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Howie Day: About
Howie Kern Day (born January 15, 1981 in Bangor, Maine) is an American singer-songwriter. Beginning his career as a solo artist in the late 1990s, Day became known for his extensive touring and in-concert use of samplers and effects pedals in order to accompany himself. He self-financed and self-released his first album, Australia, in 2000.
Day signed to the major label Epic Records in 2002 and has since re-released his debut as well as producing a follow up, Stop All The World Now. Despite initially sluggish sales, Stop All The World Now was certified gold in early 2005 and has produced a number of singles, including Collide, Day's most successful to date.
Day has received significant negative attention over two high profile arrests. In 2004, Day was arrested and charged over an incident in which he was accused of locking a fan in the bathroom of his tour bus and destroying the cellular phone of another, for which he was fined. In December 2005, Day was arrested in Boston after reportedly verbally abusing the flight crew whilst under the influence of alcohol and sleeping pills. He was sentenced to one year's probation on April 26, 2006.
Born and brought up in Bangor, Maine, Howie Day began to play music aged five when, having been to an auction, his mother brought home a piano. Day began to casually play the piano, picking out the tunes of advertising jingles on television. Noticing her son's enthusiasm for the instrument, Howie's mother soon enrolled him in piano lessons, which he would continue for six years.
At around age 13, Howie's interest began to drift towards rock music and the electric guitar. Day's father bought his son a Fender Stratocaster and enrolled him in basic vocal training. Howie made his first stage appearance in August 1996 at Bangor pub Captain Nick's. Day played in local band Route 66 throughout 1997 and made sporadic solo appearances in local venues until being discovered the following year by booking agent Shawn Radley whilst supporting Ziggy Marley at the University of Maine. Radley became Day's manager in June of 1998, at which point Howie, still in his final year of high school, began touring more extensively. Howie's performing activities led him to miss 45 days of school and almost failing his senior year. At an unspecified point in 1998, Howie recorded his first demo EP, which contained covers of songs by Dave Matthews Band, Barenaked Ladies and Goo Goo Dolls alongside the originals "Buzzing" and "Lick My Lips". This EP was followed later in 1998 by a further demo consisting wholly of Day's originals.
On the strength of these performances and demos, Radley secured Howie a showcase at the annual National Association of Campus Activities conference, where he played for 1,500 college talent buyers. Having received around four months of bookings at colleges around the United States, Day decided to defer attending university in favour of his burgeoning music career.
Australia era: 1999-2003
Howie began recording his debut album, Australia, at Boston's Q Division Studios in 1999 with producer Mike Denneen. Without backing from a label, Day struggled to finance the making of the album and, rather than complete the recording in one session, was forced to record for periods of 4 or 5 days and then return to touring to finance the next batch of songs. The entire album took around one year to record.
Australia was released on November 1, 2000, and was preceded by a four song promotional sampler colloquially known as The Blue EP. Critical response to Australia was, due to the album's limited distribution, sparse but often positive. Immediately following the album's launch, Day began a marathon touring schedule in support of the release. The tour, which included spots supporting the Pat McGee Band, Dispatch as well as headlining slots on college campuses and venues such as New York's Bowery Ballroom, continued almost non-stop for over a year. During this tour, Howie began using the sampler and effects pedals which were to become a trademark of his live show. These pieces of equipment allow Howie to record his playing on-the-fly and loop the resulting sounds whilst building on them with his guitars, often giving an effect similar to the sound of a whole band. Day frequently uses this technology not only to back himself, but to construct long and often unique extensions to his songs.
Those close to Day have noted that Howie's touring ethic and policy of allowing the recording & trading of shows have in large part contributed to his word-of-mouth success. Day's manager, Shawn Radley, noted to LA Weekly in 2002 that "Tape trading is a huge aspect of Howie played Butte, Montana, and kids in the first three rows were singing the words to every single song. The record isn't in stores, it's not on the radio; the only way these kids can get it is by downloading it or trading discs."
