SLUG’s April Feature Band: Da Neighbors

National Music Reviews

Last summer, I made the correct decision to drive down to Los Angeles to see The Replacements play with Da Neighbors. It was exactly what you’d expect of a pilgrimage to the overrated music capital of the world. We even had the fortunate experience of being stranded on the way there due to car problems in Glendale, Utah—a one-gas station town. That is where the fun started. I don’t remember much of The Replacements due to my state of mind, but I do remember the cramps in my stomach from laughter for four days straight due to the Da Neighbors’ unique sense of humor. If nothing else, Da Neighbors will always be noted for their keen wits and easy-going approach to both life and music.

Describing Da Neighbors as a band has to be done more as a concept than as a musical principle. Their attitude about songwriting and performance is far more important than what actually goes into a song. It is obvious these boys have listened to a lot of The Replacements and other bad boy bands over the years because of the relaxed way they approach their image and stage presence. The music they write should not be taken lightly however, it is well written and easy to listen to.

The band’s influences are quite varied, and trying to pinpoint one class of music for the band would be impossible. However, personal influences include American Music Club, Elvis Costello, Hank Williams Jr., Firehose, and a whole plethora of others. Hearing the band is the best way to determine what they sound like. . They aren’t a punk band and they don’t play the music that would fit in a club. I would have to compare them to a lot of the stuff that is heard on the College Radio Network (eg. R.E.M., The Feelies, The Replacements, etc). Gigs are few and far between since The Word closed down, and not all the members are 21 so they can’t play clubs. They have had the opportunity to play with a lot of acts, including American Music Club, Mojo Nixon, The Feelies, Run Westy Run, Cosmic Moscow, and Game Theory.

The four-piece band consists of Mike Graves (principal songwriter, lead guitarist and vocals), Mike Watson (drums), Troy Gold (bass) and Dave Leikam (guitar). They have been together for five years, so the songwriting has become much easier. Since they don’t perform very often, they seem to have a whole new set of music every time they play.. The music hasn’t changed much over the past five years, style-wise, but the songs are well-thought-out and every new song will take the band to a new height. Since these guys are all friends, the chances of them falling out or breaking up are slim.

I would definitely classify these guys as an anti-image band. However, they have been known to sport some pretty swingin’ polyester in their day. A lot of times, people don’t understand the band’s sense of humor and they are misjudged quite often. One time when they played at The Word, they had a picture of a glam metal band on their flyer with their names on the bottom of it and no one showed up to the show. The only real complaint I have about the band is that sometimes they get a bit uptight on stage and the carefree, easy-going attitude they have off stage doesn’t show through. 

Over the past five years, the band has concentrated a lot on progress—they have released two tapes of original music. The first self-titled tape was not as accessible as their second (I Almost Got Killed) which sold a lot of copies. They are also one of the few surviving bands in the City By A Dead Lake project, which should be surfacing any day now. Da Neighbors plan on going into the studio this summer to release either a record or a third tape with all new material on it. The record will depend on the financial situation at the time of the release; without a lot of gigs on the horizon, the situation could be grim.

Da Neighbors are a great band with a promising future ahead of them. People should really check them out, if not for their music than just to tap into some of their humor. 

Check out other featured bands here:
Feature Band: Truce
Dinosaur Bones