The night of Nov. 4th started off as most nightclub nights usually do: Amateur D.J.s spinning and mixing songs old and new, the early-bird clubbers stumbling around in a pre-gamed stupor and Pop Rocks strewn across tables mixed in with Hershey’s Kisses for the DNA Lounge’s Pop Roxx theme.
At around eleven, a sharp, groovy sound suddenly cut through the foggy haze. Choppy guitars replaced the D.J.’s mixes and a steady bass and drums kept the beat flowing. The crowd became noticeably more animated as local San Francisco band The Hundred Days cranked out one dance-inducing track after another. The band has been party-hopping their way through their tour, with their next stop being Oakland’s Uptown nightclub. Before they play their show at the Uptown tomorrow, the band had a chance to discuss their style, computerized vs. traditional music and mannequins.
The group’s dance-infused rock tones are drawn from both stadium-rock and electronica influences. However, unlike the majority of dance music today, The Hundred Days use guitars and drums as opposed to computers and drum-pads.“We’ve used computers before for playing with a click or sequenced tracks,” said bassist Brett Zadlo. “But it always ends up creating a stiff feel, and you can’t work with the audience since you’re constrained by what you’ve pre-programmed.”
The band did talk about compensating for a digitalized performance with a prominent stage presence. “I think using computers are fine as long as the artist compensates for it with a big show,” stated drummer Colin Crosskill. “If the show doesn’t make up for the fact that you’re using a laptop, then it’s all going to fall flat.” Singer Jon Smith also shared his thoughts on favoring guitars over laptops: “It’s easy to date yourself when you start using computers. If you play a guitar, I feel it’s a timeless instrument.”
With funky notes and solid rhythm, the band knows how to create a lively show. Zadlo and guitarist Jimmy Chen strutted around on stage, feeding and thriving off of each other as well as the crowd. Smith ranged from mature, Franz Ferdinand-esque vocals to vacillating, alto croons as the audience swayed to the group’s bouncy tunes. As their recently released debut album Really? was the only set of tracks they could pull from, the set wasn’t long. It didn’t matter though, as the band made up for a short set with songs that turned the dimly lit lounge into a full-blown party.
The party-themed music of The Hundred Days matches their lifestyle as well. The band described how cities that they played in could sometimes be polar opposites in terms of their respective party scenes. Some had classy, upscale parties with fine liquor, while others were grungy with people doing nitrous hits. The band’s music videos also reflected their festive behaviors.
While no one was passing out from laughing gas, the videos for “Girl at a Party” and “Sex U” had lots of mannequins acting as party-goers. The band decided to use mannequins both out of their ambiguity and cost. “We wanted to have this party scene for the video, but it was such a pain in the ass to get enough people over that we got mannequins to make up for it,” said Crosskill. “Mannequins are weird and creepy, and you can interpret their meaning and what we’re using them for in so many different ways, which is why they’re great for videos because there’s so many different levels of interpretation.”
For a band that loves to rage and socialize, it’s easy to see why fan interaction is their number one priority. The band shared their displeasure of bands that feel they are above their followers and don’t need to engage with them. “I get really disappointed if I pay money to go see a band and it’s my Friday or Saturday night, and they seem like they’re just going through the motions,” said Chen. Smith commented on how a strong connection with the fans can make or break a show. “The more we interact with the crowd, the better the show is,” said Smith. “If there’s no connection, then it feels that the band doesn’t care. It’s boring for both the band and the audience. The only way that it’s going to rise to another level is if you connect with your fans.”
Above all, The Hundred Days know that keeping fans happy is the key to a successful band. “Follow the footsteps of the people who came out to see you,” said Crosskill. “They went out maybe into the rain, got dressed up, drove out to the venue, paid a cover charge, bought obnoxiously priced drinks and then you go on and act like selfish, quiet people? We want to give the fans what they deserve after all they go through to come see us.”
From their catchy riffs to the pink ties and flaming red jeans, The Hundred Days represent a group of guys whose synchronous musicianship and upbeat demeanor make for one hell of a fun band. If you’re going to The Uptown tomorrow, be aware that the addicting melodies and funk-driven lines may cause a mass dance outbreak.
Ian Birnam is the lead music critic.