After putting the first two Darker My Love albums in our “Top 40 Albums of the 00′s“, the sense of anticipation we felt as we waited for their new album was tremendous. With the release of Alive Alive As You Are (available for pre-order via Amazon) the band firmly sheds their shoegaze tag and moves in a different direction. Harkening early Grateful Dead, the band
has made an album that shimmers with beauty, highlighted by brilliant vocal melodies. Frankly, at first listen we weren’t sure about the dramatic shift. However, after talking to bassist/vocalist Rob Barbato who helped us to understand their direction, we’ve jumped on the bandwagon and are ready to proclaim this an “American Beauty”.
First, here’s the first single from the album: Dear Author
Dear Author by Darker My Love
TDOA: Can you talk about what you perceive to be the differences between the new album and your first two?
RB: I can only really talk about the process. It’s up to the listener after that.
The first record we made was done basically to get the songs we had down. We recorded the basic tracks in a weekend, then the over dubs and mixing was stretched out over a couple of months. There was no pre-production or producer, and the label we had at the time had very little input into what we were doing, because they didn’t give us any money.
When we made “2″ it was a totally different story. It took months and months to make and at times it felt a little bit out of our control. We had tons of pre-production and a producer.It was painful at times but we really learned a lot.
With this record we all moved up to San Francisco. Went pretty much on a song by song basis and recorded the bulk of it in two weeks and then mixed it. We had our very good friend Nick Huntington produce it and Drew Fischer, who mixed our first record , on the board. Needless to say it’s the best work we’ve done to date.
TDOA: This record seems a lot more stripped down. Were the songs on the first two records written acoustically or with very little effects pedals and what was the approach to writing the new record?
RB: I think all songs kind of start on acoustic guitars, so yeah the songs on the first two records were written acoustically, but some also came out of jams. With the new record we wrote and demoed about 25 songs. Tim had written a lot , and I had written i a bunch and we just voted on what songs we thought would make the best record.
When we first got together in the practice space, It was just the four of us. Andy had left the group, we had just finished a european tour that kind of signified the end of “2″. Basically we kind wiped the slate clean and this is what came out of us.
TDOA: I feel like I can hear some pretty heavy Beatles and Grateful Dead influences on this record. Are we on the right track and can you talk about how the music you’ve been listening to in the past year might have influenced this record?
RB: I think anyone who plays music, whether they like it or not, has the Beatles in there some where. I grew up listening to the Grateful Dead and was part of that scene so it’s always been a big influence on me, but I think you can hear it more in Tim’s songs then in mine. I think John Phillips’ “Wolf King of LA” was a big record for us and also I think “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac was big. Every night after we were done recording we would go back to the house we were staying at and start drinking and watching the “Tusk” promo video that Will brought with him.
TDOA: I assume that when you make a bit of a stylistic change, the entire band has to be in agreement. Can you talk about the process of how you agreed, as a band on the direction of this record?
RB: We didn’t talk about styles, we just made the record that came out of us. Who wants to do the same thing for ever? Not me. I also think that the change came along a lot easier because of Dan Allaire on the drums. Andy was a real hard hitting power house and an amazing drummer, but Dan was able to do things that I think we’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t because …… it’s just something Andy wouldn’t think of or do. So I think that had a big impact. It’s still us, it’s still the same band, just looking through a different lens.
TDOA: Are there plans to do any videos for this record and how do you feel about making videos?
RB: I think we’ll do a video. I think they’re cool. Making them is fun, it’s just really hard to make a good one.
TDOA: After having the first two albums being self-titled, you’ve called the new one “Alive As You Are”. What’s the meaning behind the title?
RB: Originally we had a different title for the record, but decided to change it. The title is a lyric from “Split Minute”. I think it has a different meaning then how it is used in the song. We have been through a lot in the last few years and I think it’s kind of a statement of how you should appreciate any state you are in and take life for what it’s worth. But that’s just my interpretation of it. It could mean something totally different to Tim, or Jared, or you.
TDOA: Lyrically, what message are you trying to convey to fans on the new album?
RB: I know that my lyrics are more narrative and are kind of short stories dealing with a few different archetypes. I think Tim’s are a little more abstract dealing with life, loss and rebirth. I don’t think we’re tryng to convey anything to the fans. I think lyrics are more of a cathartic nature.
TDOA: I really feel like this album shows off Tim’s vocal abilities more than ever before. Was their a conscious effort to put the vocals up in the mix a bit more?
RB: I agree. Tim really came into his voice on this one. You don’t need to hide that good stuff behind reverb or delay. You can connect with the singer as a human being and not just as an instrument.
TDOA: What are your plans for the duration of 2010? Do you know what bands will be joining you for the U.S. tour?
RB: Not sure yet, We just got back from a tour with Band of Horses in the UK. I’m sure we’ll be out there and I hope it’s with bands that we love.
TDOA: What new bands have you been listening to that you’d recommend to your fans?
RB: We played with Ariel Pink in London and I’ve kind of been listening to their new record on repeat. Nate from the Black Angels played me their new record and it sounds pretty rad. That’s it, the rest is older stuff.
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