From the stark, staccato guitar chords in the intro of the title track to the funkier, cascading arpeggios of album-closer "Thanks for the Cards," the seven-song Americallusion — the long-awaited studio album from local rock quartet The DaliDrama — exudes confidence and conviction. There's nothing frilly or excessive about the production quality. There's nothing pretentious about the performance. There's nothing lyrically sugar-coated in the verses or choruses. It stands up powerfully in its pure simplicity.
The hard-hitting band made their debut in 2006 when singer/guitarist Chris Patterson and bassist Todd Few stepped away from their previous band Wormbelly and hooked up with guitarist John Emerson. With new drummer Dave Perry on board, they finally completed Americallusion.
Last winter, the band hooked up with Nashville producer Mike Corr for a week at the massive Dark Horse Recording studio complex (darkhorserecording.com) in Franklin, Tenn. They met by way of Few's father, Johnny Few, a longtime professional musician who fronts a band called Johnny Few & The Far Betweens (he plays bass in Widespread Panic keyboardist John "JoJo" Hermann's Mardi Gras Band as well). The DaliDrama returned to the studio for three days to do the final mixes in the spring. The sessions were the most professional Patterson and his bandmates had ever experienced.
"We were very lucky to work at the Dark Horse," Patterson says. "The place is like a little castle ... a four-story wooden building that was just beautiful. It was an awesome experience, man — probably one of the best experiences I'd ever had. I wanted to step ahead with some new songs, and I definitely wanted to do something a lot different from what it was in Wormbelly. It's been a really cool writing experience with these guys."
Two years ago, Patterson and his bandmates stayed busy gigging in and around Charleston's alternative-rock scene, working from a more traditional hard-rock foundation than some of the younger acts.
"I'd say it's the farthest thing away from nü-metal," Patterson laughs. "That was just a horrible time in music. It's a tough thing to try to define your own band's sound. There are definitely tinges of early-'90s alt stuff. To me, that was the last great time of rock music."
With the band's signature sound based on heavy guitar riffs and a grinding, grunge-esque rhythm section, Patterson doesn't exactly sing dainty love songs. There are no pretty little life situations on Americallusion. He's keeping the vibe fairly sullen and serious.
"I'm glad we included the lyrics in the CD. I write very obscurely ... you have to dig in to exactly what I'm saying. It was definitely a morose time [when I wrote the lyrics], and it still is now, as we feel the impact of everything that's going around. It's like the album title says — like me dipping in and out of five fucking jobs this year, you know? I've recently talked to the Air Force Reserve and the Coast Guard ... that's how bad it's become. It's fucked up."
Over the last year, due to fluctuations in the local economy and in the bandmates' own personal work situations, the DaliDrama has stayed off the radar a bit more than they hoped. Fortunately, 2010 looks brighter.
"It seems like we've been taking a hiatus, and we're taking another brief break after this show, just so that all of us give our heads a rest," says Patterson. "For this Tin Roof show, we have a few new songs that no one has heard yet. We're definitely taking the rest of the year off. We'll just try to feel everything out and see what's going on amongst ourselves."