Sabrina DiGeorge

Daisy Grenade Has Fun (Like They Should)

If you’re in the punk scene and have your ear to the ground, you may have already discovered the electric new band that is Daisy Grenade. If not, be prepared, because they will be spearheading the punk movement going forward. Get your rookie card and hop on this bandwagon while they’re still small. They won’t be forever.

At the time of writing this, Daisy Grenade only has two EPs out – just 10 songs total. Those songs have a a gritty punk sound but with the polish of professional mixing and mastering. The female band walks the line of edgy and clean perfectly, and coming from a theatrical background, much of the music has strong personality. It’s unique and, if we’re being honest, refreshingly original. 

Despite being such a new band, they’re opening up for Fall Out Boy on their stadium tour this summer and playing Sad Summer fest alongside Taking Back Sunday. This is not to forget that they just wrapped a tour with Meet Me @ The Altar. The caliber of the music speaks to the opportunities they are receiving – the songs really are just that good

We had the chance to speak with Keaton Whittaker and Dani Nigro, the two members of Daisy Grenade, to discuss all the exciting and important things happening right now. We also talked on the band’s origins during the pandemic, their favorite emo bands, and so much more. It really is Daisy Grenade’s world… we’re all living in it. 

Alright, let’s kick off the call with why we’re gathered here today: Sad Summer Fest. How are you guys feeling?

Keaton: We’re super excited. I love Sad Summer. It’s going to be so fun.

Dani: Yeah, I remember last year I was looking at the lineup and watching all the gigs happen. I didn’t get to go personally, but [thought] that would be really cool, and now here we are!

Keaton: And we get to do it mostly on the East Coast, so that will be really really fun.

Warped Tour was such a huge influence, and to have that go on, there needed to be a space for all of this punk/emo/rock, you know? It’s so exciting to see this newer festival with a newer band on the bill.

Keaton: I think it’s really cool to have a mix of some older bands headline and then having one of the newer bands in the same genre come through. I think that’s a really cool way of merging the whole genre together.

I totally agree! You get the older Taking Back Sunday fans, two years ago with all the All Time Low fans, and now you have people also discovering you for the first time. I want to ask about how that’s going to feel with playing arenas. This is the biggest Sad Summer yet – amphitheater level. What’s going through your head? 

Dani: We will have just done the Fall Out Boy jump. I guess we’ll see how we’re feeling post-that about the amphitheaters and arenas.

Keaton: I think it’s going to be pretty crazy to make that jump from playing 250 cap venues to then going to an arena. I think that will probably be pretty wild. We’re really excited. I don’t know if you ever feel really ready to do that; I think you just have to take the leap and see how it goes. I don’t feel ready, but I don’t feel like we’ll ever feel fully ready. We’re just excited to get out there and do our best.

What’s interesting is that a lot of bands talk about the arena aspect versus the club aspect. The scariest part of the arena is not really seeing the end of the audience, but you guys are musical theater based, so you may be used to not seeing the audience during a performance. 

Keaton: I think that will really help. We’ve both done some pretty big theater shows where you literally can’t see anyone and it feels like a black hole, so it’s probably a little bit less scary in that aspect, for sure. 

Diving into that, I want to ask about that musical theater background and how that bled into the band. 

Dani: We’ve both been doing musical theater our whole lives. That’s where we both started and that’s where our careers were before we found each other. We were doing a show together and we randomly ended up at a rehearsal on the same day and met each other, and then never had another rehearsal again because of the pandemic. Then we became friends and we were like, “We both love musical theater and we also both love rock music.” We wanted to branch into that as well and were like, “Let’s do it together! Wow – we’re a good team, let’s keep going!”

