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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. takes pole position on pop

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Like a blast of frigid, retail-strength AC flooding a sludgy summer sidewalk, the "Horse Power" EP from Detroit-based duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. surfaced last July and garnered immediate buzz online.

It wasn't only the effervescent vocals of Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott that caught people's attention (especially their quirky, brilliant cover of "God Only Knows"), but also the group's improbable, meme-like name, which has since made them the first band to warrant coverage in both Spin and Autoweek.

Coming up on the June release of their debut LP "It's a Corporate World," amNewYork spoke with Josh Epstein:

Brian Wilson is often referenced when describing your sound, but how about the connection between your song "Simple Girl" and the Rolling Stones' "She's a Rainbow"? That little whistle line? No one has ever brought it up to me, but I knew the second time that I listened to the song back. 

Does that bother you? I think too many musicians are too afraid of ripping people off and not being entirely original. There's only a certain amount of notes, there's only a certain amount of chords. Accepting those things and trying to put them in a new environment is more exciting to me than trying to always make sure we have something that's never been done before - because there isn't anything that hasn't been done before.

What do you hope people who found you through the EP get from the album? It's lyrically a bit deeper. I think the song "Skeletons," for one, is more of a sad-bastard song, for lack of a better word. Hopefully people will get more of a picture of who we are and what we both do.

As evidenced by its title track, the new album has a definite thread of commentary. What are your thoughts on what's going on right now? I think this is a scary time and an important time in American history. "It's a Corporate World" was written right after the Supreme Court decision that gave corporations the same rights as an individual person in the political sphere. There's all  these things going on, and you read about them and you think, "Oh my God ... I can't believe people are letting this happen."

Finally, what's in a name? Are you sticking with it? When we started the band, we didn't think anyone was going to hear it. It's been really fun to do this play on pop culture ... but it's starting to feel like it's limiting in a way we never wanted it to be. I think there is probably going to come a time when we change the name, but it won't be because of Dale Earnhardt Jr. It will be because of us.


Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is at Mercury Lounge Tuesday at 7:30. 217 E. Houston St., 212-260-4700, sold out.

The band will perform at the Rock Shop on Thursday at 8 p.m., 249 Fourth Ave., Brookyn, 718-230-5740, $10.

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