"I think that, in this record, I was trying to bring more of my life into it and pluck out these moments and explore them through song. I think I’m stuck in permanently being nostalgic. I don’t know what for, but I think that’s my life, this position."
The core members originally from Minneapolis, Dark Dark Dark grew out of the musical friendship of singer, songwriter, accordionist and pianist Nona Marie Invie and banjo player, clarinettist and singer Marshall LaCount, and their decision, in 2006, that relocating to New Orleans might be a good way to go, though there was no thought to doing anything more than hang out. “Just over time, [it grew from] playing music with different people and kind of wanting to improve and evolve in different ways,” Invie, on the line on tour from Providence, Rhode Island, explains. “We wanted trumpet, so we asked Walt [McClements] to join us; we wanted a drummer, so we asked Mark [Trecka] to join us, and we needed a new bass player and we knew Adam [Wozniak] from Minneapolis, so it's over the last five years kind of like picking people up.
“I'd had plans to move out to California, and I had sent all of my stuff with my friend who was moving out there, and at the time I'd be there, soon,” Invie laughs. “And then New Orleans and the band kind of sucked me in and I ended up going a different way.” That 'way' has been a remarkable blend of musical styles, from folk and Americana to pop and New Orleans jazz, somehow melding into a sound that seems seamless as, to quote Pitchfork, “instruments swirl together into an otherworldly eddy of sound.” Dark Dark Dark, currently five-piece but for a couple of years featuring seven musicians, recently released their third album, Who Needs Who, which sees the piano move further forward in that surprisingly intimate “eddy of sound”.
“I've spent a lot of time the last couple of years really with the piano – haven't touched the accordion actually in months,” Invie admits. “So it's kind of a re-bonding experience with me and the piano, I don't know why. I was just driven to explore it a bit more after, in years past, putting it aside and now the piano is really drawing me back in. At the piano I'm singing a lot more too overall, and I think me focusing on the piano makes the whole thing a little more cohesive. And I think Walt McClements, who plays accordion with us, he's kind of a… He probably wouldn't like it if I said he was a master of the accordion, but he's really an incredible talent. I think that me playing accordion next to him is just sort of ridiculous, so I'm happy to sort of pass the reins over and let him do his thing with the accordion because he adds so much with his presence.”
As with all songwriters, there are the odd popular culture reference points here and there among the songs on the new album, some perhaps obvious – there's a song called Patsy Cline – and some seemingly unlikely, as Invie sings about sitting on her front porch with a friend reciting Roger “God didn't make those little green apples” Miller in The Last Time I Saw Joe. “That's about my friend Joe. I just picked this one summer night that I remember where we were sitting outside on my stoop. He loves Roger Miller and he loves to quote Roger Miller to me, and he and I were slapping it back and forth. I think that, in this record, I was trying to bring more of my life into it and pluck out these moments and explore them through song. I think I'm stuck in permanently being nostalgic. I don't know what for, but I think that's my life, this position,” she chuckles.
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Dark Dark Dark will be playing the following shows:
Saturday 10 & Sunday 11 November - Harvest Festival, Werribee Park VIC
Saturday 17 November - Harvest Festival, Parramatta Park NSW
Sunday 18 November - Harvest Festival, Brisbane City Botanic Gardens QLD