Keaton: We always joke that this band started as a joke and then it’s just gone a little bit too far and we don’t know when it’s going to be like, “Wait! We were kidding!” I’ve done musical theater forever and have always written here and there, but I guess everything I was writing… it didn’t really stick. It was always, “I like it, but I don’t love it.” I’ve been a big pop punk girl my whole life. I just never really thought that I could write like that. Dani and I were just kind of like, “I don’t know… maybe we should try writing this way?” We knew we wanted to do some sort of duo but I don’t think we knew what we wanted exactly. Then we started writing and we wrote the first song we’ve ever written. Dani wrote most of it then she came over and we finished it. I was like, “This is what we should be doing.” It just clicked all of the sudden, “Oh! We are actually pretty good at writing this genre!” It’s the most fun to sing and we’ve always sung for fun, but never really knew we had the capability of writing. It made the most sense. We’re like, “Ok, we got it!”

I agree! Especially in this scene in particular, you look at bands like Coheed and Cambria and Taking Back Sunday – the vocals almost feel theatrical because of how drawn out and excited it is.

Keaton: It makes a lot of sense. Pop punk and punk music in general, but pop punk specifically, is so theatrical. Look at early Panic! At the Disco and early Fall Out Boy, too! It’s so theatrical. I think it made a lot of sense for us. I think it made sense for us to be able to write from other perspectives. I think the genre really lends itself to writing in a really theatrical way. It felt really natural for us to move into it. 

I want to go back to that first time you guys met and started writing. Was it difficult to navigate who was going to sing ‘this part’ versus ‘that part’? That back and forth of songwriting?

Keaton: It’s kind of funny; I don’t think we ever really have issues deciding who’s going to sing what. We usually know because we know what each other’s strengths are. When we hear something it’s like, “Oh, you should do that!” There have been times where one of us will be singing and it’s not right, then she does it and it’s like, “Oh, yeah. She’s supposed to do it.”

Dani: We both write and we write back and forth. When we first started, we were just sending each other voice notes to our respective apartments. We would be like, “I think you should sing this,” or, “Would you want to sing this part?” It’s very easy. We figured it out very quickly.

Keaton: We don’t have a lot of issues in that area. At this point, especially, we know if there is something I don’t have and I usually figure she’ll probably have it and vice versa. If I have lyrics and nothing for them, she’ll figure it out. I think you write melodies better than I do.

Dani: Whoa… thank you, man. I don’t know if I agree, but I appreciate the sentiment. 

Keaton: I’ve never written with a partner like that. It feels very full, easy, and simple.

You guys touched upon it a bit, I want to talk about the Fall Out Boy tour. You’re opening this summer. It’s crazy. It’s nuts. Obviously Pete Wentz was an integral part in Daisy Grenade as a producer. How did that relationship start?

Keaton: In 2021, I guess? Kind of when we had just started! We really hadn’t even written anything. I went to high school in the city for a couple of years when I was younger and a friend of mine from that time in my life – literally two years of my life from 2010-2011, my friend Hannah – reached out to us because she saw a cover of us doing a random cover on Instagram. She was super vague. “Hey, I work with some music people,” I think is what she said. I was like, “Uh… ok.” I didn’t really know what she did [or] what she was thinking. We literally had never played a show before. We had written one single. We didn’t even have a demo of it! We had one bad voice memo. She had just written this TV show with Pete as the music supervisor. They had been talking about having a female-fronted band they mentored together. She’s very, very into music. She’s now our creative director. She’s incredible and she’s amazing and she’s had a lot of incredible feedback and help, vision-wise, from the very beginning. We started talking to Pete a few weeks later. He kind of mentored us and helped us figure out what we wanted and what we were doing. We didn’t know what we wanted out of this project or what we wanted to do with it. He asked us if we wanted to have “Baby Blackout,” which ended up being our first single. That was really sick and we went through probably six different versions of what we wanted that song to sound like. We landed on what we released and now we’re on tour with Fall out Boy. [Laughs] I’m just kidding it wasn’t that quick.

Dani: It feels like it.

Keaton: It does! Just two years of a lot of mentorship and a lot of collaboration. He’s been important to this project. I think he is a good mentor and really understands now what we want and has helped us find it. I did not think he would be taking us on an arena tour in 2023. That was not on my bingo card. We’re so thrilled. We’re both just huge fans – if nothing else – of Fall out Boy. Pete’s one of my favorite writers probably ever. It’s very cool to have his ear and for him to trust us. He’s seen us play once live. Obviously he’s heard every piece of music we’ve ever written in our lives, but he’s only seen us play once live and then we got that offer a month-and-a-half ago.

