Hello everybody. It’s been a while.
In January 2014, James Pemberton and I were at a show on BYU Campus, listening to some local bands perform. We were impressed with how well they did and, to be honest, a little envious. It had been at least two and a half years since either of us had performed with a group, and we wanted that again so bad. James and I sat at the counter, drinking some Italian Sodas, when he rotated his swivel stool and said to me, “Dude, if they can do this, we can. When?”
And so it began. Rob Polo, a friend of mine who lived in the same apartment complex as I did, had offered a week before to get together and jam. He was a drummer, but said he hadn’t played in a while. I invited James to come and jam with us. We had a blast, and decided to start meeting together every Monday night at Rob’s parents’ house to start writing some stuff.
IT WAS ROUGH. Woof. Seriously. haha. I have some old phone recordings of those days, and man, James and I had no clue what we wanted. Bless Rob’s heart, he was doing his best to improvise and follow us, which speaks volumes about his expertise because we were tough to follow. But we always came away happy from those sessions. We really liked making music together. And we also liked that Rob’s mom would make us brownies and cookies.
A little while after we started playing together, I was invited by a friend to go to a hot tub party with a bunch of UVU students. I was a BYU student and had never really ventured that far away from campus, so I was hesitant to go. But I went, and it was there I met Alessandro Improta, who was neither a BYU student nor a UVU student. He was just Sandro. We meshed and hit it off, and that night I learned he could play the guitar. I asked him if he had ever played bass before, and he told me his brother had a bass he could borrow. I invited him to jam with us the next Monday.
As we were getting ready to go over to Rob’s house the next Monday, my best friend Jared King asked if I wanted to hang out. I told him I was getting together with the band to practice, but he was welcome to come. He tagged along, and I was expecting him to sit and just watch awkwardly until we were done so we could go hang out. Not the case. Jared King had an incredible ear, and he made some incredible suggestions that really improved how we played. We asked if he could play a basic keyboard part, and he picked it up fast. We had a great time jamming that night and we really clicked. By the end of the night, someone had brought up the fact that all of us single guys kept getting questions about where we’d disappear to on Monday nights. Someone (I can’t recall who) mentioned how funny it would be if we pretended we were always gone on dates with girls. So from then on, whenever anyone would ask where we went on Monday nights, we would tell them, “Date Night.” The name stuck.
Sandro suggested we make our official name #DateNight to be trendy, but when we realized that most social media platforms don’t allow your username to have a hashtag in it, we just left it as DateNight. One word, two capitals.
Eventually, Rob had to leave for med school, and we found ourselves drummer-less. Even though it sucked, it gave us a lot of time to really focus on writing – figure out our sound, our likes and our dislikes. We wrote a TON. There were so many nights where Sandro and Jared and I would be out until 3 in the morning, playing guitar in the park because my neighbors kept banging on the wall separating our apartments because we were keeping them up.
Not all of our songs were good, but one found an audience. That song was “Girl.” Initially a goofy duet Sandro and I threw together for a talent show, it became a lot more. On our way to our first performance ever – a church talent show – his car died and we had to push it all the way up a hill and leave it in the parking lot of Gold’s Gym (Rest in Peace – Vasa can never replace you!). Then we had to walk the rest of the way with our guitars on our backs.
After half an hour of watching people do impressions and improvised organ performances, we walked on stage and played. Everyone (to our knowledge) really liked it. One of the people in the audience was our good friend Kasie Fry. She suggested that we get together with her friend Lauren Francom to do that duet as a boy/girl thing. I reached out to Lauren, and, as it turns out, I already knew her. She had graduated with my big brother and was working with him at BYUtv. We reconnected. She came over and was kind enough to put up with our poor musicianship and learn what would become forever known as “Girl (Feat. Lauren Francom).”
Our ambitions got ahead of us, and soon we were at Noisebox Studios recording our first song as DateNight.
After that, we’d caught the bug. I was walking home from a voice lesson a few weeks later, wondering what DateNight would do next, when I saw a poster from BYU Women’s Services and Resources. All it said was, “You Are Beautiful.” It inspired me, and ideas for lyrics came to my mind. At our next practice, Sandro tried to show us a new song but his hand slipped on the guitar and he ended up playing what would become the “Chloe” chord progression. I suggested my lyrics. Jared made a few brilliant changes and soon (after a late night jam with Sandro to finalize the song), we were back in the studio and prepping for our first music video.
To this day, making the “Chloe” music video is one of my favorite all time experiences in my life. It opened up doors for us and forged incredible friendships. We are convinced that it was an act of God that made that possible. And if nothing else comes from DateNight but the success of that video, we will be happy.
By June, we were still without a drummer. I tried to convince my best friend Reed Perkins to move to Utah and drum for us, but our first (and only) jam session was a complete disaster. I was still trying to work an electric guitar and we had never practiced to a beat or metronome. It was embarrassing. Reed went home and continued playing with his much more talented band, Two Thumb Jack.
Someone saw potential in us, however. It was 18-year-old Loren Larsen, who had just moved in. Our jam session with him wasn’t much better, but he liked us. And so he signed on with us for a year.
Since that time, we’ve been DateNight. A band. We’ve won a battle of the bands. We’ve lost one. We’ve been in the newspaper. We’ve had moderate success, but we’ve had our share of flops.
The most notable success was our funding of a Kickstarter Campaign. Through a lot of hard work, kindness and generosity from friends, and a last minute donor from a millionaire in Singapore (no joke – that really happened) we met our goal of 2000 dollars to record an EP.
For the last 6 months we’ve been recording. This EP has taken so long to record that two of us have gotten married (with a third on the way) in the process.
I am proud of what we’ve done. Is it the greatest thing to ever hit the music industry? Probably not. But so much time, effort, and love have gone into it that I will forever be grateful that it happened. The “Get it Started EP” will always remind me of naps on the Noisebox Studios carpet (softest thing ever), free Papa Johns pizza, summer drives to Orem, frustrations and little scuffles, and, predominantly, laughter accompanied by high fives and hugs. Making this EP ranks among one of the best experience of my life. And I did it with my best friends.
All six songs were brought into existence because people believed in us, for whatever reason. They saw something in us. Maybe it was talent (not likely), maybe it was charisma (much more likely), but for some reason they felt compelled to fund us and to bless us with this experience. We hope the release of the Get it Started EP on May 4, 2015 will be satisfactory. We hope they will enjoy it as much as we have.
Things are changing for DateNight. Big things are coming. Not all of us will be around to meet them, and new friends are being added into the mix. But the future of DateNight feels good, and we think it should continue.
My name is Zach Collier, and I appreciate May 4th – the release of my first studio EP.