When Daisy Chain first started playing around Pittsburgh in DIY venues and houses, the band often ran into a problem: There weren’t enough mics. All three members of the three-piece rock band — Ethan Mackowick (guitar), Giovanni Orsini (bass), and J.J. Young (drums) — sing, and the venues were frequently unprepared for that setup.
“We all have different voices, and we all like singing, so whenever we would write a song, one person’s voice would blend better than another on some of our songs,” says Young. “You can hear I might sing the verses, and someone else might sing the chorus because we just want to do whatever sounds best and makes sure everyone has fun and feels good.”
Daisy Chain has since learned to bring their own mics to gigs, a lesson that coincides with the philosophy of the band and its DIY, nonprofit record label: “If you can do it yourself, then do it.”
The label, Steel City Death Club Recordings (SCDC), is owned and operated by Orsini; on Fri., Dec. 13, Daisy Chain is set to drop its debut album, Oh My, Satan, on SCDC with an accompanying release show the next day at The Smiling Moose.
“We’ve refined our process recently, but the album as a whole is a snapshot of our growth as a band,” says Young.
Young feels the band is now moving towards more concise, radio-friendly songs. However, the tracks featured on the LP, which was finished in September, are lengthy, jam-like tunes.
“[Oh My, Satan] is an hour long,” says Young. “[It’s] a mixed bag of shorter songs for the people that dig four- to five-minute tracks, and then there’s longer ones, where there are three or four songs crammed into one.”
Some of the songs are old, and some were shelved and made new later, but they were all composed from loose jam sessions, which is how the band actually came together.
Each of the members came from other bands, some of which are still active. Mackowick plays in indie folk-rock group Pachyderm, and Orsini and Young make up garage rock duo, Fortune Teller. A few years ago, after playing shows together, Mackowick was asked to play on a Fortune Teller track.
“We met at Giovanni’s house, and it gelled really well,” says Young. “It was like a jammy thing that we didn’t have with any other band. We were like, 'This is awesome; let’s keep doing it,' and now two years later we're putting out a record. It's crazy how it all came together.”
Oh My, Satan starts out with “The Beast Within,” an instrumental track that opens with rippling guitar riffs before making way for drums, maracas, and a body-gripping beat. The second track, “Watch My Secrets,” is where listeners first hear the guys sing lyrics like “Satan’s laughing as I load my gun” and “Mass confusion has to take its time.”
With the dark themes found in the vocals, and track titles like “Red” and “Graveyard,” it’s easy to draw ties to Satanism. But when chatting with Young on the phone, he was quick to dispel that.
“Oh My, Satan, it’s a very tongue in cheek title,” he says. “It’s not like we are putting out a religious agenda that we are worshipping the devil or something. With music, I believe you should be inclusive, not exclusive, so if you are putting out a message that people don’t vibe with, that’s not good. Content-wise and lyrically speaking, the record is about dealing with your demons. Some of them are fun, and some of them are sad and dark.”
Young cited standout tracks “Paper Carton Pulp” and “Float Away.”
“‘Paper Carton Pulp’ is a favorite of all of ours. It came together really fast and was the last one we wrote for the album. It’s simple, it's fun. [‘Float Away’] is a two-parter. The beginning is a slower ballad-type track, then it very abruptly takes a 180 and goes to a Black Sabbath-type jam. … There’s a lot of surprises. I guarantee when you hit start on track number one, it’s going to hit you in the face and not stop for an hour.”