"Standing alone, the name evokes a knee-jerk reaction of brutal imagery, shorthand for a popular automotive method used by organized crime families and youth gangs to dispatch their rivals. Get past that initial response however, and the term takes a different meaning, one that implies casualness toward life and the things it has to offer. Less bloody perhaps, but just as troubling. It was the latter implication that inspired Todd Price to shake off his past and come out rocking. And Drive By’s debut on Riot Squad, I Hate Every Day Without You, Kid, is a testament to kicking your own ass to do something in this world while your clock is still running.
"The images we got from the phrase concern not having life pass you by," says Price. "All of us have gone through so much bullshit, we didn’t know if we would ever be in a band, and in my case, never knowing-or caring-if I’d ever play again. Drive By is a huge metaphor for how we feel about life."
The Detroit-born Price had been writing songs and playing in bands since the late-’90s. His first band, Plain, released a record locally, and logged some van miles throughout Michigan. (Their biggest achievement was "Life Without Ambition," a track that appeared on A Million Miles Away, the second volume of the Deep Elm label’s Emo Diaries compilation series.) Not long after Plain’s demise, Price joined a straight-ahead rock outfit called Rev, but the experience was disastrous: He couldn’t write the kind of songs he heard in his head, and he was constantly second-guessed by his bandmates. The singer turned to drugs and alcohol to mask his frustrations, but the situation never changed. Frustrated, he left the band with a lot of unheard songs-and several addictions. Tiring of the Detroit music scene altogether, Price moved to San Diego to stay with his brother and clean up his act, but by his own admission, "all I did was get into worse habits." Sensing he was at his lowest point, Price began writing songs as a way to get his life back on track.
In November 2003, Price demoed some songs at his brother’s house and sent some recordings to Brian Schechter, founder of the Riot Squad label and management company (Circa Survive, My Chemical Romance). Schechter had recognized Price’s talent early on when they were both still living in Motor City, and he was significantly blown away by Todd’s new music. "He told me he could tell what was going on in my life by the kind of songs I was writing," says the singer. "He told me he was putting me on a plane to New York, under the condition I got myself together and concentrated on these songs." Schechter provided Price with a place to stay, bought him some gear to record and kept him under a watchful eye. "It was tough love," Price recalls, "But he gave me hope. I figured if somebody believed in me that much, I’d better be serious about it."
After six months of demoing and refining a battery of songs, it was time for Price to build a band. Price posted an ad on the popular web portal Craigslist.com, and prayed to be spared from legions of frustrated guitar-shop employees and musical neophytes. Guitarist Dan Fitzgerald and drummer Jaeson Hertzberg, were two longtime friends working through their own rough patch after the lead singer from the band they were playing in, Everyday Decoy, was killed in an auto accident. The duo knew in their hearts they wanted to continue to play music, and opted to contact Price. One lengthy practice session in their Westchester practice space sealed the deal. "When we got together, I felt like it was perfect," Price enthuses. "I was afraid I was going to get guys who only wanted to know who the manager was and what kind of tours we were going to get. These guys could’ve cared less; they just wanted to play. There was this built-in chemistry: They liked the songs, they were eager, and they knew how serious I was." Fitzgerald and Hertzberg hungrily rose to the challenge; after playing with Price for a month, they found themselves opening for My Chemical Romance’s first tour in support of Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. Bassist Chris Perino, a friend of the duo, was added a few months later, and Drive By continued to gain momentum.
Near the end of 2004, Schechter had secured a budget for the band to record their debut album. While many bands would rush right into such an opportunity, the quartet put some long hard thought to the situation. Everything in Drive By’s universe unfolded in due time; would the songs be properly served, rushing into a studio to record until the money ran out? Instead, Price suggested to Schechter that the band build a studio. While the band wrote songs, Schechter scouted for locations. In March of 2005, the band began building Citadel Recording Studio, their very own facility located in Belleville, New York. Ask any member of the band, and he will testify that hammering nails into drywall was just a big a part of the creation of this record as playing hammer-ons on their guitars. The quartet’s gambit paid off, as they meticulously recorded the album’s 10 tracks twice, some even three times, searching for the right blend of energy and vibe.
And it’s those two attributes that manifest themselves across I Hate Every Day Without You Kid... Produced by the band and mixed by Daniel Korneff (MCR, Ill Nino), the disc effectively leaves a large percent of modern-rockers staring at each other with dumb looks on their faces. The opener, "...You’re Not Alone," is a dark-tinged cautionary tale with the sonic throttle left wide open. "Promise" displays a sense of hope and positivism alongside the rich melodic figures. The ambitious "Spending Time Alone" was the first song Price wrote in San Diego and is clearly one of the disc’s highlights. "That song is all about my life at the time," he says. "I put it all down on paper, assessed the situation and started singing about it." In an age where music executives worry about marketing niches and white-belted scene police are always ready to talk smack, Drive By have wisely chosen to focus solely on their music, and not the expectations of others.
"We’re not part of anything, really," admits Price. "We’re not part of any scene and we don’t have any buddy bands. We just write and play songs that we want to hear. We never sat down and said, ’So, what kind of band are we going to be?’ These songs are what came out."
"This might sound like a Rock 101 answer," begins Price, "but I hope that anyone who is having a hard time can listen to these songs and relate to us. I want to write a song that can give people hope, to know us as four guys who have been through a lot. We labored over these songs, and I hope that comes out when people hear them.-"