BRAND NEW DAY
JOHNNY O’NEIL Release Their Third Album BRAND NEW DAY
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BRAND NEW DAY
There aren’t many musicians who cut their teeth as a founding member of a rock band that performed five nights a week, 50 weeks a year, for 11 straight years, often for an audience of thousands, just as there aren’t many musicians who hold a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. But Johnny O’Neil is a rare artist who combines expert musicianship with astute observations of the human condition gleaned as a therapist and forensic psychologist, all brought to bear on his third solo album, Brand New Day.
Following on the heels of 2021’s Truth Or Dare, O’Neil’s ambitious debut solo album featuring hard rock tunes that showcase his impeccable songwriting abilities, and the five-song EP, LIVE at the Southern Theater (released in 2022), Brand New Day looks at the world through a slightly different lens. Following the tumultuous events of 2020-21 including the global COVID-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd in O’Neil’s hometown of Minneapolis that sparked the largest racial justice protests in the United States since the Civil Rights Movement, and the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, O’Neil wanted to create an album that sparks rejuvenation and celebrates the fact that we made it through alive, looking ahead optimistically – but without rose-colored glasses – to what comes next.
“Following such difficult times, I thought it was important to put out a record that rejuvenated people,” O’Neil says. “Although we’re still struggling in many ways, I wanted to say that it’s time to move on and look forward to a better day. Some rock can be really dark, but there’s already a lot of pain and suffering in this world – singing angry songs doesn’t seem to be the way to deal with that. We try to reflect positivity and hope.”
O’Neil is no stranger to writing upbeat rock songs, having been a founding member of Dare Force, a popular hard rock/heavy metal outfit formed in Minneapolis that released three albums in the ‘80s and performed with the likes of KISS, Ted Nugent, Triumph, Kansas, UFO, the Joe Perry Project, and Ratt, as well as headlined venues throughout North and South America.
O’Neil’s third solo effort, Brand New Day, covers broad musical territory, taking elements from the past and adding a decidedly modern twist, combining guitar-driven hard rock and R&B with hooky choruses that get stuck in your head for days. Recruiting the talents of John Funk on lead guitar, Benny Craig on bass, and Joachim Baecker on drums, as well as engineer/co-producer Brian Bart – O’Neil’s former bandmate in Dare Force – O’Neil and his full band spent months writing and rehearsing before hunkering down to record with Bart at Winterland Studios in Minneapolis, as well as the legendary Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minn., where Nirvana famously recorded In Utero.
Title track “Brand New Day,” with its soaring chorus, “I’m alive, I’m feeling fine” is about “getting through one of the weirdest eras the world has ever seen,” O’Neil explains.
“My Mona,” one of three tracks on the album co-written by Johnny and his blazing lead guitarist partner, John Funk, has a distinct R&B, honky-tonk, Rolling Stones vibe, and tells the story of a touring musician sleeping in a roach-infested motel who’s missing his companion back home, even though she “treats him so cruel.”
Arguably the album’s magnum opus, “Tell Me Your Story” clocks in at almost eight minutes and features soaring, majestic string arrangements swirling around the blistering dual lead guitars of O’Neil and Funk. It was inspired by O’Neil’s experience as a forensic psychologist and therapist. “It’s about someone who comes through a therapist’s door and has been mistreated, but is reluctant to tell their story, even though they desperately need someone to listen, but fear gets in the way. The goal of the therapist is to establish rapport with clients and get them to open up, so it’s a song about hope.”
Brian Bart and Johnny O'Neil
"If you didn’t know this was a fresh slab of tunes you would assume this was a mid to late 70s lost or hidden gem, beautifully dusted off and given a polish.
I think you get the impression I like this, it’s all 10’s from me."
"Overall, O’Neil‘s album Truth Or Dare is the surprise record of the year for me. I never thought that I would like it so much but when you realize how much experience that O’Neil has under his belt, you realize that it’s not surprising that the man could come up with a killer record."
"I just enjoyed listening to "Truth or Dare", the upcoming release from Johnny O'Neil. If you like the classic hook-driven chorus, Johnny has you covered with "Comin' For You." Like guitars? The instrumental, "World Run Amuck," should fill that pleasure."
CHAINSAW / SLAVE RAIDER / MIKE FINDLING AGENCY
"Johnny O'Neil has crafted an album that's a lot of fun to listen to with the guitars right where they should be - in your face. I just listened top to bottom - BEST ALBUM of 2021 so far!"
HOST OF STREETS OF ROCK N ROLL RADIO SHOW & THE RON KEEL PODCAST
”If you are yearning for foot-stomping, fist-raising hard rock with seasoned chunky riffs delivered by a frontman “running amuck”, press play here!”
METAL TIM HENDERSON