you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

05 July 2016

Scruffy Pop: WTSH Interviews The Manhattan Love Suicides.

photo by Cancia Leirissa a.k.a. @Tasteinclothes
Interview with The Manhattan Love Suicides

YOU CAN'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ. Having had my interest piqued by the droll band name, I encountered a reference to The Manhattan Love Suicides on the web in which the project was tagged as shoegaze. I soon got a chance to hear their 2015 album More Heat! More Panic! and was quickly taken with it, picking up on a Jesus and Mary Chain vibe in some of the material. The question of whether the band was actually shoegaze didn’t cross my mind.

My determination to acquire the album for myself led me to a UK label called Squirrel Records. A query about shipping costs ended up initiating a flow of especially rich and enjoyable correspondence with one “Darren”, as well as an unexpected near-deluge of new good music into my sphere of awareness. It turned out that the person I was in touch with was not only founder/owner of Squirrel Records, but was also the guitarist and one of the songwriters for The Manhattan Love Suicides.

It also turned out that TMLS was only the latest worthy music project undertaken by Darren in partnership with vocalist/songwriter Caroline in a series of collaborations stretching back to the late nineties, starting with Pop Threat, encompassing two arcs of activity by The Manhattan Love Suicides, and also including The Blanche Hudson Weekend (responsible for such appealingly curious album titles as You Always Loved Violence and Reverence, Severance, and Spite). Squirrel has recently issued a spate of releases by Girl One and the Grease Guns, and while the project's personnel have never actually been identified, it's certainly got the feel of a Darren and Caroline endeavor, albeit one distinguished from its predecessors by synth-oriented arrangements.

These projects are all permeated by a sensibility celebrating vintage b-movie horror, crime, noir and porn tropes. It’s expressed musically, lyrically, in the song and album titles, and in the imagery created and appropriated for the products. It feels as if these releases actually belong to the fictive demimondes that backdrop trashy cinema — these are the records the anti-heroes in that tawdry parallel universe are, or at least should be, listening to.

As my correspondence with Darren unfolded, it became evident that Squirrel Records was home to yet more excellent music that was very much up my alley, including the darkly fuzzy Australian duo The Sunday Reeds, whose demo WTSH posted here, and Leeds, UK’s Insect Guide, an old favorite at WTSH and the project that first brought us Suzy Blu, who has just released her first solo full-length. Darren and Caroline gigged and toured with Insect Guide, and if you want to get to know Darren in all his informed, informative, and loquacious glory, he features extensively in the Insect Guide documentary Dark Days and Nights, which comes in a Squirrel Records package including the mesmerizing album of the same name.

I was learning about the whole universe surrounding The Manhattan Love Suicides: past projects and the Leeds scene, the Squirrel roster and the artists on it, and more, and finding it all captivating. So it wasn’t long before I asked for an interview with TMLS and was delighted by an affirmative reply. Darren and Caroline participated; bassist/songwriter Adam and drummer Rachel declined to add their own contributions, feeling that Darren and Caroline had said everything they’d have wanted to say in response to our questions.

As I continued listening to More Heat! More Panic! and acquainting myself with the rest of TMLS’s output, it finally started to dawn on me (I can be a little slow) that the material was not all that shoegazey after all, despite the critical role the use of that label had played in bringing my attention to the project. This music might better be described as brisk, melodic pop with more than a dash of punk attitude and a heaping wallop of fuzz and noise, with occasional dreamier passages and interludes. A good point of reference might be the classic late eighties and early nineties output of Coventry, UK’s The Primitives, with TMLS being significantly rougher around the edges at least in regards to the studio sounds of the two projects. And so, not surprisingly, TMLS sometimes teams up with The Primitives for live outings in a combo I’d be thrilled to witness.

When Darren and Caroline’s interview answers rolled in, they validated my newly dawning not-so-gazey-after-all assessment of the band’s sound. As we do with most of the artists we interview, we asked TMLS about their identity, or lack thereof, with the shoegaze and dream pop labels. Darren and Caroline distanced themselves, and Darren in fact beamed a bit of his laser wit at the pretense evinced by some of the genre’s practitioners in the duo’s extensive experience of UK live scenes. Amber and I laughed, and we hope you do too; in follow-up correspondence, Darren emphasized that he was taking aim at only some, not all, artists in the shoegaze field.

