June 18, 2024

THE DARTS… An Amazing All-Girl Garage-Rock Band!

THE DARTS formed in 2016 with the goal of making great all-girl garage-rock noise, see the world, and have a fab slumber party every night. The four women threw on vintage black slips, kicked off their shoes, and set out on the adventure. In the first year, the band put out two self-produced EPs and quickly signed with Dirty Water Records (UK), which then released the first full-length vinyl, Me.Ow (2017).

Dirty Water then re-released the first two EPs as a second full-length vinyl, The Darts (2017). The band immediately went on tour with The Living End and Billie Joe Armstrong’s The Longshot, and soon found themselves on big European stages like Sjock-fest, Cosmic Trip, and Roots n Roses.

In 2018, Jello Biafra signed The Darts to his label, Alternative Tentacles, released their first 7-inch, Bullet (2018) and then put out the third full-length record, I Like You But Not Like That (2018). The band was chosen to support their heroes The Damned on a US tour, performed on main stages at big US festivals like Punk Rock Bowling and The Bash, heard their songs on top tv shows like Peaky Blinders, got great reviews in Rolling Stone, and went to Mexico to play Hipnosis Festival.

During the pandemic, Vox hosted an Instagram Live show which quickly got over fifty thousand views. In 2022, they released the EP Love Tsunami for Adrenalin Fix Music (France), took the new tunes on tour in the US and Europe and performed on KEXP Sessions.

In 2023, Alternative Tentacles Records released The Darts’ fourth LP, Snake Oil, funded entirely by fans and co-produced by Jello Biafra himself. The band went on a massive European tour stretching across several months,with special European versions of Snake Oil and sold-out shows in Madrid, London, Cherbourg, and Edinburgh,plus appearances at famous fests Munster Raving Looney Party, Relache Fest, Festival Beat, Loungefest and Muehlen Madness.

The first pressings of Snake Oil sold out in both the US and Europe sold out in less than two months and second pressings were rushed out on both continents during the tour.

While juggling the Snake Oil tours, Nicole kept writing songs, so Nicole, Meliza, Christina, and Mary Rose stopped in Los Angeles to record thirteen new tracks with legendary producer Mark Rains at Station House Studio. The result is The Darts’ fifth full-length record, Boomerang – an album of raw, gut-punch, hook-filled garage-psych-rock.

The album is built on vintage Farfisa, Rhodes, Mellotron, Hammond and Wurlitzer pianos and organs,buzzsaw fuzz bass, twelve-string and distorted guitar layers, earth-shaking drums, and Rains’ signature magic vocal production.

Crowds on the Snake Oil tour have already been singing along to the new singles “Pour Another”,
” “Hang Around,” and “Your Show”.
With Nicole’s true-story lyrics included and album art by the band’s regular touring guitarist, Louise, Boomerang will be released by Alternative Tentacles Records worldwide on April 26,2024.

Chatting with Nicole Laurenne… the priestess of garage-rock noise!

Athenscalling.gr: Hi it is a great time for all of us, about our chatting! Nicole Laurenne…Priestess of garage-rock noise, well come in Athenscalling.gr!

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): Καλημέρα! This is my first interview with anyone in Greece! I’m so happy to talk with you! I hope we get to Greece sometime soon! I visited Santorini and Athens
years ago and absolutely fell in love with it, of course.

Athenscalling.gr: It was one day in October 2016, when I heard the song …”You Got Me” by The Darts, from the debut album. It was a real surprise for me! Look I always loved your band! Really, how have all these years of the band been until today?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): This band has been a surreal dream come true.
When Christina and I started the band,we were coming out of some long hard touring years and some bad relationships personally,and we just wanted an all-female band that would play music we ourselves liked to listen to, see the world, and just have fun. We have accomplished that, and so much more than we ever dreamed.
Touring with our heroes, signing with incredible labels, seeing so many places all over the world, making record after record, and crying and laughing together through it all. And now another new album coming out this Spring!
It never ends! We hope!

