With Motley Crue and Def Leppard co-headlining, the Stadium Tour is packed to the rafters with live music. Kicking things off at every stop: Classless Act, the young, Los Angeles-based act that might just be one of the best-kept secrets in rock ‘n’ roll (but not for long).
With anthems like “This Is For You,” Classless Act weaves rowdy guitar lines with hard-driving grooves. Their songs are stitched together with infectious hooks that will stay with listeners long after the sounds fade from their speakers.
They worked hard on their self-titled debut, which arrived at the beginning of the summer, writing more than 50 songs to arrive at the final 12. Their first taste of extensive national touring came earlier this year when they hit the road with Dorothy. Graduating to stadiums this summer has been a baptism by fire, but the band members say they’re adjusting well as the trek progresses.
UCR spoke to vocalist Derek Day and bassist Franco Gravante on a recent day off to find out how the tour is going.
I have to give credit to all of the bands on this tour. The weather has been pretty crazy so far.
Gravante: Yeah, and you know, they go out there and kill it every night. [The heat has been] hard to get used to, honestly. But it’s really cool when you finish your show all sweaty.
Now that you’ve been out on the tour for a few weeks, what are the highlights that people can look forward to when they come to see the Stadium Tour?
Day: Not a lot of people know, but Joan Jett has a new album she put out recently. She played some of the songs from the album, and of course, she doesn’t disappoint. She plays the classics and then she plays some cool new stuff, which is really cool. Obviously, Diamond Star Halos, the new album by Def Leppard, they’re playing some songs from that, and they’re brilliant pieces of music. You see the crowd, they’re digging it too.
Motley’s show, the stage production is insane. There’s giant things flying around, and there’s no crazy drum solo in the middle, because there’s no ceiling, so Tommy [Lee] can’t fly through the audience. But they really went above and beyond with the stage design and a great light show. All around, everybody is unbelievable. Poison knows how to throw down a really great show. It’s super high energy.
The people-watching has to be pretty fantastic.
Gravante: We’re not really allowed to go out to be with the fans, because of COVID.
You’re in the bubble, that makes sense.
Gravante: Yeah, we’re in the bubble, so everyone’s being very cautious about it. But it’s always great to see the fans dancing at 3 p.m. [Laughs]
Day: Yeah, people are having a good time. It’s a Wednesday and they’re like, “I don’t care, it’s 3 p.m., I’m living my best life!”
Gravante: They’re having a couple of beers, it’s all good.
Day: There’s this one guy who was singing the lyrics to our second song, but it wasn’t our lyrics. It’s this young kid, probably 19. It was the second show and he was so into it. We were playing “Give It to Me,” and the chorus is just, “Give it to me, give it to me / What I’ve been looking for, you’ve got what I need.” It’s just that. So by the second chorus, he’s singing along, looking me right in the eyes. But he’s singing, “Rock ‘n’ roll!” He’s singing his own lyrics, and I almost sang that. I was like, “Oh, I’ve got to stop looking at this guy!” But they’re a very persuasive crowd.
Watch the Video for Classless Act’s ‘Give It to Me’
What were the early days of the band like as things were just starting to come together?
Gravante: It’s pretty crazy, man. A year and a half ago, we were playing in bars. I remember a couple of times we played for literally no one. [Laughs] You know, you’re playing for the bartenders. But we’ve been working hard. We’ve been trying to get this for a while, and it’s starting to pay off little by little. But you know, it’s nice to remember all of those days as well.
How important was it being based in Los Angeles?
Day: It really helped me get my face in the scene, and before I knew it, I was jamming with dudes that toured with Survivor and Quiet Riot and stuff. I’m like, “This is cool, it’s a good way to make some money.” I did a lot of session work, and you just get to know people. L.A. has that, but it’s hard to get in there because there’s [so much competition]. I always say there’s 3 million people here, but 2.5 million of them are playing in rock ‘n’ roll bands, so you’ve got to jump out of it.
You got to work with Bob Rock on some of the stuff on this album. But it seems like each of the people you worked with added something different.
Gravante: It was amazing watching Bob work, creating sounds. He’ll tell you stories, man. He started telling us stories about Metallica, Bon Jovi, all of this stuff. It was also the first time we were in the studio with a producer. There’s a couple of pictures where we’re all sitting on the floor and Bob’s in the chair talking to us. We look like little kids. [Laughs]
Day: Michael Beinhorn brought this thing to the table where he focused on the feel of the band. [Joe] Chiccarelli focused on an alternative kind of concept, making things fresh. What can you bring to the table that’s fresh? Bob, as Franco mentioned, he worked with Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Michael Buble, all of these hitmakers. He really knew how to place a hook. He knew how to bring out the best in a hook. We did a lot of stuff in the studio where it was like, “OK, let’s try it this way. Maybe we play it with this over there.” He would rearrange it a little bit and we would just try things. It was really cool.
Justin Hawkins of the Darkness sings on “This Is for You,” which is a real anthem. But I know you also wrote some other stuff with Justin.
Day: He’s a mastermind. He can write a song for you in 10 minutes, a whole full-length beautiful song. Not just anything, but a really well, conceptual, thought-out song. He’s one of those guys, a real genius.
Vince Neil adds vocals to “Classless Act.” That had to be a pretty cool experience for you guys.
Gravante: It was nice. We didn’t get to be in the same studio. He was in Nashville rehearsing and we were in L.A. rehearsing. We gave him the track, and he liked the song as well. We’d had this song for a while, and we always thought it was kind of Motley Crue-ish. So we were like, “We might as well ask him if he wants to sing on it.” He said yes and sent it, almost overnight. We put his part in and it’s so good. I think he did a great job.
Day: The lyric says, “Welcome to the show,” and we were already on the tour, so it was his way of welcoming us to his show, which was kind of cool.
Gravante: That’s why we play that song last. We close our set with that song to welcome everyone to the Stadium Tour show.
Watch the Video for ‘Classless Act’
You ended up recording some of the new album at Tommy Lee’s house. Do you have a good Tommy story?
Day: For “Circles,” Bob had us build a drum set out of a cardboard box set, with little pieces of buckets and stuff, just from Tommy’s garage. Tommy came down and he’s just like, “Dude, can I play it?” He was playing it for a while and was super excited. It’s just so cool to see this dude who is a legend, he just loves music. He loves playing and having fun, he’s like a little kid. He made us feel really happy that we chose this as our career.