With a raw, honest sound, The Gutter Daisies vigorously confront society’s deep fascination with a celebrity’s personal tragedy.
The Los Angeles pop-punk trio of Doug Rockwell (vocals, guitar), Miles Franco (bass) and Mike Diggs (drums) explodes with frustration about the public’s and the media’s treatment and exploitation of mental illness and depression on their latest single, “Celebrity Suicide.”
“We all grew up dealing with anxiety and depression. I feel like nowadays it’s even more common because of social media. It can be a great platform, but it’s also an extremely vain one that has created a false reality that’s unfortunately become an extension of actuality. It’s a place where everyone sees other people’s ‘best of section’ and then automatically assumes their own lives will never be as glamorous,” Rockwell said.
“Celebrity Suicide” opens with deep-tone, grungy guitars and quickly transforms into a rage-filled power protest as Rockwell angrily sings, “I wanna be like my idols/All fucked up in the brain/I could see it play out/Won’t play my songs while I’m around/Unless my life goes down the drain.”
“The same goes for the media. Paparazzi look for people’s weakest moments so they can sell that to media outlets so they can then bring in ratings. It’s all about making a fortune and not so much about the misfortune. ‘Celebrity Suicide’ is a song about just that with some sarcasm sprinkled on the wound,” Rockwell said.
“Celebrity Suicide” is the first new track The Gutter Daisies have released since covering The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” in 2018. Their energetic banger of a cover nicely pays tribute to the legendary hip-hop and rap-rock trio’s 1994 classic.
“We were looking for a song to cover that everyone would know no matter who they were, but we didn’t want it to be something you’d hear a run-of-the-mill cover band playing at a local bar,” Rockwell said. “We also wanted it to represent us as a band. ‘Sabotage’ is pretty punk rock, and as soon as it was suggested, we knew we could make it our own without disrupting what the original song had already accomplished.”
Covers aside, The Gutter Daisies eloquently tackle inner demons, destructive relationships and addictive tendencies throughout their growing catalog, including their bitey, angst-filled 2017 debut EP, “Social Insecurity.” The trio teamed up with Jake Valentine to co-produce and record the EP’s four tracks live at Kingsize Soundlabs in Los Angeles and Animal Sound Studio in Burbank, Calif.
One of “Social Insecurity’s” standout tracks includes “La La La, Blah, Blah, Blah,” a punchy sonic reply to an annoying partner who constantly babbles, criticizes and rejects their significant other. Thrashing guitars, pounding drums and swift bass drive The Gutter Daisies to fight back – “Yeah, don’t wanna hear it/You talk down, I’ll just turn up the stereo/Yeah, you overplayed it/You’re like the same old song on the radio.”
“We recorded the entire thing in about two days. We were still a baby band trying to figure out who we were. That EP was kind of like the hormone to our puberty. It was great being in the studio for the first time together as a band,” Rockwell said.
“I can remember where I was when I wrote each of those songs and what I was feeling. To pick one, it really depends on my mood. Maybe I’d say ‘La, La, La, Blah, Blah, Blah,’ but I think that’s also because we were so pumped on how the music video came out for that one. It’s a really fun song that doesn’t give a fuck, and we try not to either.”
As for videos, Rockwell credits Green Day’s 1994 “Basket Case” video for inspiring him to start playing guitar at age eight. While growing up in the ‘90s, he admired punk and grunge bands like Goldfinger, Nirvana, Weezer, The Vines, The Hives and Everclear and formed several bands throughout middle school.
By age 17, Rockwell started touring with Someday Never, a band featured on a small indie label based out of New Jersey called All Records. He later started writing and producing for different rock and pop acts, including Kat DeLuna, 5 Seconds of Summer and Sleeping with Sirens, and signed a publishing deal with Disney Music Publishing in 2015.
While working as a songwriter, Rockwell quickly added Dove Cameron, Asher Angel, New Hope Club and other rising stars to his Disney music roster. By 2015, he decided to start his own project, The Gutter Daisies, and developed a raw and honest pop-punk sound that reflected his earlier days on tour.
“I wanted to start a project that didn’t put pressure on writing a song that was only intended to be a ‘radio smash hit.’ Everything was starting to feel very mechanical, and The Gutter Daisies were my way back to my roots. Back to when playing and writing without expectation, without care. It was an escape,” said Rockwell, who continues to write for pop artists, TV and film.
In the meantime, The Gutter Daisies will continue to release new material and perform several live shows around Los Angeles in March. Rockwell also has been co-writing material for a couple of Netflix shows, including “Julie and The Phantoms,” coming out later this year with Kenny Ortega.
“We’ve got about 12 more songs waiting in the wings that we’re really excited about. We originally were going to release an LP, but we’re curious to see how we can do releasing singles. It’s become a bit of a singles world and a content-heavy one, too,” Rockwell said.
“Taking the singles route allows us to put more focus on each song and spend more time getting it out there. I’m sure we’ll eventually release a full-length, but for now, it looks like we’ll be releasing songs one by one.”
The Gutter Daisies will perform March 19 at The Regent with Joshua Ketchmark, Brandon Baumann and In The End to celebrate the legacy of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington and donate $2 for every ticket sold to TWLOHA, a nonprofit that helps people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.