Thursday 2 May 2013

Darwin Deez // Interview & Live Review incl. San Cisco

Darwin Deez are back in the UK before taking time out to work on album number three. And with a reputation for an electric live show including quirky dance routines we were hoping that they would live up to the hype.

Est.1987 headed down to Manchester’s Ritz to check out their stage show and to chat with the main man himself about touring the UK, working on the next record and his Twitter words of wisdom.

Darwin Deez on stage in Manchester Ritz

You’ve been open about the fact that this will be the last time fans will have the opportunity to see you before you take time away to work on album three. I guess you’re going to go out with a bang but what can we expect?
Errr…well I’m in a bad mood [laughing]. The sound check sucked, which I guess is a good thing and anger is a good thing to put into a rock show; it never hurts to be in a bad mood before you play a rock show, even cheerful music like we play. We get all mad and let it out of our body, it’s one way to do a good show.

You’ve had great success in the UK, what do you like most and least about coming over here?
The least is probably the weather and the most? I like to play on a big stage and we play on the biggest stages over here, that’s nice. I like working with the people that we work with over here so I like to see them. I like to feel safe and comfortable; those are my main things in life so now that we’ve been here a bunch I know what to expect.

Darwin on stage in Manchester 
And you’re also playing Live at Leeds Festival which is often quite different playing not necessarily to your fans?
I always enjoy a show where for whatever reason I’ve got it into my head that I have to win over the crowd; I like a challenge. I much prefer a challenge than to be bored. Sometimes on stage I feel annoyed; I don’t want to do the same thing too many times and I feel annoyed. Everyone who comes to the show and my blood brothers (my band) are two legitimate sources of pressure to do this, and there’s only me that is “all I wanna do guys is rip solos” [laughing].

So let’s talk about your albums; there was three years between the first and second album- why was that?
Well, firstly it took a long time to tour the first record and I wasn’t able to write during that time. And I’m not a fast writer, one song per month top speed. There aren’t a lot of extras when I create; there isn’t a bunch of extra songs that didn’t make the record, that’s my style. I was growing as a musician as well but that was a separate thing from the writing process.

What can we expect from album number three?
I’ve worked on a little bit, but it’s a hard thing to compose when you’re on tour because there’s so much to think about for the show. Any effort, energy or thought that you’re putting into the show immediately translates into results. Whereas when you write something you can sit there for a year and nothing happens, so it’s weird. And I tend to get focused on the thing at hand, which is to rock live.

Do you have a direction you are aiming to take?
I’m trying not to, but I can’t resist to conceptually aim it. But I’ve noticed that a lot of real soft stuff has come out and also simpler and catchier pop stuff and the last record was a bit more intellectual, experimental and wordy. It was angry, so the next stuff is going to be simpler, more poppy.

You’ve spoken that you like to be in control with the recording process, the guitar solos; is that putting yourself under pressure?
It doesn’t feel like pressure, it just feels safe if I work alone. When I’m with somebody else I immediately feel pressure, I have to compromise.

So let’s talk about the current album- “Songs For Imaginative People”. I guess you want the songs to take a life of their own as they’re listened to?
Yeah, I did. You can make lyrics that are a lot less clear than the ones that I wrote and you can say the same thing; that you want people to use their imagination and run with it. So yes that’s what I would like people to do, but also I feel like it’s pretty clear, the story that I’m telling you. I’ve always been frustrated by lyrics that are unclear. “I got my head checked by a jumbo jet” [Blur “Song 2”] that’s a great song but what does that line mean? It’s rock n roll but what does it mean? I don’t want to make my lyrics so abstract that people can’t relate to the person behind the song. I think in music you get into an artist and you want to connect with them; still to this day I don’t know what Damon Albarn is about.

Darwin Deez pull out all the stop tonight (including the odd dance routine)

We love your words of wisdom on Twitter such as-
“Just because my glasses are cool doesn’t mean they’re not prescription” and “Don’t you hate it when you see a hot girl on the train and hen find out she’s just another unattainable American Apparel employee?” What have you got for us today?
Words of wisdom that I’m chilling on lately that my friend Whitney told me; “Be the witness” rather than getting caught up in the source of desire. I’m really comfortable by letting my life be driven by desire; it’s got me here. But sometimes it’s better to just let things happen and be the witness. When things aren’t going my way and it’s not really important then it’s like there’s a better way of living, just be the witness. “I want” is my main modality, I’m very comfortable with that but I’m getting sick of it because the things I end up wanting are trivial or not good for me at all.

And here’s what happened when Darwin Deez took to the stage…

Support band San Cisco are a great warm up 

San Cisco's front-man Jordi Davieson
Sole support this evening comes in the form of Australian quartet San Cisco, and their smooth indie tunes prove the perfect start to the night. Reminiscent of “Vampire Weekend”, they deliver bubbly bursts of indie pop; songs such as “Golden Revolver” are instant summer hits and, though the band may be relatively young, their sound is mature. 

On stage they are tight and put on an impressive, succinct show. “Girls Do Cry” is laid back surfer-indie-pop, the epitome of the bands sound. Their set is topped off with the insanely infectious and quirky “Awkward”, proving that they’re a band that cannot help but be liked.

 Percussive, up beat and more importantly full of catchy hooks that scream out to be danced to, San Cisco are on point. It’s clear they gained fans tonight and there’s no doubt we’ll soon be seeing them back on UK shores. 7.5/10

And after the warm up in the form of San Cisco it is time for the main event. Darwin Deez plus his three piece band are well known for their fun live shows, and playing tonight in Manchester’s Ritz we were hoping they wouldn’t disappoint. The quirky “You Can’t Be My Girl”, the single taken from the band’s sophomore release, kicks things off and perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the evening. It’s the last opportunity to see the band before they head back to the studio to work on album number three and tonight is an eclectic mix of fan favourites, album tracks and the odd dance routine (or three).

Darwin Deez on stage in Manchester 

The fun loving and upbeat four piece are a blitz of energy as they blast through singles such as “Bad Day” and infectious “Up In The Clouds”. There’s a great dynamic between songs from the eponymous first album to the newer, “Songs For Imaginative People”. “Constellations” from the former is upbeat and catchy; an instant crowd mover, from the instantly recognizable first riff to the final riff. “Chelsea’s Hotel” (from the latter) by comparison is more minimalist and mellow and gathers pace and builds as the song continues. Both work in sync to bring something different to the set, and with jam sessions between songs the flow of the evening is perfectly pitched. The angular and jaunty moves of Darwin are awkward but endearing, and he is captivating to watch.

Again, songs such as “All In The Wrist” from the current album are complex and multi layered and combine that with earlier poppy numbers and the dance interludes it is hard to predict what will happen next. “This is act three right here. Are you ready?” shouts Darin, before he and the band down instruments and line up for a dance break, to Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair”. With big choruses combined with experimental grooves and unique sounds, Darwin Deez certainly know how to deliver a live show and it will be exciting to see what they have in store for us with new material on their return. 8/10