SAVANNAH STOPOVER veterans might remember the North Carolina band Arson Daily, who played the local festival this past March in a memorable show typical of their electrifying stage presence.
The band returns to Savannah, playing the Jinx this Friday.
“We played Barrelhouse South for Stopover,” recalls Zach Dunham, guitarist and lead vocalist. “That was awesome, but we walked next door to the Jinx and immediately thought it felt more like our vibe.”
While the band is currently based in Raleigh, N.C., the trio of Dunham, Quincy Platt on bass, and Adam McLean on drums formed in 2014 while attending college at Appalachian State, in Boone N.C. in the western part of the state.
“After a while, we narrowed it down to two choices: Raleigh or Nashville. We decided on Raleigh,” says Dunham. “Nashville has just become too saturated. We’d rather be big fish in a small pond than the other way around.”
You’d be forgiven for assuming Arson Daily is a doom metal band from their name alone.
“We get that a lot,” laughs Dunham. “And then there are the younger people who don’t get the reference at all, and I guess never watched TRL Live.”
They’re not a metal band, but they are a very tight rock trio with an aggressive sound — indie rock with a punk sensibility.
“As a three-piece we knew we had to make a lot of noise. So a lot of our early stuff was very uptempo,” says Zach. “We got started playing basement shows in Boone — I guess that environment really rubbed off on us.”
Dunham’s distinctive vocals are often compared to those of Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant and John Gourley of Portugal. The Man.
The comparisons aren’t exact, however, as Arson Daily has a more indie sensibility than the former and a harder edge than the latter.At their hardest, they give off a noticeable Nirvana vibe.
As the five-year old band settles into its identity, they’ve expanded their sonic palette.
“As a trio, we utilize a lot of space in the songs. A lot of times I’ll sing over the bass and drums and let the guitar take a back seat. Sometimes I’ll just strum open chords,” Dunham says.
“These days our set list is a lot more dynamic. It’s something we’re definitely more conscious of.”
The growth in songwriting is part of the band’s push toward their first full-length release, which they’re in the act of raising money to record as we speak.
This southeastern tour is part of that effort.
“We really stepped it up. We got an agent and are making a real effort to raise money for our record,” says Dunham.
The music scene in central North Carolina, he says, is vibrant.
“ There are a lot of venues, and a lot of opportunity. I’m noticing a lot recently that it’s more and more focused on inclusivity,” he says.
“Bills will have all different kinds of things, and our hiphop scene is increasingly a big part of that. Of course there was always a folk scene around here. The rock scene tends to be more locally-based stuff.”
The experience at Stopover impressed the band.
“They seemed extra accountable not only to artists but to the festivalgoers. There were plenty of options for genres. We heard a lot of people that we’ve played with in the past,” Dunham says.
So of course the band jumped at the chance to come back.
“Our agent booked a gig in Macon, and when I heard that I was like, let’s get back to Savannah while we’re down that way.”