Whatever it takes

Die Trying is the kind of band that, in pursuing stardom, it may live up to its own name

Die Trying experiments with <i>Triumph of the Will-</i>like camera angles. That’s Jaasen up front.

Die Trying experiments with Triumph of the Will-like camera angles. That’s Jaasen up front.

Live! 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 12, CD release party at Scratch 8 Billiards, 120 I St., Old Sacramento, all ages, $8, with LUXT, Simplistic, Snapdraggin and Malcom Bliss.

The four young lads from Sacramento’s Die Trying have decided, for either anonymity’s sake or just being altogether difficult, to not use their last names. So, since its beginning last July, the band’s lineup is Jaasen on vocals, Steve on bass, Matt on drums and Jack on guitar.

If not for Die Trying’s stunning debut, Sparrows—about to be released on Papa Roach’s Evolver Records imprint—and its impressive live show, the band might be hard pressed to get those idiosyncrasies by anyone. After all, any act concerned with whether or not its name is written in all lowercase type usually has more internal problems than it’s willing to divulge.

Sparrows was funded by Papa Roach’s frontman, Coby Dick, who assumed the executive producer role along with co-production credits. Although it will come out on Evolver, it won’t go through the distribution setup DreamWorks—Papa Roach’s label—has with Universal Music. True to its DIY ethic, Die Trying will release its first pressing and hand-deliver it to record shops, and will be flogging the product at its live shows. The 23-minute, seven-song-platter represents Die Trying’s sound accurately; it’s an amalgam of snotty rock ’n’ roll metal riffage, and well-structured, radio-friendly anthems.

Die Trying’s members may claim such influences as Anne Rice novels, Zao, Guns N’ Roses, 311, Björk, Fugazi, Stone Temple Pilots and Danzig, but don’t be misled. This is big guitar rock, laden with swirling open chords, crunching metal riffs à la early Iron Maiden and topped with one of the most distinctive nasal vocal styles to grace the Sacramento Valley. One listen to the catchy title track about “how over time love fades and coming to terms with the fact that everything does end” or the band’s slam-dunk single, “Lo Pan,” should be a more than decent introduction to Die Trying’s unique blend of pop-punk, rock and metal styles.

Jaasen, the big-voiced frontman who works part time at a tattoo shop, has been lobbying obsessively for Die Trying since the band started up last year. You couldn’t see him anywhere without hearing about his band, whether it was recording, flyering the local haunts or playing. “We really believe that we have to do everything and anything to accomplish our dreams,” the singer admits, elaborating: “Recently, I woke up in a dream-like state and called [guitarist] Jack and said, ‘Let’s take over the airwaves today!’ ”

Following the storyline of the hit-movie Airheads, Jaasen and Jack did just that. “We snuck into a secured building and lied to security,” says Jaasen, recalling how the two of them entered the Renaissance Tower downtown, atop which KWOD is located. “We then demanded [KWOD DJ] Nick Monroe play us. He kicked us out quickly, but called us back a half-hour later and said he would play ‘Lo Pan.’ ”

What ensued was 15 minutes of prime airtime dedicated to the band’s cell-phone calls, its seemingly ill-fated and awkward entry into the studio and, most importantly, its music.

Die Trying’s favorite local acts—Tenfold, Simplistic, 7th Standard, Key to Arson, Papa Roach and Long Drive Home—have played a crucial role in helping to develop its fan base. Although not a headline act yet, Die Trying has been afforded the opportunity to play backyard radio parties with Papa Roach, support slots for 26 Weeks and Long Drive Home, and even the Crest Theatre. “We played [the Crest] with Tenfold and my mom watched us for the first time,” Jaasen says. “I almost cried. It was a very emotional set and the crowd rocked. I can’t thank [Tenfold] enough.”

The band’s goals for this year are pretty straightforward. “We want to play as much as possible,” Jaasen exclaims. Not afraid to express his real desires, in true Die Trying fashion, he adds: “We also want to expand our fan base, do some showcasing in Hollywood for the industry swine and kiss lots of girls!”

How can you argue with that?