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| 11 March 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Grey Daze, the 90’s era band helmed by Chester Bennington and featuring drummer Sean Dowdell, bass player Mace Beyers and guitarist Cristin Davis, give fans an early listen to their Loma Vista Recordings’ debut album Amends with the release of the single, “What’s In the Eye.” Before he sang, screamed, and serenaded audiences of millions throughout his storied career in Linkin Park and a host of other projects, Chester cut his teeth in Grey Daze. The mid-90’s band released a pair of albums (Wake Me and No Sun Today) but unsurprisingly the young Phoenix-based band was lacking the expertise and financial resources to fulfill their vision. In 2017, Chester announced a Grey Daze reunion which would see the band members, now with those previously lacking resources, re-working and re-recording a collection of songs from those early releases. The resulting music represents an important, yet unheard chapter—the origin story of one of modern rock’s most recognizable voices—and also a full circle moment among friends.” We were able to grab some phone time with bassist Mace about Chester, music, and more…

Photo Credit: Anjella / Sakiphotography

Toddstar: Mace, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule. I really appreciate it.

Mace: Thank you, Todd. I appreciate the invite. Absolutely.

Toddstar: Well, big flip in the world for you guys in 2020. Grey Daze is releasing an amazing album of old tracks renewed. The album Amends will be out on Loma Vista recordings, April 10th. What can you tell us about this album? There’s the obvious, but what can you tell us the fans may or may not pick up on the first or second time they listen through these tracks?

Mace: Well, being that the vocals are from original releases, Wake Me and No Sun Today, over 20 years ago. Even though it’s the same vocals from those two releases, there are many takes that were not used when we mixed those two albums. So there is going to be subtle changes and some drastic changes you’re going to hear in the vocals for the fans that already know the original versions. So vocals are different even though we’re using the vocals from back in the day, they’re different. I even myself, when tracking going over all this stuff, was hearing all kinds of really incredible new, different parts and different takes of Chester, obviously. So that’s definitely one thing.

Toddstar: You mentioned your two previous albums with Wake Me and No Sun today, like you said, over 20 years old. What was it like for you guys to go back and revisit those sonically knowing that while you might be able to find some vocals as you’ve mentioned, that weren’t used before, you weren’t going to be able to enhance those vocals even though you guys were going to be able to recreate the accompaniment for it. How did it make you feel going into it?

Mace: Well it’s interesting. That’s a great question and basically his vocals, the energy and the performance of his vocals made… The challenge wasn’t curating his vocals as much as it was for us as the writers and the players to change the music and bring it up to his level. Once the producers cleaned those vocals up and brought it up to a level, then it became extremely challenging for us to get that level of intensity, authenticity after all and everything to match Chester because these vocals are amazing. And so that was a challenge and we could not have done it without, I said this a couple of times, it took a village. Sometimes it takes a village. If I can list all the producers right here and it’s just amazing. So they each did their different take on each version. But there’s definitely a thread to the entire album. But you know, for instance, you have Esjay Jones, Pete Nappi, Lucas D’Angelo, Chris Trainer, Kyle Hoffman, Alex Aldi, Jay Baumgardner, Lu Rubin; a couple of those tracks and producers work together with each other. So as far as getting that together, we needed fresh ears and we needed fresh ears of producers that could bring us… because the original music from the 90’s it wasn’t produced. It was basically a demo on records with high energy vocals and high energy. Just a lot of tracks so it was basically a demo. It was not produced. They were not produced songs. We got a do over which is amazing as artists. Unfortunately, the circumstances are… It’s all bittersweet. It’s heartbreaking at the same time, inspiring that this is happening. Especially for all the fans and his family. So it took lot of people to pull this off.

Toddstar: What was the attitude of the band when you guys heard those first stripped back, cleaned up vocals? Was you automatically punched back to the 90’s when you guys had done those originally or was it “my God, how do we tackle this” or was it “We’ve got this”?

Mace: I can’t speak for the other guys. I can paraphrase some of the producers and I could tell you my feelings. At first, it wasn’t even a musical thought for me. It was an emotional thing to come back to hearing his vocals isolated and the lyrics the darker that Chester is known for and all that, I had to get past the emotional side of it at first when that happened. And once we did that, then the challenge became, “Okay again, how do we match the intensity of those vocals?” Eventually when it got to the point when we started getting work done and things were moving, the emotional side could be suppressed a little bit and we could just get to business with that.

