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"Silence is so accurate."*

An interview with Darling, Spring 1999.

The members of Darling-

                      Kim Murray:   bass
                      Doug Miller:  percussion
                      Seth Knappen: vocals, guitar, keyboards
                      Todd Bowser:  various toys and instruments
                 

are four hooligans from the strange and confusing area of the American Midwest known as the Quad Cities. The boys met in high school and christened themselves Darling on the way to a Pink Floyd concert. They have two albums released on Guilt Ridden Pop Records, 1995's Ends in Fantasy and 1998's the Night in Bloom. Their forthcoming album is to be recorded with Alan Sparhawk from Low.

Lazy writer's recipe for Darling-

Mix equal parts Codeine, Low and Pink Floyd. Fold in Red House Painters' bassist. Add zest of Layne Staley. Garnish with bittersweet memories, strained relationships and a pinch of odd humor. Puree.


Darling have toured mostly in the midwest and along the east coast. Why the east coast versus the west, and do you have any plans for a national or overseas tour?

Todd- You really can't go too far west unless you have both a large amount of reserve money and a very reliable vehicle. If the opportunity presented itself, where we were guaranteed that it would be worth all the added effort, I know I would play a national tour or overseas tour. Overseas particularly; it seems to me that the U.S. is the worst market in the world for music that is original. Americans sure love their crap.

Doug- When our first record came out we were asked to play the Knitting Factory in New York City. That gave us a reason to go east. Eastern cities are closer together, making it easier on a band that is just learning how to be on the road. We would love to do an overseas or National tour, but we don't want to force it if we don't have good enough reason or support. We would like to tour with our friends from Low at some point in the future.

You've opened for Jeremy Enigk, the Hang Ups, Low, and Palace among others. Anyone really impress you? Anyone you wanted to clock?

Todd- Low has been my favorite band for years now, so playing with them has been an incredible treat for me. They amaze me every time I see them live and they are three of the nicest people I have ever met. I'd have to say the same for the Hang Ups. It's really great to see someone you admire so much equally excited to see you play.

Doug- All these bands impressed us and we got along great with all of them. I thought the Lullabies and Modest Mouse people were some of the funnest to play with because they had a similar sense of humor. We have a very absurd sense of humor. Of course Low and The Hang-Ups have helped us more than anyone in the business. I could'nt begin to explain what those guys have meant to us.

Kim- We've also played shows with Palace, Rachels, Ida, Modest Mouse, Joan of Arc, Hovercraft, Mick Turner of Dirty Three, American Analog Set. So far I haven't had to clock anybody yet!

Do you feel that Darling excels more in the studio or in a live setting?

Todd- I think when you have the capacity of recording over and over yourself, not only do have infinite attempts to get it right, but you don't have to worry about how many hands and voices you have...so in one way we are capable of more on record. On the other hand, the energy that one gets from playing live sometimes makes something very different and special come out, whether you're getting improvisational, emotional, or what have you. Chance becomes a factor, and what you're feeling right then comes out in what you are playing.

Doug- Lately we have been much more interested in recording, but alot of people tell us they prefer us live. I think we are a great live band, but I think we are the kind of band you would need to see a few times to get it. We tend to use a set list that changes feel constantly, I don't think most people are up for that challenge.

What piece of equipment would you be most reluctant to part with?

Todd- I have a Roland MVS-1 Vintage synth sound module, that has over 200 analog and vintage keyboard sounds in it. When we play live, I mostly use the Mellotron sample, but as I play with it, I'm always finding something new in it that is just amazing. Plus I traded my old Rickenbacker bass for it, which was the only thing I really put any sentimental value on.

Doug- Lets change it to happiest to part with; our van.

How will your upcoming album differ from your previous work?

Doug- We have recorded some of it ourselves. Todd will be on this record. Seth is singing better than ever. It will have more of an ambience to it. Seth plays the clarinet on several tracks. We would like to add some strings if we can. Pat (Stolley, who produced Darling's previous albums) will be working on this record. Alan Sparhawk from Low will also be doing some work with us as player/producer/engineer/overall influence.

Have Darling released any singles?

Todd- We would like to put out a 7", there are songs written now that won't go on the new album, and will have to go somewhere. It's good to have something like that for people. If someone comes to see Low and Darling is opening, even someone who really is blown away by Darling probably won't shell out ten bucks for a CD when they only have enough for the Low record they've been waiting to buy, but if you've got a $2 7-inch, then you might have something, and they won't forget who you were the next day.

Do you have an affinity for any religion or spiritual doctrine?

