I hear…the howl of hero-inflicted pain…
The painful news: Jello Biafra, the label’s founder and underground music legend, listened to demos and dished some harsh, tough-love feedback.
It was like a preacher getting a text from Jesus: “Hey, love ya, man–but that last sermon was as wishy-washy as Pontius Pilate. Dial it up, dude!”
Well, maybe not quite like that, but still…
It was a Jello shot. And not the good kind...
Keep in mind that this is a guy who does not mince his words, as evidenced by one of his newer songs: Nazi Trumps F*ck Off.
That’s a take off of one of the songs (Nazi Punks F*ck Off) by Biafra’s old band, the Dead Kennedys; Biafra used the notoriety of his punk band to launch Alternative Tentacles in 1978. In turn, that label blasted out decidedly non-mainstream records by the likes of the Butthole Surfers, Black Flag and Husker Du.
in 2018, Biafra got turned on to The Darts during a tour, and quickly signed the Phoenix crew. The band’s lineup, at the time: Nicole Laurenne on organ/vocals, Meliza Jackson playing guitar and singing, Christina Nunez on bass and Rikki Styxx slammin’ the drums.
“Rikki is no longer with the band,” Laurenne noted, during a Zoom interview with HARK Valley. “Rose Gonzales–from Chicago-is our new drummer.”
With a new member and fresh material, the band reached out to Biafra, eager to get his blessing on new songs.
“I wrote like 25 songs during the pandemic,” Laurenne said. She played Biafra rough versions: "He only liked nine of them…”
She ended a video call with Biafra, then reported to the band: He hates it!
Loyal and defensive, Nunez quickly scheduled a follow-up with Biafra to talk about the songs.
“Me and Nicole and Jello talked for an hour and a half,” Nunez said, “in which Jello said, ‘I never said I don’t like them! It’s your songs–I’ve got your back.’”
“He was just pushing us,” Jackson added.
His general advice, on parts he didn’t like: “Jam it more.”
“There was one riff he didn’t like,” Nunez said, with a laugh. “We said, ‘No! We really like it! We’re leaving it!’”
Being able to find the humor in it shows how the band was able to process the criticism from their hero, going from “he hates us!” to “aah, it’s all good.”
The Darts were gathered for the HARK Valley Zoom at Jackson’s Chandler home; Nunez lives in downtown Phoenix, Laurenne in Gilbert.
Meanwhile, underground radio stations around the country have taken a liking to Love Tsunami, an EP The Darts put out earlier this year.
The band’s previous full-length record is being promoted at Alternative Tentacles.
But the big, big, huge, ginormous thing for The Darts this year is that elusive follow-up album.
By the third week of April, The Darts were ready to go, as
TOMORROW, after 2 years of writing, editing, delays, tragedies, and waiting, #thedartsus WILL START RECORDING A NEW ALBUM
Local legend Bob Hoag is producing the album; “We’re calling Jello the production whisperer,” Nunez said with a chuckle.
This week, The Darts were charging ahead, as Twitter posts noted:
Day 2 of recording “Snake Oil”. We walked in and NAILED THE FIRST SONG ONE TAKE. Almost.
Girls are more fun
Years after the likes of Blondie, The Runaways, Pat Benatar, Heart and others broke through male-dominated rock music, all-female bands remain unusual, though hardly a curiosity.
The members of The Darts played in previous bands that were mostly made up of males.
“It’s just fun to play with all girls–different energy; easy,” Jackson said.
“Boys are dramatic!” Nunez exclaimed, laughing.
Being surrounded by females at practices and shows “felt a lot more free, a lot less judgment,” Laurenne added.
Nunez summed it up, in what could be an album title:
“Just fun–no judgment.”
The Darts links