Darren and Caroline’s interview responses also validated the kinship I felt I’d heard in some of their material with The Jesus and Mary Chain, widely regarded as either progenitors or early exponents of shoegaze. The Manhattan Love Suicides furthermore include Galaxie 500 in the list of influences on their Facebook page, along with The Velvet Underground and Sonic Youth, both widely embraced among shoegaze bands. Also listed are The Ronettes and Shangri-Las, foremost examples of the vintage girl-group sound that has exerted a growing influence on shoegaze and dream pop in recent years. So we have plenty of reason to think a lot of WTSH readers will appreciate The Manhattan Love Suicides’ sound. (Find below "The Tenth Victim", one of the band's 'gazier sonic expeditions.)

Sadly, some time after the correspondence for this interview was well under way, Darren and Caroline realized that due to a variety of pressures — including but not limited to the near impossibility in recent years for independent labels to get vinyl pressed on any kind of reliable schedule — Squirrel Records would have to close its doors, as it will later this year after putting out its 45th (and as yet unannounced) release. The label’s penultimate catalog entry, a fulsome 50-track, two-disc CD comp featuring Squirrel acts as well as other artists who wanted to contribute, is now available. Called Nuts and Vaults, the collection features four TMLS tracks, including two previously unreleased — a Rocky Erikson cover and an original from 2008.

Shortly before the comp’s release, Odd Box Records came out with The Manhattan Love Suicides’ Bikini Party/Birthday Kill 7-inch. It features the searing title cut (“Don’t want to go to your bikini party/I prefer a good birthday kill”) and, on the B-side, a mini-suite of three continuous songs clocking in as a single 4:20 track. The opening passage of the B-side, “Deserted Coastal Town”, intensely contrasts the A-side with a dreamy, wistful vibe, while the two passages that follow pick up to a more typical TMLS pace. “Deserted Coastal Town/Action & Memory/What Am I supposed to Do?” is embedded below.

We bid Squirrel Records a fond farewell, applauding the bang it’s chosen to go out with, while resting assured that The Manhattan Love Suicides will continue on, releasing new material on other labels. Many thanks to Darren and Caroline for their generosity and patience in working with WTSH on this piece. — Dan

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How and when was the band formed? 
CAROLINE: Darren and I were in a band called Pop Threat, which split up quite amusingly on stage. A few years later, we got back in touch with a former member of that band and started having some practice sessions. In the course of this, we had a friend introduce us to Adam who was brought along to lend his hand at bass duties. The former Pop Threat band member was lost along the way, and we gained Eddy on drums...who we also lost after a year or so, only to be then replaced by Rachel.

DARREN: Yeah, that sums it up really well, I think. We got together as The Manhattan Love Suicides in 2006, and split the band in 2009 when we got completely sick of the sight of one another. Then we reformed the band after myself, Caroline and Adam were kind of reunited to play an acoustic gig at Christmas. We didn't start recording again as The Manhattan Love Suicides until several months after that meeting, though...and, also after Rachel had jumped back on board as well. 

Where does the band name come from? It sounds like an old tabloid headline! And how about the name of the most recent full-length, More Heat! More Panic!? 
DARREN: The Manhattan Love Suicides is a film by New York underground film maker Richard Kern, who also directed Sonic Youth's “Death Valley ‘69” video, and their album EVOL has a photo from one of his movies on the cover as well.

As for the name of the latest album…that's just simply a reference to one of our previous tracks, “Heat and Panic”. Adam came up with the title. He just said, How about ‘More Heat, More Panic?’” We thought that sounded perfect.

We're all really pleased with the album. There's a definite nod to The Manhattan Love Suicides' previous recordings, but also a development in the song writing, I think. Previously, our music was all about really fuzzy guitars and sounding as fucking scruffy and as bashed about as we possibly could. Back then, the more we recorded, the more lo-fi it got. The new album still isn't really well recorded or produced or anything like that...but it has a lot more variety and much more clarity than anything we've done before. 

