Interview & Photos by Sean Gardner
The Darling Fire are featured on the cover of our June issue!: https://www.galaxy-mag.com/product-page/galaxy-june-2019-the-darling-fire
Just hours before they headlined their first of two back to back album release shows at Arlene’s Grocery on June 14th, Jolie, Steven and Jeronimo, of The Darling Fire (Vocals, Drums and Guitars, respectively) sat down with Galaxy Magazine in the green room in the basement of the venue. While the muffled songs of the opening punk bands bled through the walls, we talked about their new album, Dark Celebrations, their experience in their former bands, and an especially strange tour story.
The first thing I wanna discuss is how did the band come together, having all come from different bands before?
Jeronimo: Me and Jolie were in Rocking Horse Winner, and we ended up getting married, so we started writing music again, which we hadn’t done in forever. So we had written a few songs then were like let’s see if we can find a drummer, and the first person to come to mind was our friend Steve, who we have known from previous bands and the same scene. We mailed him the song and he dug it, then we gave the songs to Matt too and it took on a life of its own.
When you started writing music again, did you think anything specific would come out of it?
Jeronimo: At first, no. I mean we haven’t done anything in so long so we didn’t know, then the songs started to develop a little bit and it sounded really cool, and then we said fuck it why not let’s give it a shot.
How is the creative process for this group different than former bands you've been a part of?
Jeronimo: For Rocking Horse Winner, the guitar player pretty much wrote everything. For this band it's a little more of a collaboration between me and her (Jodie). I'll write the bass guitars and the structure of the song, shell put vocals on it and then we send it to Steve and Greg and matt, and uhhh...
Steven: We kinda just fill it in from there.
So with that process, it’s more like you guys have songs from a while ago that were written that you’re developing or do you guys keep writing new ones too?
Jeronimo: Yeah we keep just keep writing new songs.
According to Matt, the album is a celebration of dark themes and experiences. What kind of experiences have been the biggest influence on the creation of the album?
Steven: We all went through some traumatic experiences, loss of life, of loved ones or people we knew, and just other stuff that was just, unfortunately, hitting us in a negative kinda zone for like a year or two. We were all dealing with that individually in our lives and not coming together as a group. And so that’s kinda the undertone. And obviously Jolie could elaborate lyrically I mean as personal life experience goes. But for all of us really, it's a dark celebration. I feel like we rediscovered each other, we all found out we had been dealing with some heavy stuff these past couple years, and this music that’s coming out of it is like we are celebrating moving on from it. We are creating greener pastures, even though the music itself is kinda dark and deep. It’s about reflecting and moving on.
I love to see that positive outlook on more negative experiences, is there a way you maintain that more positive state of mind? Is there anything that inspires that?
Steven: Well that’s interesting, because we start writing new material, and we have this one new song, ironically, it’s called Downer, so maybe that kind of a remnant of moving on.
Jeronimo: I think it's not really about trying to write a happy song, you know what I mean? There's just a lot of fun and sarcasm, and overall just commentary on life. It's a strange world, lotta strange shit, so it's just whatever's gonna come out, comes out.
Steven: We are also shining light on stories or groups of people. For the Loveless for instance. I'll let Jolie and Jeronimo describe that. I found it pretty intriguing where they got the idea for that song
Jolie: Okay, so for “For the Loveless,” basically Jeronimo and I had watched this documentary about this group of people in Japan called the Hikikomori and they basically like…
Jeronimo: They are shut ins from society. People from ages like their early teens all the way to late 40s and 50s, salarymen who can’t take life anymore, and they just don't leave their homes, ever anymore. And it's gotten to a point where it’s just a huge epidemic in Japan. These people just can't take society, or they don't wanna be a part of society, or that they feel that society doesn't understand them. So the song was written as a sort of commentary on them. There's obviously something wrong with society if people feel the need to shut themselves out from it. So some songs are written around stuff like that.
Jolie: This is also just an expression of things we feel. Like we are not necessarily depressed or angry, it's not like that at all. We just notice things in the world and are commentators.
I've noticed there are lot of different kind of sounds on this album, with influences from punk rock, new wave and metal. Are there any albums or bands that is more specifically inspired the sound of this record?
Jeronimo: We all have a bunch of different influences. So its thanks to that where that kinda sound comes from.
Steve: One band that me and the bassist have been long time fans of, and that these guys are kinda discovering through us is Killing Joke. Very influential band from England.
Yeah they're a great band and now that you say that I can hear the influences!
Steve: They’ve influenced so many different subgenres of music, and they are kinds known in all these different genres as influencers. So it's interesting that you say that. And I would love for our music to be like that, so a lot of people can get something out of it. Not just pitch and hold to a certain genre. That’s just an example but we listen to a plethora of different music.
Jeronimo: Yeah I mean we just write what we wanna hear.
