With an album in the works and a new tape release, Darsombra have been hitting the road hard with a stop in their home territory slated this Saturday at The Metro Gallery.
Darsombra enthusiastically self characterizes as “trans-apocalyptic galaxy rock.” The band’s music jumps frenetically from wistful stretches of euphoria to contemplative bare arrangements shifting at times to elegantly menacing territory and back out the other side. You get layers with Darsombra.
I was able to recently dive into some of those layers with the band’s members Ann Everton and Brian Daniloski, and I think we each had a few laughs along the way.
Baltimore Fishbowl: For folks who may not know, would you share with us what a trans-apocalyptic galaxy rock band entails?
Ann Everton: We have a surprising number of people approach us after shows and tell us they feel like they’re tripping on acid, but they didn’t take anything, and they just watched two people flail and play instruments in front of a projected video in a dark room for maybe 35 minutes. Oh, and 35 minutes, for us, is two songs!
BFB: I know you just released a maxi single tape. Do you find that in 2022 the enthusiasm for tapes remains high?
AE: Surprisingly, yes! Many younger folks at our shows tell us they can’t afford cars made past the late 90s, so they have a tape player in their car.
BFB: Was the medium of tape versus CD or vinyl a decision based on economic sense or did it just seem to jive better aesthetically with what you’re generally going for?
Brian Daniloski: A little of both. We knew we could press a cassette at a fraction of the time and cost of vinyl, and actually have something to sell at our shows this year, since vinyl production turnaround time is very slow. We could also get the cassettes in an exciting assortment of bright and metallic colors, which we love. We’re calling it a maxi-cassingle as a joke; it’s actually over 50 minutes, which is longer than most of our full-length releases. It features two tracks from our upcoming release — hence “single” — in versions that are exclusive to the cassette. Plus there are some exclusive bonus tracks as well.
BFB: Is there something about the audio quality of tape which makes it appealing more so than other mediums?
BD: Haha. Well, no. It’s not a particularly great-sounding medium, but most people buy whichever format they collect, and then listen to the album or song online anyway. In that regard, people are in luck, as our cassette comes with a download code as well!
BFB: How and when will the upcoming album be released?
BD: If everything goes as planned, it will be released 2023 online, as well as on CD, cassette, and ideally, vinyl.
BFB: What can we expect on this upcoming release?
AE: It’s to be a double album of work composed during the initial COVID quarantine of spring 2020. Probably about 80 minutes of music. It’s more playful than our last album, but also more sardonic and sassy — and woeful in places. Our mental dreamscape/hellscape of plague times. Also, lots of lyrics, for a band that usually stays away from lyrics.
BFB: With the types of soundscapes you create together do you ever find that it melds with some crowds more than others? More to the point, do you ever play any rowdy sports bars?
AE: Ha ha! We would probably enjoy turning a rowdy sports bar on to our show! We did play a college-town, rowdy, fried chicken joint, and a roadhouse-style bar in a small town, on this last leg of the tour, in the deep south. We were a little worried how things would go down in both spots, but folks like tripping everywhere, thankfully, so there was context for us. It’s a pleasant surprise, actually, to see a cowboy walk up and tell you he wished he had taken his mushrooms for this.
BFB: You just did a massive tour. What was the weirdest moment?
AE: As always, there were many, but the one that comes to mind right now is when we went to sleep in the van outside our friend’s place in Memphis and some people started disassembling a parked car across the street from us at 2 a.m.
BFB: The best meal?
AE and BD: Poche’s in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Crawfish étouffée. Though we had some excellent fish and chips in North Charleston as well.
BFB: The most challenging gig?
AE and BD: Two sets, outside, loading up a grassy hill in the night, as the temperature dropped and dew coated our equipment, days since our last shower, almost out of food, and punishers everywhere. We won’t say where, but it was a push.
BFB: What was the gig that made you feel like Enya playing at Wembley Stadium, or the most splendid gig?
AE: Either Little Rock, Arkansas at White Water Tavern, or Charlotte, North Carolina at the Milestone. The Little Rock show was legitimately a great show — well-attended, supportive and enthusiastic audience, welcoming venue (with great food!), lots of love, and a walking trail right next door with hunks of quartz crystal popping up all over the ground. The Charlotte show at the Milestone was glorious for me in a more nuanced way; after spending the whole tour reading “Get In The Van” by Henry Rollins to each other on the drives, I was so excited to play on a stage which had been graced by Black Flag in the almost 40 years ago. The Milestone in Charlotte was one of the first venues I played after joining Darsombra in 2010. We played there in early 2011, and I was overwhelmed by the years of dirt and funk caked onto a club that had been operating since 1969. Now, eleven years later, my mind has bent and I see dirt differently and the Milestone suddenly appeared to me as an “independent arts incubator.” I was thrilled; it was a true honor to be performing again at the CBGB’s of the south — and to top off this feeling of well-being, I got the handful of show attendees and Milestone employees to join me on a venue-wide Easter egg hunt for the fabled “original” Black Flag sticker, placed there casually in the ’80s. I found it right before the last call.
