The music of Tennessee quartet Those Darlins is like a freight train started in the ’60s and hurtled through the decades to 2011—picking up girl-group sound, garage rock, trash country, some chick punk and a touch of glam—before crashing into an American roots music instrument store. The band has only been around for four years but its latest release, Screws Get Loose, shows its members’ ability to foster frenetically fun chaos inside a framework of tight musicianship. The Alibi traded emails with Linwood Regensburg, drummer and co-songwriter for Those Darlins, to ask about the past year’s happenings.
You’ve talked about “growing up” on tour. What are some examples?
We've definitely grown. The "up" part may be unnecessarily emphasized. The band has evolved in a lot of ways in the last year or so: song themes, sounds, etc. But it's not like the first album is juvenile or anything; you've got "Mama's Heart" and "Glass to You," which are pretty heavy songs. And some of the tunes on Screws Get Loose follow more in those lines, I guess; writing about our lives but in a more serious tone. Maybe the grown-up thing has something to do with not referencing alcohol this time around, which some people might've been let down by. There's still plenty of lighthearted stuff on the record like “Fatty Needs a Fix,” “Hives” and “Mystic Mind.” Everything is still real though, but we're definitely not trying to sound like Bruce Hornsby.
Describe one of the most memorable moments from the tour.
Recently, some amateur in the opening band set off a fire extinguisher in the basement of a larger Chicago venue, and I got held accountable for it. This jackass promoter and his cognitive-deficient hospitality girl tried to pin it on me using Syrian witch-hunt techniques they'd picked up God knows where. Their case had serious holes in it, as I've never had a beard and was not wearing a flannel shirt that evening, both traits of the perpetrator given from eyewitness accounts. On top of that, when you shoot one those things, certainly some specks of sodium bicarbonate would end up on your person, of which my person contained none. Go figure. Yelling matches and threats ensued and blind reasoning was running wild, and for some reason the phrase "you'll never play here again" kept being shouted at me. I couldn't understand what that had to do with anything. I told him it was OK, their sound men argued too much with each other and it stressed me out.
Getting a song in an ad or a TV show is becoming a norm these days, as opposed to “sell out behavior" or whatever they call it.
Of course the Old 97’s were loving every minute and said they'd prefer if something like that could happen every night, so I'm glad it happened. Later on that tour, we developed a Wiffle Ball league, between bands, and would play in and around the clubs before the show. Ken Bethea [Old 97’s lead guitarist] can make a Wiffle Ball do some nasty stuff ...
If you could choose any musician to play a set with Those Darlins, who would it be?
Better get someone who's used to switching instruments as much as we do during the show. Who better than John Cale? Have him rotating from bass to viola and keyboard—we could cover "Cleo" from Vintage Violence and give "The Gift" a shot during the encore.
What were the reactions of fans to Kia using “Red Light Love” in a commercial? Has there been any shit-talking?
There hasn't been any negative reactions from anywhere as far as I know. A lot of excitement has come of it, from friends, family and fans. Getting a song in an ad or a TV show is becoming a norm these days, as opposed to "sell out behavior" or whatever they call it. How many bands worth a damn are getting played on mainstream radio? But you can turn on network TV and hear Smith Westerns blaring behind Tommy Hilfiger. Maybe it’s weird to some, but it’s just another avenue to reach people. As long as the company isn't behind closed doors, investing money in death machines or poison tomatoes, by Jove, let them support musicians. By the way, have you seen the Honda scooter ad featuring "Walk on the Wild Side" and Lou himself? Lou's always ahead of the curve ...
After such a long time on the road, what—art, music, food, etc.— inspires you to keep making fresh music?
I read an article comparing the blues to scientific progress, and within it there was this great quote about how denial is really just a lack of curiosity. Now, not to nerd out, but when you're getting turned on by some form of art, your curiosity, whether it be about life or creating or whatever, is truly getting piqued and geeked.
Recently the best things I've encountered have been the Warhol Live exhibit, Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen, Dashiell Hammett books, watching Natural Child perform during our tour with them, "Can You Get to That" by Funkadelic, lamb burgers, James Jamerson isolated bass tracks, Julia Martin paintings (our amazing stylist ’n’ photo/video maker folks Veta&Theo just did a gallery show of her new work at their Nashville gallery called Ovvio Arte), on and on. You can stay turned on all day if you wanna.