If you go
What: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
More info: bluebirdtheather.net
At the start of a new mini-documentary following Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Josh Epstein is standing over an array of electronics, talking about his evolution of opinion on sampling.
The film's release roughly coincides with the release indie-pop band's new mixtape, Produce. It's not a surprising move for the Detroit duo, but it's pretty exciting for them, given that they got guys like Chuck Inglish, Murs and Asher Roth on board. But mostly, it's a fun and loving embrace of the art of sampling.
"As a child of the '90s, the bands that were important ... were Pavement or even Pearl Jam ... I think there was a punk-rock attitude that bands had," Epstein said. "It felt like using pre-recorded stuff was cheating, but if you think about it in a different sense, we're still playing things. Computers are instruments now. You couldn't predict that in '95."
Part of that, he said, is that you can get more sounds out of an iPad than a guitar. Even without samples, it's a massive palette to start with. Pull in the samples, and there are even more possibilities.
"There's something exciting about manipulating the sound beyond the point where it's recognizable," he said. "A lot of that's listening to music and thinking, 'Oh, this could be interesting if you chopped it up and sped it up or slowed it down.'"
Mixtapes aren't the reason for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.'s success, though. That can mostly be attributed to songs like last year's pop earworm "If You Didn't See Me (Then You Weren't On The Dancefloor)." (If it hasn't been stuck in your head yet, go put it there now.)
That album, The Speed of Things, seems to have bumped Epstein and Daniel Zott up to a new level (not that the previous LP, EP and remix compilations didn't pull some weight). The record showed the pair polishing up their oddball style. Perhaps the bigger key to success, though, are the hooks. Some of them just don't let go, and when you add a ton of energy, it makes for fun listening and hyperactive live show.
The band's current tour, which brings them to the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, this Saturday, has them playing in the biggest venues yet. At the beginning of the documentary, titled "Wherever We Are," the band is preparing to play at Detroit's massive Masonic Theater.
"Tour is going so well," Epstein said. "It's crazy, everything is so much different than the last time we came through all these cities. It's overwhelming, it's fun, it's really exciting."
Once the tour ends, in late March, Epstein said he and Zott want to get to writing on the next record. For now, though, catch them at the Bluebird, or in "Wherever We Are," which will be coming out in parts and free to watch at daleearnhardtjrjr.com.
Contact Ashley Dean at 303-473-1109. Follow her: Twitter.com/AshaleyJill.