Monday, September 11, 2017

Neon-Drenched Late Night Drives with The Darcys

Photo credit: Maya Fuhr

It's dark, it's dim out. A cool summer breeze glides by and you grip your suitcase just a little tighter. You throw all you have in your El Camino and drive out into the night - only you and a lonely highway ahead of you. Once you turn on the radio, you hear an infectious hook and a reverberating bass line; one that'll have you driving faster and faster..

That right there, that's atmosphere. Those are the sort of musings that one associates with Toronto duo, Darcys.  After completely re-branding and releasing Centerfold in late 2016, they've polished and honed their glitzy, funk-inspired sound. They know how to set a tone and mood, totally transporting you into a neon blur. 

Darcys are the atmosphere.

Singer / multi-instrumentalist Jason Couse and drummer / lyricist Wes Marskell have just wrapped up their summer tour, one that involved Jason with his arm in a bedazzled sling, and are already back in the studio recording new material. The guys clearly aren't shy of pushing the limit when it comes to their workload, so it was awesome to quickly catch up with Wes on the phone and discuss everything - their wild, neon set decs, Top Gun, and the 80s-inspired vibes. 

Paradise Playground: Hey Wes, how's things?

I'm great thanks. We're in a recording session today and we're trying to split the time, get some songs finished and whatever else.

: Perfect! So first things first, what happened with Jason and the arm?

W: (laughs) The sling really made it's rounds on the internet so everyone figured out that he broke his arm. He had a bike accident, someone clipped him and he ended up breaking his elbow. He's already back at it.

PP: So how did you guys finish your tour then? It just seems so crazy to me.

W: We were kind of lucky because we had a few festival slots. What we lacked in guitar prowess we definitely made up for. I think everyone is sort of happy we kept doing the shows instead of cancelling them and a lot of support from people when we were doing that was really great. They'd rather see a show than not, right? Even a three-arm show! 

PP: Speaking of your live shows, I saw you guys at Fortune in Vancouver not long ago and it was awesome. The set up was unreal. Your custom neon signs and the stage set with the palm trees and flamingo in the drum kit, who's idea was that?

W: I think nowadays whenever you look at bands that you appreciate or always want to offer up more to your fans than just, "there's a band playing some songs". I mean if you're The Killers or someone with endless mega-hits you can get away with it a little easier but for us, it's about setting the moment. I love the moment before the set starts and our tech turns on the tree, then turns on the screen and turns on the sign, and it really creates an atmosphere and mood and people really cheer and take a bunch of photos. It sets a mood and tempo for the night before you even start playing which is really great and creates something people are super interested in. We want to create that ahead of time so we brainstorm stuff that we would want to see on stage if we were going to a show. We have more crazy stuff now like this huge ten foot inflatable's really fun.

PP: Also noticed you guys drank an entire bottle of Stoli at that show which was very admirable. Is vodka the go-to drink always?

W: It seems to be. I used to hate it. The smell of it made me want to vomit. I don't know what happened the last couple of years..but it's easy. It's taken over. On a really basic level it's just easier to drink than a bunch of beer before you go on stage. I do love a beer....

PP: What's your favourite beer?

W: Oh that's a great question! I still think...Guinness is my favourite beer? It's hard to put a couple back on stage though. it's better with the Stoli at that point.

PP: What was the highlight of your tour? 

W: It was great. Playing a bunch of US shows which was a lot of first time markets for us headlining, and all the support of people driving from all over to see the shows is really great. Also that palm tree...all that was unveiled on that tour. We played two shows before the Vancouver show that you saw so we finally had all that built and constructed and we picked it up in the US so finally seeing it on stage and illuminated was really great for us. Just feels like we solidified the whole look. 

PP: And get-ups. Hawaiian tees. Fringe. Leather with fringe. It's awesome. Who comes up with that?

W: It depends! I guess there's a lot of brainstorming and a lot of people pitch us, "Oh we want you to wear this, it'll be great" and all that..but then there's days when you're out and you're like, "I dunno, is this too crazy?" and then you buy it and then there you go. I always find that anything you're wearing on the street that's pretty crazy..on stage it's boring. You kind of have to go as far as possible when you're on stage for it to even seem like anything at all. We're always on the look out for insane and extreme outfits. It's a really tough life we have. Shopping all day, drinking Stoli. 