Whilst Australia was not largely available in stores, Day sold over 30,000 copies of the record over the Internet and at shows , sparking interest from several major labels. in In April 2002, Howie Day signed to Epic Records, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment. Epic re-released Australia on June 18. With the backing of a major label, the re-release of Australia attracted considerably more critical attention, receiving largely positive reviews from - amongst others - Rolling Stone, All Music Guide and Popmatters.
Day's hectic road schedule continued after the album's re-release and into early 2003. After a tour of Europe in support of Tori Amos, Howie returned to the United States for a short run of performances backing the April 2003 release of The Madrigals EP, a five song CD containing demos of songs peformed live, a remix of Australia's Ghost and live tracks. The EP was released with a bonus DVD featuring videos of four live songs.
Stop All The World Now and beyond: 2003 to present
After the EP's release, Day relocated to London, England to record Australia's follow up, which was provisionally titled From a Northern Sky . The album, which would eventually become Stop All The World Now, was recorded in London's famous Olympic Studios with Martin "Youth" Glover, the bassist for British band Killing Joke whose previous production credits included The Verve's Urban Hymns, one of Howie's favourite albums.
While certain tracks on Australia had featured session musicians, Stop All The World Now saw Howie joined for the first time by a permanent backing band, consisting of multi-instrumentalist Les Hall, drummer Laurie Jenkins and ex-Verve bassist Simon Jones. In addition, the majority of the album's songs were co-written with either Better than Ezra frontman Kevin Griffin or Jump Little Children's Jay Clifford.
A full band tour to promote Stop All The World Now began on September 27, 2003. Due to other commitments, Simon Jones was unable to tour with the group and was replaced by Jeremy Curtis. The album was released one week and three days later on October 7 to tepid critical reactions. Rolling Stone's Pat Blashill referred to Stop as "not bad" but "indistinct", whilst Popmatters' Devon Powers noted that though Australia had been an album one falls for passionately, "Stop All the World Now is an album you have a crush on, not one you fall deeply, complexly, and foolishly in love with. And crushes have a way of disappearing suddenly, without a trace".
In March 2004 whilst touring behind Stop, Day was arrested in Madison, Wisconsin, for allegedly locking a woman in the bathroom of a tour bus after she refused his sexual advances. According to the complainant, he then broke the cell phone of another woman who tried to call police. On August 31, 2004, Howie plead "no contest" to the charge of disorderly conduct and was ordered to pay a fine of $200 and to write a letter of apology to complainant Alison Rafi. A second charge, that of criminal damage to property, was dismissed by the court.
Sales of Stop were initially sluggish, but slowly began to rise beginning in late 2004 with the single release of ballad "Collide", which became a popular radio hit and was featured on TV shows such as Scrubs and One Tree Hill as well as soundtracking a promotional trailer for the 2005 film adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice. Stop was finally certified gold in early 2005. Fan favourite "She Says", which was first released on 1998's White EP, was released the followup to "Collide", though as of 2006 it has not achieved the same success.
Boosted by the slow burning success of Stop All The World Now, Epic released the Live From... EP on December 6, 2005. The 7-track EP contains live renditions of songs from Australia and Stop All The World Now as well as a cover of Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over". The EP has not been widely reviewed, though the All Music Guide referred to the release as "holiday market product", "tepid" and "directionless".
On December 22, 2005, Day was arrested at Boston's Logan International Airport on charges of "interfering with a flight crew". According to the complaint, Day had taken a sleeping pill and consumed several alcoholic beverages, then allegedly became verbally abusive towards the flight crew and began kicking the seats of other passengers. According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office, Day also smoked a cigarette in the airplane's bathroom in violation of FAA rules. On December 23, Day pleaded innocent to the charges in East Boston District Court and on April 26, 2006, was sentenced to one year of probation. As conditions of his probation, Day must write letters of apology to the crew and his fellow passengers as well as attending an alcohol counselling program.