When he was 14 and growing up in Elk Grove Village, Matt Daniels wrote a letter to himself.
“It was a ‘just in case you feel like you’re gonna quit when you’re older, read this’ thing,” he said. “At the end of it, I said ‘Matt, if you’re reading this and still doing music, I wish I could be you right now. And if you’re not, if you quit, I hope it was worth it and you tried your hardest, right?'”
A decade later, Daniels is still making music. This year, he stepped into an open slot on Alabama-based touring band Shallow Side, which is coming to Lisle’s BaseCamp Pub with Puddle of Mudd’s “Resurrection Tour” Sunday, Aug. 5, as the centerpiece of the daylong Afterlife Music Festival.
Until recently, Daniels was the driving force behind Chicago-area band Remada and the Music Heals movement, dedicated to promoting mental health awareness.
“I’ve been in bands since high school,” he said. “But I’ve been playing music obsessively since fourth grade. … People talk about playing until your fingers bled. Well, that was me.”
In November 2017, Daniels’ shot came when Remada was on tour with Shallow Side and Austin Winkler, lead singer of Hinder. Remada found itself without a drummer halfway through the tour, so Daniels spent much of the time training guest drummers and ferrying them between the tour caravan and home.
At the same time, Shallow Side’s bass player had to step away from touring, leaving a vacancy in the lineup.
“We saw (Daniels) literally doing everything,” said Eric Boatright, frontman for Shallow Side. “It was funny to see it because we’ve been there. We’ve been through the wringer. … You could just see him going through the same motions.”
“That kid’s something,” Boatright said. “He’s got talent. He’s got drive. He’s got skill, and you can tell he’s worked on it. Tour ended, and I gave him a phone call. It was a no-brainer.”
It was a phone call Daniels knew he had to jump on.
“It was the most stressful, scary and rewarding opportunity of my life,” he said. “The industry came to my door and said, ‘Can you handle it?'”
He spent the next few months teaching himself to play bass guitar and learning Shallow Side’s catalog.
“Our first two shows together were in March. They drove their bus up to the front yard of my parents’ house — in a million years I never would have thought that would happen!”
Shallow Side, a hard rock band that formed in 2010 between three longtime friends — Boatright, drummer Heath Fields and guitarist Seth Trimble — is known in part for the inspirational kiss off “Rebel,” a song about stepping up when the world pushes you down.
“So many people have told me you’re not gonna make it, you’re never gonna make it, it’s one in a million,” Daniels reflected.
He’ll get to show how far he’s come at Sunday’s Afterlife Music Festival.
The fest will feature three stages, 12 area bands and 17 acts on the outside Red Bull DJ stage. Much of the proceeds will benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.
The fest gives Daniels a chance to play at home and also to reflect on that letter he wrote years ago.
“No matter how hard things got with touring on the road or being broke or people not believing in you,” he said. “I’d read that and be like ‘I remember how bad I wanted this.’ Reading it now, it’s surreal. Like I always knew.”
• • •
Afterlife Festival featuring Resurrection Tour with Puddle of Mudd, Saliva, Tantric, Shallow Side and more
When: 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 5
Where: BaseCamp Pub, 5750 Lakeside Drive, Lisle, basecamppub.com
Tickets: Minimum donation $35; $10 for children 10 and younger. Proceeds benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.
• • •
Noon — Capital Vices
1 p.m. — Dear Dario
2 p.m. — Dead Original
3 p.m. — Fools’ Brew
4 p.m. — Chout
5 p.m. — Reanimate The Fallen
6:30 p.m. — Dear Deadly
7:30 p.m. — Blacken The Day
8 p.m. — Chronic Edge
9:15 p.m. — Sleep Signals
5 p.m. — Day Time Hooker
6:15 p.m. — Bedlem
7:35 p.m. — Shallow Side
8:15 p.m. — Tantric
9:05 p.m. — Saliva
10:30 p.m. — Puddle of Mudd
Red Bull DJ stage
11 a.m. — GoodSex
11:45 a.m. — C Spence
12:30 p.m. — DJ Amar
1:15 p.m. — Zack Joseph
2 p.m. — Artty Fowler
2:45 p.m. — Caustic Grime
3:30 p.m. — Tony Tone
4:15 p.m. — JAMRAZ
5:45 p.m. — Solesdin
6:30 p.m. — Ayoo
7:15 — Coco joe
8 p.m. — Tsunami B2B DangerWayne
8:45 p.m. — Dr. Base
9:30 p.m. — Drastik J
10:15 p.m. — Smookie Illson
11:15 p.m. — DJ Starkill