Alexis S.F. Marshall of Daughters discusses their latest release and the development of their sound

 

 

“You Will Not Get What You Want” is Daughters’ fourth LP and their first release in eight years. It acts as the next stage in the band’s continuing arc of sonic transformation. Their last album (s/t), moved away from the “sixty-second blastbeats and high pitched screams” of Canada Songs and Hell Songs, and brought us longer tracks that are fuller and more “produced”. It is an amazing record that created a new signature sound for the band. One that is extremely distorted with instruments almost unrecognisable, but at the same time clean and precise.

This album takes a stride further, or should I say deeper, in this direction. Songs are longer, darker and more sinister than ever before, but still contain the familiar elements established on s/t. It is an enormous success and could be Daughters’ best release so far. It shows that the band still has a lot to give and have no worries about experimenting, even at this stage in their career.

I got a chance to ask the band’s vocalist, Alexis S.F. Marshall, some questions about the band, the new album and his life general.

How are you feeling about the new album and how have the shows been going so far?

I’m quite pleased with the record. It’s a relief to get all the collective self-scrutinizing out of the way and push through that wall. Out in the queue with a new record, playing new songs to people who haven’t seen us in years, and in some cases, never before. It’s great.

Daughters’ sound has changed significantly since the release of Canada Songs. Has this change in sound been reflected in the crowds that come to your shows? Aside from your own on-stage antics, has there been any noticeable difference in atmosphere and energy from album to album?

I suppose there’s been a shift in listeners. These last two albums are a great stretch from sixty-second blastbeats and high pitched screams. But when the catalogue is viewed, in its entirety, it’s far less of a leap and a more obvious progression is there. I like to think it’s people grew WITH us over time, as opposed to out of.

It is interesting that this is Daughters’ first LP on Ipecac records. With bands like The Locust, East West Blast Test and Fantomas on their roster, it seems that sound-wise it would have made a great home for the first two Daughters records. Why has the band decided to put this one out via Ipecac?

Well, Hydra Head isn’t operating as fully functioning record label any longer. Ipecac showed interest, courted us a bit and we were excited to work with them. I feel they do much more than release ‘weirdo’ music or whatever one would call it. Their catalogue is filled with interesting and thoughtful bands/records.

How do you feel about Daughters’ body of work as a whole? Do you see the older records as something from a different time that you now want to distance the band from or do you still see them as a part of what the band represents today?

That’s hard to say. Can’t erase the past, but it was who we were, creatively, at that time and we have ventured forward and grown. I’m happy to hear that people like our earlier material, but that’s not who we are anymore. It’s all about the context. Forever forward.

How has your own music taste changed over time – what are you listening to these days?

I’m 38 years old, I’d say most of my tastes have changed over time and will continue to. People will likely be disappointed when they find out all I listen to is The Rolling Stones. There were some great records this year though. I love the new Bambara LP, Jaye Jayle and Birds In Row both put great records out this year. There’s always something new coming down the pike, but I do lean toward the classics: Leonard Cohen, Iggy Pop, Swans, the Band.

Words such as ‘anxious’, ‘unsettling’, ‘cold’ and even ‘terrifying’ are being used to describe the new Daughters tracks. Did the band intend to write something that evoked these feelings? Do you feel that this sound came as a result of the band’s tumultuous history?

There wasn’t a particular mood being set. It certainly found us though, or we found it. We were working on new songs and there’s a little bit of a natural procession that happens. A tone is struck and one ends up settling in there.

Anthony Fantano ‘the internet’s busiest music nerd’, who has 1.6 million subscribers on Youtube, has only ever given five 10/10 reviews since 2009 and ‘You won’t get what you want’ was one of them. How do you feel about this? – Do you pay much attention to music reviews/journalism? (no offense will be taken)

I’d like to say I don’t pay attention, but I do; to a small extent. I didn’t always, but I find myself curious, checking in here and there, of the reception this record is getting.

Daughters formed in 2002 – how do you feel the rise of the internet since then has affected your life as a member of Daughters?

Social media and streaming platforms, it’s all commonplace now and I like to imagine it is a benefit to us. I don’t really think about that.

Financial benefits aside – Would you like the idea of Daughters playing to larger crowds in bigger venues or do you prefer the intimate underground scene?

I’d love to play larger rooms, more people. Ultimately, we’d like anyone who may become a fan to have the opportunity to see us play. We are going to get too old to tour, eventually. I doubt we will ever lose that intimacy. I make a habit of getting out in the crowd and physically connecting with people. That won’t change.

Do you write all of the lyrics for Daughters songs yourself or do other band members contribute? I know that you also write poetry and have published a collection of your works in the past. When writing, how do you decide what material is better suited to a band (either Daughters or Fucking Invincible) and which is better suited as a poem?

Yes, I write the words. There’s no blurring of the lines when I’m writing a song or a poem. Vastly different for a number of reasons. Mostly the energy. I tend to stand and walk around while writing lyrics. There’s a performance in there, somewhere.

Your lyrics can often have a story-telling style and can refer to characters in the third person. From where do you take inspiration for your lyrics and poetry? – do they generally reflect your life experiences or fictional characters and situations?

I’m creating characters, placing them in scenarios. I wouldn’t call them autobiographical, but I couldn’t write effectively if I didn’t impart something of myself into these songs. I tend to shy away from emotional songwriting. I’d like the songs to work for everyone, not hinge on any kind of self-aggrandizing output.

From the “Making of” video on Ipecac’s youtube channel, it seems that it was difficult to get the creative process re-started for this album. Do you feel that having completed ‘You won’t get what you want’, you would have less difficulty coming together for another record in the future?

There was an extreme difficulty from a logistical standpoint. We all love in different states, which made assembling a complicated achievement. I’m hoping that after this first go round it’ll be easier to navigate.

The 2019 Europe/UK tour will be the band’s first time back in this side of the water in 12 years. Are there any cities that you are particularly excited to get back to?

I can’t picture a city I’m not excited to see. I always love London, Tilburg, Berlin. I’m very much looking forward to playing Russia. We’ve never been there and honestly, it’s a place I never expected to be. I love playing overseas. It can be strange and cold, but really that’s part of the fun. The air is different, there’s a history there, unlike plodding around the same old streets here in the US.

Outside of Daughters, what have you been up to?

Putting another poetry collection together. Trying to get a handle on all the fucked up goings-on in my head. Raising two boys. Art and life and so on.

Anything else you want to say about the new album/yourself/the band in general?

I am tremendously proud of what we’ve done with this new record. These are end times we are living in and we wrote THE end times record.


Daughters are playing Berlin’s Cassiopeia on April 12th 2019. Such an intense band in such an intimate venue – it will undoubtedly be one to remember.