(originally published in Bootleg magazine, September 2008)
By Josh Spilker
Darling is a modern rock trio from Chicago and also run a record label, Cardboard Sangria. Their recent release Ground is Sound is a mini-epic, a soft opera in its own way. Their sound is large in scope, doing so with ambient sounds, repetitive, gentle guitar strumming and soaring, airy vocals. The band shifts and changes tonally, seemingly molding organically with each addition. We spoke with Jeff Schneider, vocalist and guitarist for Darling.
Who is Darling and how long has this set of members been together?
Schneider: The current lineup is Jeff Schneider, Nick Voss, and Don Ogilvie. This lineup has been kicking since the winter of 2005. Don took a break for a year, his wife had a baby, but is now back with Darling. Nick and I have been playing in Darling since 2004.
What’s the difference between Darling in 2008 compared to 2003, when the band started?
Darling was much younger in 2003 and was more drum machine/synth based. Although less energetic, there is a certain air of time which we’ll never be able to reclaim in these early recordings. Much of the early ambience was attributed to Jason Munchoff who left the band in 2005 to start The Kinzie House. Nowadays darling has a full-kit drummer to match the delayed guitar and sweeping bass lines that have inlayed into Darling’s current recordings. To put this morphogenesis into one word, it would have to be “energy.”
Has Darling always been a trio?
Darling has moved in and out of being a trio since it started in 2003. There is something very calming about a power trio that requires a cohesive set of ideas. We also like having auxiliary members to fill the sound out a bit and this has proven beneficial and cacophonous at times. It’s been natural for darling to go in and out of these larger and smaller outfits and the writing style has ebbed and flowed with its framework.
The current lineup has Donnie using a Roland Drum pad attached to a DE7 Ibanez delay pedal for an added soundscape. It’s alluring when you can get more than expected out of three members. I remember fondly watching old bands like Nirvana and new bands like Animal Collective really utilize each member to an added capacity for an orchestrated masterpiece of composition. darling is currently in a three-piece stage and will most likely move into a larger outfit in the future. It is very comfortable to go into practice with three people as it’s much easier to write when there are less cooks in the kitchen.
How’s Chicago going these days? Has Darling always been based in Chicago?
I love Chicago and consider it the coolest city in the world. I have told that to friends in Europe who have scoffed at me but it has an incredible music scene, a beach, and the summer/winter lifestyle dichotomy which drives you into a manic depressive “work” and “play” schematic to life. It’s very fun as a band to come out of the winter recharged and just as easily recluse back into the winter’s entrapment. I have no plans on ever leaving Chicago.
Did you start the Cardboard Sangria label? What type of bands are you looking for to be on it?
Cardboard Sangria was started by Dan Schneider and Gary Pyskacek from the now defunct Hummingbiird (formally The Pedal Steel Transmission). They both have their own bands The Singleman Affair and the Tiger Trio respectively. Cardboard Sangria is very family based and usually spawns from friends who start bands.
For example, Rock Falls is a girl from the third floor of my apartment in Logan Square. Last year darling had member Dave Luzeniecki who lived on the second floor of this same building. This organic nature of recruiting bands/band members is integral to Cardboard Sangria’s existence and is essential to its ability to self-promote. We have one official release on Cardboard Sangria. We went into the studio at the beginning of this year and plan to put out a full length and an EP by the end of the summer. I think the lack of release of official releases stems from our interest in just giving our music away for free at shows.
The block print on Ground is Sound is cool. Who is the art by?
My fiancée Laurel Anderson does all the artwork for darling. The cover of Ground is Sound is a silkscreen and is the major medium for Darling’s flyers and album art. It’s great to be able to make art with someone you live with and has been a consistent theme to darling since day one. Outside of darling Laurel designs silkscreen flats and t-shirts and has art shows about once a year.
If you were going to add a cover song to your set, what would it be and why?
Funny you ask about a cover. We usually don’t do covers but recently Gary Pyskacek asked us to include a song for Cardboard Sangria’s submission to the Rock for Kids compilation. We included the song “I Go to Pieces” written by Del Shannon and made famous by Peter and Gordon. It is one of my father’s favorite songs. My brother and Dad helped mold my musical taste and occasionally I look back to songs I liked growing up and have thought to myself, “Maybe this one would sound good with some delay and maybe a tribal floor tom beat.”