Monday, November 26, 2018


The DARTS (US) Interview: 
Grrrls Just Want to Have Fun 
by 
Anthony Servante


"We don't want boys. We want batteries."
The Darts 


Introduction:

The easiest way for me to introduce The Darts would be to talk about the "Girl Bands" who've kicked ass in the field of Rock & Roll. If I were to do that, I suppose I'd start with FANNY whose cover of "Hey Bulldog" by the Beatles established the all-girl band as the first true competitive Rock & Rollers on stage and on the charts in a male-dominated Rock music age (1970s). GIRLSCHOOL combined Punk and Metal Rock long before any male band did so (1980s), [my old buddy Lemmy Kilmister (RIP) discovered the raw energy behind this female Rock band and introduced the Grrrls to MOTORHEAD audiences before world audiences met them]. FIFTH COLUMN and RIOT GRRRL brought Feminist Politics to their Punk Music after BIKINI KILL kicked off the Revolution of GRRRL bands, that is, Girl Bands that played Punk for girls, women, Gays, Lesbians, all feminist minded folk interested in the topic of Grrrls (as opposed the closed-minded Punk of the bigoted Boys who still expounded the virtues of excluding girls from all things Punk (from Zines to Rock). (1990s).  Sure, I could easily talk of this Feminist Punk Rock history, but the story would not end there.



Bikini Kill


Bikini Kill 



As these "Grrrl Bands" had to Rock a bit louder and angrier to be heard, reach beyond their audience of peers, and to spread their message to the Music Industry, the Chauvinistic Male Punk Bands, and the patronizing Punk fan base, Politics became the standard with Grrrl Rock. Meanwhile, Popular Girl-Bands like the GO GOs, the BANGLES, and the RUNAWAYS (among others) tried to veer away from this anger and played up their playfulness, sexiness, and seductive stage presence. While Punk girl bands battled for the independent Female Punk Rock scene, free of the Capitalistic Boys Only Clubs and Punk bands vying for Rock contracts, hit records, and sold-out concerts, Pop Girl Bands catered to the male audience with docile lyrics and boy-friendly tunes ("Girls just wanna have fun" or "Our Lips are Sealed", for instance). Whereas the GRRRL Punkers were spreading the word of Female Punk Revolution, the Pretty Pop girls sang about just wanting to have fun.



FIFTH COLUMN Documentary event


riot grrrl mini-zine



Now we have The DARTS (US). Combining the anger of the Punk Female Revolution and the sexiness of the Pop Girl Bands, this all-girl band plays aggressive Punk music with revolutionary lyrics but doesn't skimp on the "fun".


Left to right: Meliza Jackson (guitar), Christina Nunez (bass), Rikki Styxx (drums), 
front - Nicole Laurenne (vocals/organ).


"THE DARTS (US) are an all-grrrrl garage-psych-rock supergroup featuring Nicole Laurenne, Rikki Styxx, Christina Nunez, and Meliza Jackson. Soon after their October 2016 debut EP release, the singles “Running Through Your Lies” and “Revolution” enjoyed instant radio airplay, “Take What I Need” was selected by Sirius/XM’s Underground Garage channel as “The Coolest Song In The World” and author Stephen King personally tweeted about the band. By the end of 2016, The Darts had played their first shows around the Western US and had signed with London’s Dirty Water Records (Dirty Fences, MFC Chicken, King Salami, Archie and The Bunkers, Muck and The Mires). By 2017, the band had been featured on CBS (Dallas), performed on PBS (Houston), signed deals with licensing companies Media Horse (US) and Wipe Out Music (UK), toured Europe, and toured the US with Weird Omen (FR), The Jackets (CH) and Escobar (FR)." (https://alternativetentacles.com/artists/the-darts/)

I caught the band at the Henry Fonda Theatre (The Music Box) on November 2nd, 2018, where they opened for The Damned. I asked them for an interview for my blog, and they gladly accepted.

Be sure to listen to the free music sampling* at the end of the interview and Top Ten playlist. One of my favorite songs from a long string of The DARTS rockers.



THE INTERVIEW

1.
Anthony: How you gals get together and come up with the name of the band?

The Darts: The band was formed in 2016 when Christina and I, upon the ending of our previous band together, decided it was high time to form the all-girl garage rock band we had both dreamed of for years. We intended it as a side project and recruited our favorite musicians for it. We named the band after those little seams in women's blouses known as "darts". After recording demos of the first two original songs, we were all so thrilled with it that we wanted it to be more than a side project, and it took off especially when we signed with Dirty Water Records (London) a few months later. Everything you might want to know about us can be found at www.thedarts.us.

2.
Anthony: What are the musical influences of the band?

The Darts: The Trashwomen, The Stooges, Billy Childish, Ty Segall, The Damned, Dead Kennedys, The Gories, Nick Cave, Spray Tan, Night Beats, The Coathangers, LA Witch, King Khan and The Shrines.

