In perhaps the most predictable rock & roll upheaval of the year, Days of the New frontman Travis Meeks has officially relieved his bandmates of their duties. After months of persistent rumors, the prolific nineteen-year-old singer quietly split from his cohorts shortly before shuffling off to a Los Angeles studio with longtime producer Scott Litt on Jan. 8, according to manager Rick Smith.
The leading cause of band dissolution, "artistic differences," began to infect the Days of the New camp when Meeks first introduced drummer Matt Taul, bassist Jesse Vest and guitarist Todd Whitener to the musical direction he had in mind for the band's sophomore album. That material -- injected with lush orchestration, Middle Eastern instrumentation and experimental vocals -- did not mesh with the band's Metallica-esque sensibilities, Smith says.
"When you hear the new music you will understand why these guys had to split ... it doesn't rock towards that metal influence. It's more symphonic and those guys didn't want to be limited by that," he says. "Those three will be fine ... they are in the studio doing their own thing and looking for a singer now."
Meanwhile, Meeks is posing as the Axl Rose of a new generation -- retaining the Days of the New moniker and simply injecting new musicians into the fray. "It's more than a name to Travis -- Days of the New is a concept revolving around the image of the tree," Smith says. "It's an evolving group of musicians headed up by Travis."
Just weeks after abruptly canceling a national tour because of chronic vocal problems last November, Meeks began contacting disparate guitarists, bassists and percussionists for his Days of the New vision Part Two. Now, the boy from Louisville, Ky., has amassed a supporting cast of seven or eight new musicians from Texas, New York, Kentucky and elsewhere, all primed for his rock re-birth.
That troupe, however, will not appear on the next Days of the New album, due out early this summer. That untitled "sixty-six-minute piece of work" is all Meeks. The fiercely independent frontman began assembling his sophomore release while touring to support the Days' debut, laying down sequencing on a keyboard in the back of Days of the New's bus, Smith says. Following the cancellation of the group's tour last year, Meeks recuperated at his Distillery Commons studio in Louisville, where he continued seriously working on his opus of sitars, tablas and poetry. He emerged in late December with twenty-seven new songs.
"This kid is happier than he's ever been because there's no pressure on him at all," Smith says. "It took canceling the last leg of the tour and stepping back from it all to get there."
For almost all of last month, Meeks and Litt polished the rough edges on thirteen new songs, bringing in a female Celtic singer, a seventeen-piece symphony and sundry instruments to complete the sound. The track listing remains under wraps for now, however late last year Smith said a few of his favorite new tunes included "Walking in the Wound," "Enemy," "Bring Yourself" and "Best in Life." Regardless, the first single from the forthcoming album is scheduled to hit radio around Memorial Day with the album and an international tour to follow.
"He jumped from Led Zeppelin all the way to Physical Graffiti with this one," Smith says regarding the new Days of the New project. "Anybody who thinks they know anything about Travis Meeks, doesn't know anything at all."
To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here
MUSIC 9 Classic Devo Videos
OLYMPICS 18 Epic Opening Ceremonies