Ran Jackson sounds chipper and happy, despite the fact that he's not sure exactly where he is. His band, The Daylights, has been touring rigorously in support of their new self-titled, self-released record. They're in the middle of a 45-show run, with only two days off.
The reason they've become such road warriors lately? They're making up for lost time.
In a familiar tale, the young band saw stars and signed on the dotted line of a Sony record contract as soon as it was offered, which resulted in their 2004 debut The Shift and Blur.
The Daylights perform with Needtobreathe Wednesday, December 1, at the House of Blues.
"It's interesting when you're a kid and you're getting picked up by a limousine at your house, being shuttled to an airport," Jackson says. "Those things make you dreamy-eyed, but so much of it is an illusion."
It was an illusion they bought into during their early days as a Dallas band.
Since they were kids, Ran and his brother Ricky have wanted to make music. They come from a musical family, which includes their cousin Sarah Jaffe, whose career as a brilliant singer-songwriter is booming.
But the Jacksons' path has been far different than Jaffe's grassroots approach. They moved from Dallas to Nashville, and then from Nashville to Los Angeles, trying to pick up what they could from the music communities of each city. In Nashville, they quickly acclimated themselves to the traditional Nashville songwriting style, which can be heard on The Shift and Blur. It wasn't long, though, before the band grew disenchanted with the city, and they moved to Los Angeles, where they hired Danish drummer Svend Lerche and developed a harder, darker style more akin to Muse and The Verve.
Their label, however, struggled to find the right place for their new sound.
"We moved from Columbia to Epic, back to Columbia, back to Epic," Jackson says. "They just kept us there for two years. They weren't really doing anything, they just kept their thumb on us."
Eventually, the band was able to get out from under their label's thumb and decided to carry on without the help of a record deal. And it appears to have been a good decision.
"We know bands who are on major labels—bands that have 'broken,' so to speak—and they can barely pay their rent," Jackson says. "Here we are with a record that we just put out on our own, and we're actually making money for the first time in our career."
The record that Jackson is talking about is no small thing. They enlisted the help of super-producer Youth (The Verve, U2), who liked the band's demos so much that he welcomed them into his London studio for a cost of next to nothing. What resulted from those sessions is an enormous 15-song album of British-by-way-of-American pop, riddled with huge choruses and devastating hooks. It's clear that the band has put all of their resources into this record, and they're hoping that their hard work pays off.
In the meantime, The Daylights don't plan on taking any breaks from the road. They aren't even home for Thanksgiving, although they'll be close to their Dallas relatives thanks to a House of Blues date in support of Needtobreathe this week. But according to Jackson, residence for The Daylights has become a relative thing.
"Home," he says, "is where my guitar is."
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