Trippin’ the light fantastic with Papa Roach … er … Darker My Love

The touring year is almost over for LA psych-rockers (sorry guys, being a lazy journalist today) Darker My Love. The band is rolling through my hometown the night before Thanksgiving and then doing a few more weeks worth of dates that will return them home to the West Coast just a week before Christmas. The band’s second album, simply titled 2, is a swirling and dreamy ride through the clouds – full of noise, guitar pedals, keyboards, Darker My Love seems to draw influence from bands ranging from the Dandy Warhols and Spiritualized to the Beatles and the Beach Boys (just check out the rich harmonies in “Two Ways Out”). Other reference points include the Stone Roses, Ride, and (here comes the ’90s hair metal geek in me) Saigon Kick (seriously, the vocals on “Blue Day” sound like something from SK’s The Lizard album).

I called bassist/vocalist/heavily bearded Darker My Love member Rob Barbato yesterday before a DML gig in Indiana.

Your show in Columbus is the night before Thanksgiving. Is that something you recognize or is it just another Wednesday night gig?

Thanksgiving is a big day for us being that we’re a food band. We’re not really sure where to go in Columbus to eat but we’re excited to play there. We’ve got a nice hotel, we splurged. We’ve got Thanksgiving off, then we play in Cleveland. We’ll get to sleep in and rest.

Whenever I used to go home for Thanksgiving or was home from school, you end up eating and falling asleep for a while and then you’re looking for something to do so hopefully people will come out and party Wednesday night.

If you weren’t on tour, would you have had plans for Thanksgiving?

I used to go home to my folks house but they live in Rhode Island now so I don’t really get a chance to head out there for Thanksgiving but I go out there for Christmas. Last year I went to Texas to my girlfriend’s house for Thanksgiving. Other than that, you just get together with friends and try to cook a turkey! The year before, we had just finished a tour with the Warlocks and we had Thanksgiving at my girlfriend and my house and we cooked the turkey upside down. That was really weird. Don’t try that.

As you’re on tour pretty much non-stop up until just a week before Christmas, should your friends and family be expecting gifts picked up at truck stop shops across the heartland of America?

Yeah, I’m going to get them some of those fancy Uppers from the truck stop so they can stay up all night.

What’s topping your Christmas wish list this year?

Health insurance. I asked for a digital camera – it’s easier to document stuff and post blogs and have fun with it.

I’ve enjoyed reading Darker My Love’s tour blog.

The mastermind behind that is Will Canzoneri. He puts in the hard and thought out work. It’s really fun and funny because it gives us the chance to show our personality other than people thinking we’re trying to be in some cool rock band.

When I was a teenager, I didn’t have any way to follow my favorite bands or even have a chance to interact with them unless I hung out by their bus or van after a show. Now I can log onto the web and not only read what you guys did last night but I can see photos and leave you a comment or send you an email.

Exactly! And people can get in on our inside jokes. When I was growing up these bands were like these huge things. But now I realize it’s not really that, it’s hard work. Because of the Internet fans can stay connected and really get into a lot of different kinds of music so I think it’s a really good thing. But it’s a lot different than when I was growing up.

I’m glad that you keep it pretty regularly updated – it’s really interesting to see what your day to day is like when you’re on the road. Had you written an entry about your time in Columbus when playing at the low dough show sponsored by CD101, what would you have said?

I ripped a ton of White Castles at the show because they had a White Castle there. It was really crazy because we had played a show in L.A. and then flown out directly to Columbus without any sleep. We got there, crashed out for a little bit, and then went to soundcheck. My girlfriend came out to that show because we went to Cape Cod afterwards before all this touring started. It was like our last hurrah. It was really fun and we’re psyched to be coming back to Columbus for sure. We played right before Dr. Dog and I think VHS or Beta played last. At the end of the Dandy Warhols tour we ended up hanging out with the Dr. Dog dudes in Denver because they played on the same night as us. They had the same situation in Columbus as us where they flew in and it was the last weekend they had before all their touring started.

CD101 is a great radio station. It’s few and far between; there are only a few stations in the country that will take as many chances as they do.

In your tour blog, you mentioned a show in San Francisco as being a major bro zone.

It was the first night of the tour and the Strange Boys met up with us. And the Crystal Antlers were up in San Francisco recording their album for Touch & Go so they came down to the show. It was just a really good time. It was very bro-mantic!

When you roll into a truck stop or a restaurant or a hotel, you must attract stares from people. Do people ever ask if you’re in a band?

Yeah, but they have no idea who we are so it’s all right. We usually say that we’re not in a band but just driving around. Andy and Tim’s old band, the Nerve Agents, were on tour and at a Hooter’s or something and the waitress came up and was like “What band are you guys in?” and they said “Papa Roach” and she was like “Oh my God” and they got a free meal!

I realize that playing at 8pm isn’t the most rock and roll thing to do – but having a headliner go on at 1am sometimes may limit the amount of people who come out to see you, particularly on a work/school night. Do you have any thoughts – as both a band member and as someone who goes out to shows – about set times?

I’ll tell you that, for one thing, if you’re on tour and you don’t have any days off, if the show ends early it’s a lot easier to get a good night’s sleep. If it’s a week night, for fans, it’s kind of a better thing because then you don’t have to worry about getting up for work early the next day all hungover. But, it is fun to hit that 12:30 hour when people are just starting to really start feeling the effects of the party and just ripping into some songs. It doesn’t really matter to us. We don’t get upset if it’s an early show.

One of those never ending conversations I seem to have – and relevant today because of an item posted on Donewaiting – from your perspective, what can the music industry do to save itself? Jay Bennet (ex-Wilco) released his album – for free – this week as a download. That’s great for the fans and it eliminates the fear of piracy, but it can’t be good for the artists. Likewise, Darker My Love’s first album is available, for free, on the Dangerbird site. What are your thoughts about giving away music for free?

The thing is, a lot of people are going to search out music on the Internet and download it and see if they like it. If they really like it, they are going to end up buying it. After we put the record up for free, the sales for the old record actually increased because people started hearing about it and got excited about it. They wanted the artwork and the physical copy. You’re not going to really make money to support your band off your records, it’s from touring and t-shirts and stuff. If people hear your music, you have a better chance of them coming out to your shows. You want people to hear your music. We’re not businessmen, we’re musicians. It’s not like we’re worried about people downloading and stuff. If it happens, it happens.

Completely switching gears – any thoughts on Chinese Democracy? There MUST be at least one Guns N’ Roses van in the band, right?

We’re all excited for the free Dr. Pepper everybody is getting. We all grew up right around the time that Guns N’ Roses was big and then Nirvana came along and smashed them. We were all just getting into music at that time. I’m pretty interested in hearing it and what took so long. Appetite for Destruction was one of the first tapes I ever got. The new one is super epic, right?


It’s funny because we ended up doing a radio session at the Village Recorder in Santa Monica, which is where they had done some part of Chinese Democracy. We were talking to the owner and he showed us the room that Buckethead’s chicken coop was built in so that’s how we’re connected to it.

I’ll bring you a copy of the CD. I’ll also bring you a copy of this record I really love right now by Dead Confederate.

Oh, we were supposed to tour with them! Before we did this tour we were talking about touring with them and we were also talking about touring with Apollo Sunshine. Then they ended up touring together and we decided to do our own headlining thing.

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