(Editor’s Note — After a spell of inner conflict and band-member turnover, the trio Daze Ago now finds itself on steady ground with a lineup that shares a common vision. Recently, guitarist TJ Cutajar was kind enough to speak with 1120 Press about the band’s new single ‘Wasted Time,’ and its plans for the near future. Please read out story below. Daze Ago is Erik Robinson - drums; Bryce Malluma-Kopp – bass, and TJ Cutajar- vocals/guitar. — Photos on front page and here by Lydia Bigaj.)
1120 PRESS: Congrats on the new single! How does it feel having it out there and what can you tell us about it? Also, is the song part of a forthcoming EP or LP?
TJ CUTAJAR: It feels great. This past year we’ve put a lot of focus into studio time with multiple different studios/engineers. This song is an older one I wrote that has gone through a few renditions and ended up where it's at now. I have a big fear of wasting things. I often feel like I'm simply wasting my time doing things I wanna do. I know others out there feel the same but we can’t feed into our insecurities.
We (also) released a song a couple months ago titled "Try Hard." We are going to put out one more single and then an EP after the beginning of the year. Maybe towards the beginning of February.
1120: We’ve noticed that in many of your songs, including ‘Wasted Time,’ you couple heavy lyrics — (for example: ‘…I want my name on a bullet, but I’ve been searching for a gun that’s not around…’ — from the song ‘Let Down’) — with catchy, even uplifting riffs and melodies. It’s an interesting contrast, and it works. Is that intentional, or just a natural element to your writing style?
TJ: I’ve always enjoyed a happy song with heavier lyrics. I also love going from a reggae-styled verse to a punk rock chorus. Writing music is like my therapy. So I just put my feeling into lyrics.
1120: What we find interesting about the band's music is that it's hard to pigeonhole. Every song seems like a different genre, and there even seems to be a handful of genres in single, individual songs. How would you describe the band’s sound?
TJ: Someone once described us as psychedelic reggae funk punk. Don't necessarily agree with the funk part but we've been rolling with a mix of those words. I think we are gonna stay saying something along the lines of 'gazey psych-punk.' I don't know. Choosing a genre is hard. I always enjoyed many genres of music and never wanted to confine myself to just writing in one style. Bands like Sublime and the Dirty Heads are huge influences of mine. They have multiple genres they can fall into and they mash them into songs.
1120: Speaking of ‘Let Down,’ the video for that song and the video for ‘Break the Bottle’ are both really compelling. Can you tell us about the making of those videos — the concept and the process etc…? Is the video element an important part of the band’s M.O.? (NOTE - Both videos can be seen below)
TJ: ‘Let Down’ was just us having fun and it was certainly a lot of fun to make. We are a bunch of goofballs, so we figured let's get a little silly. We dressed my younger brother as a hobo clown and spit-balled some random b-roll ideas and threw a little party. And had pizza of course. As for ‘Break the Bottle’ we knew we wanted a cool lyric video but since none of us have those skills we searched on Fiverr, lol. I think that even though a lot of our content may be a little silly, or goofy, we find it important to have quality stuff, and try not to take any short cuts on production.
1120: Your EPK mentioned playing a sold-out show to hundreds during the height of the pandemic, as well as some earlier band turmoil. First, how did you manage to pull off a show like that during that time, and was that a turning point for you guys, at all, in terms of putting to rest some of the inner conflict? For some bands, the pandemic was a pivotal time. How did emerging from that period impact the band, whether in your relationship or in your writing, if at all?
TJ: That pandemic show was such a cool experience. We played the Transit Drive-In with one of my favorite bands, Tropidelic (from Cleveland, Ohio). They're another band that mashes genres. We got on that by having some really awesome friends that share our music. (Matt) Roads from Trop saw someone sharing our music a lot and they needed an opener in Buffalo, so he reached out to me.
This was actually Bryce’s first show with the band. He joined right before the pandemic hit. The best part about the pandemic for us I think was the amount of focus we put on practice during that time. We had a different drummer and an extra guitar player and Bryce was new. We couldn't do much but we practiced. That was also our last show with the drummer we had, which left room for Erik to join. This band has always had rotating members until the last two years, basically. Guys couldn't agree on direction or weren't serious about practice and gigging. But us three have found a great understanding of what we want and where we wanna go. We have a fantastic musical connection and I'm very proud to have formed this bond with these guys. All the turmoil brought us together.
1120: So what’s on the horizon now for the band as you move forward?
TJ: Create more songs and play more shows. We have a handful of songs ready to be released. We also want to write an album. We are one of those bands that takes almost every opportunity to play that we can because we all love doing it but I think we are going to try playing hometown shows a little less and making them bigger events. We have goals to play with some of our favorite bands and hopefully do some more weekend runs.
1120: Is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t touched on?
TJ: Just that we truly appreciate everyone who takes the time to listen and share our music. It's been a long, hard grind since I formed this band and I finally see the hard work paying off. But I wouldn't see that if not for all the beautiful people that make it happen. Also, thank you for these questions. They show that you actually care about bands and their music. Not many genuine people around. Hope to see ya’ at a show sometime