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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has been laying low for the past few months and with good reason. They've been hunkered down in their Detroit-area studio working on their next album, which is about 85 percent of the way done according to Josh Epstein. “We work differently than most bands,” Epstein explains. “We don't rent out a studio and it's our studio so we do everything there. We spend our time figuring out how best to record the songs instead of worrying about getting studio space and how much time we have in there.” Ahead of their performance at this weekend's Pacific Festival: The Dunes in Newport Beach, we caught up with Epstein to discuss a number of topics ranging from the new album, his beloved Detroit Lions and yes, The Real Housewives of Orange County.
OC Weekly (Daniel Kohn): Are you excited to playing in Newport Beach this weekend?
Yeah. This is going to be our first show in maybe a month or two.
Have you ever played on a beachfront before?
I don't think we have actually. This will be a new one. We'll have to think what would the Beach Boys do, and do that. Or we'll be wearing some weird surfer outfits.
Do you think you guys will be playing any of the new material live or is it too early for that to happen?
I don't think we're ready for that. The way that we record is so strange. Instead of rehearsing and then recording, we write in the recording studio. So whenever we finish songs it always takes us a while to learn how to play them. But maybe one or two will be in the mix.
How is the sound different than the last record?
I think it's all around more mature not so much in that we've grown up, but that it's more thought out, planned and did a lot more takes. The first one we went with mostly first takes on everything, but this time, we went with the 13th version of some songs. We've covered a lot of experimentation and now the songs feel like they're really focused. It's like in Revenge of the Nerds in the very last scene when all of the Tri-Lams come and round up the Alpha Betas and give them the microphone and say “Now what do you want to say?” It feels like that since we're working our whole career towards having the opportunity to put out our record and people are excited about, so what do you say? We take that responsibility a little bit more seriously and to try to get it right.
What are your predictions for the Detroit Lions this season?
I'm cautiously optimistic but I don't think they did enough to improve. Their offense is obviously potent, but in the end it's a game of attrition and you're hoping everyone is standing at the end of the season. I'm thinking 9-7 and maybe get a Wild Card.
What excites you about playing in Orange County?
The festival and that we haven't played there before. But the real reason we want to go is because we're always watching Bravo's Real Housewives of Orange County.
Which one is your favorite?
I think Gretchen is obviously the fan favorite. Whenever I come, my lady is watching it and it's definitely kind of crazy. For these types of shows, I always feel like they pick the most horrible people for it.