Five Questions … with Joshua Epstein of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

September 22nd, 2011

Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott were each playing in different Detroit bands when they met. Soon after, they began recording together in Zott’s suburban basement. It’s a Corporate World, their first LP, which deftly combines harmonies and electronics, came out this past spring, but even prior to that the duo, performing as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., became known for their high-octane performances. And on the heels of playing Austin City Limits last weekend, the band (above, doing “Vocal Chords” live in studio for KEXP FM) comes to The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday. But before that, Epstein exchanged e-mails with The House List in order to answer Five Questions.

You do a killer cover of “God Only Knows.” Are there any other classic-rock covers in your arsenal? And if not yet, do you have anything in mind for the future?
We do an incredible version of “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy at Karaoke. Does that count? We may have some surprises in store for the Bowery show.

What’s the last band you paid to see live?
I paid to see Dr. John last year in Detroit. Damn was it ever worth it. And I paid to see Leonard Cohen at the Beacon Theatre in NYC. Also worth it.

Where do you like to hang out in New York City? And do you ever feel like you could live here?
A few of my friends tend bar there, so usually I’ll go wherever they are working. I have lived in New York for brief spurts and loved it. If the rent were at all comparable with Detroit I’d be there now.

What’s the best part—or what excites you the most—about playing NYC?
It’s the most incredible city in the world. Every inch of it feels electric, so it’s always a new and exciting experience.

Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Is a song better when it really happened to you?
I think that there is no substitute for personal experience, however, songwriting is about channeling experiences so that they become transformative and accessible to a wide variety of people. —R. Zizmor