top of page

Getting Deep with Daarling Before First Stop of Cross-Country Tour

Chicago-based trio, daarling are set to embark on their cross-country tour but it is a few hours before the first show as we settle into the cozy green room of a Chicago's eclectic local favorite, The Empty Bottle. I had the opportunity to watch their sound check and though it was just myself and a few other busy bodies bustling throughout the room, it was as though they were giving a performance to a full audience. I knew then that daarling was going to put on a riveting show.

Made up of Erin Lyle (vocals, bass), Andrew Bess (guitar), and Rob Kristan (drums), daarling encapsulates the rage of alt-rock and the messy delicacy of shoegaze— all while delivering 90’s grunge with a modern and distinguished twist. In October of last year, daarling released their debut record, The Deep Within. It is a body of work both poignant and invigorating. Recorded with the help of audio engineer, CJ Melton, daarling put out a bold and intriguing formal introduction to the world.

Late on a Monday night, I watched The Empty Bottle fill until it was eventually packed. It seemed no one cared if they had work early the next day. They wanted to hear good music and they came to the right place. With no introduction needed, daarling steped on stage and enters into their element, with the welcome screech of the electric guitar and bass unleashing from the speakers.

Before all this, however, Tonitruale had the opportunity to sit down with all three members of daarling before the show to talk about the upcoming tour, new music, and more!

This is the first stop on your cross-county tour. What are you most looking forward to?

Rob: Playing music for three weeks!

Andrew: Playing to people who don't know us—people who aren't just our friends. We've gone on little tours before, but it's only been to towns that our friends or family lived in, which made lodging easier, but the crowd was just people we already knew.

Rob: Occasionally strangers.

Andrew: A couple of strangers, usually.

Erin: [I'm] excited because we get a couple break days in New York. We'll be there for three days or something like that. I haven't been there for that long ever; I've only been there for 24 hours one time so I'm excited to be able to explore the city a little bit and then play a show.

Any other cities that you're looking forward to or are most excited for?

AB: I'm excited about Burlington, VT. We're playing at The Monkey House which is a venue where a lot of bands that I follow have played at over the years. Same thing with Cincinnati—we're playing at Motr Pub. Again, just places I've seen people I like play at in the past.

RK: In Baltimore, we're playing at a warehouse.

EL: Oh yeah, called The Compound.

AB: It was described to us by the band that recommended [us] the place as a warehouse. There are a few venues like that, where we'd just heard about them through the local bands. And if the locals think it's cool, it's gotta be cool, right?

Can you talk a little bit about the process of creating your debut record, The Deep Within? How long as it been in the works?

AB: To varying degrees, Erin and I have been working on it for like, seven years. Two or three of the songs on there were definitely written back when we were still in college and just kind of sat around for a while until we moved to Chicago. It developed to the way that they are on the record until we got Rob in the band and started playing for, I think it was at least six months before we recorded any of those. The oldest songs sat around for a little bit as the new formation of us playing music developed.

EL: We were writing new stuff at that time kind of too.

AB: Right, letting the new direction form older songs as well. But as we got into newer stuff, typically Erin will write simultaneously lyrics and a melody together to absolutely nothing and then she'll hand me a voice memo and be like, "Here you go! It could be a song." Just have to figure out where exactly.

EL: Yeah, you just have to believe in it!

AB: I've gotten more used to that over the years and at the same time sometimes I'll be just doodling away something in my office at home and record it and sometimes Erin listens to those and writes something to that. As we've spent more time playing with the three of us, the songs have been coming to rehearsal much rawer.

RK: A lot of loose ideas and we sort of bring it in to do the whole thing as a group.

EL: We kind of go bit by bit, first with a chorus and then just loop whatever we got until someone's like, "Oh this could be cool!" It's very collaborative— this formation and this band at least.

AB: I think a couple of the newer songs from our EP that's coming out sometime soon, we had maybe a verse that was solid. We brought it to practice like, "There's a chorus or lyrics written. We don't know what it does yet. We can mess around until we figure it out."

Daarling has performed at venues all over Chicago and it seems that forging an in-person connection with fans has been a focal point to this band. What about Chicago and its live music scene do you find most special and artistically uplifting?

RK: So much!

EL: [Bess and I] were from more of a small town and we didn't have a music scene as much. There was stuff but it wasn't anywhere near the size of Chicago and so moving here for college in 2015—I always wanted to be in a band and play music, but I wasn't quite there yet, so I always just watched my friend's bands and was like, "I wish I could do that!" So, it's cool to be able to be that for other people in a way or be able to play with other people who have come from the same kind of place. There's a lot of small bands that are just excited to be playing. There's definitely a community feel to it.

AB: I don't think we've met or played with a band that hasn't been just genuine and kind to us.

RK: I'm from Des Moines, and there was a scene there, but I was a child, which didn't help. Also, I grew up playing a lot of jazz and stuff and this scene feels a lot more open than any jazz scene I've been a part of at least. It's just more accepting to everybody, which is cool. Des Moines had a place called Vaudeville Mews and I miss it dearly. It was like The Empty Bottle in Des Moines. It died in COVID and there's not really a replacement for it. The building is now a college games bar.

What did you draw inspiration from when crafting this record, whether it be another artist or something more abstract such as nature or a political climate, even?

