Howie Day was just 21 when his first album, “Australia,” brought him fame and legions of fans.
The Brewer native was signed to Epic records in 2002, and soon his songs – with an indie rock sound – were on radios across the country. But just a few years later Day was involved in a couple of incidents that had folks back in Maine wondering what happened to the boy they knew. He was charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly locking a woman in the bathroom of his tour bus, and was later charged with interfering with an airline crew for rowdy behavior on a flight from Dallas to Boston. He was fined for the first incident, and given a year’s probation for the second.
Now 32 and living in New York, Day has grown, personally and in the music business. He makes no excuses for his problems as a young music star, and he’s taking control of his career, funding his next album on his own, and landing some very grown-up gigs. This past summer, for instance, he sang with the Boston Pops in that city’s world-famous July 4th concert and celebration.
“I was a kid from Maine who went from zero to 380 in about two seconds, so it was kind of overwhelming. But that’s no excuse,” said Day. “I drank a bit too much. A lot of kids run wild, but it’s a big difference when people know who you are.”
Day will return to Maine this week for a show at Asylum in Portland with Jeff Beam.
Day has self-funded records – on the strength of touring – before. He started playing gigs while at Brewer High School, and was just a teenager when he first recorded “Australia” on his own. Then he got signed by Epic and rereleased the album, which was followed soon by “Stop All the World Now.” That album produced two of Day’s most popular songs, “Collide,” and “She Says.”
Day seemed to hit his stride at a time when singer-songwriters were hot. As a result, he toured nearly constantly for several years and didn’t release his third full-length album, “Sound the Alarm,” until 2009. He recorded the album in multiple cities and now confides that he and record label people “completely overthought the thing.”
“Sometimes when you fix 100 things, you screw up 200 things,” said Day.
Day was dropped by Epic about three years ago, something that now feels “kind of liberating.”
So for his next album, which he hopes to release next year, he’s taking a more simple approach. He’s trying to harness the same spirit and creativity he used when making his own album as a teen, but temper everything with his experience and life lessons.
“It feels like a new chapter, and I’m lucky I’m able to do this,” said Day. “I didn’t want to go to record companies just looking for a deal. I wanted to make music.”
Day says his next record will “dip more into the singer-songwriter stuff,” adding, “I hate the way that sounds.”
But he said he spent many years producing songs for albums with orchestras and electric guitars, than he always ended up taking those same songs and adapting them so they could be played by him and one other musician on acoustic instruments.
So now he wants to start with songs that have simple instrumentation, so they sound the same on stage or on the album. He says on his current tour about half his songs will be new material.
“When I was doing those albums (in the past), hardcore fans would complain that the songs live didn’t sound anything like the album,” said Day. “That bothered me. So now I want to play the songs live first, then record them that way.”
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: