“I’ve had bruised ribs, sprained ankles, and, oh my god, the worst rug burn you have ever seen,” Forrest Day, the East Bay singer-rapper-saxophonist-badass frontman for his eponymous band, mused about the sleepwalking habit that inspired his hit single, “Sleepwalk.”
(SCROLL DOWN FOR "HYPERACTIVE" FROM NEW ALBUM)
Day’s new self-titled album releases on October 11, and "Sleepwalk" is just one of many surprisingly vulnerable songs. “I jumped off of the bed at a full sprint, landed on my knees, and slid across the floor. I was bleeding from the burns,” he remembered. “When you wake up in pain and you have no idea where you are, it’s really disorienting. The song is all about disorientation.”
Day approaches all of his songs this way. “Everything is nonfiction,” he told The Huffington Post.
His conversation, like his songs, changes course in a constant stream of self-exploration. He is open about his struggles and personal life: He paused thoughtfully after the sleepwalking story and announced that the girl he’s just started seeing suggested that he take time off to get help. “Maybe I should,” he said. And then he immediately launched into plans for his upcoming tour.
But if passion breeds success, the proof is in the new album. The story of the album’s production is filled with obsession. (Friends staged interventions to get Day to stop borrowing money to complete it.) But the result is one of the strongest albums to come out of San Francisco this year. Like the frontman, it is irresistibly engaging. And Forrest Day, a band often overlooked in the past, may find the response it needs for the national stage.
We sat down with Day to talk about the new album:
Your album is out October 11. What can we expect? I wanted to make a really warm, organic record but balance it with sample-based hip-hop. Only we didn’t use any samples. We recorded everything ourselves.
How did you do that? We’re all musicians—I play the saxophone, my guitarist plays the violin, etc. So anything that we would sample, we just played. We wanted it to sound old-fashioned, but still expertly produced. So we set up two microphones in the room and spaced everyone according to how we wanted it mixed. Then we recorded it on reel-to-reel analog tape and transferred it over to digital.
You produced this album yourself. Why not just spring for a producer? I wanted to educate myself so we could have total freedom. But I ended up spending way more money than I needed to because I wanted to know what every which way would sound like. I tried every microphone, every tape speed--I wanted to hear it all.
Tell me about your experience making this album. The biggest story with this album is the money, in that I didn’t have any of it and I spent a ton of it. I borrowed so much money, more than I ever thought possible. My friends got worried about me because it seemed so irresponsible. I started to feel like that woman from the Winchester Mystery House who just kept adding rooms. And then at the end, we were cut a check and I paid everyone back in one fell swoop.
What’s next for you guys? We’re just about to go on tour, starting with a show in SF at the Independent on September 9. And we just finished a music video for "Sleepwalk" that should be ready in three weeks. We filmed all of these nightmare sequences. There’s one scene of me walking into the ocean in a full suit—we had guys with SCUBA gear filming me on a mattress at the bottom of the sea with a mermaid model swimming around. In another scene, I’m riding a motorcycle in a dress through Oakland while my bandmates chase me down in a truck. It’ll be up on YouTube in a month. You should check it out.
Check out our first listen to Forrest Day's new single "Hyperactive" below:
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Forrest Day's forthcoming album as Ninth Street Opus. The album is actually titled Forrest Day.