EL: It's weird because all the songs from the album are a mix from different years but I definitely think there was an underlying, "I'm mad at the government" or "I'm mad at something." It'll just be, "Ah I have to go write a song about it otherwise I'm going to punch someone or something." Well, I won't. But I want to. So, sometimes it would make me energized enough just to throw something down. I think that's how "Metamorphosis" was written. I was just really angry about something. I don't even remember specifically what it was— either some guy in my hometown was just being a dick and I was just like, "This is all fucked up and stupid." You know? And so, I'm just going to angrily write a song for six hours and not talk to anyone. It sounded a little bit different then, but the sentiment is still there. So, anger helps, I guess! But then, I'm trying to branch away from that as of recently when we're writing our new EP. When I think of that, I don't want to just be angry and mean all the time. So, there's kind of a shift back and forth through trying to just figure out what the world is like. It sucks and I have to be mad but then also, my friends are great and other things are really sweet and nice. I kind of get excited about that. It's very polarizing, which will be more evident when the EP comes out.

I love the visuals that daarling has released throughout the years. The music video for "Metamorphosis" is haunting and articulate. What is the process behind these videos and can we expect more music videos/visualizers to come with this record.

EL: I went to school for commercial photography and it's funny, a few years ago, my friend Taylor wanted me to try doing video for a short film and I think it turned out great. It's called "January," it's on the internet somewhere. Bess actually did the music for that. It was really cool and since then, I was like, okay, video is not some big scary thing. I can do it too. And so, I have a very small video rig that I'll kind of direct and my friend Kelsy [Goodwin], who also takes a lot of our photos, I'll just throw it at her and be like, "Alright, this is the plan and the vision." Then, we just mess around for a day or two and just shoot a bunch. And then I'll take the footage home and just edit it myself. That's pretty much how it goes. Hopefully we can do more of that. Mine and Kelsy's jobs have just gotten a little bit [busier], so then it's harder to find time to get together, but I really want to do more music videos.

RK: We've just gone through the whole process of doing an EP and recording it and we're in the middle of mixing it so once we get that out the door, that will free up everyone's time a little bit.

AB: And we're done booking a tour now! We were doing that at the same time we were trying to make an EP happen.

EL: So, hopefully summertime music videos!

With the fans being able to look forward to a new EP sometime this year, can you talk a little bit more about that? What can fans expect and what are you most excited for?

RK: The EP is much more "us" as a cohesive unit than the last record was. About half the record I think was closer to that. But the EP is all stuff that we wrote together.

AB: Yeah, it's all songs that we've come up with in the last year versus the last seven years.

EL: That's kind of cool to have a more condensed timeline for that.

RK: I think we've grown a lot as a band and are continuing to grow. I think it comes out in the music.

EL: We're also very DIY— doing our own music videos, our own merch, and then these guys also record all of our own stuff, and our friend CJ [Melton] does a lot, I mean you all three do a lot of the recording. I don't! I don't know what all that stuff is about.

AB: You don't need to! You do all the visual art. It takes us to a point about the band where so many things of what we do had just developed as, "This would be cheaper if we could just figure out how to do it all ourselves." And then we did. So, we learned how to screenprint our own shirts. We hand-dubbed all of our tapes the first time we did a run of the album. Every time you dub a tape, you have to run it for the entire run-time of the album which, suddenly if you want to do 25 tapes, that's 25 hours nearly that you spend dubbing tapes.

EL: It takes a long time.

RK: The recording for the EP, we started at one place that was kind of a studio, like a home studio. We did one day there.

CJ Melton: We decided to book two different spots. It wasn't working out, so we moved to a different spot. It was just kind of like, grab everything, figure out what to do, and then Rob happened to have a buddy, Peter [Joseph], who was able to put us up and we finished the record.

RK: Shoutout to Peter Joseph! He's got a [great] space out in Arlington Heights.

CM: He has a freaking console at this house, so we're mixing it there. We dragged all of our gear out there. Rob, Bess, and I, have been working on that.

EL: It's nice to have a lot of people who know what they're doing with sound somehow. We've fallen into a lot of people who have been like, "Oh yeah, I can help you do that!" or just want to jump on and also be our friends that are cool and know how to do shit. I don't know how we got so lucky to know so many cool people.

What goals or aspirations does daarling have for this upcoming year?

EL: Play more shows. Play all the shows. I mean we're doing that!

AB: We're going on tour, so we got that one set. We're putting out an EP so that goal is going to happen.

EL: A lot of things have kind of been set into motion for us this year which is kind of cool.

RK: I feel like we've had really good sustained forward momentum as a band for the entirety that we've been this lineup and just keeping that going.

AB: I'd like to start writing new songs again. We don't have any in the works right now that I can think of.

EL: It's almost time to write new stuff, which is so weird because once something comes out, you're ready to write the new thing and it won't come out for maybe a year or something. To me, that's old stuff but it's new to everyone else. I have to kind of get used to that a little bit. It feels time to start thinking about new stuff.

Be sure to catch daarling on tour playing a city near you this spring!

@ IN Wrong Side 812

Apr 24 - New York, NY @ Trans Pecos

Apr 26 - Baltimore, MD @ The Compound

Apr 27 - Washington, DC @ Rhizome

May 1 - Nashville, TN @ The East Room

May 2 - Jeffersonville, IN @ IN Wrong Side 812

May 3 - Cincinnati, OH @ MOTR Pub

May 4 - Indianapolis, IN @ Healer

May 5 - Detroit, MI @ Bella's Beatdown Bunker

May 10 - Chicago, IL @ Sleeping Village

Purchase The Deep Within for digital download here. Also keep up with them on their social media via Instagram and Facebook.

Photos by: Evan Klein


bottom of page