Tim Darcy’s brooding melodic journey through his new solo album Saturday Night brings you into close and intimate quarters with him; he takes you there with him, to the crevices of his consciousness. A bit of a departure from the heavier post-punk sound of his band Ought, who have been an important part of the indie scene since 2012. Darcy’s solo album seems to take more of a structured route different to the noise of Ought, but still remaining true to the unique sound within. Saturday Night was released this February on Jagjaguwar records (Bon Iver, Black Mountain, Dinosaur Jr. to name a few on the label).
When listening to the album, Darcy brings to mind a bit of Roy Orbison, Morrissey and the Magnetic Fields in sound, not in an overly derivative or copied way, but a sincere meandering of sound conjuring these remnants.
Born in Arizona, he made his way winding around the USA before landing in Montreal where he found university and Ought. Darcy lives in Montreal, but the album was recorded in Toronto. He just kicked off his tour in Montreal on March 4th and will be on tour the rest of the month, unfortunately not in Vancouver, but he says he’s sure he’ll be on the West Coast very soon.
The solo album's departure from the sound of Ought was influenced by an array of sounds: “I was thinking about a pretty wide array of influences while making the record… As a solo songwriter, I pull from a lot of folk music. Anything ranging from Joni Mitchell to Jonathan Richman, etc., but also Appalachian music and old Folkways stuff. When thinking about tones and production, the producers and I were more current, thinking about The Vaselines, Velvet Underground, etc. I wanted it to be both raw and lush and I think we achieved that,” Darcy explained.
Ever since Darcy’s mom handed him a guitar at the age of 16 for his birthday he’s been driven to make music. “I remember playing ‘King of Carrot Flowers’ and losing my mind because the song was coming to life in my hands and in my mouth,” Darcy expressed.
So the decision to make this solo album wasn’t a new one, “I’ve been making songs alone since I was 16, and none of that output gets to present itself on Ought albums, where we all write collaboratively. It was really welling up in me, the desire to record some of my own music, so when the opportunity came to record with some friends in Toronto, I immediately jumped on it.”
Darcy finds that writing alone is much more intimate, leaving him more free to write more about his own experiences. This sentiment comes through in every song you hear on the album. Ought is not over, but for the time being Darcy will focus on his solo work.
When you hear the songs you can feel the stories pass by. “‘You Felt Comfort' was written about a friend who tried to take their life, a kind of amalgamation of a few friends who’ve been in that place, mixed with some of my own feelings about depression. It's a song about a person trying to reach someone who’s in that place. There is a theme of forgetting trauma that comes up in ‘St Germain’ as well,” Darcy explained.
The reason we feel this intimacy is because Darcy feels music is his therapy. “Whether it is a song or poem or in a journal. If that were taken away my skin would crawl. Talking with loved ones and friends is good as well but it is not the same as being able to go into the warm blanket of the subconscious and touch that deeper place. Alone, I usually write about emotions or very broad experiences. I’ve never been a ‘one day this happened’ kind of writer, I prefer to have things feel like a glacier. Not that small stories can’t have that effect. I like stories so maybe I will expand into that palate someday.”
As Tim Darcy starts his tour around the world something more drives him. “I will always do this, no matter what happens in life. It is part of the fabric of who I am, which motivates me to grow and become better. Getting a bit older I think of it more and more as a craft.”
Photo: Shawn Brackbill