A Man, A Band, and a Van – this is the true story of Forrest Day
February 5, 2009
Written by Jake Butler
Iâ€™ve had not only the opportunity to hear of the namesake of the band (Forrest Day), as well as several of its members from third parties, but I also got the awesome opportunity to ride in the van, Princess (yes the van has a name and she is a princess, donâ€™t get it twisted). The experience that I had therein wasâ€¦meeting these guys, hearing about their music, how theyâ€™re a band, a bunch of buddies, and future rock stars.
My first introduction to the band was unbeknownst to me. I met Dave Eaton at Treasure Island Music Festival â€“ he had worked on the crew with a couple buddies of mine. At this time I had no idea he was in the band, he just seemed like a very easygoing guy, with a ridiculous sense of humor (he has the ability to crack the most self-deprecating jokes with an air of confidence normally reserved for leaders of nations, movie stars, and Snoop Dogg).
Now that I think of it, the first time I was meeting a member of the band was when I met Jon Sankey, the bass player. He works at the Independent with my roommates, and heâ€™s swung by my house a few times to just hang out. My roommate Leo (coworker of Sankeyâ€™s) had frequently talked about how great Forrest Day shows were and how they were one of the tightest- as in well-rehearsed, locked in rhythm section, and on the money horns- bands he had seen. Leoâ€™s got a collection of a couple hundred concert posters of shows heâ€™s either worked at or been to – multiply that number by 6 or 7 to get an idea of the total number of shows heâ€™s checked out. With that kind of experience I tend to trust his recommendations.
On the eve of all hallowâ€™s eve (thatâ€™s October 30th), I got the chance to check out the full band in person. They were playing the Starry Plough in Berkeley, which, as luck would have it, is about 4 blocks from my house. To make things better, the guys in the band swung by after sound check and before their set. Forrest, (Dave) Eaton, (Jon) Sankey, basically half the Forrest Day family, stopped by the homestead for a couple drinks as well as to utilize the services of our pool table.
Walking down from my bedroom upstairs, I immediately begin hearing them slinging a few good-natured insults (yes there is such thing) back and forth, though these are barely audible above the laughter and music. We basically just hung out for a while and had a couple beers before going to the show. Seriously good times. You may be wondering Iâ€™ve talked so much about the group and not as much about music, but itâ€™s all for a simple reason. Theyâ€™re great guys. It can be hard to find that in a great band, especially one with as many members as them. It may not mean much to the mainstream music industry, but standup guys with talent like theirs is, to me, a special thing.
Back to the story â€“ the band went back to the gig, my roommates and I knocked back a couple more and headed on out to the Plough. Being that it was the night before Halloween, the band was obliged to costume themselves in one form or another. Their costume of choice this evening happened to be matching nun and Catholic priest outfits. It was a sight. It was time for them to take the stage. Leoâ€™s description of them being incredibly tight became a vast understatement. When theyâ€™re not performing, theyâ€™re busy practicing (you can frequently find them holed up at Soundwave Studios). All their hard work shows on stage. Forrest seamlessly moves from rhyme laden verses to catchy, full voiced (Forrest is a big guy; nice guy, but I wouldnâ€™t want to cross him) hooks to, on occasion, solid alto sax blowing. The band never skips a beat with a rhythm section anchored by John Sankey, Travis Whalen, Nick Wyner, and Jasper Skydecker; a horn section comprised of Dave Eaton and Jeremy Greene; and Terrell Lindstrand rounding out the group on guitar.
The show was great and afterwards I found myself on the sidewalk outside of the Starry Plough. A street vendor selling buttons strolled by and we picked up a few Barack souvenirs (my personal choice was the Barack-o-Lantern button) and got to talking. Turns out they were playing a show at Downtown Brew in San Luis Obispo in a few weeks. A good size group of my friends from high school found themselves in SLO, and as a result I found myself at Downtown Brew on a few occasions. Long story short, I told them about writing for the Bay Bridged and somehow finagled my way into a spot in their van going to the show. This was to be my first true music journalism experience.
Skip ahead a few weeks and I find myself on a Sunday afternoon waiting for Sankey to come pick me up. This was to be the first of several miscues on the day of the show. Later on after he showed up, we would stop by Sankeyâ€™s to pick up some stuff he forgot, and he would lock himself out of his house. Once we made to Oakland where everybody was meeting up, we had another hiccup. Turns out most everybody was expecting one guy to drive, he thought this meant being behind the wheel but not necessarily driving his own car. It got worked out and we were finally on the road with our two vehicle caravan. I myself was riding in Princess, the awesome white van, alongside Sankey, Eaton, Forrest, Forrestâ€™s girlfriend Rosalynn, Jeremy, and Nick.
A couple hours later we find ourselves in downtown San Luis, unloading for the show. We walk in and The Flobots are doing their soundcheck. Yeah, the Flobots of Handlebars fame (I can ride my bike with no handlebars, no handlebarsâ€¦) were headlining the show and our neighbors from Chico, One Block Radius rounded out the lineup. We had some time to kill before the show so we went upstairs to grab a bite to eat from the restaurant, which was delicious, and then a few of us made the standard tourist walk down bubble gum alley, plastering our signatures with all their sugary goodness on the wall. We through up an F and D for good measure as well.
Before we knew it, it was showtime. I was a little hesitant about the turnout for the show for a couple of reasons: 1) it was on a Sunday, and 2) show started at 8. Turns out it was also an all ages show as well, but all of these factors played in the bandâ€™s favor. They absolutely killed it in front of a packed house split into an all ages section and a 21+ section. Both sections were dancing their silly butts off. They took over the place on two of my favorite cuts in particular â€“ Secret, which you can check out on their myspace, and Tired of Working for Assholes.
Secret has this hypnotic bounce to it, almost as if Outkast started out in the rock world and blended in aspects of hip-hop, as opposed to the reverse order. Nickâ€™s keyboard work holds together a very simple, but expertly executed bass line and beat. See, thatâ€™s how Iâ€™ve started to identify the best musicians â€“ the empty spaces are just as important as notes, sometimes more so. When you throw the horn section into the mix you realize that these guys have something you havenâ€™t really heard or seen before. In the midst of this unique awesomely ear tingling sound thereâ€™s an incredible pop sensibility the gets everyone bobbing their head, shaking their ass, wiggling their toesâ€¦whatever it is you do when you hear great music, youâ€™ll do it when you hear Forrest Day.
The best part of this whole story is that these guys are only on their way up. They one of the most talented, hard working groups and theyâ€™re out there pounding the pavement proving themselves one show at a time. Each time the crowd grows, the band gets even better, and if youâ€™re lucky you get to hear a couple new tunes.
This Friday (February 6) do good by yourself and check them out at the Great American Music Hall. Itâ€™s all ages so bring the grandparents, the kids, crazy uncles, and whoever else you like. Iâ€™ll be seeing Â you there. 8pm, $14.