I have to turn the fan side of my personality off when I interview an artist. It's not professional to interview an artist behaving like a friendly, slobbering dog.
With Those Darlins this took a lot of effort. I'm a huge fan of The Cramps, The Raveonettes and Love and Rockets. These bands all have a retro quality to their music, but possess a voodoo darkness that makes me want to turn the volume up when I'm driving down the freeway at midnight.
When I spoke to Jesse Darlin, I stayed cool and tried not to think of how truly great their album was. I had listened to Screws Get Loose from start to finish many times days before the interview, so I can't help but think that I got a little exuberant with the writing.
Rock and roll will never get away from the essential sound that came out of the ‘50s. Artists like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis made music that future musicians of the genre either parallel or build upon as a necessary foundation to create modern rock and roll, whether it’s rockabilly, heavy metal or alternative rock.
Tennessee foursome Those Darlins combine the innocent sounds of straightforward, midcentury rock and roll with dark melodies and gorgeous lyrics that sing of suicide, murder and rape. It actually sounds a lot prettier than that, which is what makes the band so compelling. The sweet vocals, rock instrumentals and honest subject matter about boys who “. . . just want to stick it in” shock and serenade like a beautiful nightmare.
The musicians that would later form Those Darlins all lived in the same town in Murfeesboro, Tenn. The local rock scene brought the four together, and after honing their unique sound they hit the road. Jesse Darlin, singer and guitarist for the band, describes the experience. “We played every night anywhere we could in town for two to three months, and then we toured all around for 5 to 6 months. We played in Memphis, Knoxville, North Carolina, Georgia . . . we were a little sloppy. Not too polished at all.”
The hard experience on the road paid off. Screws Get Loose sold so well that the band extended its U.S. tour. “I had a lot of hope for the album,” says Darlin. “We were all so excited when we finished. Sure, we kept touring because of the album’s success, but we’ve always been on the road.”
Screws Get Loose is a blast of retro rock and sweet, cynical darkness for listeners who are sick of constantly being told they are nothing but a hound dog. “Our band is a combination of personalities and influences” says Darlin. “We all grew up in different ways, and we all have interesting backgrounds. All of us have a common love for the Southern roots of rock and roll.”
Darlin admits that they’ve achieved such greatness through a lot of improvisation. “With the first album we ended up with a lot of fans, but when we made it we didn’t really know what was going to happen. With the second album we knew we were going to be even better, but it was annoying having to wait a year before fans could enjoy it.”
All of the talent, touring, working and waiting paid off. Fans won’t have to wait long for more. “We have a new album that we are working on for next year.” Darlin says. “We are also working on a full U.S. tour, and we intend to visit Australia and Europe.”
Those Darlins has generated a large following in such a brief amount of time because its music is so consistently intoxicating, live or recorded. Jesse has every right to be in a good mood about her band’s success. “A lot of people liked our second album, and we’re really enjoying the tour. I’m glad people who bought our album are just as excited as coming out to see us play live.”