The three little ladies who make up Murfreesboro, Tenn. trio Those Darlins kick out an awful lot of twang with their debut, three-song EP, "Wild One." Together they helm an unruly marriage of ornery wit and traditional country sounds that come together with an indie rock M.O.
I caught up with guitarist and vocalist Jessi Darlin last week and talked about everything from the old Nashville music scene to the production on the new Vampire weekend album.
Is Wild One EP your first release?
Yes. It's our first release. The other songs on the Myspace page are just older recordings. Live stuff and things that we just have.
Are you all from Murfreesboro , Tenn. or did you come there from somewhere else?
We all live in Murfreesboro now. I'm from Kentucky, Kelley's from South Carolina and Nikki is from Virginia. Kelly went to college here and me and Nikki just kind of moved here and we all met ... It has one of the top recording schools in the country, so a lot of musicians move here who know that they're supposed to go to college but don't know what to major in beside music, so they move here and do that.
Who plays what in the band?
I play guitar and bass, Kelley plays guitar and bass and Nikki plays some baritone Ukulele and we all sing.
And you are all Darlins, like the Ramones or something?
Who's your drummer?
Linwood Regensburg Jr. He's our roommate.
Are there many places to see music in Murfreesboro?
Off and on ... There have been some really awesome venues that have opened here, but they all end up getting shut down for a million different reasons. This town is cursed like that. But whenever something good opens the town has a ton of incredible bands coming through. Currently there aren't any music venues open.
Is there a good house show scene?
Definitely. There are always house shows here. Whenever a venue closes down someone will just start booking at their house until someone else comes up with enough money to get another venue open.
Tell me about the EP and the full-length that you're working on now.
We recorded the EP in Brooklyn and the album in Brooklyn, so we've been playing New York a lot. We're recording with Jeff Curtin who has a studio, called Tree Fort. He helped produce Vampire Weekend's debut album and he does all the sound for Pitchfork TV.
"Wild One" MP3
I'm not supposed to like the Vampire Weekend record, but I do. It has a nice, sparse sound to it and I can see how that could work well with your sound...
I really like the production on the record. When I first heard it I didn't really like it at all, I thought 'oh gosh, this is who we're recording with?' But after working with Jeff and seeing the way he thinks, it made more sense and I respect it on a different level.
After spending a lot of time in New York a lot of people come up to us and say why are you recording a county album in New York? They were all worried about the Vampire Weekend connection and that we would come out sounding terrible, but the same people are saying that they think he added the right parts to what we're doing. Obviously I see the connection, but I don't think it sounds that similar at all.
You would have to stretch pretty far to connect your sound with Vampire Weekend.
Right, if you didn't already know that it was the same person, you wouldn't make the connection.
When you're on the road do you play honky tonk bars or rock clubs?
We mostly play rock venues. We've opened for all kinds of bands, and plenty of country bands, but we fit in better with a rock crowd.
Do you ever think that because the group is made up of women that people treat you differently or unfairly?
Yes, I do, but it's hard for me to say that it's just because we're a band full of women. There are some people that think of us differently because we are girls, but there are others who don't like us and it wouldn't matter who we were, girls or not. I think people respond to the images on our CD and think that we're not taking it seriously.
The band has a very cute sensibility to it.
What people don't get about what we're doing is that we are having so much fun playing music. We love what we're doing and that's all it's about. We like playing music and we like writing songs and we play together because we like each other and that we play together well. Not just because we're all girls. Some people say that we're gimmicky or whatever, but we're completely serious about it ... Seriously having fun.
What sort of background do you come from as listeners?
We all came from very similar backgrounds, which is what brought us together. We grew up on rock and roll. We were aware of country music actually I was surrounded by country music but none of us into it. The same year we met each other we had all gotten into real country music, and things like the Carter Family. We were all obsessed with it when we met each other so we were asking each other 'do you know this?' or 'do you know that?' We had just found out about it. Then we decided to start a country band and thought oh my gosh, we just started a country band and we basically live in Nashville, are you kidding me? None of us could believe that we were practicing three-part harmonies, but we loved it. It was a complete change of direction for all us, musically.
What's even more ironic is that a band that has the kind of attitude that you have is going to be more successful and have a much wider appeal than 90% of the artists who go to Nashville to "make it."
Yeah, so many people move here to make it big, but that kind of music and the scene that exists around it are completely different from what we do. We play in rock clubs and we fit in with the independent/underground rock scene in Nashville. We would never get anywhere playing at some honky tonk down on Broadway.
We all romanticize Nashville as it was 50 years ago and the scene that existed from the '40s through the '60s. Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and that sort of thing, and that's what we listened to for a while. We all imagined that it was still kind of like that, but then we actually played Nashville and the reality is that it actually kind of sucks. For a while there was this hope that we could bring it back, but that's impossible.
(Photos courtesy of Oh Wow Dang Records)
Beck and Alabama Shakes...that's about it. I'm sure there's an unknown or two I would…
Well, this years Music Midtown sucks!
I'm pretty sure he was 19.
3 people apparently love handing over an extra 40% in fees for nothing in return…
Dang. I thought they would name some actual headliners.
Forgot to mention that Iggy did a stellar show @ the Agora in the spring…