Interview: Marshall LaCount of Dark Dark Dark

We talk about CMJ and the accordion

by Josh Kurp   |   Oct 8, 2010

Interview: Marshall LaCount of Dark Dark Dark

The members of Dark Dark Dark

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Similar to my thinking Guided by Voices was a Christian band for years, when I first heard the name Dark Dark Dark, I pegged them as either goth or an ironic pop band. Turns out that whole don’t judge a book by its cover (or, don’t judge a band by their name) is accurate. DDD sound like a carnival, a chamber folk carnival on the Mississippi River. The group—composed of Nona Marie Invie, Marshall LaCount, Todd Chandler, Jonathan Kaiser, Walt McClements and Brett Bullion—just released a new album, Wild Go, and they’re soon playing a series of NYC dates.

Encore spoke to LaCount about the band’s creation and his love of Nico Muhly.

How did the members of Dark Dark Dark come together?

We met in Minneapolis, around the music and friends community. Todd and I met on the Mississippi, with the Miss Rockaway Armada. Nona and I met Walter when they cried about how much they like his band in New Orleans. Nona met Todd when I made her go to New York instead of breaking up the band and going to San Francisco. They all met Brett when he came over for an audition, after three years of playing without a drummer.

You guys are from Minneapolis, New Orleans and New York. Have you found each region to have a specific style of music that you’ve brought into the band?
Walter’s New Orleans roots may be the most audible, unless you’re like me and credit a certain approach to playing strings as being “Minneapolis’ style.” Otherwise we are not trying to have a regional sound. We may use regional textures from time to time, and we definitely found each other and stay together as an ensemble because each person adds their special little thing to the whole. Each person is a region.

There are so many different, somewhat obscure instruments played in your songs. Where does one find an initial interest in, say, the accordion?
In many of the circles of friends we’re around, the accordion had a big surge in popularity, especially in the early 2000′s. Nona started playing simply because there was one on the floor at the place where she lived. They seem pretty commonplace now, and appear in arrangements on many popular records. They are very difficult to play as far as I’m concerned, especially well, and Nona and Walter are two great examples of the new old accordion. It’s true that we’re not a guitar, bass and drums band. We made a conscious decision to give away the acoustic guitar we had and stop writing with guitar, but these are still traditional instruments that are very present in music making today.

Who are some of your musical heroes?
Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson, Whitney Houston, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly, Aurora Nieland and the people of Mississippi Records’ Tape Series.

How long have you been working on Wild Go? What was the recording process like?
We wrote it over the course of a year or more. We recorded in January and mixed it through March or April. It was a live ensemble session, with minimal overdubs. We did it in a pretty space, on cool analog gear, with a really great engineer that everyone should hire.

In November, you’re playing in France, Switzerland and the U.K. Is this the first time you guys have traveled overseas?
We’ve toured France with an EP that was originally released there, and played a few other countries on that trip.  We also went to Italy with the artist Swoon’s project in Venice, called “The Swimming Cities of Serenissima.”

Are you excited to play CMJ Music Festival?
Indeed. It will be our first time at CMJ, so we’ll see how it goes. We spend a lot of time in NY, so we have our routines in place already, and will have a good time. I guess we’re treating it like the rest of tour…equally, and excited!