Athenscalling.gr: The Darts performing(2022) live in the KEXP studio! A band with full of energy! Really tell us about your live performances… is there a secret?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): The secret is…we love what we create together, and when we hear it live and powerful through big sound systems, we can’t stand still.
I have to jump and screen when I hear the fuzz bass and then the kick drum in my chest, it’s just too much for my adrenalin and I think when the crowd is dancing and sweaty with us, it just sends us over the top even more.
It’s just honest,pure, intense love for the sounds and the scene.

Athenscalling.gr: Who was the Godfather of the name …. THE DARTS?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): Well, I hate to say that I came up with it. At first we thought this would just be a fun little side project, so I didn’t put very much thought into it. I wanted a name that most women would understand as a double entendre(especially with our early bullet bralogo), but that most men might not get.
Darts are not only the things you throw at a dartboard, but in English they are also the name for the seams on a woman’s blouse that make extra room on the chest.
The double meaning doesn’t translate well outside of English!
But it’s what we’ve got now, oh well. I still think it’s funny.

Athenscalling.gr: Lyrics and Music in your songs and the occasion the reason if you prefer for their creation?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): I write often – way too often – about bad romances.
Failed relationships, broken hearts, resentment, all that good stuff. Christina is always telling me to write about something else. But I guess I am still deeply a romantic at heart and always
will be. They say all good art comes from suffering. When love dies, I suffer. And I write a million songs.
But on our last album, _Snake Oil_, I also wrote a little bit about LGBTQ issues, fake news, and James Bond girls, and on our upcoming new album the first single is an examination of why we drink (alcohol). So I am trying to branch out a little in my themes.
But it’s hard! My heart is always broken!

Athenscalling.gr: Are there any influences, maybe some musical prototypes?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): Our first inspirations were Thee Trashwomen, Thee Tsunamis, The Cramps, Nick Cave, and Dead Weather.
But we’re not classic garage rock at all, and we’re not really psych, and we’re not really pure rock n roll either, so the genres are pretty blurry for us.
I just write what I hear in my head, and I think my muse is pretty messed up sometimes, maybe even drunk and a bit evil. Damn her.

Athenscalling.gr: If I’m not mistaken, you have classical music studies and now you’re with someone else music identity ….why?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): I studied classical piano very seriously throughout my childhood until university. When I got to university, I didn’t have enough time to practice for the many hours a day that style of music takes. So I started playing jazz, in a trio, and actually our resort gigs helped pay for school.
Then I started working a real job an had even less time, so I turned to rock and played for the first
time in rock bands.
Then I was introduced to garage and punk even later down the line, and that came so naturally, all I had to do was jump and dance and have a great time with the simple chords.
So that progression was pretty irresistible. But I still dabble in jazz, I just love it, and I wish I was better at it. I have a new solo project just starting up, Black Viiolet, that is a little more pop-jazz-torch styled.

Athenscalling.gr: Living in the past … Do You remember, your first music teacher?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): Of course. The biggest influence on my entire life Judith Peterson, in Kildeer Illinois. She taught me piano, encouraged me to attend major music competitions and very intense music camps, had me perform concerti with orchestras – and yet she always wanted to make sure there was a pop song in my repertoire, to keep it a little light.
Because of her guidance, I learned a lot of music theory and composition techniques at a very high level, and honestly that opened _every_ door to all the things I am enjoying today.

Athenscalling.gr: What was the first album that you bought and what was the first concert where did you attend?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): The first album I ever owned was a Christmas gift from my boyfriend when I was 12 years old… Journey’s _Escape_. I thought it was magical, the songwriting and the vocals and the piano parts.
My first concert was the Boston Pops, with my mom, when I was a little kid, at the Chicago Public Library I think. All my early concerts were classical or jazz. I didn’t see a rock concert until much much later, and then it was by accident.
I was camping and we heard music, and snuck into a huge outdoor concert – that turned out to be Sting. I wish I had better stories about this for you.

Athenscalling.gr: Let me tell you a big truth now. You are a female band and you are all very beautiful women and very sexy. Does this play any role in your musical career?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): It depends on who you ask in the band!
My bandmates would likely say that they do not want to be known as an all-female band, that they don’t want to be known for how they look,etc. And I totally respect that point of view, it’s important for sure.
But as for me, I see it pretty differently. I love women who are not ashamed to be ruthlessly, obviously feminine and sexy and yet strong, powerful, brilliant, and generous.
That, to me, is the perfect human being. If we can portray that image even one percent, I think
that sends a great message to the world.
How come men get to be as sexy as they want on stage and are revered for it, but sexy women on stage are called names and disregarded for their brilliance?
We should be everything we can possibly be, at the highest best level, in my opinion, and not apologize for it or hide it. We should be proud of it.

