Days N Daze' Jesse Sendejas Interview: Magic: The Gathering, New Music, & More

Genoslugcs May 21, 2023 12 min
Days N Daze' Jesse Sendejas Interview: Magic: The Gathering, New Music, & More

Days N' Days is a Houston, Texas based folk-punk band formed in 2008 by Jesse Edward Sendejas and Whitney Flynn. They have a strong DIY ethic and independently record, produce, and promote all their music. They also put on amazingly energetic and raucous live shows. In addition to playing with Days N' Days and his other band, Escape from the Zoo, lead singer and guitarist Jesse Sendejas also loves to play Magic: The Gathering.

He recently took time out of what was a hectic morning (due to the tour van breaking down in California) to discuss upcoming music for Days N Daze and Escape from the Zoo, his writing process for both bands, Magic: The Gathering, other hobbies, and staying sane in the world we live in today. Here's what he had to say.


Jesse Edward Sendejas Of Days N' Daze & Escape from the Zoo Interview

Jesse from days n daze playing magic the gathering

So, You're On Tour With Escape From The Zoo Right Now? Did You Work Something Out With Your Van?

Jesse: "Yeah. Escape from the Zoo and Doom Scroll is the opening act every night, which shares members. So, we're in two cars. The van is still down in Arcata, California. My wife and I, Veronica, who plays mandolin in Escape from the Zoo, have like a little Dodge Jounrey that we brought along to carry merch and stuff because it's like ten people with like amps and drums, so in one van, it just wasn't gonna work.

The van broke down in Orick, California, and I think they got it towed back to Arcata, and they're figuring out what's going on right now - I'm really not sure. We've been on the phone like all morning trying to figure out if we're going to get a rental or maybe just get a Uhual. It's been a nightmare." (laughs.) "We'll get it sorted, though."

The Last Days N' Daze Album Was "Show Me The Blueprint" In 2020, Correct? Do You Have Anything For Days N' Daze On The Horizon?

Jesse: "Yep, right when the world shut down. We have like an entire album written. I think after this tour, we're going to start recording it, so hopefully, it'll be done in a few months, but I don't know. You never really know. Recording always takes longer than it feels like it's going to."

When You Sit Down And Write Something, Or You Have An Idea, Do You Say This Feels Like A Days N' Daze Song, Or This Is Going To Be Escape From The Zoo? What's That Distinction?

Jesse: "You know, it used to not be that difficult. When we first started Escape from the Zoo, when I was writing, it was pretty clear right when I started writing a song; Ok, this needs like drums. This needs amps and stuff, distortion, and it needs to be fast and drivy. Or this is, you know, acoustic. Or this needs trumpets; this needs Whitney's voice. And it has become a lot more difficult.

I think maybe on these next two... Because we're recording an Escape from the Zoo album in July also. So, we're recording at the same time. And I think it's going to be weird because I don't know how people feel about it. It's like, I feel bad because I don't want people to have to go to two places to listen to one song.

But it's like, there's a few songs that I've written that I really like that are legitimately completely different feelings. And they just feel completely different with both bands, but they're the same song. In my head, I'm like, I need to hear this with drums, and I need to hear this acoustic. So, it is getting a little more difficult. But there's definitely, for the most part, it's pretty easy for me to figure out which song needs to go where."


Me: "That makes sense. Maybe it's just me personally, but I enjoy if you were to have one version of something that would be a Days N' Daze song and then another version that was an Escape from the Zoo song; I think that would be pretty cool. Because going and listening to Whitney's acoustic version of Ditches that she does versus the one on the album, you know, same song, but they do feel different. So, I do enjoy listening to both versions at different times."

Jesse: "Man, thank you. I really appreciate that. You have no idea how much that means because I really do struggle with that. But I mean, I love hearing stuff like that. I think Leftöver Crack has, like, the "World Trade" album - I love those songs, and then they had all the demos come out, and they're the same songs, but I bought them again because they felt new, and they felt like different songs."

In The Video For The Day's N' Daze Song "Shit Show" There Are People Playing Magic: The Gathering... I can't Recall If You're One Of The People Playing?

Jesse: "Yep. Absolutely, I am. I love Magic: The Gathering. I think I got my first Magic: The Gathering cards when I was like 9. And I mean, you don't know how to play then when you're a kid. You just kinda collect the cards that you like, and then later on down the road, you know, everyone played, so we'd have like tournaments and stuff. It's kinda died out a little bit now, like the tour game this time around has been Dominion, which has been really fun. But we still all have magic decks and stuff, for sure."

