THOSE DARLINS: On the Horizon

Those Darlins are en route from Chicago to Boston during one of the coldest weeks of the year.

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Videos by American Songwriter

Those Darlins are en route from Chicago to Boston during one of the coldest weeks of the year.

However, nobody in this Murfreesboro, Tenn.-based trio is complaining, because they are excited to be on the road after finishing their first LP, The Wilderness, which they recorded in New York City and plan to release this summer.























Those Darlins are en route from Chicago to Boston during one of the coldest weeks of the year.

However, nobody in this Murfreesboro, Tenn.-based trio is complaining, because they are excited to be on the road after finishing their first LP, The Wilderness, which they recorded in New York City and plan to release this summer.

“Our manager, JT, hooked us up with Jeff Curtin because of his work with Vampire Weekend. They don’t sound like us, but their instrumentation is minimalist even though the album is done very creatively,” explains Nikki Darlin, who plays baritone ukulele. “With our sound-rootsy, Americana and country influences with percussion-Jeff came up with some really creative ideas to highlight the songwriting.”

In fact, Vampire Weekend might be the last group you’d compare Those Darlins to. The group is comprised of Nikki Darlin, Jessi Darlin (guitar) and Kelley Darlin (bass); each one adopted the “Darlin” surname a la the Ramones. Sonically, they walk the line between traditional country and punk, with plenty of hell-raising thrown in for good measure. Think less girl power but more girl empowerment-they’re cutting yet charming, and they certainly don’t lack for a sense of humor. All three girls share vocal duties and stand side-by-side at the front of the stage, backed by a lone drummer, and their live shows have earned them the reputation as a band that never fails to deliver.

The girls met two years ago in Murfreesboro a college town about 30 miles outside of Nashville, where South Carolina-native Kelley had started The Southern Girls Rock and Roll Camp. Jessi was a participant at the camp, which Nikki (who hails from Virginia) was also involved with, and the three soon discovered that they all had similar tastes in music. “We were obsessed with traditional country music,” Jessi, who grew up in Kentucky, explains. “Also, we related to the music because we grew up in similar lonely, middle-of-nowhere places, so we had that in common, you know, like, ‘Your mom freezes dead animals that she finds on the side of the road, too?'”

Their songs are witty and sharp, yet melodic and strikingly catchy. Case in point: the unforgettable “The Whole Damn Thing,” a song that tells the true story of a drunken binge-eating episode.

“That was me,” Nikki sighs. “On New Year’s Eve, I came home drunk and found an entire chicken in the fridge, and I ate the whole thing. The next morning, my mom went in the kitchen and found the cat eating what was left of it on the floor. She asked me, ‘You ate that? How do you feel?’ Apparently it had been in the fridge forever.”

Food poisoning be damned, the girls tell another story of near-death experiences in “DUI or DIE,” which rips through your speakers like a modern day “Leader of the Pack,” complete with screams, sound effects, driving rhythm and an irresistible singalong melody. While it sounds a little tongue-in-cheek, Jessi explains, “One of us got a DUI and another one rode a bicycle drunk and fell and had lots of hospital bills. We’re very lucky nobody was hurt.”

Those Darlins don’t neatly fit into one genre, nor do they aspire to. “I’ve had the most difficult time trying to describe it,” Kelley admits. “Rock and roll is a little bit of everything-punk, blues, country-and I think we’re part of that overall big picture. Initially we just set out to entertain ourselves. Everything evolved from us trying to get our own kicks.”

Hometown: Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Ages: Kelley, Nikki and Jessi Darlin are “young”
Favorite Songwriters: Lou Reed, Hank Williams, John Lennon, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Pete Townshend, Jonathan Richman, Loretta Lynn, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, David Byrne

*Check out Those Darlins American Songspace Profile here.

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