3.
Anthony: Ultimately, it's the music that will win the fans over to the band. That's what wowed me. Is the attire of the band something that will evolve?

The Darts: Thanks so much for saying that! The goal of the band was always to be ourselves and have a great time together, while making the kind of music we like to listen to ourselves. Initially we wanted our look to be something like 1960s secretaries who came home from work, took their dresses off, and jumped on stage in slips and bare feet. We did that for the first year and then wanted to change it up, so we went to pleather catsuits after that. Then recently we decided to incorporate black velvet into our stage outfits, with each of us just using that as a starting point and not matching. I kind of miss the matching to be honest, but it's also cool to see everyone's own take on the general concept evolving. Maybe pink hazmat suits and helmets are next, I don't know.

4.
Anthony: Describe your musical style for us. It has a timeless feel to it. Hard to categorize.

The Darts: We call it garage-psych-punk-rock, but that's only because there really isn't a clear niche we find ourselves in. We literally don't think of a genre when we write the songs, we just use riffs and sounds that speak to us as listeners and see what happens. Let's just call it Darts Rock I guess.

5.
Anthony: Where do you see your place in the history of "girl bands"? Running with it or running over the image?

The Darts: "Girl bands" really run the gamut throughout history - some rely on gimmicks and cuteness, some bring the musical power and toughness. My goal with this project is to prove to ourselves that we can be shamelessly female - meaning, yeah we care about sexiness and showmanship and accessibility - but we can also bring the rock. So that if you close your eyes, or you just have records, your ears are thrilled no matter what we are all like personally. I guess that means expanding the "girl band" image maybe.

6.
Anthony: Tell us about the CD you now have available. What is the name of the CD? Where can my readers find and purchase it?

The Darts: We put out two EPs in our first few months together, which our label then combined into one album and re-released this past summer as The Darts LP. Our first full-length record, Me.Ow., came out this past spring. Then we put out a 7" with Alternative Tentacles Records this past summer with two singles on it. We also just recorded a Christmas cover for a compilation coming out this winter. Everything is available at www.thedarts.us and on all the usual online outlets - spotify, itunes, bandcamp, storenvy, amazon, you name it.









7.
Anthony: Can you tell us about opening for The Damned? How that gig come about?

The Darts: Our drummer, Rikki Watson, got to know The Damned's tour manager over the years and he eventually asked to submit The Darts as an opener for their upcoming US tour. Apparently the members of The Damned actually sat down and watched videos and listened to our stuff and personally approved us for the tour. It was a dream tour, all over the US, with top-level professionalism everywhere, huge sold-out venues, and lots of support and inspiration for our band every single day. We are still reeling from it. Not to mention trying to put into practice all the sound and songwriting ideas that were sparked in all of us. The Damned are all consummate gentlemen and musicians, of the highest degree. It was an honor to be able to get to know them.


The Damned


8.
Anthony: Who else have you opened for? Any plans to headline your own shows?

The Darts: We've opened for Black Lips, King Khan and The Shrines, Electric Six, Dead Kennedys, Turbonegro, The Woggles, Death Valley Girls, and had Jello Biafra sit in with us on stage. Most of that took place in Europe, where the band is starting to form a pretty strong following for a brand new group. We have toured the US and Europe as headliners at the club-show level, and would love to start expanding that into bigger venues, but honestly collaborating with better-known acts is still the best way to gain the exposure that we need in order to make that work. Everything in time.

9.
Anthony: Are you working on any new music? Will you be exploring any new directions for your musical style and image?

The Darts: We have written and begun pre-production on our next full-length record, which will be recorded in December and released early next spring. We will definitely be exploring different tones particularly guitar tones, and rhythms on this record, and we are all thrilled with the more solid songwriting that is starting to happen. Everyone is more involved with the songwriting process than they were at the beginning, and that has been an absolutely huge evolution for us. It gets me out of my own head and really pushes the creative process.

10.
Anthony: Lastly, can you give me a Top Ten List of songs, your own songs or other artists' songs, that best represent the band today? I'll try to find an accompanying YouTube video for each song for the readers to listen to.

The DARTS:

Top Ten Songs that Influenced The DARTS:

1.Ty Segall  - "Girlfriend."




2.  The Trashwomen - "Batteries."




3.  Dead Kennedys - "Too Drunk to Fuck."




4.  Spray Tan - "Solo Slut."





5.  LA Witch - "Kill My Baby Tonight."





6.  The Stooges - "I Wanna Be Your Dog."





7.  Night Beats - "Dial 666."





8.  The Mystery Lights - "Follow Me Home."





9.  Billy Childish & Dan Melchior - "Bottom of the Sea."





10. The Greenhornes / Holly Golightl - "There is an End."





*****************************************************

Thank you to The DARTS for appearing on the Servante of Darkness blog, sharing their insights, and delivering an incredibly diverse Ten Ten List of songs. And thank you readers for taking the time to meet our wonderfully Grrrlish Punkers. Remember, you don't have to be a Rocker to appreciate Women's contribution to all things Rock and Roll. What The DARTS bring to the PUNK ROCK sound is GOOD MUSIC. In these days of divisiveness, The DARTS bring two Punk factions together. That works for me.