Todd- I like the Buddhist concept that suffering comes from the desire for things to stay the same in a world where everything changes constantly, and that the only way to become content is to embrace the impermanence of everything and let go of that unrequitable desire.

Kim- Seth and Doug were definitely inspired by visual arts. More so then I was. I'd say both Seth and me have influences in eastern philosophies. We both practice Tai Chi; Seth is really into Buddhist philosophy. The title for the forthcoming album is "The Floating World." The title has its roots in eastern concepts relating to Buddhism and Taoism.

What song are you most proud of?

Todd- I would say Insecurity, which will be on the new album. It's the first song where everybody just threw their thing in, with no pre-conception of any kind. We all just did our own thing and it sounded great when we put it together. It's also mildly political, in this subtle and sarcastic way.

Doug- I think Falling and Flowering was my best recorded performance. Art School sounds the most like the kind of music I like. There is a new song called Insecurity that I am most proud of because everyone really made that song happen together.

What about the Midwest lends itself to slow, introspective music?

Todd- You don't have a lot of external stimuli when you live out in the middle of nowhere, so there's a self-reliance some people gain, where they can just take a long drive and reflect, looking at big farming fields or what have you while driving from here to Chicago or something like that. And I think there's a bit of loneliness there too. Does this mean that if I lived in L.A., I'd be into glam rock or crappy punk?

Doug- It is spacious. You feel the full spectrum of the seasons. Less crowd, more loneliness.

There are traces of space and psychedelic rock in Darling's music. Are any of the artists in these fields important to you?

Todd- I really don't see it all that much in our music, even as much as I try to throw it in there. Personally, I am a huge fan of Flying Saucer Attack, Spacemen 3, Stars of the Lid, and I'm a big devotee of the Hearts of Space radio program.

Kim- Pink Floyd, without a doubt. I thinks the song "echoes" from Meddle is probably one of my favorite all time recordings.

Doug- Pink Floyd was a huge influence on all of us.

Darling subs for an ill high school "music appreciation" teacher. What albums do you introduce to the students and why?

Todd- I'd bring any late-period John Coltrane album and Bitches Brew by Miles Davis, because those are what got me permanently excited about jazz. I'd bring a Palace record, to prove that technical slickness can be a hindrance. I'd bring a Yes record, to prove it can also be a good thing. Then when we were through with those, we'd go outside for the rest of the day.

Doug- Tim Buckleys "Starsailor" might be my first choice. Like "Astal Weeks" from Van Morrison, there is more going on in those first three songs than some people must realize in a lifetime of music. I have never heard a record that I liked so much, yet I found so hard to listen to. The emotion in it can make you sick to your stomach, it is so out of control. I would consider "Bryter Layter" from Nick Drake and "Court and Spark" from Joni Mitchell the best records I have ever heard. I can't even imagine how you can get a record to SOUND that good! And of course, it is no secret that The Beach Boys are considered to have made the most important record of all time...

Kim- I'm sure all the other guys have mentioned Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys by now!

What the fuck is wrong with people?

Todd- If they were just a little more patient, they would be able to embrace the best things in life, but they are conditioned to act and react and choose in an instant, so they miss the things that aren't right there in front of them, mass-marketed and convenience-packaged.

Doug- They can't find happiness in the simple pleasures of a baseball game or a song. They lack bravery and honesty, sincerity.

Outside of musical circles, are ther any artists you feel people should look into?

Todd- Look for artists around you. The people nearby, who are still making art for themselves, not for money or points.

Doug- Alfred Hitchcock.

Are there any artists, musical or otherwise, outside of the US that you feel are creating great things?

Todd- Horse Stories by Dirty Three was easily the best album of 1996. If you count all the different things those three guys have done over the past couple years, the Dirty Three albums, the Tren Brothers records and Tren Phantasma, the records with Will Oldham and Nick Cave, you have an incredible body of work that is all beautiful and unique. But we're so sheltered from getting what is good from the outside, by the way they market total shit in America.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Kim- I'd say one of the most inspiring books I've read is "The Tao of Pooh" By Benjamin Hoff. Anything by Kurt Vonnegut. Also 2001-3001 by Arthur C. Clarke.

Doug- Jack Kerouac and Kurt Vonnegut.

Todd- Pablo Neruda and Jack Kerouac, but I don't read enough books or poetry to be a reliable source on what is good. Whoever writes The Onion. There, now that's good writing.


Darling homepage More about the Quad City Kids: News, Discography, Sound Clips, Photos, Tour Dates etc.

Low Interview Darling friends Low interviewed in November 1997.

Back to oblivion.

*The late American painter Mark Rothko, minimalist.