Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. plays Rock & Roll Hotel with new tunes in tow

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Entertainment,Music,Robert Fulton

According to Josh Epstein, the perfect fate for the music of his band, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., is that of karaoke.

"If we can write a song and someone wants to sing it in front of their friends when they're drunk one night, that would be the best life for a song possible," said Epstein by phone from his home in Michigan.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. performs Thursday at the Rock & Roll Hotel.

It's unlikely that the Detroit-based indie-pop duo made of up of Epstein and Daniel Zott will have its music featured at a conventional karaoke night any time soon. But the band continues to build its fan base by touring and releasing new music. The EP "Patterns" came out earlier this month, and the band plans to release its next album, "The Speed of Things," later this year. Three of four tracks on "Patterns" will be on "The Speed of Things."

Onstage
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
» Where: Rock & Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE
» When: 7 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show, Thursday
» Info: $15; 202-388-ROCK (7625); rockandrollhoteldc.com

Epstein said the band's character-driven yet personal music is what resonates with fans.

"I think that, in a way, it ended up feeling more authentic and more personal, because when you're writing about a character, it seems like you put in stuff about yourself that maybe you're honest with yourself about," Epstein said. "In these strange ways, opening up the realm of possibility allows for more of yourself to come out, certain parts of yourself that maybe are authentically you, you just weren't aware of it. I think maybe because of that honesty, it connects with people in a way."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. started in 2010, and the duo has released three EPs and 2011's full-length "It's a Corporate World." Epstein said that he and Zott have complimentary personality traits and don't mind stepping aside when it is the other's turn to shine.

"We both have a certain role, and those two roles together make up one actually good, solid man," Epstein said.

The band's current tour is more ambitious than previous jaunts, with more visuals and better sound. Clearly, Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr. is entering a new phase.

"You can't really define eras unless you're looking back at things from a distance," Epstein said. "We're so much in the middle of it, I can't necessarily tell. It just kind of feels like a natural progression and evolution."

And what of that quirky moniker, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., a nod to a popular NASCAR driver?

"In a way, we've kind of embraced it," Epstein said. "If you can get past the name, then you can accept that we're going to be able to make any kind of music. I think that, in a way, that's liberating."

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