2014 Artist Survey: The Darcys

Wes Marskell on U2's Free Album, the Ice Bucket Challenge, the Ferguson Shooting, and the Music Teacher Who Once Failed Him

Jan 08, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


For Under the Radar's 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Ought, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman's Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

Here are some answers from Wes Marskell of The Darcys.

Top 11 Albums of 2014

1. Jungle: Jungle 

2. SBTRKT: Wonder Where We Land

3. Thom Yorke: Tomorrow's Modern Boxes

4. Caribou: Our Love

5. Spoon: They Want My Soul

6. BadBadNotGood: III

7. Death From Above 1979: The Physical World

8. Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 2

9. Beck: Morning Phase

10. Interpol: El Pintor

11. Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots

What was the highlight of 2014 for either you personally or for the band? 

We started an initiative called Play in School that drove support for public school music programs perpetually facing cuts, and as an answer to the general lack of all-ages music programming in Toronto. We were lucky enough to play free all-ages shows in a number of high schools across Ontario and engage with some very smart and extremely talented students. 

What was the low point of 2014 for you?

When Rob Ford hijacked our city.

What are your hopes and plans for 2015?

Stay quiet. Get some perspective. Reinvent ourselves. 

U2's new album was downloaded for free into millions of users' iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?

To be honest, I probably would have illegally downloaded the U2 record just to hear it. I think knowing what the highest grossing band on the planet is producing is important. So Bono made that interaction guilt free for me. It's a very slippery slope, if every day I started getting a free record in my iTunes I'd lose my mind. We gave away a record for free so...people in glass houses.

Did you take part in the ice bucket challenge? If not, why not? Grimes declined due to animal testing issues, was the grief she got for that deserved?

We did participate due to overwhelming fan nominations. That said, we were sure to donate and made it clear that dumping ice water on your head to be part of a trend you know nothing about while not donating made you an asshole. 

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri opened up a new national dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. Do you think anything will actually change because of it?

This is a very important topic, but maybe not one for a Canadian musician to speculate on in a music survey. That said, I don't think young black men are being pulled by police less in the United States or even in St. Louis in the wake of Michael Brown's death.

What's your craziest theory for what happened to the missing Malaysian Air flight?

I was pretty into the black hole theory. Not that I think it was at all plausible, but the fact that someone would suggest a black hole would consume the plane is an insane and unforgettable theory. The idea of electronic hijacking is also an interesting and terrifying theory. The thought that Boeing could take uninterrupted control of an airplane, like some sort of off-board hijacker, is very scary. 

Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them "hillbillies" for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

If someone takes their hard earned money and buys a ticket with it, I think they deserve a show. I have always felt obligated to put on a great show and am always put off by bands who seem indifferent to their audiences. I think everyone can relate to the frustration of people talking during your set as we've all played support slots. Sometimes, it just really gets to you. That said, it's never the group but usually an individual or two or 10 and I think when Kozelek generalized about his whole audience is where it's inexcusable. Personally, I would really love to have Marc Maron on standby at shows and when someone talks bring him out to tear them a new one.

"Weird Al" Yankovic was back in a big way this year. If he were to lampoon any one of your songs, which one would you want it to be? What would the "Weird Al" version's lyrics be about?

"Weird Al," what a perfect time for that guy to be back. I think he's hilarious and would be honored if he would parody any one of our songs. 

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?

That our music isn't accessible enough and that we haven't tried to write a radio hit. All valid points.

What's the most uplifting or heartwarming fan interaction you've ever had?

We have a fan and now a friend in Chicago who sends the best postcards and mix-tapes of classical music to Jason's house. I love listening to them.

What's the topic no one asks you about in interviews that you wish they would? Conversely, if you could get journalists to stop asking you one question, which would it be?

A guy quit our band five years ago, people still ask how we're dealing with it and what it was like moving forward. I'm pretty done with that question.  

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you're now a successful musician?

A music teacher once failed me and told me to quit playing the drums. I mail her a record to the school every time we put one out.

Which well-known filmmaker would you most like to direct one of your music videos?

David Cronenberg.

What has most surprised you about getting to know your parents as an adult?

Apparently my mom smokes. Who knew? 

Do you ever long for the days before the Internet and cell phones? If so, what do you think has been the worst side effect of those technologies?

I feel phantom buzzing in my pocket.

www.thedarcys.ca

 

 

 

 



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