Like a lot of up and coming DIY bands who eventually rock the world, the quirkily named hard edged powerhouse Gee Davey has been through some wild and woolly personnel changes since first wowing their fellow Long Islanders and indie fans everywhere with their 2003 EP Dear Theo. Now with group founder, guitarist and chief songwriter DJ Pearlman—whose former band Narcotic Gypsy opened for Ozzy Osbourne on the Ozzfest Tour—taking the reins as charismatic lead vocalist from GD’s recently departed original singer, everyone’s all smiles: the revamped lineup (including longtime drummer Michael Bontempi and new bassist Ray Kuhner), the band’s growing legion of fans and even Pearlman’s two year old daughter Charlotte, whose impish grin adorns the cover of Gee Davey’s explosive new disc She Sells Smiles.
In a state of flux for a few years, Gee Davey—whose hard hitting mix of fiery guitars, catchy melodies and poignant lyrics brings to mind superstar bands like Foo Fighters, Stone Temple Pilots and Fuel—was unable to tour in support of their critically acclaimed 2006 release Sparticle. That didn’t stop the album from becoming a major hit on the college radio circuit, with tracks like “Breathe” and “Skye” receiving airplay on over 50 CMJ (College Music Journal) reporting stations nationwide. Beyond spins on their local outlet WBAB, Sparticle made the Top Ten on several stations and—much to Pearlman’s bemused delight—got the most action in obscure places like Ruston, Louisiana and Valdez, Alaska!
Overseas, a podcaster from Germany has championed Gee Davey and played various tracks from Sparticle on his show “Next Big Thing” (www.nextbigthing.co.za); “Breathe” was a perennial in his Top Ten songs from around the globe. In addition, an acoustic version of “Fall Into You” was chosen for inclusion on Java With Javelyn, a popular promotional sampler of the country’s best indie music created by L.A. based singer-songwriter Javelyn. Texas based indie filmmaker Brandon Powell was so impressed by Gee Davey’s songs that he asked Pearlman to pen the title track for a movie he is currently in the process of editing; Pearlman chose to close She Sells Smiles with the infectious moody rocker he wrote for Powell, “Trial By Self.”
With the new lineup firmly in place, Gee Davey—whose name comes from a catch phrase on the 70’s classic animated series Davey and Goliath—is making up for lost time, launching an exciting slate of 2008 gigs with a May date at Molly Bloom’s in Amityville (yes, that Amityville!). The first show was attended mostly by friends, but the enthusiasm of the band’s new booking agent, coupled with the venue staff’s excitement over the band’s new music, led to three more bookings there on the spot. They’ve also played popular New York venues like the National Underground, The Zebra Club, Munchaba Lounge and the Performing Arts Theater. They've showcased at the coveted M.E.A.N.Y Festival (NYC) and USA Connected Festival (Calverton) and they’re looking to book even more major regional festivals soon.
Since the departure of original lead singer Jack Bielata and original bassist (and band co-founder) Wayne Macgregor, Gee Davey’s overall sound has taken on a slightly more pop-oriented flavor; the heavier vibe of the band’s older songs were directly influenced by Macgregor’s intense love for bands like Tool and Hatebreed. In line with the cheerier album title, She Sells Smiles reflects not only the unique new writing dynamic between Pearlman and Bontempi but also features a major stylistic shift that evolved with songs written specifically for Pearlman on lead vocals.
“There’s definitely a lighter, poppier vibe going on She Sells Smiles,” Pearlman says, “which is the culmination of all the creative changes Gee Davey has been through. My influences shine through a little more, and they tend to be lighter sounding rock bands like Incubus, Green Day, The Killers and Silverchair. The heaviest I tend to get is Godsmack or Audioslave. Mike and I have a completely different style when we write together than I had with Wayne, but the main criteria is still working on the song till it’s memorable and fun for us to play. Musically, it’s all about just enjoying what we’re playing and making sure that audiences can have a good time while connecting emotionally with us.”
The title track “She Sells Smiles” was, as the cheerful album cover attests, inspired by little Charlotte. It’s about people who don’t possess anything of material value yet whose presence makes our lives worth living; when Charlotte was born, the only currency she had was her smile, and that was quite enough to fall in love with. The title is a clever twist on the old classic tongue twister, and attuned listeners can detect sly references to those old perennial rock themes, sex and drugs.
“What’s cool for Gee Davey now,” Pearlman adds, “is that we’re basking in the glow of doing the kind of music we love to do, playing stuff we’re enjoying while our fans are really digging it. After being away from the stage for so long, it’s great to be out making people happy with our new music and having total strangers come up to us and saying they love the way the band is sounding. When fans give that kind of feedback, it just motivates us to keep the momentum going. It’s truly the best thing in the world.”
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