Jolie: Yeah that's basically what it is. Like we didn't think of a certain band and go “Oh we wanna sound like that” or anything, it's just whatever came out.
Jeronimo: Right but there definitely are influences just like with any artform.
Jolie: Another thing I wanna mention is when Jeronimo would show me a song, he would have something in mind and then when I put the vocals over it, he would say “wow that totally changed what I was picturing.”
Jeronimo: Yeah the song would be cool then I’d give it to Jolie and it would be horrible. (They both laugh) Nah I’m just kidding.
Going back to how you guys have been in other bands, how has it been to transition from being in bigger bands, to go back to being a debut artist? Is there anything you’ve brought with you to this band that you may have gotten from previous experience?
Jeronimo: Well for us, we’ve been outta that band (Rocking Horse Winner) for years, and so obviously we were younger then.
Jolie: We took a lot of things for granted.
Jeronimo: Yeah so what we've learned from that is to not take things for granted, and just enjoy what's happening. Take this interview for example, this is awesome. Back then we were all like “Oh cool another interview, whatever,” but now I’m like “Oh! Cool!! A fucking interview!!” I'm so thankful for all this stuff. And I guess we are a little wiser too, from being older and getting to experience this all again.
Steve: It can never be taken for granted, people who invest their time into participating in something we’ve created.
Jeronimo: Yeah back then we were just a lot more aloof and didn't pay attention to things, so that's a big difference for us.
Steve: Ultimately, it's something that should not be taken for granted and we appreciate everything, whatever spotlight is shined on us we just embrace it and its beneficial. We wanna keep that going, because this isn't just some flash and pan “oh we are from other bands and we made this project and put out a record.” We just wanna continue doing this and perform this album live as much as possible.
Do you guys have any tour plans or anything like that coming up?
Jeronimo: Nothing tour wise yet, we have these couple shows coming up.
Steve: We have some ideas in the fire, we've been talking with our manager. We definitely want to do something in the fall, whether it be a couple week run on the east coast or something like that. But we will see how that develops since we now have a record that's officially out.
Going off of that, if you guys were to do a tour, what are some cities or venues you would love to play in?
Jeronimo: CBGB… oh shit wait I forgot hahaha
Steve: Arlene’s Grocery of course! But really just anywhere and everywhere. Overseas, Nationwide, the skies the limit.
Jeronimo: Definitely not kids’ bedrooms though! We have this story about touring, and we were driving to the venue, and it ends up being in a neighborhood. We are all like what's going on? We pull up to this kid’s house. He rented us for like him and his five friends to play in his bedroom So we won't be playing kids’ bedrooms.
They just told you that that was a date on the tour and you showed up and that's what it was?
Jolie: Yeah it was so weird
Jeronimo: And after the show we ended up eating dinner with the kid’s parents at their dinner table. So yeah not doing anything like that again.
Steve: I once played a show in a church and all the pews were still set up, definitely don't wanna do that again. It was just awkward.
Who designed the album cover art? How did that collaboration come about? And How does the cover relate to the overall theme of the album?
Jeronimo: Dan Black at Landland, he's awesome. I saw his stuff and he did a few other band’s artwork. I just love his hand drawn style and use of color and stuff. I saw this awesome poster he did for Piebald. It was amazing. We saw his work and we were like let's try it. He was into it so we had him design.
Did you go to him with any specific ideas or anything like that?
Jeronimo: Nah, everything was purely his idea.
Jolie: The only thing was he asked us what elements for like the back, so we gave him a couple hints for that, but it was pretty much all him.
It looks like we are just wrapping up so is there anything else you would like to add for our readers at Galaxy?
Steve: Vinyl and digital release are out! Please get it!
Jeronimo: And there’s a video for saints and masquerade. It came out remarkable with the time and budget we had.
Jolie: It was so much fun to make. We shot that in a day in a half.
Jeronimo: And that's not because we didn't have the time, everything kinda just fell into place.
Jolie: The stars aligned for a lot of things on this album. We’d need a whole other interview to talk about the things that just fell into place. But for that specifically it was just a couple weeks before we shot it that we decided to even to a video. And we went back and forth with Ian (director of the video), we found the venue, we were able to use a bowling alley. They gave us time in the morning before it opened and we ended up only needing a few hours. And the next day we shot the rest of it, the story part, at my sister’s house. We made the masks ourselves at her house the night before too.
Wow you guys have a really DIY feel about you, I love it.
Jolie: Yeah we are 100% involved. This is like our child. We are like a family.
Alright well, I think that about concludes it. Thank you guys so much for sitting down with us and sharing some stories!
After the show I got to check out the bands show and listen to their new record performed live in its entirety. It's an incredible blend of wide array of different musical stylings, and performed live it has this hard hitting vibe that is matched perfectly by the bands on stage charisma. Dark Celebrations is available everywhere and is definitely a strong debut to keep an eye out for, and will appeal to fans of anything Alternative.