New Day Dawn is the vision of songwriter and lead vocalist Dawn Botti, and they have just released an EP, Rise Above This, which was produced in Nashville with Chris Henderson of 3 Doors Down and John Moyer of Disturbed and Adrenaline Mob. The recordings also feature guest appearances from Greg Upchurch of 3 Doors Down and Bobby Capps of .38 Special.
Dawn had been a force on theJerseymusic scene for many years with her band Slushpuppy. They received airplay on K-Rock, which helped the group sell out local venues. Even though Dawn now has a family, she has music in her blood and won’t be putting down her mic anytime soon. In fact, the band is somewhat of a family affair, with her husband Gary Szczecina manning the drums along with PJ Angeloni on guitar and Mike Smith on bass. I caught up with Dawn to ask about the new recordings.
Do you consider this a solo project or a band project?
That’s a really good question given that my name is part of the band name. If I’m being honest, it is probably a little bit of both. As the lead singer, main songwriter and self-manager of the project, it does sometimes feel like a solo project.
However, I think in order to get that authentic “rock” sound, it is so important to have a collaborative environment where all the musicians are free to write their own parts and express their own personality through the band. I want people to come to our shows and walk away feeling like they saw a cohesive, kickass rock band who just happen to have a female singer, not a female singer with a backup band.
Where have you played?
A shorter list might be where we have not played! This band has had the honor of playing in many amazing venues around the country. In addition to our regular gigs in New Jersey and New York, we have played the major music festivals like SXSW in Austin, TX, Dewey Beach in Delaware and Millennium Music Festival in Harrisburg.
Currently, we are thinking about planning a summer tour of the Midwest because it seems that our new EP, Rise Above This, is taking hold on radio out in places like Missouri, Ohio and Colorado.
How would you describe your music?
Catchy, powerful American rock. It has been described as “anthemic rock” because the choruses are big and bold and sweeping. It’s a lot of textured guitar work and vocal melodies with big, powerful drums. So yeah, I guess anthemic rock! But lyrically the music has depth and is written from a place of reflection and life experience. I ain’t 17 anymore! And I’m not writing about teenage angst or puppy love.
Who are your musical influences?
I’ve been listening to music for over 30 years! There are too many to name, but certainly the classic rock bands like Zeppelin, The Who and Pink Floyd. I grew up in the late ‘80s in New Jersey so I was also a big fan of Bon Jovi, and still am. I also love the complexity of bands like Incubus, 30 Seconds To Mars and A Perfect Circle.
From a vocal standpoint, I learned how to sing by listening to the great female rockers of the ‘70s and ‘80s like Pat Benatar, the Wilson sisters of Heart, Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks, and even Linda Ronstadt.
Any particular songs that are favorites of fans or yourself?
That’s like asking which of your children do you like better. They are all my favorites for different reasons. However, there are a few that seem to resonate with fans. “You Are My Everything” is a straight-up celebration of loving somebody so much that they mean everything to you, and who doesn’t relate to that?
“Whatever It Takes” is about doing whatever it takes to follow your dreams. It’s one of those songs that people come up to me after the show with tears in their eyes saying that the song and the message really inspired them. To me, that is why I do this and is worth more than any amount of money in the world.
What are your goals, musically and professionally?
To take over the world with our music! No, seriously, my goals are to keep playing music and writing songs for as long as I can, until I’m on my deathbed. I recently read a great quote; “Music is how feelings sound.” It is so true and there will be new feelings and experiences at every stage of life, and they all deserve to be put to music. I want my songs to matter and to touch people. I want them to inspire folks and to give them hope and strength when they might have none. I want as many people as possible to come to our shows and walk away feeling happy or re-energized and I particularly want young girls to feel empowered.
How did you end up having such renowned guests perform on the EP?
When we went down to Nashville for the first time to begin recording with Chris Henderson from 3 Doors Down, I have to admit I was pretty starstruck. I had been a big fan of that band for over a decade and was extremely honored and humbled that Chris liked my songs and wanted to produce our next record.
The next day we got right to work and my starstruck-ness had subsidized. Then Bobby Capps from .38 Special walked into the studio. He is co-owner of the studio with Chris. Then I was dumbstruck all over again! Bobby was listening to one of the tracks, “Lay Your Head,” and asked me if he could lay down a keyboard part. I couldn’t believe my ears. I had tears in my eyes the entire time watching this legend play on one of my songs. He laid down his amazing part in one take! It was all about a moment in time and everyone was just really feeling the music. There was a simpleness and purity to it. No egos and no contracts or “business” talk about making deals. Just, “Hey, can I lay down a part that I’m feeling?” Answer: “Sure!”
You can find out more information about New Day Dawn and Rise Above This at facebook.com/newdaydawn and reverbnation.com/newdaydawn.