In The Comments For The Video, People Were Going Crazy About It. Did You Know People Were Interested In You Playing Magic Or That A Lot Of Your Fans Played?

Jesse: "Oh yeah, I mean, I've played Magic with kids all over the country. All over the world - I've played Magic with people in Germany and stuff. It's definitely... I dig it. I'm not good, at all. (laughs) If you play me, you will most likely win, but I enjoy trying. I feel like to be good at Magic, you have to be able to think steps ahead, and I think very much in the moment."

Me: "That was going to be a question later on down the road - If you win."

Jesse: "Yeah, I've won a couple of times."

Me: "As long as you're having fun, that's all that matters."

Jesse: "Absolutely."

I Take It Other Members Of The Band, Days N' Daze, And Escape From The Zoo Also Play?

Jesse: "Oh yeah. Definenty moreso Escape from the Zoo. Escape from the Zoo is entirely comprised of video game, deck-builder nerds. (Laughs) Everyone in the band is. Like we all just got Tears of the Kingdom. We've all been playing Dominion every night on tour, everyone has like, either Magic: The Gathering or Flesh & Blood decks."

Me: "Did you ever play any Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon?"

Jesse: "Oh, hell yeah! Of course. I played Pokemon with my mom, like twice, I think. (laughs) It was definitely more of just a collecting thing because I was like... Shit man, I must have been like seven? Yu-Gi-Oh kinda the same thing, I think I've probably played a handful of times. But it was more of the cartoons that I would watch after school and stuff. Magic was the first one that got its hook in me to play. It's definitely like the standard, for sure."

Me: "Flesh & Blood is on the way up, though. Flesh & Blood is doing well."

Jesse: "I've heard. So, we played at this place called Nightshop, I think it's in Bloomington, Indiana. But right down the street, like a block away, there's a game shop called Red Raccoon Games, and we stop there every time we play this venue, and I really really wanted to pick up some Flesh & Blood cards because our bassist has been playing, and just jabbering on about it nonstop.

Unfortunately, they didn't have anything. So, we just picked up Dominion, and that's been the tour game. But he swears that Flesh & Blood is like the new thing, and he's been a Magic: The Gathering kid for years now."

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So, Do You Get Out To Card Shops And Play In Tournaments And Stuff, Or Do You Mainly Play Amongst Friends?

Jesse: "I played in one tournament, one time when I was a kid. But yeah, mostly just been like casual - We're at a show, someone sends me a message and wants to play, and we have a deck, so you know, before or after the show we'll sit down and play a game. Or like, for a while, I had it on my phone, which is a crazy time killer."

Do You Enjoy Building Decks, Or Do You Play Preconstructed Decks?

Jesse: "I do enjoy building decks, but I am not good at it. My wife is incredible; that's like her strong suit. She can sit down and put together a strategy that she knows will work and just decimate you with it. I tend to just pick out cards that I want to play. I think I go more emotionally than strategically.

But yeah, I've tried. But I do just enjoy picking up those duel decks, breaking it open straight out of the box, and just going for it - Even playing field."

Do You Have A Particular Format That You Like To Play? Commander Or Anything Like That?

Jesse: "We always just kinda done 1V1. You know, we'll do like brackets if there's more than a few people that want to play."

jesse from days n daze playing guitar

Anytime I play Magic, I listen To Music As Well. Is This Something You Do? If So, Is There Anything, In Particular, That's Your Go To?

Jesse: "Anything by Hans Zimmer, I will put on. Any of those soundtracks - I mean, Pirates, Sherlock, anything he's done. The swells and the strings, it makes everything epic."

Me: "That's a great answer."

Post Malone Is The Biggest Musician Or Celebrity That Plays Magic. Do You Think You Could Take Post Malone In A Game Of Magic?

Jesse: (Laughs) "I've never seen him play, I don't know. I don't want to jump the gun. He seems like a smart dude. He, he might do me in. (Laughs) It depends on what deck I was running. Like if I had something that could just bring out a bunch of tokens real quick, I think I could get on top."

Me: (Laughs) "That dude's got a bunch of money to dump into the game for sure."

Jesse: "That's true. And this is why Magic: The Gathering Kinda fell off for me. It's like, you can kinda buy your way into winning, right? Like with Dominion, it's all in the box. It's all strategy and luck. Flesh & Blood, I'm not so sure, but from what I understand, it's kinda the same thing."

