear some great new music and I was cleanish. So that was a fun day.

Another fun story was on our three day break while the tour went up to Canada. We stayed at our friend Barry’s cabin and he bought us a TON of alcohol. The second day there we were all pretty damn wasted by noon and found out there was a Catholic picnic event going on down the road. We ended up going all drunk off our asses and a couple guys bought some way over priced pitchers over there. I ended up with one of the pitchers somehow so I just kept on drinking. Then some priests who were also cops came up to our group since we were so out of place and started asking for IDs. Well I didn’t have an ID and I wasn’t 21 so one cop asked me for mine and my drunk ass came up with the amazing excuse of “Well, you see, I’m from Idaho and we’re on tour right now. I’m 21 (not true) and I actually don’t have my ID since we don’t have to have them on us at all times. (also not true)” I don’t think he actually bought it but he threatened to arrest me if he saw me with any alcohol again. So we left back to the cabin and drank some more. Those nights at the cabin were some of the craziest nights on Warped.

The recordings on Risqué Business sound terrific. Who produced and mastered the songs and what was it like working with them?
We are really happy with how they turned out as well. We did 24 hours of live tracking with Lee Stoker from Spokane, mixing was done by our friend Dawson Scholz, and then the album was mixed by my good friend Jake Taylor. Jake actually lives in Norway and worked with deadmau5 on a project as his programmer. He has a lot of musical experience and has been making amazing music since he was like 10 or something crazy. I actually met him in high school and ended up living with him for a while and we jammed a bunch since he’s also a drummer. While living with him he created some of the greatest electronic music I’ve ever heard and just knows the in and outs of making things sound amazing. He’s insane at everything he does so I was very happy when he offered to master the album for us. All three parties that worked on this with us did an amazing job and just made it all such a fun experience.

Who are some of the bigger bands you have opened for in the past and what was that experience like?
Some of my personal favorite bands that we’ve shared the stage with are Letlive, Oh, Sleeper, Vanna, Upon A Burning Body, The Color Morale, The Bled, A Plea For Purging, Legend, Monsters, and The Greenery. The list goes on and on but needless to say, every show is just a great experience. We’ve gotten a lot of respect from bigger label bands for doing something different from the norms of todays scene. One of the greatest stories is when we played the show with The Color Morale. Long story short, I broke 3 strings, my guitar, my cable, and amp all within three songs so we ended up having to cut the set short. I was furious since there were so many people there to see us for the first time and we weren’t able to give them what they came for. Then Garret Rapp from TCM came up to Zack after the show and just started ranting about how much he loved what little he heard. He then told us how he was in the very back of the venue and the instant he heard us start he ran from the back and tried to work his way through the crowd and pit just to see who we were and hear what we had to offer. It turned one of the worst show experiences I’ve had into one of the coolest nights. Then we partied with Upon A Burning Body to top it off.

What’s up next in the new year for Doc Holiday?
Loads of new music, a lot of new merch, more shows, touring. The works. Basically we’re turning everything up yet another notch. We were meant to make an impact, we’re going to make that happen. There’s a bright future out there for us.

Any final words of wisdom?
Support your local scene. Sure, smaller locals aren’t always the best but they’re the reason our scene still exists and continues to grow. Support them and help them get better. Show them that their time and money is worth a damn. It’s not easy doing what we do but we love it and we’ll fight for what we love. Also, never stop loving what you do. Whether you’re obsessed with model railroads, owling, playing music, or anything in between, keep doing it. The moment you give up on the things you love is the moment when you lose sight of who you are.

Zack Jeffrey – vocals

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Doc Holiday, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Zack Jeffrey, I do the main vocals for Doc Holiday. The band has been together since the Spring of 2010, and I joined the band in July of that same year after moving to Idaho from Rochester, New York.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is our home base and we mostly play in Spokane, Washington. I honestly really like the music scene out here. I’m a little bit older than the other members of my band and with my previous experience with other scenes from New York and such, the Spokane/North Idaho music scene is pretty healthy and probably one of the most tight knit, Family-type scenes out there today. It’s a really comforting thing to see after growing up in “Tough Guy City” Rochester, New York.