Can you tell us something about Adam and Rachel and describe their contributions to the band? 
DARREN: Adam is a great person to work with. When we first got to know him, he was really quiet, but he was just getting on with playing bass and coming up with a lot of great stuff. He had a bunch of songs written for his solo work, and we adapted a few of those into Manhattan Love Suicides songs that appeared on the first album. “Skulls”, for example, that was Adam's song. That's an enduring track, and still some people's favourite Manhattan Love Suicides song. I don't think some of that embryonic first album holds up at all well these days, but “Skulls” certainly does. The other good thing about Adam is, despite being quite a different person from myself and Caroline in terms of temperament, we can just get together and songs come flooding out. It's rare to be able to work with people like that. His contribution to the band over the years cannot be measured. Simply put, if he decided to leave, the band would split up. End of. As for Rachel, she brings something else to the band, I think. She's very serious in her work and what she is passionate about, but she's also a hell of a lot of fun. She's the best drummer, as well. OK, so she's not flashy or fancy, but she's got that Moe Tucker thing going on, and she keeps everything nailed down when we play. It's great when we play gigs, and she just sets up a really minimal drum kit. No cymbals, no rack toms, nothing surplus to requirements. It leaves some sound guys just kind of confused. Eddy, our original drummer, was a really fast and powerful player, but to be honest, I don't think that's what The Manhattan Love Suicides were always about. He played on some great tracks, though, so I'm not taking anything away from him. But, Rachel's the best. 

Can you tell us a little about the band’s song writing process? 
DARREN: It's very simple, really. Sometimes I write a song, sometimes Adam writes a song, sometimes Caroline writes some lyrics with a very strong idea of how she wants the music to fit around the words. Sometimes, we all get together and knock a few ideas around, and we end up with a bunch of new stuff. Then, we record it...always really quickly after writing it. Get it down before we have chance to overthink what we're doing. Regardless of what cheap and shitty equipment we've got to hand, just record what we've written. Usually, it's pretty good. 

Before the present spate of TMLS activity, there was The Blanche Hudson Weekend, and before that, TMLS again, and before that, Pop Threat — all prolific, excellent projects — and the common thread in all of those, stretching at least as far back as 1999, is...Darren and Caroline. It seems to have been an exceptionally long and fruitful creative partnership, and I'm curious about how it works. How did the two of you meet and start working together as musicians? How have you managed to keep working together all of that time? Caroline, can you tell us something about Darren as a musician and a person that helps make it work, and Darren, the same about Caroline? 
CAROLINE: Darren and I have known each other since we were in our teenage years. When we first met I thought he was like a made up caricature. I had never encountered someone who could talk so much. He in turn thought I was mute. I was just mesmerised. We work together well because we can be brutal with each other. We can tear each other apart and we can support each other. If it is needed we push each other, but we know when to back off. I'm sure we must be terrible to work with as we have no boundaries. We ended up working together as a temporary measure ­­— Darren was in a band which required a singer, and I was recruited as a stand-in until a "proper" singer was found. Still waiting for that person to show up!

DARREN: Yeah, I think Caroline sums that up really well. I'll just add that Caroline is absolutely the best person, and sometimes, but fortunately not often, the worst person, to work with. But, there's no way I'd have been able to make music without her...not the same kind of music anyway. Everything has just kind of fallen into place over the years. We've both been lucky with the bands we've been in as well, because we've found other people who make just as much of a contribution to the writing process as we do, and even though we've had fallings out with various people over the years, myself and Caroline have always stuck together.  When The Manhattan Love Suicides split up in 2009, we all had to have a break from each other. But, me and Caroline were writing songs together again within a couple of months, and that led to the formation of The Blanche Hudson Weekend. We've been through quite a lot over the years, and we're still here. Caroline will be embarrassed by me saying this, but I think she's great. 

The most important thing for our sound is displeasure...with the world, with each other, with ourselves.

Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene? Do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?
CAROLINE: No, I don’t consider our band to be part of that. Often, the artist’s own interpretation is meaningless ­­— critics and promoters will tag you however they feel in that instance. If it sticks you may or may not be happy with the outcome.

DARREN: Like Caroline said, we try to steer clear of labelling the band. Some people have called us noise pop, some have said shoegaze. It's certainly noisy, but I don't think it owes a lot to any kind of shoegaze or dream pop scene. Shoegaze all seems to be really well played, with guitars fed through a ton of effects pedals. We're too knockabout and rough sounding for any of that. Scruffy Pop...that's a good thing to call it. 

