Until last month, the biggest gig LA upstarts Classless Act had played was supporting Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators at the 4,000-seater Hollywood Palladium. It was only their sixth gig, too.
“It’s a possibility!” admitted Derek Day, Classless Act’s flamboyant frontman, speaking to Classic Rock ahead of the tour's first show. “But we’re ready, we’re ecstatic, and we can’t wait to get in everyone’s face. Mötley Crüe have been so supportive. Tommy believes in us, and we’re just happy to be doing these shows. We’re not gonna let him down.”
Some of Classless Act’s superb debut album Welcome To The Show stems from sessions at Lee’s home studio in Calabasas, California, under the auspices of uber producer Bob Rock. Day recalls that Lee “would creep down and listen, air drum, make some jokes then leave. When we sent him the finished music he looped it around to his band and everyone was like: ‘Yeah!’”
A compelling frontman with a flair for the dramatic, Day cut his teeth as a kid busking Jimi Hendrix and Deep Purple covers on Santa Monica’s Third Street. He’s supported Steve Vai and Ted Nugent, and he counts Living Colour’s Vernon Reid as a bosom buddy. He was invited to join the formative Classless Act in 2016.
“We sat down with a bunch of melodies, these Guns N’ Roses-flavoured punk rock songs," says Day. "I said: ‘I know you guys can rock, but can you play something slower, groovier?’ And they did. I knew as long as we have that fast, crazy attitude and the exact opposite of that, we could do something new.”
Day is joined by guitarists Dane Pieper and Griffin Tucker, bassist/ songwriter Franco Gravante and drummer Chuck McKissock (replacing London Hudson, Slash’s son). Individually their influences range from Queen to Green Day.
Collectively they meld classic-rock swagger and 21st-century smarts – part GN’R, part The Struts. Crüe’s Vince Neil guests on the Les Paul-powered rocker Classless Act; This Is For You’s face-melting solo comes from its co-writer Justin Hawkins; Time To Bleed, a radio plugger’s dream single, was recorded with Buckcherry’s Keith Nelson.
Classless Act’s dark pop underbelly sets them apart from the NWOCR crowd. Ex-Jellyfish keyboard player Roger Manning adds electric piano, and the arrangements of the moody On My Phone, acoustic anthem Circles and reflective Thoughts Of A Dying Man are clever. And it’s all delivered with a flourish. “If you come to our show,” says Day, “you’ll notice that the guys are these energetic, beautiful angels and I’m very theatrical.”
And after this summer?
“The plan is to tour for ever,” Day asserts, “and a hundred per cent we’ll be coming to Europe.”