Nineties rock gave Josh Brown a muse, a voice and stardom. Then it nearly killed him. Now his band is giving the sounds that first inspired him new life on Day of Fire's third album Losing All, a powerful hard-rock record that explores the real meaning of rebirth.
Brown grew up in Jackson, Tennessee, where he picked up songwriting and a serious drug habit at age 15. Two years later he became the frontman for Full Devil Jacket, and at 22 he scored the big-time record deal. "I thought I was Axl Rose for a short time there," he laughs. The band toured with Creed and Nickelback and made a splash at Woodstock '99, but on his way to major success, Brown had a major crash: a heroin overdose in an Orlando bathroom put his career on hold while he rehabbed and rethought his life.
After several years out of the spotlight, Brown had a burst of inspiration, re-emerged with a new slate of songs and assembled Day of Fire -- guitarist Joe Pangallo, his brother Chris Pangallo on bass, and drummer Zach Simms. Brown penned most of their 2004 self-titled debut in his mom's garage and the band wrote and recorded its follow-up, 2006's Cut & Move, during a brief break in touring. The two albums sold more than 150,000 copies combined, and a few short years later Day of Fire inked a new deal with Razor & Tie.
For Day of Fire, Losing All isn't about despair and endings, but hope and fresh starts. In the two years the band worked on the album, everything changed: their business relationships dissolved, and Brown's eight-year marriage nearly ended, too. "This record was written from a real place, and everybody goes through this at times in life," Brown says. "I've gone through it a couple times where I've felt like I've lost everything."
But even when Day of Fire was at a low point, somebody cut them a break: Chris Daughtry, who had opened for them a year before his career-changing stint on American Idol. Daughtry invited Day of Fire on tour and co-wrote three tracks on Losing All, including the chugging, melodic "Hello Heartache." "He's the real frickin' deal," Brown says.
First single "Lately," a churning swirl of riffy metal, has Brown growling, 'Memories cutting like a razor blade/Pushin' through the pain 'til it fades away.' So what's the song really about? "Just letting go of all the crap, man," Brown says. Simms, who wrote the chorus on the way to a European show during a time of business turmoil, calls the track "a release for me," and explains, "It's about letting go of the things that have been clouding your mind, and hopefully will give people a reason to chase their dreams that may have been shattered by someone telling them that they could never achieve it."
The band didn't hold back a thing on Losing All, and everyone drew on intense, raw personal experiences for nearly every track: Super-charged slow roller "Airplane" tells of broken hearts and lost love, and the swirling grind of "Cold Addiction" examines the horrors of being trapped inside cocaine dependency. "Landslide" is an awesomely dark groove that could have come from Soundgarden or Appetite for Destruction-era Guns n' Roses. "Things are changing, and security can't be in the money in your pocket, you've got to find it somewhere else," Brown says of the track that's more poignant than ever during the financial crisis.
Day of Fire are true fans of Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains and Nirvana, and those bands' artistry, emotion and gut-busting power are evident all over Losing All. Without each part of the equation -- Brown's unique growl, Simms' hyper-energetic drumming, Joe Pangallo's powerful tones and Chris Pangallo's beefy anchor -- Losing All wouldn't hit so hard, or be so genuine. "We went for the integrity of true sounds. That's how we recorded the whole record," Brown says, noting that all the main tracks were laid down live. The album was recorded in a month near the band's Nashville home base with Rogers Masson.
Ultimately, though, Day of Fire's true strength is their sincerity, honesty and ability to grab audiences by the heart. "We have something to say. It's about love," Brown says. "We all go through dark times, but we can go through them together -- that's what rock & roll is about to us."