16 December 2022
They rock, they roll, they have swagger, they have looks, they are for real, they
are THE DARTS. After being locked up for about two years, like all of us, the female,
4-cylinder powerhouse from Phoenix came back with tons of energy and an appetite
for a love tsunami these past 12 months. They dropped a new 3-avid-tracks EP last
April and kept on touring in the free world for months.
And the future looks even busier. Not only one but two longplayers are waiting to
be unleashed in 2023 followed by gigging as much as they can. Thanks to upfront
dart Nicole Laurenne we get more details about this and next year.
But before starting the chat, Turn Up The Volume, as usual, starts an interview with
a slice of music. Open up your ears and your eyes for The Darts‘ brand-new super-duper single SNAKE OIL, the smashing title track of the upcoming LP.
What’s the story behind the band’s name, Nicole?
“A lot of people – well, people without boobs anyway – don’t realize it, but shirts made for people with boobs have to have seams sewn on the sides of the chest area to allow extra room. In English those seams are called “darts”.
I wanted a name that was unique to people who identify as female without being too obvious, and for some reason an image of a 1940s bullet bra came to mind, with its extreme darts! The bullet bra was one of our first logos, designed by artist Justin Barker.
I love that most guys don’t even know there is an alternate meaning of the word “dart”.
Which of your songs would you pick to introduce
THE DARTS to people who never heard of you?
“Probably “My Heart Is A Graveyard” and “Love U 2 Death,” because they both have that vibe of being dark but not too serious. That’s a big part of The Darts thing, lyrically, musically, even visually. We might smile a lot, but there’s always a little blood on the teeth.”
You played a live session for renowned radio station KEPX in Seattle this year.
But, as you told me before, Covid-19 almost blew the planned performance.
What exactly happened?
“We worked really hard for a long time with DJ Brian Foss to finally get that coveted slot on KEXP sessions. They gave us a date in July 2022. The pandemic was finally lifting a little and the station said if anyone tested positive for covid the day of the session, they would have to cancel us. We weren’t worried. We had a new EP out and we were finally back to touring after two years of lockdown, and we were totally ready.
We headed out around the USA for the first two legs of the tour… and them Christina
and I came home with covid. Like really nasty, can’t-move-for-a-week, no-food, no-music covid. This was three weeks before the KEXP appearance. We tested every day, sometimes multiple times a day, praying to the gods of rock that we would test negative in time for the session. Literally two days before we left for Seattle, exhausted and desperate, I finally tested negative.
We arrived in Seattle at KEXP and they rigorously tested everyone – the band, the DJs, photographers, studio people, everyone – before anyone could even go into the building. We all tested negative. And the session was one of the most amazing things we have ever done to date. It was a covid miracle.”
Full KEXP show
Last April the band released a 3-track EP, titled ‘LOVE TSUNAMI’.
Is it the harbinger for a new album in 2023?
‘It is definitely a taste of things to come, but Love Tsunami was actually recorded before the pandemic, by a new producer for the band, Gerald Schöenherr. Our friend Etti Bowen sat in on drums for the recording. With everything locked down right after that, we had to wait forever to get it out there.
Our European labels Adrenalin Fix Music, Dirty Water Records, Beluga Records, and Ghost Highway Recordings got together and put it out on vinyl and the 7” vinyls arrived literally on the last day of our European tour. Yeah, we’re good at timing apparently. But we love this little 7”, the songs are so much fun to play live.”
“There’s a big tempo-change in the middle of the track “Underground” that was a new writing challenge I gave myself, and that has turned out to be one of my favorite parts
of the live set now. The lyrics to “Shit Show” are cathartic every night after all these years
of, well, shit, and “Love Tsunami” is just a surf-y, girl-group party song.
Our next album, “Snake Oil,” was recorded in April 2022 by our long-time producer Bob Hoag, with new drummer Mary Rose Gonzales on drums, and with Jello Biafra very involved in the sound and production. So the new record will definitely have a different feel than the EP; definitely a little darker at times, and with some pretty epic ballads that we are super proud of.”
You were all fired up when I saw you playing in Antwerp (Belgium) last October, like young Amazons happy to get on stage again after the awful lockdown period. Why is playing live such a booster for all of you?
“Playing live has always been the life-blood of this band. There is no better rush than playing a song you’ve written and rehearsed in an empty room, and then finally hearing
it explode on stage and watching the audience explode right along with us. And after a couple years of not having that feeling, we were all hungry for it. It’s hard to make music
in a vacuum without that energy and feedback from an audience.
Seeing everyone again, especially so many old friends in Europe, was absolutely
the best reward for getting through the pandemic, and we didn’t take it for granted
for one minute.”
Which big-name artist(s)/band(s) would you love to tour with and why?
“I’m pretty sure everyone in this band would give you a different answer to this question. We’ve toured with The Damned, played with The Ventures and Joan Jett and Jello and L7 and Devo and so many incredible legends. But our current bucket list would have to include Amyl and the Sniffers, Nick Cave, Ty Segall, Jack White, and Billy Childish.
But there are also acts like Deap Vally, The Coathangers, LA Witch, Plague Vendor, Night Beats, Wet Leg and Smalltown Tigers that would make awesome tourmates for us, if you ask me. Our influences come from a lot of different places, old and new, and all of these artists inspire us a lot.”
What movie would you pick to soundtrack THE DARTS’ music, Nicole?
“Anything directed by Quentin Tarantino, obviously. But I recently
binge-watched the series “Killing Eve” and thought over and over that
our music would have fit perfectly with its black-hearted humor
The best track and album you heard this year?
“We’ve all been digging “Chaise Lounge” by Wet Leg, like most of the world. But on a personal level, I’ve been getting oddly attached to Dry Cleaning’s new album “Stumpwork.” Maybe all that blaisé, detached vocal stuff is a nice change of pace for me after screaming into a microphone or something.”
THE event – good and bad – of 2022?
“Playing on KEXP was the highlight, but a couple of the Europe tour shows
were also unforgettable. Making two new records and having to wait endlessly
for vinyl manufacturing is definitely the lowlight of the year. I’m not good at waiting.”
Your fav Xmas carol, Nicole?
“Santa Baby,” but only when sung by Eartha Kitt of course.
Ok, it’s not really a carol but it should be.”
“Which song would you pick to play on New Year’s Eve and why?
Our entire new album “Snake Oil,” on repeat. Because 2023
is going to be its year and I can’t wait!!”
Name three things you really want to happen in 2023?
“I want to release not one, but two new full-length albums, spend most of our time touring internationally, and write and record a third album before the year is out. This is all going to happen, I am visualizing it.”
Thank you very much for this chat, Nicole.
May the road rise with The Darts in 2023.
While waiting for the new LP you can stream/buy
the latest one I LIKE YOU BUT NOT LIKE THAT here…