Toddstar: Mace, going through the track list, what was the hardest track for you guys to embrace and record for this collection from your perspective?

Mace: I would say there’s two of them. One is “Shouting Out.” But I would say the title track, which is “Morei Sky.” The chorus is if “I had a second chance I would make amends.” That’s where the title of the album came from and it’s one of those things that it was difficult for everybody working on that song. It’s difficult to listen back. It’s imprinted in my psyche. I can still see different friends and family, when they heard what we were doing and hearing that song produced the way it was and things moving along, how and it’s just super emotional. Basically, nine out of ten people were definitely in tears on this song. So those two are tough. “Shouting Out” is the same way, lyrical content and everything. And we brought LP on there. It was just incredible, passionate and range. Oh and with her beautiful addition, what she did on that song, it just even made it more emotional. So those two songs for me are the heaviest and for most other people that listen to it.

Toddstar: You’ve just named two of my three favorite songs on the album. “Shouting Out” is definitely just a stellar song from, like you said, from the lyrics to the vocals, to musical component behind it. Just to me, a stellar timestamp for you guys as a band. With that said, how did you determine what songs to renew? You pulled these tracks off of two previous albums. How did you decide what songs you would use from those previous discs?

Mace: It happened organically because basically as we’re moving forward with the process and these producers were coming into the mix so to speak. They’re the ones that they wanted to do. And as they would give us versions, it would be a hit or miss. Sometimes, even though they wanted to do this one, it wouldn’t happen but then they’d pick another one. Bottom line is the producers picked them and the mixes started working, they’re the ones that came up and ended up being on the first release because as the mixes are done and they sound great. We would give different producers the same song to do, to see who just found the magic. This is a process and this took a very long time and a lot of mixes, and a lot of patience, and a lot of ego to be put aside for everybody involved, for the good of the record, basically.

Toddstar: Going through the songs and then when you had to get guests involved – this isn’t really a tribute album in that you get a Kiss tribute album or a Black Sabbath tribute album – but this is definitely your tribute to Chester, and Gray Daze as a band. How did you guys go about approaching people like Head, Monkey, or even Chester’s son Jamie on there, how hard was it for you guys to approach people to say, “Hey we need you on this”?

Mace: That happened kind of organically as well, also because of Robert Benish, Bobby Benish, I used to call him Buckeye the guitar player that co-wrote and worked on the No Sun Today album with me, passed. And so Jason from Wake Me who’s coming on board when we were doing the reunion and st arting to move forward, but were going to the shows and he started tracking this originally after Chester called and said move forward with this. When Chester passed and obviously we stopped all of those, Jason who works over at Gretsch, he’s got a lot of stuff going on. Cristin Davis, who’s our guitar player now had come in so we’d have two guitar players and my point is, this long winded answer is, we really didn’t have an original guitar player anymore. So at this point we thought, I don’t know exactly but it was Sean that said, “Hey, why don’t we bring in guitar players that Chester would have worked with, or loved, or friends and they did work with together” and so that’s how that happened. And once we started, because we started doing the record, Sean was financing it and so we didn’t even have a label yet. We didn’t care. We were all going to just get it out, whatever it took money wise. So we started bringing in guitar players and Sean’s had other deals and Sean’s involved with Club Tattoo and so forth, and obviously being so close to Chester for so many years, he’s very close with a lot of Chester’s friends and who are these players. So it was an easy… You know, he just said, “”Hey. What do you think about having Head and Monkey come in and do a track.” And they’re something like, “Of course. That’d be awesome”. So it just started that way. One at a time. And then when Chris Trainer from Bush came in to do some guitar work, he ended up co-producing a couple of tracks and playing guitar on numerous tracks because he just had such a fit. His passion for it, it was just so magical that we just kept going with it and so it was kind of organic the way it happened and people wanted to be on. More people wanted to be on, that are on it because once this kind of came out a little bit that it was happening in the musical community, people were asking to come on it. And one of the main thing, my humble opinion was, I wasn’t looking for anybody to do much vocals with him. You know what I’m saying? LP enhances and Chester loved LP. Sean knows this, verbatim from Chester. And Jamie, that’s an easy fit because Sean, came up to the other day and said we’d love to have all the kids on the record. Since Jamie’s the one that got on there and obviously in the future, we’ll get more. Jamie loved it and it was really unique. He sang on the same microphone that his father sang, because we did this record in NRG where Chester did the majority of his recording, and so it was all that was the synchronicity to all that because a lot of these decisions were made on emotions. Then once they were applied, we logistically get it all worked out. In retrospect that’s how a lot of it occurred.

