Before sunrise

The Dawner Party

Ready to party all night: Todd Hayes, Eric Jo and John Grinde of The Dawner Party.

Ready to party all night: Todd Hayes, Eric Jo and John Grinde of The Dawner Party.

Photo By Clint Demeritt

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Taking a lesson from a party with a similar name, The Dawner Party is skipping the trek over the Sierra. Instead, the band attempts to summit the Reno rock scene.

The party consists of singer and guitarist Todd Hayes, bassist Eric Jo and drummer John Grinde. Hayes said the band members chose the name because it’s a good bit of local color, among other reasons.

“It’s kind of got a double connotation with the spelling of dawn, party, party till dawn—Dawner Party,” says Grinde.

With the Dawner Party’s high-energy songs, the band doesn’t have any troubles staying up all night. The trio classifies itself as a rock band—a good catchall for the songs they play. Songs like “Sacred Cow,” “1969” and “Sway,” blend grunge, metal and pop.

Fast-paced, high-energy music is the band’s wheelhouse. With the philosophy “the best type of rock is the loudest,” the group provides danceable music and head banging that could cause a minor concussion.

This hard-rock quality also goes nicely with Hayes’ sing-scream style in the tradition of Zack de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine.

But Jo says he’s heard other comparisons.

“People say that we sound like the Pixies a lot even though I don’t see it,” he says. “That’s a good compliment to me, though.”

The Rage quality really comes out in songs like “Violin.” Hayes said the song is a screw-off song to former friends. With lyrics like “playing people like a violin,” and “taking people like a vitamin,” it’s about not valuing people.

But Hayes said the trio doesn’t play music to get any sort of message out.

“We’re just having fun,” Hayes said. “It’s not so much a performance but an experience. It’s as much about [the audience] as it is about us.”

For the band, a gig is more than just getting up and playing in front of a crowd of people. It’s about energizing the crowd and feeding off that energy and giving that back in a sort of dive bar, slam dance feedback loop.

“My heart rate gets really fast, and I start sweating,” Hayes says about being on stage. “I have to breathe a lot because I’m singing and playing guitar, and I’m sweating. It just really gets you going. It’s like I’m running.”

The trio said the best gigs are the ones where they have a lot of room to move around. Jo has been known to fling his glasses across the stage during bouts of head banging.

“It’s definitely a surreal experience,” Jo said. “Time is way different, it goes by way quicker and slower at the same time. You know it just feels natural.”

For the Dawner Party, music is the most natural way to communicate and interact with other people. The three weren’t friends before they formed the band, but have bonded through their music. Jo said he is pretty shy outside of his musical exploits. Grinde has been playing the drums since fifth grade. And Hayes said he couldn’t live without a beat.

“We’ve only been playing together since September, but we’ve all been playing for a really long time,” he said. “I know for me it isn’t something I really think about. I’ve done it for so long it’s more like ‘What would I do without it?’ rather than ‘Why do I do it?’”