Days of the New’s Meeks faced his demons publicly

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, SEPT. 26, 2007

By Steve Newton

The last time Travis Meeks played Vancouver was back in 1998, when his band Days of the New was touring with Metallica. But as Meeks explains on the phone from his home in Louisville, Kentucky, the thing he remembers most about being here wasn’t warming up for the kings of metal. “I went and checked out that nude beach,” drawls the 28-year-old rocker, “and I bought some soap off a guy who had a big old ring goin’ through his balls, man.”

At the time that Meeks was doing his part to support scrotum-pierced Wreck Beach vendors, he was also basking in the success of Days of the New’s self-titled ’97 debut, which spawned three hit singles (“Touch, Peel and Stand”, “The Down Town”, and “Shelf in the Room”) and sold 1.5 million copies worldwide. The tour with Metallica undoubtedly helped rocket the band to prosperity, but its highly emotive, acoustic-based guitar rock stood on its own.

“I was a Metallica fan when I was 11, 12 years old,” relates Meeks, “and to be that kind of fan was not necessarily to be a fan of the rebelliousness of the metal; it was to be a fan of the music and the colour and the passion of them doin’ what they wanted to do. I’ve always been attracted to artists who really put a lot of emotion in their music. That’s been my goal since I was a child.”

The platinum-plus success of DOTN didn’t last that long, though. The group broke up after the Metallica tour, with three members going on to form Tantric and Meeks enlisting others to carry on as Days of the New. Two CDs followed both imaginatively titled Days of the New, and distinguished by their green and red covers but the group’s popularity tapered off. The second disc sold a respectable 450,000 units, but the third, released two weeks after 9/11, moved only 90,000.

The next time most people heard from Meeks, he was the focus of an episode of A&E’s reality-TV show Intervention, where friends and family rallied to save him from a meth addiction. It wasn’t Days of the New’s drop in sales that led him to seek solace in drugs, though.

“What disappointed me was that I made the red album, and my record company [Interscope] just didn’t get it,” he explains. “They had a producer come in and had me redo the record, and that’s when I got sick. It was like being a woman givin’ birth to a baby and then having some men standin’ by the bed goin’, ‘No, that’s not gonna happen, let’s put that thing back up in there.'”

Next month, Meeks is scheduled to record some sessions in New York for the fourth Days of the New CD (again self-titled, purple this time), which will be “very theatrical, very expressive”. He’s feeling good now, staying clean, and is proud of the way he confronted his demons in full public view.

“It’s funny,” he says, “you have celebrities that don’t mind bein’ high, don’t mind bein’ arrested, but when it comes to the real side of your fears, nobody shows that. So I’ve really gotten a lot of very heartfelt praise and attention, people sending me comments on MySpace every day and comin’ up to me at shows and cryin’ and huggin’ me. It’s been a very liberating experience.”

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