Toddstar: Sure. Well, it’s crazy for me to hear these things and for you to explain the vocal components of these songs, how they were the original mixes, whether they were what were heard on the albums or they were the quote unquote editing room for pieces or whatever. Some of my favorite of Chester’s vocals and lyrics ever are from these songs. And then on the other side of it was Lincoln Park’s last album, One More Light. There was just something about… and it’s almost like these two pieces are perfect bookends for his career. When it comes to things like that, again, I think the songs just speak to me. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, I’m more of a metal and rock guy but I latched on to that last album. From the first listen to today when I hear these songs, they’re just amazing rock songs and that’s what I like about it. You guys hit in the 90’s and you didn’t do the Seattle thing or the grunge thing or whatever, you guys did a rock thing. What’s it like for you guys now? I mean, when you guys get together, are you still doing these songs? Do you guys still write? Are you still trying to figure out where it is and to try and incorporate maybe some other stuff you have laying around? What’s the next step for Gray Daze?

Mace: We already have. The material’s all done for numerous records. So if everything works out well and it’s well received and so forth, there’s a second record coming out. We have all the material, we have the recorded vocals, we have it. So There is Gray Daze, and this is me speaking, again, there is Grey Daze but there isn’t because there is no Grey Daze without Chester. He will never be replaced. So we may do live shows because there’s demand for it and so forth. It may only be friends of his on the stature or level, world-class vocals, you know what I mean? And it would just literally be, no one’s trying to sound like him. It’ll really be, you want to hear the record, you know, by the time we get up in there, maybe get up on a show with Head and Monkey and with another singer, and some one-offs. My point being there’s a band, but there’s isn’t because there’s no Chester. So when you say do we get together, we’re going to write more? Nothing to write when we don’t have him. So we’re just literally, what is here, what Chester wanted out and what we’ve done and what we’re going to think with that and enhance and move forward, that’s it. Once that’s done, it’s done. So, yeah. That’s what’s going on. You know, when it’s done, it’s done. There’s nothing more.

Toddstar: It’s bittersweet in that people like me and probably a lot more who will be discovering some of this material for the first time and it’s kind of like that great super group that you fall in love with and you realize there’s no way they can ever tour. You can never hear these songs and get that live experience from that. So being able to crank it in the car, crank it in the office or in the gym is as good as it’s going to get but it’s better than not having it.

Mace: Yes. And this is just an observation because I look at our website, the band’s website, and when you go to the shop say, there was a lot of the collectible stuff. I mean numerous picture discs and numerous different things and it’s because of that reason, the limited editions, that there’s a lot of options. Because once you’re done, you’re done. It’s it. And we’re really trying to give his hardcore fans as much as we can with what we have. You know what I mean? Really, as much as we can with what we have so they can have as much, by gift of gesture of what we can give.

Toddstar: I went looking for the original release. I was trying to find an original Wake Me or No Sun Today and I was astounded by the prices of those in the secondary market. I think No Sun Today, the cheapest I could find anywhere was about $400.

Mace: Yeah. You can’t find the originals anymore.

Toddstar: It’s insane. What’s going on with you Mace? The band kind of disbanded, moved on and everything. When you guys felt that you had reached a point where you couldn’t go on for financial reasons or whatever, what have you done in all of this time to keep your love of music and your love of Gray Daze, and your love of everything alive where this was still possible for you to pull this together.

