At their heart The Darcys manifest dualism. They are one thing; theyre another. Theyre both at the same time.
The fellows in the group, who just released their debut full-length Endless Water, might appreciate such an analysis of human nature, since theyre made up of mostly Kings College graduates and soon-to-be grads of the Contemporary Studies program. Basically its philosophy. But according to Jason Couse, guitarist/backing vocals, that term is contested in the academic world.
The programs really consuming, says a weary Couse, in his final scholastic days.
Wes Marskell, drummer and Couses boyhood pal---both grew up in Etobicoke, Torontos furthest west end---also graduates this spring. Singer-guitarist (and lyricist) Kirby Best and bassist Dave Hurlow already graduated and moved back to Toronto, making The Darcys a dual Halifax-Toronto band, for now. (Keys, guitar and trumpet player Mike LeRiche, a University of Toronto student, recently joined as fifth member.)
The original four formed The Darcys in 2005 and released an EP You, Me and the Light in 2006. Couse and Marskell met Kirby and Hurlow at Kings. To counterbalance the consuming nature of their degree, the band members once shared a house on Edward Street and thus immersed in music. I couldnt go to the bathroom without kicking over an instrument, Couse recalls. Writing a song and playing it really feels good.
That sense of fulfilment is affirmed in free moments, as Couse calls them, on Endless Water when the playing becomes forceful and spacious. He offers When We Were a Wilderness, as an example.
The collections dominant water metaphors and imagery suggest a band comprised of people who always lived near the element (if you count the influence of Lake Ontario highly) or who only just moved within its sight and smell (the salty tease of Halifax Harbour in their adopted city). Both could apply. The cover art supports the idea of being at once far removed and at the waters edge---again, dualism. Its a watercolour of a landlocked ship, tipped to one side on its keel in a sea of reddish sand or clay painted by fan and designer Adam Nathan.
Kirby Bests lyrical use of water still mystifies Marskell, who observes this about Subsequent Ghosts, the second last tune on Endless Water: Its a weird sailor song, he says, sounding unsure of his own conclusion. Marskells concern is drumming, which he does with an energetic, spirited, yes, buoyant character---much as he talks.
Couse doesnt hide his loss of words over the lyrics either. Im famous for not knowing the lyrics, he admits.
From these two of the five members of The Darcys, you get the sense that good-natured, school-days ribbing goes around among these friends. Even while they make the thoughtful melodic pop of In-Flight Safety crossed with the powered-up pop of Two Hours Traffic, it sounds like theyre having fun.
After all, these young men recorded Endless Water in the Waterloo Regional Childrens Museum where Marskells father, David, is CEO. (Theres a picture of him in a suit and tie, silver-haired and holding a microphone for a little girl in a semi-circle of wee ones.) It was kind of a favour he did for me, Marskell says. Basically I said, Listen, we have to make a record and you dont want us to record at your place.
The band set up in the four-storey atrium close to the dinner-hour closing of the facility. They sometimes placed microphones on the upper floors and the faint sound of rushing water from a living wall nearby was welcome, as was the laughter and excitement of the kid-visitors. Listen close for those. Though the band usually recorded overnight, the sessions (produced and recorded by Matt Durante for a school project at Ryerson University in Toronto) occasionally and deliberately let the ambience in. A lot of things happened by chance, Couse says. They used the toys and materials at hand, clapping building blocks and shoes together for the album opener, Strange Fits, to send up the cliche of handclaps in much of todays indie music. We needed to make noise all night, Couse says.