Today’s Feature – November 13-14: Dark Dark Dark

November 16, 2008 at 6:19 pm (Today's Feature)

We’ve all seen it discussed at length; the fact that the current music industry is saturated with new and emerging acts, all trying to bring something new to the table. It seems harder than ever to carve out your own musical niche – every band in every city putting their sounds up on MySpace. We here at PEV think it’s great and have been beyond impressed by the amount of talent out there – and we’re equally impressed when an act can make a stake for itself in the business. Dark Dark Dark has done just that – Nona Marie Invie, Marshall LaCount, Todd Chandler and Jonathan Kaiser have discovered a chemistry between one another that they could very well not be able to find anywhere else. They’ve released a debut album showcasing this unity, a record called “The Snow Magic.”

LaCount says “It’s intimate and dynamic storytelling.  It’s American folk music, but wait…its all mixed up!  Accordion, banjo, cello, and bass played in ways that can’t be contained by one genre, or two! It’s fresh and unique, and those youngsters clearly have old souls!” The group pulled the collection together during the late months up north, songs “about death, lost love, despair, decaying corpses, and the harsh Minnesota winter.” Not only does “The Snow Magic” contain melodies all its own, but the album’s packaging includes an 8 page booklet of photographs by Timothy G. Piotrowski.

The band is currently recording on its own label, Blood Onion. Check that out while you’re looking into Dark Dark Dark. Their shows are usually a part of other music related projects, such as when they kicked off their European tour with their art collective’s opening in Holland. They’ll be back in the states by December, performing and taking on a multitude of other work. Want to learn more? Get into the XXQ’s below.

Qs: Dark Dark Dark
Answered by Marshall LaCount (PEV): Tell us how Dark Dark Dark first came together. Was it an instant connection the first day you practiced together?

MLC: Nona and I met over pizza, like all great rock and roll bands do.  We played music together out of loneliness and lack for inspiration to do anything else, and magically it worked.  I say magically because I’ve never found the same musical chemistry with anyone else.

Jonathan has been the best cellist I’ve known for as long as I’ve known cellists, he is an amazing musician aside from the cello.  We had to beg him to stay, and to do a lot of unconventional touring, and to deal with us.

I met Todd on a riverboat on the Mississippi, when we were doing a skit together, in which we each played the banjo while wearing the same pair of large pants.  Since Todd joined we’ve each shared pants with him.  We have had instant connections between all of us, yes.

PEV: What would each of the members be doing for a career if it wasn’t playing music?

MLC: I’d say that music and art are the closest thing that any of us have to a career, but officially none of us have any career that would qualify us for any sort of career benefits.

PEV: What was it like for the band when you were first breaking into the music business? Before you were getting press, and regular gigs?

MLC: It was and is experimental touring, installation and film art, and gigging.  We travel and play music and work on music related projects all year long.  For instance, our European tour kicks off with our art collective’s opening reception in Holland.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Dark Dark Dark show?

MLC: You mean physically?  Because we play sitting down.  We probably play sitting down because the music and our voices are too powerful for us to maintain our balance.  True story!  No, we do this because we are most interested in expression using our voices and our instruments, not jumping around.  We play like a chamber quartet with pins in our chairs.  Our fans have to listen with care, but that’s what they love.

PEV: The name Dark Dark Dark is definitely unique. Is there a story behind the name?

MLC: There is a story, the short version is that a writer should write the way that is natural to them, about things they know about.  Just like Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer say.  I was worried that no one wanted to sit around and listen to slow or quiet or spooky songs, they’d rather be ‘partying.’  My friend encouraged me that that isn’t always the case, and that one can always take what they do further.  Hah!

PEV: How have your shows evolved from when you first started out?

MLC: Just because we now play for hundreds of people doesn’t mean we don’t play for 6 people sometimes.

PEV: Any embarrassing or crazy live show stories? There has to be tons, I’m sure…

MLC: One time we were playing on a small wooden barge in the Hudson River that almost tipped over as the tide went out.  Our friend Chicken John saved us mid-song, just as we realized our stomach muscles
were getting tired from trying to stay upright as we tipped backward.

PEV: If you could collaborate with one artist out today, who would it be and why?

MLC: I think we’d all like to score a film, but I don’t want to name drop our favorite directors, since we’re still in the stalking phase.  Several people in Copenhagen seem to think we should get in touch with Jim Jarmusch.  He has an extreme realism with the right amount of magic.

PEV: As well, is there an up and coming artist right now that you think we should all be looking out for?

MLC: For film, Todd Chandler and his movie Flood.  For music…wait, check us out!

PEV: Tell us, what can fans expect from your debut album, “The Snow Magic”?

MLC: It’s intimate and dynamic storytelling.  It’s American folk music, but wait…its all mixed up!  Accordion, banjo, cello, and bass played in ways that can’t be contained by one genre, or two! It’s fresh and unique, and those youngsters clearly have old souls!

PEV: How is “The Snow Magic” different from other music out today?

MLC: Well, we play a seemingly strange combination of instruments when you’re talking about new music, but we’re writing new music.

PEV: When you sit down to write an album like “The Snow Magic” what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?

MLC: You sleep in a matte black van for two months in New Orleans during the rainy season, then you drive to New York for winter, then you drive back and forth to Seattle and San Francisco from New York twice, then you go back to Minneapolis.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Dark Dark Dark?

MLC: They are all actually quite nice if you talk to them first.

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

MLC: Friends usually say, “You’re famous,” with little enthusiasm. Family usually says, “You’re FAMOUS!”

PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio right now, what’s one thing we’d most likely find?

MLC: 15 other people from the Miss Rockaway Armada tacking scraps of wood together with bent nails.

PEV: How is life on the road for you? Good parts? Bad parts?

MLC: Our host in Holland is an amazing chef, and soon we get to go to Belgium and France, but living out of a van or a suitcase means you
can’t bring your hat collection everywhere.

PEV:  In your opinion, is there a certain city (US or International) that you find to be the best city for music?

MLC: Minneapolis: experimental dance, dirge, and goth folk, most bands per capita in the everywhere, maybe…
New Orleans: most skilled musicians.
Brooklyn: most people wearing net shirts and gold chains.
San Francisco/Oakland: most steam punks screaming.
Paris: don’t know yet

PEV: As well, where’s one place you haven’t played, you would like to? Why?

MLC: Maybe some big South American cities, because we’ve never been there, but I read about a lot of interesting art there.  I know, I know, ‘there’ is huge and varies greatly.

PEV: Where will Dark Dark Dark be ten years from now?

MLC: We will have released a record and toured with a large choir, we will have released another record, we will have scored movies, we will have spent periods of time working on personal projects, we will have the resources to pay our friends to work with and for us, we will have scored a play.  We will be burned out and buying red convertibles and dating again.

PEV: So, what’s next for Dark Dark Dark?

MLC: We have to finish our France tour in November, then do a short December tour in the Midwest and on the East, then go to New Orleans for two months, then score Flood the movie (, then do a feature-length film/live soundtrack tour, sometime in there make a new record with Supply and Demand, and also accommodate all the spontaneous things that come up, and go to Minneapolis for a while, mostly for the best breakfast in the world.

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