At the age of 19, New Day would be my introduction into the rock-n-roll band experience. It was 1989 when I found myself in my very first “official” garage band. I would be a very young green musician in a group of other young musicians looking to create something epic. This band would write, record, and produce our own originals. No covers.
New Day, whose original name was QUEST, came together in the late ’80s. We were four very ambitious musicians headed by Rob Trujillo (bass), Bill Scherer (lead/rhythm guitar), Xavier Bejinez (drums), and me (keyboards). We made our way from Rob’s bedroom to featuring our talents in front of a live audience and television cameras on the stage of the cable access show “Hollywood Showcase for Bands”.
Other band members who had come and gone during the group’s run included Michelle Hughes (original lead vocalist) and David Perrigan (guitarist). Both left New Day just prior to our performance on “Hollywood Showcase for Bands”, although Dave’s guitar contributions can still be heard on our original demo. For the four of us original remaining members, this experience, being our first serious musical project, would turn out to be an exercise in learning our craft through a great deal of trial and error.
Crafting the band’s early songs like “Pumpin” (written by Rob Trujillo and Bill Scherer) and “I Don’t Know What You’ve Been Thinking Of” (written by Rob Trujillo) came easy to Rob, Bill, and Xavier and helped chart the band’s early musical direction. However, once I was added into the mix as the band’s keyboardist, it was my prolific songwriting capacities that quickly made my contributions to the band a much more significant part of what New Day’s sound was going to become. Each new level of creativity we reached was used to cultivate our own unique style and sound. Collectively, the four of us as a band would come to work together like a well-oiled machine as we broadened our skills as performers, instrumentalists, and songwriters.
New Day would begin to categorize the different levels we were achieving musically. Level one was the basic three chords tunes and the first stage of our songwriting creativity. An example would include the song “Don’t Walk Away”. These songs generally had a straight forward, basic rock sound and usually consisted of a three-chord progression. Level two would introduce broader themes and would add a few more intricacies to the mix and a more commercial sound. This can be heard in songs like “Dreamin” and “Crystal Ball”. Level three was considered advanced and would include the addition of more elaborate structural changes to the music in songs and reflect a more progressive slant. This is demonstrated in songs such as “Pink Horizons, Purple Skies” and “S.O.S. – Symphony of Sound”. Choruses and bridges were no longer essential for a song to be considered a complete work. Of course, at the time, my exposure to the British prog-rock group Marillion by guitarist Dave Perrigan may explain some of the more progressive tendencies I began to pursue. This included a newly crafted instrumental piece I had penned, which was without a title at the time. It would later be named “World Go Round”.
With all of the instrumentation for our very first demo completed, which included additional guitar parts by Dave Perrigan who would leave the band shortly after the demo was recorded. But there was still ONE big problem. None of us could sing a note. The band needed a lead vocalist and finding one would turn out to be a daunting challenge.
Our original lead vocalist Michelle Hughes was set to record her lead vocal parts for the demo when it was decided by all members of the group that she would part ways with the band. With the lead vocals still needing to be completed for the demo. It was at the last minute in order to get the demo to Ron Brady “Pop Rock” of “Hollywood Showcase for Bands”, that I attempted to do the best I could to record the vocals myself. The final demo would eventually land us a slot on “Hollywood Showcase for Bands”, but my lead vocals were far from what we had envisioned for New Day. Especially if we’re going to be on such a big stage. None of us in the band’s line up truly had the ability to carry the lead vocalist role, so we continued to audition what felt like every singer in Orange County, with not very much luck.
Eventually, after months of auditioning vocalists, the position would ultimately be handed over to Shannon Mcleary. Rob met Shannon at his place of work at the time, Knott’s Berry Farm. Her demo included the song “These Dreams” by the band, Heart, which was a fairly respectable cover for such an ambitious song. With our deadline fast approaching for the show. The band ultimately decided to go with Shannon, despite some concerns regarding how well of a fit she was for New Day. This decision to add Shannon as lead vocalist to the band, whether intentional or not, would subsequently lead to our biggest strife as a band.
We would eventually make our way to the stage of “Hollywood Showcase for Bands”. And truth be told – we had a stellar performance. Instrumentally, we were as good as we could have possibly been that night. We were even asked to open for one of the bands who performed that night as well. As good as our musical performance was, I found myself struggling with the decision whether to remain in the band or not after Shannon’s performance during the show. She performed at a satisfactory level for what the band needed for the showcase, but I was finding it difficult to see much in the way of the potential for the future. I believed wholeheartedly that musically and instrumentally, the four of us had so much potential to unlock, and that we were simply a really great group of guys who had a great deal of chemistry both on and off stage. I did not feel Shannon brought anything more to the table. The rest of the band disagreed with me. It would ultimately have to come down to either she goes or I go. Having felt that I had grown as much as I could in the band, I decided I would be the one to leave.
The day I shared my decision to leave the band with Rob, the conversation happened on a drive back from a recording session. It became clear that Rob was not surprised at all with my decision. In fact, Rob had already selected the songs he wanted New Day to keep in the event of my departure.
After I left New Day, I would go on to find a whole host of new opportunities in music. The first was an original song I wrote entitled “So Far Away”, which was performed by my friend, Kelly Buckner. Her performance of the song received a first place award at an all-city talent competition. There was also another project that I had long been waiting to explore. That project would be the art rock band, Fable.
Sadly, following my departure, New Day never performed again. It was my understanding that finding another keyboardist was quite a difficult undertaking. Shannon took up singing with a cover band, so schedules and practices could not seem to coalesce. The promise of all that potential New Day had after our performance on “Hollywood Showcase for Bands” was never realized. New Day’s performance did appear on the show. At the very least, we did accomplish that.
Included on this page are New Day’s original five-song demo, recorded in Rob’s bedroom on his Tascam 4-track. Also included are five live bonus tracks from our 1989 stage performance at The Green Door in Montclair, California. You can also hear a voice-over by Ron Brady, AKA “Pop Rock”, host of the cable access show “Hollywood Showcase for Bands”.
Album design by Ed Melendez