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites? 
DARREN: Well, going back to what I was just saying...I don't really identify with it. I'm old enough to remember the shoegaze stuff first time around. I liked My Bloody Valentine, but I like them much less so these days. I also liked Ride and a bit of Lush. Other than that, I find it quite meandering and too fucking po-faced. Psychedelia based stuff...I love the Sixties bands, all the garage bands from back then, along with a big chunk of UK psych as well, which was a lot more whimsical in general, but still really good. New psych bands, though? Um...dunno, really.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
DARREN: Anything and everything we can get our hands on, really. I'm definitely not a guitar aficionado or anything like that. I just want something I can bash about. Amps...the more fucked up sounding, the better. When we record, we like to use crackling old amps that are almost totally knackered. All that crackle and fuzz is exciting for us. As for guitar pedals, anything that creates good noise and feedback. We record cheap, using cheap equipment. It definitely shows, but that's how we like it.

CAROLINE: The most important thing for our sound is displeasure...with the world, with each other, with ourselves. No amp can quite capture that. 

What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for others? 
CAROLINE: As The Jesus and Mary Chain once said — Write, record, release. Try not to put too much emphasis on the rest.

DARREN: Yeah, pretty much. As I said before, we just use what we've got. We've never recorded anything in a "proper" studio. It's always in basements or small rooms of some sort. We've recorded in the house several times, and had the neighbours banging on the door telling us to shut the fuck up. We've recorded with microphones that gave us electric shocks, guitars with busted strings, amps that we've had to kick to knock them back into life. That's what I'd recommend for anyone who forms a band that has a knockabout approach...if that's how it sounds live, for God's sake don't try to clean it up on your recordings. Some bands definitely benefit from a really clear sound on record, but others have their balls cut off and thrown in the bin when they go down that route. 

How do you feel about the state of the music industry today? There is no doubt a massive change underway; how do you see it and do you feel it’s positive at all? 
CAROLINE: It should be important, but it is losing its grip.

DARREN: Having run Squirrel Records, we've obviously been aware of the various changes over the years. How long have you got for me to say all the things I like and all the things I hate about it, though? I still get excited by some bands, but I wish there were a few more really fucked up sounding bands breaking through to a wider audience, instead of remaining underground. Everything above ground is so fucking safe and so bland at the moment. I like the fact vinyl is popular again, but hate the way it's overpriced, which kind of puts it out of the reach of some music fans, and into the hands of the rich middle classes…but, complaining about that is for another day, I reckon. 

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any? 
DARREN: I'm not keeping up with all the digital shit, to be honest. Which is not good for someone who’s run a label to admit to. The people who’ve come to Squirrel seem to really go for the physical releases, though…so, that's good. As Caroline said, we're DIY all the way. I still love the idea of anyone doing it themselves, having full control over their music, over the artwork they use, what format to release their music on, etc.…that stuff is really important to us.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them? 
CAROLINE: Vinyl is the best, but I do stray into to the world of the mp3 from time to time. I like cassettes too. CD is ok — but lacks personality.

DARREN: I kind of agree…I prefer vinyl, for various reasons. It's a big fucking thing you can hold in your hands, for a start. I grew up playing one side of a record, or cassette, then having to get up and flip the side over. Unlike Caroline, I actually really like CDs. You can get eighty minutes of music on one disc, and it can be loud without any loss of sound quality. An album on CD sounds exactly the same as the way it was mastered. If it sounds like total shit, you've only got yourself to blame as a band. Mp3s are ok for just a quick listen, but I don't download anything. If I can't get what I want on vinyl, CD or cassette — I just don't bother. 

What musicians have most influenced your work? 
CAROLINE: Phil Spector (before the “incident”) and Lou Reed, I really like a lot of the NYC punk stuff, and I delve back into that from time to time. Always The Jesus and Mary Chain and Guided by Voices. I also like Sparks, Leonard Cohen and Riot Grrrl bands. Even if I dislike something, I can still use it as an influence — in how not to be.

DARREN: There are way too many bands who I like to mention them all. But, as for influences as such, and by that I mean bands who I listen to for more than just pleasure…yeah, The Jesus and Mary Chain, early Guided By Voices for the sound of their recordings, early Sonic Youth for much the same reason, The Velvet Underground's first two albums because they're still probably the best records ever made, in my opinion. More recently, I've been digging out my old Birthday Party albums and reacquainting myself with the frankly fucking fantastic guitar playing of Rowland S. Howard. And like Caroline said too…Huggy Bear, Bikini Kill, lo-fi, noise...all that stuff we just absorb, re-imagine and then spit out our own version of it.

