Spotlight Interview With The Dart Brothers
A new full length album release from The Dart Brothers comes through as a wonderfully powerful classic rock record that touches on Americana and Alternative Country even as songs roll on with passionate vocals and strong guitar work through and through.
The Strangest Wavelength album is packed to the brim with some outstanding guitar sections that flow, and wail while vocals keep true to that country twang undertone and give the record a near perfect aesthetic.
What's really cool about these songs is that they are a real display of mature songwriting from seasoned musicians and at the same time shows a ton of youthful energy.
These are songs the guys had fun recording and performing and you can clearly hear that with just about every single track on the record.
Organ solos, classic rock riffs, vocal echo and just a mass amount of heart all make this a special record and each song has a little something new to offer.
It kind of makes you want to see The Dart Brothers perform live.
Maybe that will happen one day.
For now we have this album and it will certainly do.
With such a killer release we wanted to have a talk with the guys and find out where this all came from.
RAG: Okay let's start with the Strangest Wavelength album. This record is very classic rock influenced and brings in a bright pop vibe that shines through well. Where did this record come from?
We've been playing together for a decade or more, and it's probably clear the rock sounds of the 70's, 80's and 90's left a mark on us. Our songwriting leans mostly towards radio-friendly melodies and guitar-driven sounds, and when we decided we had enough good material for our first collaborative record, we had to pay homage to the FM radio sounds we grew up with. We teamed up with our good friend Chris Ploss at Sunwood Recording to produce and track the new material, and he really understood where we were headed. Chris's beautiful studio is in this old converted barn, and it's filled with sun, and warm clean tones, and I think it comes through in all these songs.
RAG: I'm hearing a lot of great styles of rock on this record. Who are your biggest musical influences?
Man, it's tough to pick only a few, but I'd say everything from Muddy Waters and Quick Silver Messenger Service, The Beatles and the Beach Boys, to the Cars, Bad Finger, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Rockpile, Squeeze, the Decemberists, REM, Wilco, Fountains of Wayne. That's quite a mashup, but of course each of us draws on different flavors, from blues, country, but especially pop-rock from all generations. I think we're all focused on creating songs that are accessible, and get stuck in your head.
RAG: This felt like a big album. Did you spend a lot of time creating this one? Did it turn out how you expected?
Yeah, it has been manifesting for a while. We all have recorded various records in the past, either together in different band configurations, or separately in different bands. And when it came time to record this one, we were brashly overconfident, thinking we'd get in the studio and knock out these 12 songs quickly, so we'd have a good demo as we began to gig out more. But of course, once we started to really dig in at Sunwood, we felt there was more magic in this first batch of songs. These deserved more attention to detail, so we decided not to rush it, and take our time crafting and building the layers to make them shine. I think we took about 4 months on tracking, and another 6 weeks mixing, and then a couple weeks for mastering and manufacturing the final copies, and get everything posted to the platforms. And I think we're all very happy with how it turned out-- it helps to better define our sound. It’s a nice first record, and helps point the way forward.
RAG: How did all of this start for you guys?
A bunch of us had begun getting together at a friend’s house, maybe 20 years ago, for some casual jamming on old roots covers. Eventually, the few of us who couldn't put our instruments down, and couldn't shake off the desire to play music, kept at it, and decided to try to put a band together, and maybe play a few shows. So we've been doing this for a while on and off, trying different band configurations. But I don't think the Dart Brothers really became a band until our rhythm section came together-- drummer Dan Lashkoff, and bass player Rick Kline joined us around 2010, and it began to feel like we had something special. Over the past 3 or 4 years we focused on creating our own songs, and let our songwriting take front and center.
RAG: Did you guys play live before? Do you think you'll be putting any focus on live shows in the future?
Yes, we've been playing live shows since 2010 or so in the Upstate NY area, mainly in the Finger Lakes. While the live scene in small clubs and bars has definitely shrunk during the 2010s with fewer folks willing to come out, we were lucky since there are so many breweries and wineries in our region that brought in a crowd for the scenery and good food. We also traveled to Rochester, Binghamton and Syracuse to find larger audiences. We were able to play out 2-3x a month from spring through fall, and less during the snowy winter Upstate months. But of course that was pre-COVID. During COVID we decided it was safer for us to not try to get together to play virtual shows-- it just didn't feel like the right thing for us to try to strip our sound down and do something less than our best. So yes, we're very excited to get back out there, and share our music with friends at live shows-- maybe mid-summer 2021. Nothing beats the energy you can get from a live audience at a show. We've found that each show equates to at least 10 rehearsals, as far as road-testing new material. We work hard to put on a good show.
RAG: What's next for you as a band?
We've been writing like crazy-- In fact while The Strangest Wavelength just came out in June 2020, we have hardly touched those songs (especially since we haven't been playing out), and have been solely working on new material. We're trying to push ourselves to craft music that pays respect to our influences, but still pushes them a little farther, so that we can tell our own stories with new sonic voices. We would love to go right back in the studio with the new material, but I think the reality is we'll need to test our new songs out in the real world at shows, and raise more dough to pay for the next record. So I would think maybe in 2022 we'll be able to capture our new songs in the studio. We will certainly have enough new material for a new record.
RAG: What are you all doing when you're NOT working on music?
Well, day jobs mostly. Rick is retired (lucky bastard!), Andy Russell who plays acoustic guitar, is a teacher, Dan works in the food service industry, Rob VanVleet, lead guitar, is a craftsman, and Todd Edmonds, lead singer, runs a small branding design agency in Ithaca NY. But music is a very important part of our world. We all come from different perspectives and influences from what we do in our day jobs, and I think that really influences our music.
RAG: What inspires you to write?
We all have stories to tell. Whether from personal experiences, or relatable adventures, there's never not a song idea floating around in the band. And since popular music has had such a big impact on our lives, I think we use our songs to help convey our own experiences in a way that feels relatable. We definitely want our listeners to be able to hear our songs and picture themselves in our stories.
RAG: Do you get together for rehearsal?
Every week. It is our refuge-- we rent a studio that we all share that is equidistant from where we all live, so we all have a vested interest and commitment in rehearsing and keeping at it. If we've learned nothing else while being in a band, we’ve learned that we must keep pushing ourselves outside of our envelope and comfort zone to make our stuff fulfilling.
RAG: Is there any advice you'd give to other bands trying to get heard out there?
For sure-- while we've been at it for a while compared to some bands, I think the bands we appreciate the most are the one who've been doing it for decades. And so I would say that you gotta keep your eyes on the long game. Getting heard takes a lot of energy and time, but make sure you are happy with your own sound, and that it feels authentic and true. Then search out the people and reviewers who love the kind of music you like. They are the best chance to help spread the word to an audience who will respect your music.
RAG: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Definitely a big thank you! Honestly it is awesome to know folks enjoy our music, and we can’t wait to share more with our fans very soon-- we are very humbled to be included in the Recording Artist Guild. Thank you!