Athenscalling.gr: By one word now – give a description to the members of the band please?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): Wow this is hard. Words don’t really describe them, they are too multi-faceted for one word. So I am going to use colors.
Meliza Jackson : Dark blue
Louise Sordoillet : Bright orange
Christina Nunez: Deep burgundy
Mary Rose Gonzales: Hot pink
and Nicole Laurenne : Fire engine red

Athenscalling.gr: Let’s talk now about the new THE DARTS album…
I think that will be released by Alternative Tentacles Records worldwide on April 26, 2024.
How long did it take to complete?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): Well, I am always writing songs. Always. In the van, in bed, in the kitchen, it never stops. So some of the songs were written in pieces over the years and some of them were written in a single day and right before we recorded.
We had a break between our _Love Tsunami _and _Snake Oil_ tours and had the opportunity to record with producer Mark Rains, who produced one of my all-time favorite records, Death Valley Girls’ _Glow In The Dark_,among a lot of other masterpieces.
So we all went to LA for a long weekend and tracked everything pretty much in one or two takes and then the band went home.
I stayed an extra day and did all the vocals and backing vocals in a few hours for the whole album. He had it mixed in a few more days.
I would say the whole thing took about a week from the time we walked in with our luggage to the time we got the final mixes.
Alternative Tentacles arranged for the mastering with Anne-Marie Suernam, and the whole thing was done very fast. Which is how we like to work, for better or worse.

Athenscalling.gr: Tell us also about the title, the lyrics and the music?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): _Boomerang_ refers to the fact that we put out a record and then spun around and went right back into the studio to do this one!
But it’s also from a line in the song “Hang Around,” to describe a toxic person who just keeps coming back into your life and won’t leave you alone, which was happening in my life when I was writing some of this record unfortunately.
During the past years, I have focused a lot on becoming healthier – mentally and physically – and got sober, vegan, etc.
So the lyrics are very honest.
“Pour Another,” “Liar,” and “Your Show” are peeks into our mind – why we drink so much, the way we lie to ourselves instead of facing and fixing hard truths, how successful people leave us feeling
lonely and neglected.
But there are lots of lyrics about bad love, as usual…“Slither,” “You Disappoint Me,” “Dreaming Crazy” and a few that are just big celebrations of where I am at in my life right now, which is a very good place finally… “Hell Yeah,” “Are You Down,” “Welcome To My Doldrums,” “Night”.
We are so proud of this record.

Athenscalling.gr: Lets travel now in South of Europe… Tell me please your memories from Greece?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): I visited Santorini years ago as a tourist and never wanted to leave. They lost my luggage on the way there, and I spent literally the entire time wearing swimsuit bottoms and a t-shirt that said “Greece” on it, from a souvenir stand, and I had the time of my life. The food, the views, the water, the people,the music on the beach at sunset.. I dream of going back.

Athenscalling.gr: Just before the end of our meeting, because a lot is happening on the planet, what bothers you the most and why?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): I am going to sound very naive saying this. But, having studied a lot of history, law, and psychology in my lifetime, I feel that humans have not changed much really over the centuries… their evolutionary drives and desires are still pretty well entrenched.
But what has changed is our understanding about those biological motivations.
We can be smarter than what our genetic makeuptell us to be.
We can be healthier, we can be kinder, we can be more generous to other people with our resources, we can use our brains and words to solve problems instead of violence.
We just have to fight those primal instincts and demand better of ourselves, and our kids.
The biggest problem I see now is that people don’t use their huge amazing brains and instead allow themselves to destroy and be destroyed.
So I try to surround myself with people who are smarter than that, as much as I can.

Athenscalling.gr: …. And your message?

Nicole Laurenne (THE DARTS): Just be nice, make great things, and have fun. And dance your ass off when the music is loud.

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