We are huge fans of The Jesus and Mary Chain, as are many of our readers. Can you tell us more about that influence? What about The JAMC and their sound have you found compelling, and how do you think it's impacted your own music? Did you ever get to see them live? 
CAROLINE: I didn't get into The Jesus and Mary Chain until I met Darren. I knew of them, and was the proud owner of the Smash Hits sticker in my Smash Hits 1987-ish sticker album. I was excited by their hair and their slightly scandalous, blasphemous name and their definite stance against smiling, but I was about ten years old back then, and so my intrigue didn't extend to buying any records at that age — too dangerous. When I did get into them, some ten years or so later, I was glad I waited. Ten year old me loved Madonna and Debbie Harry. I don't think that their early work would have found a fan in me. Not then.

DARREN: I first got into The Jesus and Mary Chain when I heard “Far Gone and Out” from their Honey's Dead album. I bought that LP, then worked backwards from there. When I heard Psychocandy, that was the life changing moment for me. When I think about it, the influential period of The Jesus and Mary Chain, for me at least, are those years from their first single, up to and including Darklands. They continued to make many great records after that, but it's the image of the band in those early days, the chaotic gigs, Bobby Gillespie standing at the back with a floor tom and a snare, the feedback, the rawness...they lost a lot of that as they developed from what they started out as being, into becoming just a really great rock ‘n' roll band. We've taken a lot from that band. The short sets, the lack of communication with an audience, the noise. But we've removed any kind of slickness from what we do...for the most part, anyway. The Jesus and Mary Chain were Top 40 pop stars, albeit unconventional ones. In contrast, we're down in the gutter, recording stuff on cheap equipment and adopting the lo-fi approach. Oh, and we've seen them live just three times. We saw Freeheat when they were around too, and a Jim Reid solo gig as well. 

Darren, you’ve identified The Velvet Underground’s first two albums — The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) and White Light/White Heat (1968) — as “probably the best records ever made”. Can you tell us more about their importance to you? 
DARREN: The Velvet Underground & Nico, in particular, is the one that has had the most impact on me. I first heard it when I was around sixteen years old. It was one of those albums I would see in the record shop whenever I went in there, and it just caught my eye because of the Andy Warhol banana on the cover. Also, the name of the band was really striking. One day, I just decided to buy it...and things have honestly never been the same since. I was instantly struck by tracks such as “Sunday Morning” and “There She Goes Again”. They were very “instant”, and didn't take much to really appreciate them, as they were so poppy. But I was really sucked in by tracks like “Heroin” and “Venus In Furs”. “Heroin” actually remains in my top five songs of all time, to this day. I wasn't as impressed with Nico’s songs on there at first, but now I can't imagine why that was ever the case. They're beautiful tracks. The whole album is just flawless. It's quite rough sounding in its recording, but that just adds so much to the whole listening experience. Again, The Velvet Underground were one of those bands who should not ever be cleaned up on record. They were raw sounding, and Lou Reed's guitar, in particular, on that album, actually sounds broken…but in the most fantastic way. 

White Light/White Heat, on the other hand, I wasn't quite ready for when I first heard it. After being so impressed with the first album, I rushed out to get their second. I instantly loved the ultra muddy sound, but I thought “Sister Ray” was way too long...and I still do. However, that doesn't mean I don't like it. It's gloriously messy and self indulgent, and I love how each band member battles with one another for volume throughout the track. At one point, John Cale just cuts through all the noise with that organ sound, and I think Lou Reed turns up the guitar amp even louder to try and drown him out. That's a sonic war going on there, and it's brilliant.

Almost everything I've tried to do musically over the years, everything I've wanted to achieve sonically, I can boil it down to those two albums as being my personal biggest influences. There are other influences, of course…but those two albums sum it all up, pretty much.

The third Velvet Underground album is also great, but I don't listen to that one, or Loaded, nearly as much as the first two. When John Cale left the band, when they started to distance themselves from the whole Warhol scene and they settled down into being just a great rock ‘n’ roll band with a bunch of good songs...they were still a cut above ninety percent of what was around at that time…but they'd lost something sinister and special by the time the third album was recorded, in my opinion. 

