Dirtbag Journalism

Interview : The Darcys


A band that perfectly encompasses the earnestness and originality that’s come to be associated with great Canadian music, The Darcys have cultivated a critical and cult following who’ve become enamoured with their edginess, power and unique nature.  Combining elements of classic indie, rock and shoegaze, the group’s ability to balance the light and dark through their sound and personalities (as proven by the differences between their music and their blog) has made them stand out, cementing a fan base that’s steadily grown since their formation at Dalhousie University.  With the release of their latest 7” single, House Built Around Your Voice, The Darcys have spent this month touring relentlessly, making stops across Canada to introduce new listeners to the music that’s brought endless critical praise, public attention and the respect of contemporaries alike.  Dirtbag Journalism caught up with drummer Wes Marskell (after the demise of the band’s van), and spoke about the “Canadian sound”, band blogs and the group’s re-debut.

Dirtbag Journalism: As a Canadian band, do you find that the Canadian media and journalists tend to support all types of Canadian music or do they tend to focus on the same acts?

Wes Marskell: I think that in some respects it’s true that the bulk of media attention gets put on specific bands in Canada, and I think that runs parallel with things like grants and other things because sure bets.  It makes less sense to give money to somebody that’s not going to sell half a dozen records, and I think the same goes for promoting the record or reviewing the record well and things of the sort.

Sometimes I wonder how good some of the records are that are doing well – but then again, I heard the new Wolf Parade and it’s amazing, so maybe the media’s just on to something – or they’re always on to something – I’m not aware of.

I don’t know.  I think it goes both ways.  I think a lot of really great media outlets have been really good to us and we’re not big by any means, so I think it depends if it’s a slow news week or not.

DJ: Do you think in that respect, the media determines what a “Canadian sound” is?

WM: I don’t know – I think maybe.  I don’t know what the sound of Canadian music is exactly anymore.  There’s been a lot of great Canadian bands who’ve gone and signed south of the border, and I think that determines a lot of what people think the sound is – other than Canadians – because they know that this band is Canadian and so forth.  But I guess it would have a lot to do with what becomes popular.  I’ve always wanted to think that the geography of where a band grew up determined the sound and the music more than somebody at a computer, but I could be very wrong.  I don’t know the reality of it, to be honest.

DJ: Do you find that bands tend to get caught up in identifying with a geographical location or do you personally make music that you want to listen to?

WM: I think as you stated before, the problem becomes kind of circular in that once somebody becomes famous, a lot of people latch on to that idea and then try to re-create it in their own attempt to be a band and to be a successful band.  I think that spawns a lot of bands that sound like each other, so I think in some sense you can get caught up in that.  But in another way – for us – I like to hope that we make music that satisfies us and that’s sort of what we’re doing.  I really do feel like if we wanted to, we could write a lot poppier music that’s attractive to the greater population, but it seems more fun to do something that sounds a little bit more urgent , but that’s the wrong word.

I think – to be honest – we toured the country four times last year and typically we were through the west a lot, and think that had a big effect on us.  So I think a lot of sounds on the record are dense and cold and stuff like that, and I think that had a lot to do with the geography of where we’re from and where we were at the time making the record.  But at the same time, we’re just a band trying to make some “rock songs”.

DJ: Well, changing subjects dramatically – your blog’s really interactive and it’s really personal in the sense that you’re really including your fans and they’re your pals.  Do you think that it’s important for bands to maintain that interaction with their audiences?  Why do you think some bands abandon that completely?

WH: I don’t know – I think that for us, it was all about the excitability of it because if we didn’t have that blog, it would be like ‘buy the 7” and that would be up on the website for 40 consecutive months – it would not change.  And so we thought, there’s so much available that we could put up there – videos and things like that, or just links to interviews.

I don’t know why band stop doing it.  I think it becomes a time thing, among other things and if you’re travelling all over all the time; you don’t have time to sit and write these posts.  But at the same time, I don’t know why you wouldn’t.  It makes sense.  It sort of becomes nicely expressive for us and I feel without that interaction, it becomes like your band is so untouchable that people don’t reach out, and really great things have come through the website. I think that the blog allows people to come up after the show, and be like ‘hey, I read your van broke down – what’s up? How are you?’ and then they buy a 7” or whatever and then it becomes okay.

DJ: Well speaking of 7”s, you’ve just released one.  What do you like better about the 7” than your album in 2007?

WH:  The first record is so different – we had a different singer and we had a different sound and there’s just a lot of stuff.  I mean, it’s not super far-off, but the aggressiveness of the music and the intensity of the music and the sound of the music wasn’t there.  And I think that it took a long time to go from point A to point B and we finally got happy with what we’re doing, so that’s why the 7” came out, that’s why the download’s available.  And the product itself, it’s so nice to hold in your hand and to have something that’s more tangible than just the download.

DJ: It’s almost basically like it’s a brand new band – like this is your debut considering all the changes.

WH: Exactly.  But at the same time, the people who made the old band function are still here, and so that’s why we thought it was silly to change everything around.  Plus, we worked really hard on touring the name and things like that.  But the last record did really well relatively speaking, and so we thought we should keep going as we are since people come out to see it.  And we’ve been touring the new record for the last two years, so everyone that saw us as The Darcys and bought the old record were hearing the new stuff anyway, so the whole change wasn’t as big of a deal as it sounds or seemed like on paper.

Posted by : Anne T Donahue