Indie 500

On the surface, indie-pop duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and the movie “Jurassic Park” don’t have much in common.

Lacking a Jeff Goldblum connection or thorough understanding of genetic engineering, the band still chose to host a special screening of the film at the legendary Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, during a recent two-night stand. Dig a little deeper, however, and you might find something there.

“It’s the perfect combination of story and spectacle. It’s got good content and it’s visually ambitious. I think that we can relate to that,” said Joshua Epstein, one half of the Detroit outfit. “We want people to have fun at our shows, and we want to do things that are exciting, but at the same time, we want to have good songs. That’s the point of it all: You’ve got to have substance to go along with the flash.”

The duo certainly showcased a good bit of both last year, balancing a penchant for neon patterns, bright bow ties, NASCAR suits and Popsicle-tossing with standout songwriting in its full-length debut, “It’s a Corporate World.” All of 2011 was better than the two could have expected upon forming in 2007.

“Both of us had been in a lot of bands before, so coming into this project, we kind of just wanted to cut loose,” Epstein said. “There were no expectations or intentions, other than to have fun and write some quality songs.”

Attracting attention through their moniker, they first got permission from NASCAR champ Dale Earnhardt Jr., who now counts himself among the group’s growing number of fans.

Top-quality, radio-friendly pop anthems helped, too, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is earning the dividends now, putting a smile on many a listener’s face.

“You make it hoping that people will listen, but never really expect them to unless you are really arrogant,” Epstein said. “I’m surprised they have, and I hope it means something to everyone that listens, even if it just makes them happy for a split second.”

The duo hopes to release its sophomore album before year’s end, while making 2012 as good as 2011.

“Right now, it’s about not taking what we have for granted and working harder than ever,” Epstein said. “I’m just happy that Daniel [Zott] and I get along so well and make music so easily together. It’s really fun for me to go over to his house and play. Honestly, I think I’m happiest that I made a new friend out of this.”

Photo by Ian Sigmon

Joshua Boydston

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