PP: Oh yeah. Hard lives.

W: I know. I dont know how we do it.

photo cred: @jahmalcooper

PP: You guys are from Toronto, but you seem heavily influenced by LA. 80's neon sort of LA. Why's that?

W: I think it stems from trying to create a look or aesthetic around the record. When we were working on the record we were watching a lot of movies, and a lot of day-glo 80's sort of film noir to permeate the songwriting and so we just pushed harder after it instead of making it a subtle thing, we decided to go all the way and attack this look and it worked out really well, set a nice tone. A little bit of escapism for this time in the world. It's about having fun and creating a mood of this happy and respectful atmosphere for people to come to the show and have a great time.

PP: So do you see yourself re-inventing again any time soon?

W: We'll see. We're still working away on stuff. We have this tour with RALPH which is a sort of collaborative tour so it'll be different than just two bands playing which is pretty exciting. We're always interested in doing these new and exciting things and I don't know if there will be anything as global as the last shift, but I do think there will obviously always be something that is testing us and making us get better and try something new. Its always good to be a little bit afraid when you're doing stuff (Chuckles). I think it puts you in a better place to succeed and do something interesting.

PP: As for Toronto..I wanted to touch on that again, what do you guys like to do to kind of re-set when you get back home after months of touring? 

W: It's funny 'cos everyone is always like, "You should go on vacation, you work so much" and it's like you're never home so being home is kind of like a vacation for us. It provides us time in your own bed and re-set your life and call all your friends that forgot you existed. Toronto is such a great city to wake up in and read the paper and walk around, which is what I did this morning.

PP: Your cover of Prince's Kiss is unreal. I know you guys are heavily influenced by him too, any other bands from the 80's you're big fans of? 

W: I love all of it, I guess all the Bowie stuff and we're both huge Steely Dan fans. They weren't actually an 80's band but like late 70's, and they had this funk-based music that didn't have the glam of the 80's but had the rest of it. Those are staples for us. Even nowadays new stuff like the new Bruno Mars record is so great or all the Daft Punk stuff. All the fun and glamorous music just adds a nice sort of extra to the sound that makes it a bit more fun, you know?

PP: So. San Diego, 1988. Why San Diego. Why 1988.

W: I always have a weird time answering questions like this because when you give a finite answer it changes it. If someone has a different opinion of the song or what the song means to them, If you define it, it changes that for them. You make a record, you put it out to the world, you're sort of at the mercy of what people interpret it as. I don't want to take that away from somebody. I think generally speaking it was about setting a time and a mood pretty quickly in a song. Gives you the imagery right away, like the intro to a book. On a very base level, that's what that does but on a deeper level, I'll leave it to people to make what they want of it.

PP: Very fair. And Miracle. That was such a rad music video. So many 80's film influences I noticed like Flashdance, Karate Kid even..What was the sort of idea for that video?

W: Well, I don't know if you saw but initially after the release Kevin Bacon tweeted that he "approved"of it because it was such a rip off of Flashdance. And that's it, it's a goofy take on it. Also has Back to the Future know, grabbing a bunch of kitschy 80's moments and that was the take on the music video.

PP: Sweet! So I ask this question often and I love all the responses I get...If you guys could be the soundtrack to any film at all, what film would that be? 

W: Top Gun.

PP: Wow, that was so quick.

W: I think about this all the time. That's the dream. One day we will write a new soundtrack to that whole movie.

PP: What's next for you guys up until the end of this year? 

W: Play lots of shows coming up in the Fall, we're also writing a lot of music right now. There's this collaboration tour with RALPH, and I think there will be some more releases and announcements surrounding that tour in the near future which is really great. And then you know..can't give it all away. There is fun stuff coming.

PP: Wicked. Well that's kind of that, I wanted to keep it light and sweet.

W: I appreciate it! We'll see you next time we're in Vancouver.



No comments

Post a Comment

© Paradise Playground. All rights reserved.