BFB: Weirdest meal?
AE: Probably cookies. It wasn’t supposed to be a meal, but it just sort of happened like that one night. Shortbread is my kryptonite.
BFB: When on the road and crashing with folks do you have any “no fly zones.” I find hyper dogs and crazy kittens to be a bit of a put-off myself. Ever stay at someone’s place who lets the ferrets roam?
AE: Ha ha, not yet! We get pretty feral on the road, so we often end up boondocking at a free campsite or something like that. But we stay with friends too, either indoors (if there’s a made bed ;)) or in the van in the driveway. It’s like an escape pod or shuttle from a spaceship, typically stocked to keep two humans surviving pretty comfortably in sometimes adverse environments for a few days. Every now and then, we will go to someone’s place, get overwhelmed, and hit the road to find a more suitable environment for our needs, but that’s rare. It’s hard to turn down hospitality anywhere.
BFB: How would you rate bathrooms at bars and DIY venues? Any memorable ones?
BD: It is actually a big deal and cause for celebration when we find that elusive “awesome bathroom” while touring. I’ve been having to use bathrooms in bars, DIY venues, and worse for over 30 years now, so I’ve gotten a lot of practice at it and can usually just mind-power through it, but there are some times that no matter how bad you think you need to go, when you actually see the toilet, your body and mind completely flip on you and say “Nope! Not here!”
AE: Soap is an instant classic. If the bathroom has soap, I’m usually happy. The graffiti gets more and more interesting as the years go on, which gives me a sense of hope for humanity. Tour is really just a journey of different bathrooms outside of your home, so they are all memorable in their own special way–particularly the ones in Indonesia.
BFB: Waffle House or Denny’s? Why?
AE and BD: 24-hour Mexican or cook something in the rice cooker is more our speed for late night on the road. We went to a Denny’s once in Canada, maybe? Henry would do Denny’s.
BFB: Ever deal with hecklers ? How do you navigate that?
AE: We often sass the audience as soon as we hit the stage, so sometimes they appear to be afraid of us.
BD: Occasionally, Ann runs out there and grabs their legs if they seem too shy or try and run away from her. Our show seems to confuse heckling types!
BFB: What are a few cool scenes that surprised you this time around?
AE and BD: A lot of the cities on our tour were familiar places, so there weren’t too many surprises, but it was great to be reminded how fun Johnson City, Tennessee is. Winston-Salem is always fun, too–we play a spot called Monstercade that’s nice and queer and spooky. Little Rock and New Orleans were pretty stellar–great Satanist bar in NOLA called The Goat.
BFB: Your videos are chock full of compelling visuals. Are there messages there?
AE: Absolutely! The videos are bursting at the seams with hidden messages and obscure narratives for the viewer to decode. Nothing is arbitrary; it all means something–and interpretations are as diverse as we could hope.
BFB: Your music is abstract and primarily instrumental. Do you set out with the same type of mentality that a pop band does in terms of being like “ok this song is about Bernie Sanders” or is it more of an intuitive affair?
BD: Abstract and intuitive, yes, but we’ve put out a lot of different types of songs within that framework. The songs vary from densely layered, carefully composed, complex pieces, to more improvised, soundscape-y stuff, with the bulk of our releases and performances actually being the former. On our recent track, “Call The Doctor,” we actually went for a pop band approach, in that it follows the formula of verse/chorus/verse/chorus/guitar lead/chorus/outro.”
AE: It’s intuitive. If there’s any emotive meaning or narrative to the (typically wordless) song, that’s often teased out in the video composition process, which happens after the music is written–like a soundtrack in reverse.
BFB: When did the band start?
AE: Brian started the band as a solo project informally in 2001, and then named the band and committed fully to it in 2005. In 2010, I joined as a projectionist and video artist, and then joined Brian on stage playing music in 2013.
BFB: Are you all natives of Baltimore? If not, when did you move here and what brought you?
BD: Yes, Ann grew up in the city, and I grew up in the county and moved to the city as a young man to be somewhere more culturally stimulating.
BFB: In a few words, how do y’all usually set out to compose a new piece?
AE: We jam, record it, glean out the good stuff, and let that evolve into something interesting. The ideas come from the stratosphere, man, and we ain’t coming down for nobody.
BFB: Favorite coffee place in Baltimore?
AE and BD: We don’t do coffee too much because we’re both pretty hyper already, but the Bun Shop is a great place to take a date 😉
Check out Darsombra this Saturday at The Metro Gallery with Katrina Ford and Moth Broth.