Splitting time between the heat of Phoenix and the traffic of LA, garage rockers The Darts left both places behind for a recent stint touring overseas. Now back in the states, they are gearing up for the release of their upcoming full-length record this September. Their own Nicole Laurenne talked about the album Me.Ow., their time falling in love with almost every place they set foot in on tour and the state of garage rock.
Kendra: You guys just finished up your first UK tour. Any unexpected mishaps from the road go down or was it smooth sailing over there?
Nicole Laurenne: It was fabulously, smooth sailing. The only thing that caught us off guard was the hot weather, which we had hoped to escape. Coming from Phoenix and LA, we are always trying to get to places where it rains and where we get to wear jackets!! No such luck this time in Europe. But at least there were awesome beaches in Italy. Other than the weather, everything was perfect on this tour. Kudos to Dirty Water Records, Jostone Traffic, Corner Soul Productions, Cosmic Trip Fest, Acid Box Promotions, and everyone else who made sure we had a great time.
Kendra: Was there any city you fell in love with instantly over there?
Nicole: For most of us it was our first time in Italy, and Venice was amazing of course. We spent the day wandering there, eating gelato and buying carnivale masks and generally having the time of our lives. We also fell in love with Castiglione Del Lago, where of course there is a castle on a lake (hence the name) that blew our minds. London was amazing; just walking past all that history around us – and meeting some intensely cool musicians and fans there – was unforgettable. Christina and I had played in Bourges and Dijon last year, and they both are still two of our favorite cities ever; both are just so cozy and welcoming and beautiful. We’re about ready to drop everything and move to Europe.
Kendra: Garage rock seems to be this sort of nostalgic genre that continues to pop up here and there. Do you feel like it does have this antiquity to it?
Nicole: It’s definitely based in the blues, and early rock n roll, but the genre has expanded over time. Like most other genres, there’s a core garage scene that is very true to its 60’s roots, but now you hear a lot of garage-influenced punk, hard rock, pop, even country music, so there are a lot more flavors of garage available now. The lo-fi, reverb-y, three-chord banging guitars and raw, yell-y, not-too-melodic vocals are still its defining features though.
Kendra: When you set out to write and record your latest EP, were you all on the same page mentally or did one person’s narrative shine a little louder than another’s?
Nicole: I did most of the writing on this record, both musically and lyrically, so I guess my thoughts are pretty well-represented on this record. But Michelle wrote three of the tracks and Christina wrote one of them, and those tracks definitely speak from their hearts. That’s one thing I love about this band – even though we all contribute really different influences and experiences, somehow it always blends into this yummy crazy sonic and visual milkshake. Like a black cherry milkshake, with sprinkles.
Kendra: So going off “My Heart is a Graveyard,” if we were to take that literally, what is one trend from the past that you used to LOVE that now resides in your heart’s own graveyard?
Nicole: My graveyard-heart is full of ex-husbands, cheesy pop music, bright blue eyeliner, my old micro-Korg synth, gummi bears (which I gave up when I went vegan), giant hoop earrings and rollerblades. Ok, I probably still love rollerblades at some level.
Kendra: Looking and listening, you have this very powerful voice and it made me think of some TV shows that are led by women. So if you had to compare The Darts to Orange is the New Black (good girls with a bad rap), GLOW (variety packed badasses) or Handmaid’s Tale (political, out there, badasses) which would it be and why?
Nicole: Orange is the New Black is the only one of the three I’ve seen. But based on your descriptions, that would probably be the closest. No one in this band is bad – in fact, we’re all really stuck on being ethical and clean and prompt and in tune and healthy all that decidedly non-rock-n-roll stuff. But we get on stage and this other side of us comes oozing out. To quote Jessica Rabbit (because she is the perfect woman of course) “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”
Kendra: You’ve got a few shows this summer in SoCal and Phoenix. Anything else we can expect in the coming months?
Nicole: So much!!! Our new full-length album, Me.Ow., comes out in late September on Dirty Water Records (UK), along with a full-length vinyl release of our first two EPs combined. We’re are beyond excited about that. We have US tours scheduled this Fall with two of our favorite European bands: The Jackets (Switzerland) and Escobar (France), up the West Coast and across the South, respectively, and we are planning the next European tours for Spring and Summer next year. In a perfect world, we’ll make it to Japan and/or Australia in 2018 also. We are working on getting three new videos out soon. And the writing never stops – there is always new Darts music just around the corner.
Kendra: Now if you had to make a mixtape with the theme “I Wanna Get You Off,” what five songs would have to be on it?
The Gun Club “Sex Beat”
The Trashwomen “Batteries”
Thee Tsunamis “Female Trouble”
Ty Segall “Girlfriend”
The Darts “The Cat’s Meow” the lead track on the new record, which might be one of the sexiest tracks we’ve written. So far.