Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.with: Chad ValleyFormed in late 2009, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is the off-kilter title under which Detroit-area natives Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott record, release and perform music. Initially beginning as an exercise in collaboration undertaken with very little intention of ever being publicly consumed, the band’s trajectory has been as unexpected as it has been unlikely. In just a few short years, fans have seen the project grow from basement recording project--to media curiosity--to an international touring ensemble widely recognized for their joy-fueled live offerings. While Epstein and Zott have no ties to popular NASCAR circuit driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. nor his late father, the band’s peculiar name was initially suggested to the duo on a lark. The pair assert that the strange moniker has been kept intact due to the freedom they came to realize such a title gave them to explore whatever musical endeavors they could think up. “The idea being”, Epstein says, “that if one can accept a band being named Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., then you’ve already opened yourself up to listening to anything that band can come up with. You’ve already decided to leave expectations behind”. From that mantra, the foundation of their partnership was built. Each having spent a good deal of time in various recording and performance environments prior to working with one another, Epstein & Zott set out to explore the many intricacies of cross-genre songwriting and production together with a willingness to borrow as much from the Beach Boys as the Geto Boys if it meant a more dynamic form of pop music. An organic vs. synthesized perspective which by necessity lacked a specified audience or desired outcome, outside of challenging oneself.