You could say that Dayshell found their “center” on the appropriately titled, Nexus. The Southern California group’s second full-length album and first for Spinefarm Records represents the culmination of a delicate evolutionary process for the musicians—Shayley “Dayshell” Bourget [vocals, guitar], Jordan Wooley [bass], and Zack Baker [drums].
“The album has a raw, fiery tone to it, which I was searching for all along,” exclaims Shay. “What sets this apart is the rawness, the speed, the energy, and the diversity. This is what the band was always meant to be.”
Emerging in 2013 with their self-titled debut, the trio quickly amassed a devout fan base through tireless touring alongside heavy hitters such as Chevelle, Middle Class Rut, and more. Press responded to their ethereal, engaging, and emotional heavy alternative style with coverage from Alternative Press, LoudWire, Revolver Magazine, and many others, while videos like “Share With Me” racked up over 600,000 views and counting on YouTube.
When it came time to begin writing for what would become Nexus, Shay strived to raise the bar both musically and lyrically. Galvanized by the likes of Animals As Leaders and Periphery as well as longtime inspirations Deftones and Incubus, he struck an elusive balance between modern tech metal grooves and hypnotic, heartfelt vocals.
“In my head, the first album was a transition into discovering what we’re good at it and what we want to be,” he admits. “Going into Nexus, I really started to get down with Djent metal. I started to be articulate with my picking. It’s not shredding, but the rhythmic patterns are more technical. I wanted to write super heavy songs that could be on the radio.”
Welcoming new drummer Zack Baker—who Shay met after he posted a Dayshell cover on Twitter—added a new dimension to that patented style. For the first time, the singer picked up a seven-string guitar and tuned to “Drop G,” expanding the aural palette substantially. In early 2016, the guys hit the studio with Erik Ron [Panic! at the Disco, Saosin] for six weeks and left with the 12 songs comprising Nexus.
Dayshell introduced the album with the gorgeous gnashing of “Carsick.” Turning on a dime between methodical metallic bludgeoning and a haunting refrain, the track amassed over 30,000-plus plays on YouTube in one week’s time, kicking off what Shay refers to as “Dayshell 2.0.”
“I wanted to use the whole song as a metaphor about addiction controlling you and having an enabler in your life,” he says. “A lot of times, that’s why people can’t heal. Someone is enabling it. So, you feel like you’re on the inside of the car screaming out the window, wishing you could be outside living life to its fullest, but unfortunately you’re not.”
Elsewhere “A New Man” raises a distorted middle finger to haters of all kinds with its unshakable groove, while “Improvise” ignites an immediately irresistible melody encased in unbridled emotion. “It’s a beautiful song,” he goes on. “You get to a point in a relationship, and you know you’re toxic for the other person. You have to break yourself down all the way, give up on her, and move on for you. It’s being okay with that brokenness so many of us share in common.”
“Low Light” stands out as a “sexual song,” while closer “Digital Sand” offers a stark emotional exorcism for the frontman over an immersive soundscape punctuated by that guitar chug.
“It’s a powerful song directed towards my dad,” he sighs. “We haven’t talked in years, but I think about him all the time. I’m trying to grow up in a sense where I don’t have to depend on him. When I’m there, maybe we can reconnect. It tells that story.”
Shay’s own story continues to inspire. As original clean vocalist and guitarist for Of Mice & Men, he played on the group’s seminal first two albums before coming to terms with his alcohol addiction and quitting. Dayshell provided a musical haven for his thoughts, ideas, and boundless creativity. It provided the same haven for fans worldwide. Nexus enlarges that space.
“I hope we can inspire even just one person,” he leaves off. “Music is my life. It’s literally all I do. It’s the most important thing to me. I want to wake everybody the fuck up. We don’t have to conform to the generic trend of the music scene where your hair matters more than your fucking music. This is art. I’d love if others felt the same way.”