After a hectic year, the dynamic Blackpool trio Darlia have emerged from the studio, dripping in angst and ready to take their new mini album Petals on tour. I caught up with frontman Nathan Day to talk songwriting, first airplane rides and aspirations for the future.
Funnily enough up until a couple of years ago, Nathan and bassist Dave Williams were working as janitors in their old school. He says that if you caught him at the age of 18, he would have been on his hands and knees scrubbing “every shade of brown you could possibly imagine.” No one believed in them as a band, and Nathan was refusing to do any small-time shows to gain an audience because he was adamant that he “wanted to be taken seriously as a musician.” Then, as Nathan aptly puts it,“like a “Cillit Bang! And the dirt is gone!” everything was just how they wanted it to be. The boys signed a record deal, moved to Manchester, and have spent their time since playing huge festivals and producing music.
However, while trying to write a full-length album, Nathan says that it got too overwhelming with the amount of content they had, so they decided to break it up into two mini releases: “It gives us more time to release a full length and gives us, if anything, more time to grow as a band.” He admits that songwriting can actually be quite tiresome due to everything that is going on inside his head at once, and goes as far as describing it the process as “kind of horrible.” He explains how he struggles to turn his mind off; “I’m on a bus, I’m on the tube, walking down the street… this thing just pops into my head and it’s a song and I need to record it.” He admits that this sometimes actually goes as far as him pretending to make a phone call while in company and mimicking the appearance of being on the phone while humming into Voice Memo. Apparently, “it happens all the time.” Although depicting as a burden, he’s aware that he’s very lucky to find satisfaction in writing songs, and jokes that if he didn’t have that as an outlet he’d “probably be in jail!”
Nathan suffers from a condition called ‘Synesthesia’, a neurological phenomenon in which the triggering of one sense results in an involuntary triggering of a second sense. The result is that ‘Synesthetes’, a situation where he he can visually perceive sound. According to Nathan, this happens quite often. Until around the age of 17 or 18, he had thought everyone experienced it and it wasn’t until he started talking about the visuals which accompany the music when he became of aware of his condition. In Nathan’s case, “suffer” might not be the right term for describing his situation. It seems to be far from a handicap for him and he reveals that having the ability to see the music he creates actually plays a huge part in his song writing process.
Since breaking into the public eye with songs like ‘Candyman’ and ‘Napalm’, written when Nathan was only 13 years old, Darlia immediately gained this grungy, Nirvana-esque public image. Nathan is known for publicly disagreeing with this perception, but admits that at the time of writing those songs he “probably would have cried at the thought, in a good way, of being labeled as this grunge band” and admits that he really liked the idea at the time. This label has also given them room to play and Nathan adds that he is very pleased with the position they are in thanks to this labeling.
At the young age of 21, Nathan Day seems wise beyond his years, and ends the conversation with some fantastic advice. The analogy goes like this: “Imagine you’re on the top floor of a large commercial building at closing time. It’s home time and everyone is desperate to leave as quickly as possible, and you of all people want to be the first out the door. So, you can go with them and follow the crowd down all the corridors and stairs and hope you can get there first, OR, you could just run through the fire exits.” Nathan divulges: “Sometimes the easiest and simplest way is the way that no one is going, because not that many people are actually trying. I think it would have been harder for us if I’d wanted to start a pub band, because everyone’s doing that – you just get lost in the crowd. Whereas, if you just stand up and say ‘I want to be the biggest fucking band on the planet’ believe it or not, not that many people are actually thinking that.”
Just something to keep in mind if you find yourself as yet another clone being fed into the job-machine. If we could all be half as driven and passionate as this energetic lad from Blackpool, I’m pretty certain we’d be making a much stronger mark on the world.
Darlia’s mini-album Petals along with new single ‘I’ve Never Been To Ohio’ will be released on 23rd February on B-Unique Records. They play The Wardrobe, Leeds on 24th February.By Kit Lockey