Where did you grow up? What kind of music scene, if any, were you able to connect with there? What influence, if any, did it have on your musical direction? 
CAROLINE: I grew up in Leeds, in the back to back houses of Burley and Kirkstall. I didn't belong to a music scene. I loved film and theatre and dreamed of acting. I liked music, but it wasn't my passion back then. I wrote awful poetry on my bedroom walls, and this was the basis of my writing. I had no direction, I just...was. 

DARREN: I also grew up in Leeds. I was born in Wakefield, which is not too far from Leeds, but I grew up in a small town called Rothwell, which is basically Leeds. It's a pretty quiet place, and I think that's why I like peace and quiet sometimes. I like chaos and noise, but then I also enjoy stepping away from all that and just relaxing. When I started going to gigs, I actually went to Wakefield, as there was a place there called Players, which was a filthy shithole, kind of like the CBGB of Wakefield...which is being quite kind to it, I'll admit. I met a lot of good people there, and then we started going to the Duchess pub in Leeds to catch all sorts of up and coming bands. Leeds has always had a big local scene going on, and it's always been a mixture of pretty good and fucking terrible. Same as many other cities, I suppose. Some good bands have come out of it, but when you look at Manchester only about forty miles away, and the bands that have come out of there, it makes me wonder why Leeds hasn't got the same pedigree. 

Were there any concerts you saw as you were growing up that had a big effect on you? 
DARREN: First real gig I ever went to was the Inspiral Carpets at Leeds University. I think I was sixteen, and it was a bit of an eye opener. I enjoyed it, but I stayed away from the mosh pit that night. Not long after that, I remember going to see Ride and The Charlatans in Blackpool. That was a brilliant gig, and it's stayed with me all these years later. Sonic Youth at the Phoenix Festival was another wonderful gig. I remember the sun going down as they played “Theresa's Sound-World”, and it was fantastic. I'll admit here, I went into a crazy Oasis phase in 1994 for nearly two years. During that time, I think I saw them about twenty times. Me and a friend even went to Paris to see them, then followed them back to the UK to see them at Sheffield Arena. After that, they started getting too big, playing ridiculous sized venues, and that coincided with me losing interest in their music. I can't listen to them anymore, but I don't regret those days at all. We travelled all over the UK to see them, and had a really good laugh. The early Oasis gigs were loud and raucous as well, and it made you feel alive. 

Can you tell us a little about what you are currently into (books, films, art, bands, etc.)? 
CAROLINE: I’m looking for inspiration lately.

DARREN: I like trash. I'm seriously into it. I'm not someone who buries his head in anything too high brow. Life's too short for headaches. Films…I like gore and sleaze, all those exploitation films of the 1960s and seventies...even the 1980s, in some cases. Anything lurid and a bit tacky, anything that isn't too mainstream. OK, I also love a lot of big Hollywood films, but I gravitate towards anything that's a bit grubby. Same with books…I read stuff all about the people who make the kind of films I like to watch. 

If you had to choose one track that was the ultimate definition of your sound, which would it be and why? 
CAROLINE: “Clusterfuck”! We were on fire the day we recorded that, and we've never quite captured it again.

DARREN: Agreed. I also really rate a couple of tracks from More Heat! More Panic!, but Caroline's right on that one.

Would you care to share any especially amusing, catastrophic, or rewarding incidents from TMLS' experience on the road? 
DARREN: Too many to mention, really. Going to America to play SXSW and New York, and arriving with only a couple of guitar pedals, having to borrow various bands’ equipment, and watching them look on in horror as we bashed through a twenty minute, feedback heavy set. Meeting so many great people along the way, staying with a woman called Renée in Austin, who had an AK-47 in the closet and drove us to the venues each day with us all crammed into the back of a pick up truck. Meeting a guy called Shane and all his friends on our second trip to Austin. Touring with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, blowing up Ringo Deathstarr's bass amp, getting into an argument with Caroline backstage while The Black Lips and Mika Miko looked on in what I assume was embarrassment. Nothing catastrophic, I don't think...although recently, I was almost run over in Barcelona. That would've been unfortunate, shall we say? 

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by? 
CAROLINE: Just get on with it. Change what you can...when you can.

DARREN: Can't really argue with that, can you?


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