A songwriting guy like Pete Wentz one your team is understatement of the century. What helps so much with Pete and Fall Out Boy is that they’ve dabbled in so many genres, and what’s good about that is you’re not just getting a punk producer and nothing else. He’s done rap, he’s done dubstep, pop, country-leaning stuff – it’s insane. Any direction you want to go in musically, he’s there.

Keaton: Yeah, he’s the best.

Dani: He’s so open to us asking questions. He doesn’t push any ideas on us. He’ll offer us stuff and say, “If you hate that, that’s fine.” Sweet! We have a very open communication and we’re really grateful.

Keaton: I bother him all the time. I’m very lucky to be able to do that. He’s very much like, “Send me whenever you got.”

You have two EPs out: Sophomore Slump and Cult Classic, which are doing very well. Both of these EPs are self-released, but being an independent band with a huge amount of monthly listeners on Spotify, going on tour with Fall Out Boy and doing Sad Summer, for the most part you’re going to get to choose any record label you want. Have you put any thought into labels and how you want to proceed with that? Do you want to stay independant for a while?

Dani: We’ve got our eyes set on the prize. 

Keaton: Yeah!

Dani: I can’t name the prize [Laughs].

Keaton: I don’t know what the deal is of what we can say and what we can’t say. The world will know soon the ideas we have about labels. That’s all I’ll say. 

All of our readers will have to stay tuned! Another question I want to ask is now that you have these two EPs out, is there a full length in the works? 

Dani: We are always writing – you’re right. We have a lot of songs in the vault. We have a lot of ideas! We’re not 100% sure what is next.

Keaton: I think Dani and I both would really love to put out a full length album sooner rather than later. We have some… interesting, I’ll say, ideas about a full length. We have so much music that we’re sitting on, so I think a full length is definitely in the foreseeable future.

Great to hear! Sometimes you keep writing music and randomly it’s like, “Oh, this is a record?” Sometimes it just happens.

Dani: We’re also not forcing anything. We’ll be like “Hey, this is a good idea for this thing,” and the next day we’ll be like, “Maybe not!” We’re not forcing anything. We’re not tied to anything. We’re open to the process. It’s very new for us so we’re kind of taking it day-by-day, seeing what we put together, and if it ends in a full length album – great!

Keaton: We’re both really interested in the idea of something conceptual for our first LP. We’ve been tossing around a couple ideas we really like but are waiting for the moment where we’re like, “Oh, this is exactly what this is.”

Perfectly put. Now obviously you are both from New York and Seattle – two huge music cities. That has got to play an impact on who you are as people and songwriters. I’d love to know about that. The Aquarian is based in NJ/NY and that whole area, so we know the scene!

Keaton: Yeah! Not to be the most cliche person in the entire world, but I grew up on Seattle grunge and I am a huge Nirvana fan, huge Pearl Jam fan, huge Soundgarden fan. My parents were big into mostly Pearl Jam. I was doing musical theater my whole life so I found my taste in music when I was in high school. I just never really put that much stock into what I was listening to because I was always doing theater. I started really investigating what I liked and the city had a huge impact on that obviously! There’s so much history. 

Dani: I think when we hear other bands and look at our contemporaries we’re like, “This sounds like Brooklyn. We sound like it, this is New York.” I love all the other music as well and it all has its place, but there is that DIY/rock/dirty sound that I think is something very important to us that we would like to keep as indicative of New York. I grew up in a house where my parents are both musicians. They were both in a wedding band my whole life growing up so I’ve been exposed to every type of music that New York influenced. I grew up listening to every kind of thing. Then I got to middle school and high school and was like, “Taking Back Sunday’s from Long Island, too!” which is probably going to be my opening line – which probably shouldn’t be – if we meet them.

Keaton: That’s exactly what you should say, honestly! Really, I think Daisy is… we want to maintain that Daisy Grenade is a New York band. We are homegrown from Brooklyn. We grew most of the following we have, our little baby following, from events right here in New York. It’s important to us to maintain that messy New York sound.