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Under the Rug’s fan-finding mission

“I’ve never done that for a band”

Leaving LA helped the band turn a facepalm into a palm face. - Image by GBL Media Management
Leaving LA helped the band turn a facepalm into a palm face.

“When I was really young, I was the singer kid,” says Under The Rug singer/guitarist Casey Dayan. “There’s a funny home movie of me in some diapers when I was around three years old, singing Social Distortion’s ‘Ball and Chain’ on our driveway. Ever since I was a little kid, I was doing that.” The North County native recalls being nine or ten when he started playing guitar, and by the time he was in high school, he was in bands and gigging at the Jumping Turtle in San Marcos. Dayan cites ‘90s acts such as Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains as heavy influences for his early bands, to the point where these days, he says that his current group, Under The Rug, is “like an indie-folk/Americana take on that kind of music.”

Dayan formed Under The Rug early in his college career, with Sean Campbell on guitar and Brendan McQueeney on drums; all three of them were students at UC Santa Cruz. But once they finished college, the band disintegrated as its members sought work. Dayan moved back to San Diego and landed a job, then get laid off a few years later. He called McQueeney and asked if he wanted to move to Los Angeles and get the band back together. “He was doing something” while they spoke, recalls Dayan. “There was a bunch of rustling, and kind of this sizzling sound. Then he goes, ‘Hold on one second, Casey. That’ll be $4.25. Okay, thank you very much.’ I go, ‘What are you doing?’ He’s like, ‘I’m working at a hot-dog stand.’ I was like, ‘What do you think about moving to LA?’ There was a long beat and then a sigh, and then he goes, ‘Yeah, let’s fucking do it. Let’s go.’”

It took a bit longer to get Campbell back into the fold, but eventually, all three were playing together again. This time around, the trio decided to make some income via music instead of side gigs, so they opened two brick-and-mortar recording studios in their new home city. They started playing around LA, but found it difficult to build an audience. The social media climate was shifting; Facebook was ceding ground to Instagram and Tik-Tok, and the band (along with the music industry in general) was trying to keep up with all the tech changes. “We just couldn’t figure out what direction to go,” Dayan says. “It seemed like everything we tried was a bust. You’re playing these shows, and there’s like 15 people at every show you play, and it’s the same 15 people.”

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Sponsored

The decision was made to abandon playing live entirely and instead focus on making the band work online. They dove headfirst into digital marketing and focused on building a fanbase. In June of 2022, they had their first major success. They ran a promotion online where they gave away a CD for the price of shipping and handling, and ended up moving over 13,000 units in one month. At the promotion’s peak, they were getting over 250 orders a day. Then, at the end of the campaign, they put all their buyers into a Google map to see where they lived.

“We were looking at it, and there were pins all over the US and UK, Australia, and Canada,” Dayan says. “We were like, ‘Holy shit, here it is. We can tour now.’” The band, which relocated to Austin, Texas early in the pandemic, now has three albums under their belt, and embarked on its first official tour earlier this year. Their latest, Homesick For Another World, released in February, is still fresh, but the band is already prepping 20 more songs for an album (or an album and an EP) due in 2024.

Upcoming Event

Under The Rug

  • Wednesday, October 18, 2023, 7:30 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • Age Limit: 21+

More

Their fans refer to themselves as “Rug Rats.” As Dayan explains, “Our fanbase is small in the grand scheme of things, but it’s so mighty. There is one Rug Rat whose name is Hope who I always think about. She drove six and a half hours to one show, and then drove six and a half hours to the next show, and then flew home and flew to the next show, and rented a car to go to the one after that. They go crazy for it, and I don’t understand it. I’ve never done that for a band. It sort of makes me feel nice, that there are people who do that. But the pressure’s on now, because they’re driving six and a half hours to your show. And if that’s not a good fucking show, I am upset.” Under the Rug appears October 18 at the Casbah.

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Leaving LA helped the band turn a facepalm into a palm face. - Image by GBL Media Management
Leaving LA helped the band turn a facepalm into a palm face.

“When I was really young, I was the singer kid,” says Under The Rug singer/guitarist Casey Dayan. “There’s a funny home movie of me in some diapers when I was around three years old, singing Social Distortion’s ‘Ball and Chain’ on our driveway. Ever since I was a little kid, I was doing that.” The North County native recalls being nine or ten when he started playing guitar, and by the time he was in high school, he was in bands and gigging at the Jumping Turtle in San Marcos. Dayan cites ‘90s acts such as Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains as heavy influences for his early bands, to the point where these days, he says that his current group, Under The Rug, is “like an indie-folk/Americana take on that kind of music.”

Dayan formed Under The Rug early in his college career, with Sean Campbell on guitar and Brendan McQueeney on drums; all three of them were students at UC Santa Cruz. But once they finished college, the band disintegrated as its members sought work. Dayan moved back to San Diego and landed a job, then get laid off a few years later. He called McQueeney and asked if he wanted to move to Los Angeles and get the band back together. “He was doing something” while they spoke, recalls Dayan. “There was a bunch of rustling, and kind of this sizzling sound. Then he goes, ‘Hold on one second, Casey. That’ll be $4.25. Okay, thank you very much.’ I go, ‘What are you doing?’ He’s like, ‘I’m working at a hot-dog stand.’ I was like, ‘What do you think about moving to LA?’ There was a long beat and then a sigh, and then he goes, ‘Yeah, let’s fucking do it. Let’s go.’”

It took a bit longer to get Campbell back into the fold, but eventually, all three were playing together again. This time around, the trio decided to make some income via music instead of side gigs, so they opened two brick-and-mortar recording studios in their new home city. They started playing around LA, but found it difficult to build an audience. The social media climate was shifting; Facebook was ceding ground to Instagram and Tik-Tok, and the band (along with the music industry in general) was trying to keep up with all the tech changes. “We just couldn’t figure out what direction to go,” Dayan says. “It seemed like everything we tried was a bust. You’re playing these shows, and there’s like 15 people at every show you play, and it’s the same 15 people.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

The decision was made to abandon playing live entirely and instead focus on making the band work online. They dove headfirst into digital marketing and focused on building a fanbase. In June of 2022, they had their first major success. They ran a promotion online where they gave away a CD for the price of shipping and handling, and ended up moving over 13,000 units in one month. At the promotion’s peak, they were getting over 250 orders a day. Then, at the end of the campaign, they put all their buyers into a Google map to see where they lived.

“We were looking at it, and there were pins all over the US and UK, Australia, and Canada,” Dayan says. “We were like, ‘Holy shit, here it is. We can tour now.’” The band, which relocated to Austin, Texas early in the pandemic, now has three albums under their belt, and embarked on its first official tour earlier this year. Their latest, Homesick For Another World, released in February, is still fresh, but the band is already prepping 20 more songs for an album (or an album and an EP) due in 2024.

Upcoming Event

Under The Rug

  • Wednesday, October 18, 2023, 7:30 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • Age Limit: 21+

More

Their fans refer to themselves as “Rug Rats.” As Dayan explains, “Our fanbase is small in the grand scheme of things, but it’s so mighty. There is one Rug Rat whose name is Hope who I always think about. She drove six and a half hours to one show, and then drove six and a half hours to the next show, and then flew home and flew to the next show, and rented a car to go to the one after that. They go crazy for it, and I don’t understand it. I’ve never done that for a band. It sort of makes me feel nice, that there are people who do that. But the pressure’s on now, because they’re driving six and a half hours to your show. And if that’s not a good fucking show, I am upset.” Under the Rug appears October 18 at the Casbah.

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