Mace: I’m going to say, obviously, I’m not going to talk about it everything I’ve done for the past 20 years but I kept going. I did numerous records with numerous people, numerous things, boring. In 2010 that all stopped for me because I got sober. Really the reason Grey Daze broke up was because mainly my addiction and what came along with it. So when I got the call from Sean and heard we’re going to do this, I was already playing in a band, all sober cats, just a little rock there, you know? But my point being is, I guess this would not be happening probably, if I wasn’t sober. When Chester called Sean and then Sean called me. It most likely wouldn’t have happened unless I was sober. Because once you’re talking like, “Oh wow. I got my shit together.” It’s a healing. This whole thing is very healing in numerous respects because I hadn’t talked to Sean for quite some time. We had a falling out and so forth. So it was healing for us to come together to do it and was very exciting for us to get back on stage together all of us. That was the coolest thing for me. I didn’t care about the touring or anything, just the actual getting back on stage. As a musician you have probably a handful of… Depends how many bands you’re in and I’m older, like two or three that just for whatever reason that you could just get back on stage and this one is definitely one of them. Gray Daze was one of my most favorite band to be in live. To play live with. The energy on stage with Chester. I just could not wait to get back up there. And so now we’ve got to take that energy and put it onto this record. But I’m not looking to put another band together on the side and to jump off of this, what’s happening. My entire focus is on working with Sean and Cristin and the label to make sure that this is curated and done the right way and everything is done the right way and clear.

Toddstar: Well that’s the first thing that I kind of realized when I started reading the press releases and doing my due diligence once I knew I was going to get the opportunity to speak with you was that this has never appeared or seen or felt or even had the inclination to be what could be perceived as a money grab or anything. This truly was a labor of love for you guys in that you guys probably spent a hundred times more time and energy putting this together than you did the original recording.

Mace: Oh, this is years. This took years. This took years and talking to everybody involved. I’m going to be straight out blunt about this because this really bothered Sean and I, and Cristin and all of us involved when we hear that from certain people and things. Let me tell you, Sean owns numerous Club Tattoos. He has an empire. He’s an entrepreneur. He’s got books out. His car costs as much as it costs to record a professional record. I’m just going to say it. There is no money grab for Sean. He’s known Chester since he was 15. When we pulled up for the first rehearsal, I had a brand new Honda car. I paid cash for it. Okay. So I had plenty of money or Cristin rolls up in a brand new Mercedes. No one is looking for any money. And we have a very nice percentage for all his kids and everybody involved gets a share. I know Sean’s probably going to be donating stuff. We just wanted the music out and that’s why it’s so important for everybody to go to our YouTube channel and watch the mini documentaries. So the backstories, so you understand the intent had nothing to do monetarily and I’m sorry, that’s fact.

Toddstar: Like I said, I was very glad that I never once got that inclination. It was just because it does happen. I mean it’s reality and the fact that this wasn’t that because you guys weren’t trying to capitalize on that. Maybe that’s even what pushed me even harder and to really digging this music. But again, I appreciate your time. I know you got just life going on. So I appreciate you taking time out. I’ve got one more for you, if you don’t mind before we cut you loose. What’s the one thing you hope people take away from these recordings as they are listening to them?

Mace: I always think of his hardcore fans. I just hope it fills a little bit of a gap. That’s really for the hardcore Chester fans. I really think this is just that thing that helps fill a little of a gap for them. You understand? Just makes you feel a little bit better. It’s just more and it’s the prequel. It’s telling the whole story because obviously we know the heartbreaking ending but this is the beginning. So now you have the beginning.

Toddstar: Oh and thank you for helping bring that to the world because it’s an amazing set of recordings and made me more excited now that I know that there is a second round or more coming after this.

Mace: And again it took so many people to pull this off. Like even one Chester’s closest friends, Rene Mata, he A&R’d this project and the amount of work, and he helped us, get the players on the record as well. Oh, and this is one of his closest friends that put this together and he’s not a writer on this or nothing. He just wanted to hear it. Get the prequel out.

Toddstar: Oh, again Mace, I can’t thank you enough for the time and I wish you guys all the blessings and luck in the world when this thing hits the market again. Grey Daze, Amends from Loma Vista, April 10th of 2020. Everybody needs to go out and buy their copy, whether it be a download, whether it be a physical disc, which there’ll be one in my collection. So again, we wish you well with this and with everything else you plan.

Mace: Thank you so much Todd. I appreciate it. I really do. Thank you so much.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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