Currently opening a stadium tour with Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe, young Los Angeles quintet Classless Act look like the luckiest guys in the world right now. Whilst looking like they’re still at High School, the band have seemingly come with decades of rock and Metal interwoven in their very DNA, their youth and passion converted into something raw and thrilling in this, their debut album, Welcome To The Show.
Classless Act – Welcome To The Show (Better Noise Music)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee was an early admirer. “I remember when we went out with Ozzy in 1984 and how it was an insane game changer,” he said. “We literally blew up after having that opportunity to play live in front of 20,000 people every fucking night. Since then, we’ve always felt the importance of helping new bands, whether it was Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row, or so many others. This summer, we’re gonna help out Classless Act. They’re gonna shit their pants.”
Given the tips of the hat to some of the classic artists who have come before, Classless Act has managed that tightrope of walking a fine line between nostalgia and freshness, certainly catching more of a spark than other bands who trade on hackneyed tropes and slavish adherence to past styles or artists, satirical or not.
With their disparate backgrounds, the cynic may suspect Classless Act as a manufactured act, stitched together into a marketing man’s idea of a rock ‘n’ roll band but to say that would be a lack of understanding of the draw of the melting pot that L.A. is.
After all, which rock artist hasn’t dreamt of debauched nights playing the Whisky A Go Go followed by a trip down Sunset for lost hours at the Rainbow Bar & Grill?
Just as Dick Whittington was drawn to London by the promise of streets made of gold, so anyone with a heart beating for the louder things in life must have wanted to walk those glittery but grimy sidewalks of the City of Angels.
There is a knowing wink that blends with the full-blooded fire of album opener Classless Act, the guest vocals by Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil an on-the-nose piece of wish fulfilment as the veteran singer adds his pipes to this breathless slice of ’80s Heavy Glam Metal.
“This song really is a musical expression of who we are,” lead singer Derek Day said of the album track Classless Act. “It’s a little dirty, maybe kinda sloppy and probably needs a good night’s sleep and a shower, and it absolutely kicks ass. Every night. Just like us.”
Vince Neil was certainly drawn to the band. “These are young guys playing real rock ‘n’ roll,” Neil said, “playing their own instruments, all that good stuff that you miss from the last 20+ years. These guys remind me of Mötley Crüe growing up, and they definitely rock. Can’t wait to see what happens in the future.”
It’s all a fun rocket ride. The scorching solo courtesy of Justin Hawkins on This Is You also ties them into the era of big riffs and even bigger smiles, the touch of Leppard and Southern Rock in the guitars and Derek Day’s rough-edged voice conjuring images of empty bottles of Jack Daniels, open top cars and beautiful women.
“One Tuesday night in February,” Justin Hawkins said, “I gazed up onto the Swiss night sky. There, to my surprise, I witnessed the beaming of The Hawk signal onto a passing cloud. After months of inactivity, I was called into action. My mission? To provide a face-melting guitar solo to Classless Act’s This is For You. I grasped my Gibson 335, headed into the hawk cave, and within 24 hours, the solo was born.”
The thing is, though, that Classless Act doesn’t need big-name cameos to sell their product. The performances of Day, guitarists Dane Pieper and Griffin Tucker, along with Franco Gravante’s bass and drummer Chuck McKissock are equally as strong. From the sparkling glitterball central riff and punchy dynamics of Time To Bleed to the grinding, epic 30 Seconds To Mars style Goth Of On My Phone, you know these boys know how to knock out their own classics.
The whole album crackles with electricity, the energy of singalong All That We Are and a rambunctious Made In Hell not so much nicely knocking on doors but kicking them down with size eleven boots.
Matched with a sparkling production, the atmospheric Storm Before The Calm and drama punk of Haunting Love speak of a band mature beyond their years.
Hearts are worn on sleeves, and the echoes of Marilyn Manson and Muse on Walking Contradiction, along with Give It To Me, exude a KISS at their toughest vibe. This brings to mind a stroll through their shared record collections as they distil, modify and embrace each to absorb this history into their bloodstreams.
The album closes with the killer duo of cowpunk Circles, Day showing off his range and power perfectly and the grand and ambitious Thoughts Of A Dying Man, a multi-layered treat that welds 10cc to Alice Cooper and throws in hints of The Beatles. With all these different points of reference, the album could have sounded sonically patchy, but, in fact, the band show a remarkable coherence as Classless Act make each track distinctly their own.
They may seem box fresh, but there’s an undeniable and infectious joy for life and loud music here, one free of the weight of expectation but loaded with a cocky youthfulness.
Classless Act has made hard rock fun again, and time will tell if they’re the natural successors to Van Halen or a drunken but enjoyable one-night stand.
Given the talent involved and this early promise, you get the distinct idea that these boys are here to stay and aiming for immortality. For more details, visit classlessact.ffm.to/welcometotheshow
Classless Act – North American Stadium dates
July 15 – Cincinnati, OH – Great American Ball Park
July 17 – Milwaukee, WI – American Family Field
July 19 – Kansas City, MO – Kauffman Stadium
July 21 – Denver, CO – Coors Field
July 28 – Ottawa, ON – Bronson Centre
August 5 – Boston, MA – Fenway Park
August 6 – Boston, MA – Fenway Park
August 8 – Toronto, ON – Rogers Centre
August 9 – Toronto, ON – The Horseshoe
August 10 – Orchard Park, NY – Highmark Stadium
August 12 – Pittsburgh, PA – PNC Park
August 14 – Minneapolis, MN – U.S. Bank Stadium
August 16 – Indianapolis, IN – Lucas Oil Stadium
August 19 – Houston, TX – Minute Maid Park
August 21 – San Antonio, TX – Alamodome
August 22 – Arlington, TX – Globe Life Field
August 25 – Glendale, AZ – State Farm Stadium
August 27 – Inglewood, CA – SoFi Stadium
August 28 – San Diego, CA – Petco Park
August 31 – Seattle, WA – T-Mobile Park
September 2 – Vancouver, BC – BC Place
September 4 – Edmonton, AB – Commonwealth Stadium/Stade du Commonwealth
September 7 – San Francisco, CA – Oracle Park
September 9 – Las Vegas, NV – Allegiant Stadium