What a group. Those Darlins. The threesome hail from Tennessee and it shows- not just in their music but in their on-stage banter, their bourbon-love and their “throw the chips to the wind” attitude. When I first saw the band live in January, I was blown-away.
The debut self-titled album from Those Darlins is out tomorrow! Check them out for sure. And read the hilarious MME Q&A below.
Q. When you first came together as a trio, did you know it was meant to be??
Jessi (guitar): Yeah, I guess we didn’t really think about it too much. We just liked playing together, and that’s what we did. Music was more of an excuse to hang out with each other than it was to “start a band.”
Kelley (bass): I definitely felt like I had found kindred spirits…we would play music then tap dance, take breaks, cook food, watch movies, try on clothes, play some more music…kind of like having a sleepover with friends. I never did any stuff like that when I played in “guy bands!” It was funny too that we all also realized that none of us ever cared about shaving, not in a particularly political way but just in a ‘who cares?’ kind of way. I think it’s really hard to find great girlfriends so when I met girls who loved music and weren’t afraid to be silly and adventurous, it was like finding my tribe.
Q. What was your first show and how was it?
Jessi: Our first show was at this REALLY divey bar in Nashville called Spring Water. It is one of the shittiest bars in the world, but in a good way (or at least the best way possible). They have the greatest Karaoke selection ever. We just got asked to play for a friends birthday (who was in the other band that played). It was interesting, i think there were like 6 bands booked that night and nobody knew what was going on. I remember a row of women in the front who were really diggin it… one of them was really hassling us. and i remember wearing hunter green chaps.
Kelley: Yeah, the running joke of the night was about how Jessi “chapped” her pants, whatever that means. The show at Springwater was our first “real” show. Our first performance was when we crashed two parties in one night…no one knew we were playing, but other bands were and there was equipment, so we brought our guitars and just showed up and played. And that’s what got the ball rolling. Our friends heard us and started asking us to open for their bands.
Q. Tell me about the day in the life, what’s your normal routine?
Jessi: eat, work on darlins design stuff and answering emails, eat, work, smoke cigarette, work, band practice, smoke, practice, sleeeeeeeeeep (my favorite part.
Nikki (baritone ukelele): crawl out of my cocoon, sometimes shower, taxidermy, listen to records, sew, run errands/cast spells with our friend Kevin, maybe lounge in our kiddie pool and shoot the b.b. gun, practice, do some drinking, fall asleep somewhere.
Kelley: It’s hard to maintain any kind of normal schedule cause we are in clubs every night usually loading out around 2 or 3am, so I get antsy when I’m at home. I stay up really late, usually 5am or so, sometimes just to see the sun rise, then sleep till 2pm. Otherwise, I really love to spend time in our carport (we all live together) and in the garden. There’s a great hammock under a Magnolia tree so that’s always a nice spot for reading…and sometimes I ride my bike around town to see what’s going on, but mostly all of us hang around the house when were home and catch up on Darlins work or personal stuff since we’re gone a lot.
Q. What’s the best thing about being on the road?
Jessi: The part that makes it all worth it: playing the show… Its funny how you spend up to 12 hours a day driving just to get some where and play for 30 to 90 minutes. It’s worth it though!
Nikki: I of course look forward to every show. I have always felt like somewhat of a gypsy so all the traveling is nice. I love seeing new cities and most of all….I love meeting awesome new friends every day…….damn, did I mention how much I love road food?
Kelley: Sometimes we’ll play college towns or small towns and I love that cause there’s no way I’d have been able to visit them just to see what’s going on. And being there to play music, I get to immediately check out the local music scene and get a feel for different towns. I love meeting people who are really proud of and know a lot about their particular community or random history about their town. America is really a diverse country and it’s fun to see some of the smaller places instead of passing through on the interstate.
Q. How do you write songs? I noticed you switch instruments when you play live, is the guitar player the Darlin who wrote the song??
Jessi: Sometimes we write individually, some songs we collaborate… If we do collaborate it is usually 2 of us, because it’s hard to write with more than 2. We did all write a bit on “DUI or die”, I think that’s the only full collaboration. We usually sing the ones we write, but if we are singing it, it doesn’t mean that somebody else didnt co-write it.
Kelley: Yeah, I think it’s hard to sing lead and play bass so typically if Jessi or I switch guitars then whoever’s singing lead wrote or co-wrote that one.
Q. Where do you get inspiration for your lyrics? Are the songs autobiographical? “DUI” “I got drunk and i ate a chicken”??
Jessi: Yes they are autobiographical. We just write about what happens to us, the experiences we encounter, and our emotions about them. That’s really all there is to it.
Q. What other music are you currently listening to?
Jessi: whatever plays in the van.
Nikki: yeah, the mix tapes in the van that Sheriff Lin has been providing. I think everyone has gotten sick of mine. Other than that I have been really lovin on some Johnny Thunders and some Richard Hell.
Kelley: Heavy Trash, the new David Byrne and Brian Eno record, Black Mountain, and some reggae/rocksteady compilations.
Q. If you could play a show with any band/musician dead or alive, together or not, who would it be?
Jessi: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Nikki: I know that the marx brothers were mostly vaudeville and Broadway performers but I would love to play guitar with Groucho, sing with Chico while he played piano and honk harpo’s horns! I think they are the best entertainers that ever were.
Q. Will you stay in Murfreesboro or are you thinking of relocating the band?
Jessi: I don’t know, we’ll probably relocate. We’re scouting out our favorite towns. That’s what all this touring business is really for😉
Kelley: We’re on the road so much I don’t think it really matters as much to me as it used to where my stuff lives. I really like our house and it’s a nice retreat to come home too, and I miss our friends here when we’re gone. The only exception would be if I could live on a beach!!!! Then I’d be there in seconds.
Q. Do you play “country” music?
Jessi: Popular music based on the folk style of the southern rural United States or on the music of cowboys in the American West. We are country influenced but not solely country.
Kelley: I think we are inspired by country music as much as we are influenced by it. We play country music along with other types…growing up in the South, it’s always been in the background and part of our every day lives. I think talking about genres is important in describing a sound, but not in defining it as a set criteria. Elvis played country and gospel but is known as the “King of Rock’n’Roll” and the Beatles played skiffle music before they created a distinctly British pop sound. And then there’s Dylan and so many 60s “rock” bands that were heavily influenced by folk music. So yeah, we play country music.
Q. Why the team-up with the sunglass company??
Jessi: Our manager asked us about sponsorships and the first thing we though of was Blueblockers (well, after bourbon of course). Cause we like them… and turns out, they like us too! We are the first band to be sponsored since the Oak Ridge Boys…
Kelley: It’s a great partnership because we really do wear them all of the time (great for hangovers or recording vocal takes). We approached them and they were into what we were doing, so we did a promotion around the record release and they helped support that campaign. So many people have been contacting us about how excited they were to get the vinyl AND a free pair of Blublockers. And now we’re stocked for tour.
Q: Just saw this on the Darlins’ twitter: “I ate the whole damn thing” is a song of feminist rebellion against constraints on women’s Appetites” Wow! Do you think that too? Did they write the song with anything like that in mind? Are Those Darlins feminists?
Nikki: Yeah! That is totally what that song is about. I eat what I want and I love my belly!
Jessi:Of course we think that. And yes we are feminists (even linwood). After all we do help run (and Kelley founded) the Southern Girls Rock and Roll camp!