Is there any story or concept behind the title Risqué Business?
Before I joined Doc Holiday our bassist AJ was the vocalist. When I joined I had a chance to write half of the lyrics. When it came to naming the album many ideas were tossed around but when we broke it down with the lyrics AJ wrote and the addition of the lyrics I had written that the majority of the album lyrically dealt with a lot of Risky, Scandalous, Teenage Angst-type actions and emotions. So when it came down to it, we felt that it just made sense to round it up and give it that title.

Please select any two songs from Risqué Business and what inspired the lyrics.
My personal favorite song on the album is the title track “Risque Business” as I stated earlier it was the first song I had the chance to work on from ground up with the band. Lyrically it is about a few separate events in my life that caused me to re-evaluate the type of people I let into my life. It deals with a relationship with a girl, and a relationship with some friends that had almost forcefully different views on how to live life. It means a lot to me and I feel it covers the type of relationships that literally anyone can face so that enables the listeners to relate with what I’m saying.

The lyrics for “I for an I” were written by me. This song was written about being betrayed by my best friend. In high school we were brothers and always had each others backs but when we graduated I learned quickly how replaceable I was when I didn’t have anything left for him to leach off me. “No more hurt, no more betrayal, no more stories & no more lies” as proclaimed several times in the song is me stating how I had finally given up on him and moved on.

What could one expect from a live Doc Holiday show?
We are FULL of energy, we occasionally like to break things, and just throw our entire hearts, souls, and bodies into our performances. No one Doc Holiday show is the same. We are always full of surprises.

Has Doc Holiday ever played in the Los Angeles area or plan to do so in the future?
We have not yet, we have some plans to hopefully book a tour in the Spring of 2012 and if that works out we plan on hitting a majority of the Northwest/West Coast.

What was the experience like going on Warped Tour with Dear Future Records?
I didn’t go on the tour this year with them however, I followed Warped with Dear Future’s owner Alex Tripplet, and Straight to Our Enemies in 2010. That’s actually how I came to be living in Idaho.

Any unusual road stories while on the Warped Tour? And has Doc Holiday done any touring yet?
There are always wacky tour stories, my favorite is one time while camping at a cabin with some friends in PA. Ian from STOE accidentally lit an entire bag of fireworks just 15 feet away from the cabin. I was trying to sleep in the van and all I heard was “HE LIT THE WHOLE BAG, RUN!” and then the sky lit up in a million colors. It was a pretty fun time.

Doc Holiday has not done any touring as of yet but we do have plans to do at least 2 longer tours in 2012 along with some weekend runs.

The recordings on Risqué Business sound terrific. Who produced and mastered the songs and what was it like working with them?
The album was tracked in 24 hours in the span of 4 days with Lee Stoker in Spokane, Washington. I had a lot of fun, we tracked all of the instruments live and did overdubs on guitar and bass. Lee really made me stretch my vocals for a stronger sound, and we did double tracks on each song, so I feel like that made me stronger and it’s really rewarding. Our friend Dawson of a local band called The Ongoing Concept mixed the album for us. He has his own studio he put together in his attic and has recorded some great sounding tracks so we knew that he would do a good job mixing for us. David’s good friend Jake Taylor in Norway mastered it, I honestly don’t know Jake at all but if he can continue making albums sounds as good as he did with ours then he’s good in my book.

Who are some of the bigger bands you have opened for in the past and what was that experience like?
We have played several opening slots for National acts. Some include; Oh Sleeper, Upon A Burning Body, A Plea for Purging, Lionheart, Letlive, and more. I love playing shows no matter who is on the bill, but being able to play shows with bands that I’ve listened to and supported for years is unreal. Meeting them, and having them tell me how they enjoy our music is an even better feeling.

What’s up next in the new year for Doc Holiday?
We are writing some new material, and planning some tours and bigger shows. The music we have been writing is not like anything else that we’ve done before, and I am excited to show it off.

Any final words of wisdom?
Coming from an almost 25 year old guy living in the hardcore music scene, don’t ever give up on your dreams no matter how old you are or where you live. Everyone has dreams, and there is no reason to give up on them.

Doc Holiday is:
Zack Jeffrey | Vocals
AJ Nussbaum | Bass/Vocals
David Lee | Guitar/Vocals
Brandon Kunka | Drums
Matt Butsick | Lights/Samples/Everything Else

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

Doc Holiday on Facebook

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