What happens on the way – Last Daze
Written by Ralph Renna on August 30, 2019
In some cases, it takes bands many years to develop a sound or make it to a point of solid recognition. Hard work, touring, recording and giving up your life as you know it is a good start. Sometimes, it means leaving loved ones behind and hitting the road. On tour, moving fast and slow, forgetting which town you’re in, all the while trying to stay clear from the demons that may possess your soul, the life can chew you up, spit you out and forget you. Not to mention other battles, challenges and obstacles will rear their greedy head and you will possibly lose a friend or two in the process. Welcome to the music business.
Katy Cole has survived most and maybe more of the above mentioned. She is still taking her band as seriously as the day she and guitarist Chris Schempp got together. Introducing Last Daze from Upstate N.Y., a harder edged blues, a real rock band with soul and beautiful melodies. Vocals that demand attention at first command.
RRX: Let’s start with growing up & music, your story, influences?
KC: My love for music has been lifelong. My mom swears that I was singing James Taylor songs at 13 months old. I used to demand Motley Crue before bedtime at three years old, and pretended I was the lead singer of the Misfits from Gem and the Holograms by four. My dad is a musician, so he taught me guitar at the age of 8, and I was writing songs by the time I was 9. I started playing with JJ Raymond when I was 14, and we became Decadence, a female acoustic duo. That was my first taste of really performing for a living. We started in bars and clubs, then eventually decided to write our own stuff and make a go at it.
RRX: Give us a little history of your musical career leading up to Last Daze?
KC: I have had a twisted path. Ha. I started with Decadence, which had a few periods of hiatus. During one of them, I got a music degree, and studied classical vocal pedagogy and music education. I kept playing and writing and recording through all of it, but nothing was serious, or as serious as a lucrative teaching career. Having a classical background made me stronger on stage and off stage. I recorded a couple of lesser known and not released albums as the Katy Cole Band, where I started playing with Chris Schempp, and that was where the hunger to be an original artist was fed. Decadence went from acoustic duo to full band, doing original music, and we started traveling to places like Nashville and Florida promoting our music. Last Daze happened when Decadence went to LA and essentially parted ways.
RRX: Last Daze was touring and working with Shooter Jennings. How did you connect and where has that led the band?
KC: We met Shooter in Monroe, Louisiana, when Decadence was opening for him and Chase Rice. We had VIP access, so we all were living our best lives haha, and Shooter came off the bus for promo photos for VIP fans. We jumped in and made jokes with him. He was very chill. Fast forward 6 months and we are looking to record again, and scouting out Spooner Oldham to record at Muscle Shoals, and we got asked, “Who is producing you?” It was a pipe dream and Shooter got brought up. He coincidentally had just been in news for starting a label (fate, right?). We had nothing to lose, so I gambled on an email address reaching out to his manager, Jon Hensley. He got back to me within 15 minutes, gently letting me down that they weren’t signing new bands and they were relying on Waylon’s catalog, plus projects Shooter was involved in. I came back asking about him producing our record in Muscle Shoals, thinking there was no chance in hell. But instead, he asked to hear our music. I sent him 4 of our best, and he was immediately excited. He then asked us to come to L.A. instead of Muscle Shoals so he could fit us in between tour legs. It was a dream. I was broke. I mean, dead ass. Rent was late, I was in a dead-end job, and not making ends meet, so I was leaving for 10 days, and flying 3000 miles away from home with less than 200 bucks to my name. Sounds reasonable, right? We had an incredible time with him. I am so proud of the record we made. We never expected it to be a hit, but hoped it would open doors, which it definitely did. Shooter is now in a golden age. He just won a Grammy, and just co-produced Tanya Tucker’s new record with Brandi Carlile. The fact we are even mentioned in a sentence with him seems surreal.
RRX: You recently took some time off to have a child. Congratulations! Will you pass down musical knowledge to your children? KC: Thank you! Absolutely. I mean, I’m not forcing them in any way, but my daughter is already a force on the stage and she loves musical theater. The baby plays drums all day, every day. Never a dull, or quiet moment in the house. It’s the best feeling, connecting with your kids over a song.
RRX: Let’s talk about your career motherhood juggling those with being a rock musician.
KC: It certainly isn’t easy. I’m not the only one juggling the responsibility. I’m thankful that my family is supportive of the time I spend working away, whether it be on stage or in the studio. My teaching job is quite demanding of my time, but I’m essentially growing a crop of musicians every day, and the impact I make on the students’ lives is so important to me and them. The reward of that is so much more powerful than anything I’ve felt doing anything else.
RRX: This year Last Daze released “Monsters in the River”. Shed some light on writing and recording this record?
KC: The songs feel ancient to me! I wrote a lot of the songs following my divorce, during a very tumultuous time. I love them, but they bring me back to a time when I was not really okay. We took a long time to make the record. There was a time when we almost thought we would never finish it. I was determined to finish recording before I had my baby. So a lot of the vocals were recorded when I was super pregnant, or just after I delivered. David Spreng, who mastered “Symbols and Snares,” did this album too, so we were psyched to have his talents on the post production front, after Jeff Britton did all the in house production. We are happy with how it all turned out.
RRX: What Does the future hold for Last Daze? Any plans for 2020?
KC: We are still unrolling singles from the new album, but have started writing new music, and will hopefully end up recording some new tunes, and get back to a regular touring schedule next year.