Mental Health Comes Up A Lot In Your Music And Interviews—personally, Things Like Magic Help. Having Things To Do That You Can Be Passionate About. Being Social And Interacting With Other People. Is That Something You've Also Experienced?

Jesse: "Absolutely. I mean, anything thing that you can throw your time and attention into that's constructive. Even if it's not, you know, constructive in a... I mean, I feel like people write off hobbies more than they should. Because hobbies are important. Everyone needs some kind of escapism, and if you don't find some kind of healthy escapism, you're gonna dive into a very unhealthy one, ya know.

Drugs, alcohol, I did that for 15 years; that was my escape. And now, I kinda redirected into video games and card games and stuff. And it seems trivial, but it's so important in my life because it offers me an opportunity to, like, you know, take my attention away from the issues of the real world.

The very troubling stuff we wake up to every morning and just for an hour or so just live in something else, you know. To just kinda reset a little bit. I think that's really really important because if you don't do that you're going to lose your mind. You cannot just bask in this chaos 24/7 without some kind of escape, and the healthier the escape, the better.

Card games, video games, music, cinema, whatever you want. As long as it's not something that's going to permanently damage your mind or your body, go for it."


Me: "Absolutely. Very well said. And I agree that it's frowned upon to a certain degree to "waste" all your time playing card games and things like that, you, know..."

Jesse: "Yeah, I've never understood that. I mean, what are those people doing? They go home and they drink Keystone Light for 12 hours a night."

Me: "I think people who quit drinking are often bored. Like they don't know what to do. But drinking and stuff really isn't an activity, it just makes you ok with doing nothing."

Jesse: "It really just makes you content with doing and learning nothing. And I know that better than anyone. And I'm not disparaging anyone who is doing that. Trust me. I have 100% been there. I've been to the depths that that lifestyle can afford, and I wouldn't recommend it. I'm having so much fun now that I can wake up feeling refreshed and play a stupid board game with my friends for an hour or whatever. And then go really experience...

Like right now, there are mountains right there. (laughs) I'm in my in-law's backyard. It's gorgeous out here. I'm from Houston, Texas, so every time I'm up here, it blows my mind. It's flat and hot down there. It feels great up here, and there are mountains and trees. Like, there's no way I would be happier hammered drunk in Texas than I am sober up here in Washington."

Me: "Yeah, for sure. You look great, by the way."

Jesse: "Thanks, man."

We're Talking About Video Games; I Know You Play A Lot Of Dark Souls - Do You Have A Favorite Game In The Series?

Jesse: "My favorite Slouls/Bourne game? I mean, I gotta go Dark Souls 1 just for nostalgic purposes. That's the first one I played. And it was in like a really terrible time... I was drinking over a handle of liquor a day - Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I wasn't like eating food or drinking water. I was like living off of vodka. Which I would not recommend.

And when I stopped drinking, that was like my... Because the games are about, in my mind at least, the point of them is like patience, and perseverance. With patience and perseverance, you can overcome any obstacle that's in your way, right? You come up against a brick wall, and you're like, holy shit, I just got annihilated in like two seconds, I'll never be able to get past that. You know, such are most of the hurdles that we try to hop in life.

But then, if you just buckle down, you take a step back, learn the move set, assess the situation, learn what you need to do, go in prepared... If you're patient and you persevere, you'll get past it; it's fine. And that taught me so much about living through every day; I owe a lot to that video game franchise. Which might sound weird to people who aren't, um, gamers, I guess. But man, it saved me, for sure."

Zoom Is Telling Me We Have About 10 Minutes Left, Which Is About Perfect Because I Don't Want To Keep You Forever. I Appreciate You Taking Time Out To Talk With Me.

Jesse: "Yeah, I appreciate you, man. Thanks for chatting with me."

Me: "Have a good one."

Jesse: "Yeah, you too. Be safe."


Jesse was a pleasure to talk to. If you're a fan of his music and Magic: The Gathering, you can finally have some questions about the two answered. If you're a fan of one or the other, I implore you to check the other out - If you're a fan of Days N' Daze and have never played MTG, give it a try. And if you're reading this as a fan of the game who isn't familiar with the music mentioned here, do yourself a favor and give it a listen - You won't be sorry.

 Jesse is an overall wonderful human with a lot of love and passion. We talked even beyond what's written here about how important hobbies like Magic: The Gathering and video games and music can be to keeping you sane. If you've ever had the game help you in this regard, I'd love to hear about it in a comment below and your opinion on the interview in general. Until next time, take care of yourself, my friends.




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