Chima Ijeh, guitarist in the alternative rock band D and Chi, spoke from his home in southwest Dallas, still in shock from the recent death of the band’s vocalist, Darren “D” Eubank.
“We finished our newest album just weeks before Darren passed,” Ijeh says. “I was playing a solo gig, and I needed the sound system at Darren’s place, so I texted him. He told me he had COVID, and that I needed to wear a mask when I came to pick it up.”
At first, Ijeh didn’t think his friend and bandmate was seriously ill, but things quickly got worse. “I had conversation with him on Wednesday and Friday — he was in the hospital Sunday morning when he passed.”
Ijeh said he never considered ending the band, which has been together since 2013. “I knew the best way for me to honor Darren was to put all my effort and focus in this new album,” Ijeh explains. “I wanted to get the word out so people could hear Darren’s last body of work.”
The remaining members, who all went to high school together, decided to continue on almost as in tribute to their fallen singer. Ironically, the band’s most recent album, And it Feels Like, is actually a concept album on life itself. Songs such as “Hope,” “Miles” and “Home” are pristinely produced, well-played pop nuggets that would fit nicely on a Hootie and the Blowfish album.
The first song on the album, “A Shadow,” was added just before the release as a tribute to Eubank. “That song was written as if the person is driving down a one-way street and never coming back,” Ijeh explains. “It’s almost like a message from a ghost.”
Beginning their career busking in the Bishop Arts area in Dallas, D and Chi found an audience and released an EP in 2014. Corners, the band’s first full-length, came out in 2016, and the band opened for the likes of Chaka Khan and Michael McDonald. Interestingly, the band’s music falls somewhere between the R&B funk of Khan and the suave penthouse pop of McDonald. It’s a digestible concoction of manners and melodies.
In 2019, D and Chi were contestants on American Idol. Although they didn’t win, Ijeh says the experience was definitely worth it. “We went in for a private audition, and it was magic,” Ijeh recalls. “They loved us.”
Yet, like many bands, the pandemic canceled any tour plans, but D and Chi recorded most of what appears on And it Feels Like over the past year or so. And then tragedy struck with the passing of Eubank. Yet Ijeh remains focused on what he insists his friend and bandmate would want him to do, play music.
“I know that Darren would want us to keep playing,” Ijeh says. “I just know it.”