*Here's a sample from the All-Grrrl Band. Enjoy.


"MY HEART IS A GRAVEYARD" (2017)


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Views from a Troubled Mind 
Scene #11

Dream Loops & Fever Sleep


Eternal Dream Loop/Inhale




I hit the Trifecta of illness: The Flu, Food Poisoning, and Vertigo.

Late in the afternoon, I went in for my annual bloodwork, a basic line, tossing the hook into the pond to see if the doctor could catch something swimming in the red stream. I told the doctor that I was coming down with the flu and should I return for my bloodwork. He said, No. It's just a basic line. Catch and release, as they say in medical school. 

He wrapped a rubber hose around my upper arm after I had rested my forearm on the mat with the elbow bent, so he could easily find a vein. He told me to make a fist. I did. He patted my arm till he found a plump stream to dive into. He told me to take a deep breath. Before I did, I asked him to tell me when he would insert the needle. He agreed. I took a deep breath, and he poke the hypo into my vein. Dammit. My breath locked between in and out. I tensed. The injection hurt like hell. I told the doctor that I needed to catch my breath and relax. He said, Loosen your fist. The blood didn't flow.

So he wiggled the needle to increase the flow of blood. An electric shock shot up my arm from the site of the injection to my shoulder. I need to relax, I told him. He wiggled the needle again. Pure agony, and all my nerves were in on it. I forced myself to relax, to make the blood flow. He filled one vial, and inserted the next. It's slow, he said. 

I knew it as soon as he said it. He wiggled the needle again. I groaned, about to push him away and pull out the needle, but it was over. A ball of cotton on the bloody site and a big band-aid. 

I knew that I should have postponed the bloodwork till after I had gotten over my flu. This was a first--that wiggling of the needle to speed things along. He thought he was doing me a favor, speeding things up. 

And that's how the day started.

The evening was even worse. 


I ate the bad mushrooms at 9 p.m. I went to bed about 2 a.m. 

When I closed my eyes, I was driving. I wasn't asleep, but everything seemed normal. Then I opened my eyes and I was in bed. I assumed I was dreaming. I closed my eyes and I was back in the car driving. I decided to go to the beach. It was hot in the car. The heater was broken. The windows wouldn't roll down. I began to sweat profusely from head to toe. I opened my eyes. I checked the time. It was 3 a.m. I was still in the car. I was still in bed. I checked the cell phone clock. It was 3 a.m, same as the car clock. This was not the flu. It was the mushrooms. They were bad. 

I was in a fever dream loop. 

Dream loops and fever sleep combined. Otherwise known as Nightmare Eternity or Voodoo Slumber. Basically, a fever causes hallucinations while you're awake in bed. Add to that REM dream when you fall asleep. You have normal nightmares and waking hallucinations happening simultaneously. You are awake while you dream and asleep while you hallucinate. You're in a bubble of a new reality, with swatches of your five senses picking up your environment while your dreams try to work around these illusions. 
If I wanted to break the loop, I needed to throw up the bad food.

I stood up awkwardly; it triggered the vertigo. The room spun. The real room. My bedroom. The car was gone. I rushed to the toilet. My body wanted the bad food out. 

I stepped wrong and my back went out. Throwing up was more important than dealing with the agony in my lower back. Spinning room and painful back, I dragged myself to the toilet.

The vomit confirmed I was poisoned by the bad mushrooms. I expelled every bit of the badness. I cleaned up and returned to bed. 

I rested on my right side, and the room spun out of control. I turned on my left side. The spinning stopped. The sweating was gone. The queasiness under control. I closed my eyes without anxiety. 

I was back in the car. I was at the beach. It was very chilly. It was a starless night. There was a snack shack by the lifeguard station. It was covered with owls. No. Seagulls, I reasoned. Owls don't squawk. Wait. Seagulls caw. I should go home. It is cold. I am in bed. I grab the extra blanket from the foot of the bed and toss it over myself. I open my eyes. I am at the beach. But the sounds of parrots squawking filter into my dream from outside my bedroom window. I close my eyes and gauge where I am. I'm in bed. Two blankets now. I open my eyes. I am in the car. No. I close my eyes. It goes like this all night till noon when I wake up for real. 

I was caught in a fever dream loop, half hallucination, half dream. 

Sadly, I get up and grab a cup of coffee. I should sleep, but sleep now scares me. I should hydrate, I say to myself over and over with each cup of coffee. 

The day passes slowly. I am sleepy and wired with caffeine. I dread the coming night, so early it comes in October. The feral parrots are squawking in the back yard again. Tonight, they'll be seagulls and owls again. 

I pour another cup of coffee.