The name Those Darlins
may conjure up visions of sweet girls strumming out their feelings on an acoustic guitar, and the Nashville band are all of these things -- just swap the acoustic for an electric -- but they are definitely punk with a snarl. The band will be returning to Minneapolis on November 3 for their last tour of the year, despite getting their gear stolen the last time they were in town.
Gimme Noise: The last time you were in town, some bad stuff happened to the band. Did anything get resolved?
Jessi Darlin: No, we never got our stuff back. It wasn't that bad. I mean, it sucks to get anything stolen, but we were really lucky it was just two guitars, and one of them was really cheap, so we were like, (sigh) "It could have been so much worse for us."
Where did it happen?
We stayed at a Holiday Inn near where we played. We parked in a parking garage that wasn't part of the hotel. It was just a city garage. We didn't really know, cause hotels usually have security cameras, but this one didn't. It was my birthday, and Nikki and I walked out and saw the back window, and our hearts just fell to our stomachs. It looked like there was more stuff gone. They had taken everything out; everything was thrown everywhere. They even went through our bags. There was clothes and everything was all over the ground. We were like, "Oh, my gosh!" but once we figured out what was missing, we were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Did you have to borrow guitars for the rest of the tour?
It was the last day of the tour, so we were very lucky. It was our first time getting broken into, so we've been very lucky.
The same thing happened to a local DJ where he had his gear stolen. A lot of social networking went into helping out by others reposting.
It was crazy how many people we reposted ours. People were so angry. It's funny when a band gets their stuff stolen, people will really support that and help in trying to get their stuff back. It's the one thing people get so mad about. They're just like, "Ack! I can't believe someone would do something like that!"
Perhaps they realize how little musicians make, so they're angry for you. That's good that you have so many people who stand behind you.
Yeah, it's awesome. It makes you feel good. It's like, "Wow."
You just put out a single this week called "Summer's Dead"? For those that don't know the band, when they hear the band name, do they expect punk to come out of you guys? Do you get that a lot?
Yeah, especially from people who haven't heard us or don't really know. That's the whole thing with the band. Yeah, we're called Those Darlins, but we're the weird girls.
Was punk what you listened to growing up and shaped you into playing this music?
Yeah, I listened to a lot of punk my entire life. I've definitely been into '70s punk like The Ramones and The Stooges and stuff like that. Also, rock and roll has always just been there.
How does the country flavor play into that?
My whole family is from the South, and I grew up in the South. Country music has always been around and a big part of my youth -- you know the other part. My parents listened to a lot of rock and roll, but the other part was a lot of the older country and gospel, so it was always there.
Is "Summer's Dead" off of an upcoming album?
We're releasing it just for the tour. It's a 7" with Heavy Cream, they're an all girl punk band from Nashville. We are releasing our song on one side, and they have a song called "Prison Shanks" on the other side. It's going to be a tour only 7".
Who came up with that idea?
We did; we run our own record label. We wanted to do something special for this tour, cause it's our last of the year, and probably the last before the new album comes out. We've had our last record out for a while now, so we wanted to put out something special, since it's the Halloween tour, and it's fall. We just happened to have the song called "Summer's Dead." It's perfect timing. We thought it would be really cool to do something that is only available for tour. It makes it special.
A lot of bands are very DIY these days. How do you feel about having to do everything yourselves?
It was tough having to learn it all ourselves. Our label is the three of us -- me, Nikki, Linwood -- and our manager JT. When we started, none of us had ever done this kind of thing before, so I would say about 90% of what we learned, we learned the hard way. Making mistakes, and then saying, "Ok, next time we won't do that." (laughs) It's definitely trial and error, but we also are surrounded by a lot of really cool people that have been working in the music industry for a long, long time and just good friends and good judgement in general. We have a network of people that we are constantly checking in with, and we're constantly asking them, "What do you think about this?" But there's only so much people can tell you on how to do things. You gotta make your own decisions. A lot of times you find yourself faced with very hard decisions, things like, "I don't know what to do here," and everybody can give you their opinion all day long, but it's your choice what you have to do. It's been a good learning experience for all of us. It's funny, because you really see the growth over time. It's like, "Wow, remember when we used to do this? Good thing we don't do that anymore." From the smallest things to the biggest things, we're always learning.
If you're not making mistakes, you're not pushing yourself to try new things.
Exactly. You have to be brave enough to make mistakes, but when you do, you say, "Alright, there we go." You gotta tackle one issue at a time. When we started, I was really optimistic, and I still am, I'm just saying I never understood how much I was going to learn. Someone could tell you how to do it all day long, but you couldn't figure it out unless you just did it.
A lot of that translates to the creative side. If you don't try new things in music, you're never going to stretch creatively.
Or you're just not going to grow. Then if you don't grow, you get stale, and it's not interesting to people anymore. Or it's not going to grab them.
Does it ever scare you, especially since you guys are going to record the new album soon, that you're going to alienate fans by trying out a new sound?
Yeah, it definitely is a scary thing especially since our first album was really country, and then we put out more of a garage rock album. Maybe people aren't gonna like it, but at the same time, we really like what we're doing. That's what we have to do, because if we're not inspired and having fun -- even if we stayed in the same vein as what people liked before -- I don't think they will respond to it in the same way. They wouldn't feel that same energy. Maybe we will lose some fans, but we may also gain a lot of fans. People know when someone is genuine or when they're putting it on. People see it.
You seem very hands on. How do you divide the work amongst the band?
A lot of it happens naturally, because we all have the things that we're good at. Especially in the last year, I feel we've done a lot more of spreading it around in terms of work load. I've spent a lot of time figuring out what's the main thing each person needs to focus on to make a better functioning whole.
For a long time, it was whatever anyone could do, they'd do that. We all just worked hard, but sometimes I have a tendency to forget that there's anyone else around and try to be a superhero and try to do everything. I have to stop and say, "There's two other people in this band." We also have our manager, and although he does the business stuff, in terms of music, I have to remember to say, "Hey, it'd be great if you could work on the guitar part for this, so I can be free to work on what I really need to be doing." That took a long time to figure out -- delegating and getting people to work on their strengths, although a lot of if happened on its own.
Everybody's in it together.
All the parts -- everyone makes up the foundation of the entire project. In the end, it's a team. You have to learn to make the team succeed. If people on the team feel like they're not needed, that's where it gets to the point where it's not functioning anymore. This person is bored to death over here, and this person is stressed out. This person is not even on the same page. We have to remember to stop and say, "What do you guys think?"
Several years of everyone doing whatever they could do was important also, because even if there were no set jobs, everyone's strengths naturally came to light. "I see this is the type of person you are, and you will flourish in this position." That was definitely good for everyone.
That's a strength, too, being able to delegate and communicate. Bands break up because there's no communication. It's good that you have it figured out.
We're still figuring it out. Everyday is a new challenge, but it's good. As long as you're aware of it and constantly growing.
That's an aspect you can use in life too. So, what can we expect to see at your Minneapolis show?
A lot of fun. We like playing music, and we enjoy having fun with our fans. We love Minneapolis, despite the theft. Everyone's like, "Don't hate on Minneapolis!" We know. It's not the city's fault that one person decided to steal two guitars. It's alright. We're over it.
Those Darlins will perform with Heavy Cream and France Camp at the 7th Street Entry on Saturday, November 3, 2012. 18+, $12, 8 p.m. Purchase tickets here.