There is no better way to introduce this piece than by stating the following: The Darts are definitively cool.
The quartet – comprised of Michelle Balderrama, Nicole Laurenne, Christina Nunez, and Rikki Styxx – excel in blending a variety of elements that make rock music such a novel entity to create an entirely unique sonic identity. The most interesting aspect of this creative elixir is that these elements transcend merely what is musical. The Darts do not just have a completely nuanced sound that exudes power – it is obvious they do – but this sound is peppered with just enough snarl, grit, and edge to augment these musical elements to becoming something greater than itself. This is something that is only achievable by the most dauntless of artists, and The Darts have done so without question. They are clearly aware of their own authority and have leaned into it fully – it’s apparent by listening to any song within their discography. They’re a band who produces more than just music; they produce a force.
AMPLIFY. was fortunate enough to ask Michelle Balderrama a few questions about tour snacks (Editor’s note: snacks are a very important topic), walkout songs, the band’s growth, as well as what it’s like to know that Stephen King digs your band. Read on, friends.
AMPLIFY: What’s the origin story of The Darts?
Balderrama: Once upon a time there were four musicians that crossed paths, seeking determination, domination, and survival. Knowing to do one thing; breed rock n’ roll. They set out to ride thee seven seas, armed and ready to take battle to all that defeats matter within the power of their music they stand; We Are The Darts.
AMPLIFY: How would you articulate the band’s artistic growth?
Balderrama: We’ve come a long way for only being around a year. Having good chemistry is the key. Knowing we have that, we are able to generate a wide range of material from our broad range of influences, and make great music without creative boundaries. Our first two EPs were made up of demos Nicole or I had sitting around and songs the four of us had pieced together through email. Our latest full length record Me.Ow. has more identity with our development of our sound. Definitely evolving more as we explore our musical abilities, creativity and collaborating with each other more on our upcoming material. Most important, having fun in the process is part of the formula that we grow off of.
AMPLIFY: Do you have a designated walkout song for your live performances? If so, what is it and why? If not, what would you select and why?
Balderrama: Yes we do! It’s the only song that we cover that is not an original, from a band based in Los Angeles (a shout out to The Trash Women), song is called “Batteries” — “Who needs boys when you got batteries!” We actually recorded a live version at Third Man Records in Nashville Tennessee, which can be found on our latest record Me.Ow. as our secret track. I think the lyrics speak for itself, needs no explanation.
AMPLIFY: It must’ve been neat to have Stephen King tweet about your music. How did you first find out about the tweet? What was that experience like?
Balderrama: It was a pretty groovy surprise to be acknowledged by him especially having read quite a few of his novels as a kid. A huge shout to our fans, which were one of the ones who had spotted his tweet and had sent the message to Rikki about his liking of the band. Much love to Stephen King, peace.
AMPLIFY: Is there any album that’s of particular significance to you? If so, what is it and why?
Balderrama: Yes, Stooges — Fun House being the fact it’s quite underrated and that feeling when I play that first song on the record, there’s nothing more cooler and edgier, rolling in my car with.
AMPLIFY: What’s a song you love that you think is totally underrated?
Balderrama: There are so many underrated songs on my bucket list, but this one particular song came to mind. A song called “Lead the Way,” by a band based out of New York called White Hills. Saw these guys open up for Arthur Brown in downtown Los Angeles for the first time a year ago, that song in particular sold me, it’s a keeper. Have it spinning on my turntable as I write this. You’d have to take a listen yourself.
AMPLIFY: Do you have any favorite snacks that you like to bring along on tour?
Balderrama: This band loves snacks…we tend to accumulate a pile of snacks that end up overflowing in the van that consist of: veggie chips (stay away, highly addicting), the protein bars has to be one of the faves. We got jolly ranchers, beef jerky, raw veggies floating around, trail mix, piles of popcorn, monster drinks, the list goes on and plenty of water to keep us all hydrated.
AMPLIFY: Which aspect of your work as a band are you most proud of?
Balderrama: With our long distance band relationship, the ability of having accomplished so much for just being a band that has only been around for one year, that says “Team Darts assemble!” One important key factor that the four of us in this band carry is our drive! I have had bands I’d played in for years that the drive as a whole never balanced out evenly, keeping the ability for pursuing more, which sadly to say happens in a lot of bands. The ability to make records and jump right on tour without letting any boundaries hold us from making it work for us, it really shows anything is possible in this band.
AMPLIFY: Lastly, what’s coming up next for The Darts?
Balderrama: The next step from here, we have some time off the road so the writing, creative process begins! Still my favourite part in being in a band. Then we’ll head back and record another batch of tunes in January, followed by consecutive tours in Europe. We are looking forward to performing in a bunch of European festivals this upcoming year, which is what we wanted and a expected fall tour set for in Japan 2019. We hope to possibly have a new record out by then.
Ready for some tunes? Click here to visit The Darts’ bandcamp page, and be sure to check out their music video for “Gonna Make You Love” below.