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Since the release of dada’s groundbreaking 1992 debut Puzzle, the trio has created an array of songs boasting progressive rock musicianship, dazzling vocal harmonies and melodic power pop layered with inspired psychedelic and experimental rock impulses. Adding to the trio’s groundbreaking line of attack are the marathon-length shows that deliver on the promise that every performance is the only one of its kind.
Two decades after the Los Angeles outfit embarked on its singular journey, singer-guitarist Michael Gurley, singer-bassist Joie Calio and drummer Phil Leavitt are celebrating dada’s 25th anniversary with plans for a national tour deemed the “dada Forever Tour” in 2017.
“dada is about digging into our roots, examining and celebrating it.” Says Calio
Dada was founded when Gurley and Calio began writing songs and performing as an acoustic duo in the late ’80s. But from the beginning, their approach was unique amidst the onslaught of ’90s bands featuring lead singers and mostly generic backing bands.
“Joie and I were both lead singers. But we really found quickly that harmonies were going to be a big strength for us,” recalled Gurley, noting both he and Calio are fans of Simon & Garfunkel’s pioneering harmonies.
Gurley noted that once they recruited Leavitt, they were able to blend the thunderous power of trios such as Cream with the artful harmony-minded songcraft of Simon & Garfunkel.
Additionally, Leavitt has stepped out from behind the drum set as lead singer and Calio is playing guitar in 7Horse, a psychedelic blues project that has released 3 albums to date. Bringing a stripped-down approach, 7Horse cuts to the bone and identifies core feelings and phrases in their music. Their latest effort Livin’ In A Bitch of A World was released earlier this year. Their debut album Let The 7Horse Run spawned the hit song Meth Lab Zoso Sticker, which was chosen by Martin Scorsese for his film The Wolf of Wall Street. Since then, it’s had over 1.2 million views, 5.5 million streams and over 100,000 downloads.
Long-time and new fans of dada all have one thing in common; they are passionate about the band and have a deep connection with its three members.
“We don’t have to buy what they sell.” It’s a lyric from Sound&Shape’s new EP but it could also be seen as an ethos the band has clung to for the length of its career. Starting off in a time where Rock And Roll was seen as almost passé and practically unmarketable, the band saw a point on the horizon and has worked tirelessly to reach it. An artistic vision based on both brutal honesty are theatric artifice, Sound&Shape’s body of work speaks as a testament to the belief in the transformative power of music, Rock and Roll specifically.
A mostly straight line can be drawn from the band’s ambitious debut record, “Where Machines End Their Lives,” through the “Love Electric” EP, to the more straightforward “Now Comes The Mystery” EP and the second proper album, “Hourglass.” With their third full length, 2014’s “Bad Actors” they went further afield in all directions and reached new personal songwriting heights. Now they’ve come to “Peasants,” a 5 song EP that takes the band’s sound and again elevates it to new levels. Tightly packed musically, with lyrics relatable on both a personal and socio-political level, this EP is the next natural step in their evolution.
After having been a 3 piece since their first album, Ryan Caudle (guitar, vocals), Gaines Cooper (bass, vocals) and Grant Bramlett (drums) brought in Chris Hurst on second guitar to fill out the sound both live and in the studio. With “Peasants” ready for release, the horizon looks bright and the road ahead looks long and exciting.