L.A.'s Summer Darling caught the attention of indie music fans in 2004 with the release I Know You~I Never Knew You. The band became known for their beautifully somber melodies, poignant pop hooks, and introspective lyricism. About to release its first recording in nearly 4 years, PLUGGED caught up with frontman Ben Heywood to get the latest scoop on what to expect from these darlings in 2008.
PLUGGED: How did Summer Darling start and how did you get the name?
SUMMER DARLING: SD started the way most bands start, I suppose. I met Dan in a restaurant and he said, "Let's jam" and we actually did. Then I got my girlfriend, Heather, to play bass. Voila, a band was born. The name I stole from a friend of mind. We were in a band together long time ago and were thinking of band names. He suggested Summer Darling but we didn't end up using it. I always kinda liked it.
PLUGGED: Why the long interval between releases?
SD: We lived a lot of life in between. "I Know You" came out in April of 04. Heather and I got married in the summer of 05. Heather then went back to school. Meanwhile we started tracking an album at this really upscale studio. We knew a couple of guys who worked there and they would sneak us in whenever the studio wasn't booked. To make a very long saga short, the opportunity dried up before we could finish anything. While all this was going on, we tried tracking more new jams but after nearly completing a few songs the hard drive crashed and we lost everything. We then met Sean Foye who swooped in and took the reins. "Health of Others" are the songs we started but didn't finish at the fancy studio completed by Sean.
PLUGGED: What is Summer Darling going to be releasing in 2008?
SD: We will release 3 EPs digitally through Oragami and collect them at the end of the year on a 12" LP. "Health of Others" is the first one.
PLUGGED: Explain how you think the SD sound has progressed since the debut LP?
SD: Well, we're more of a band now. I used to write most of the parts for SD but since Dan moved to guitar and Loop joined as the drummer all the songwriting is group oriented. I just come up with the words and melodies and the band as a whole writes the music. Its made us more Built to Spill and less Coffee House. We call it "Guitarchestra".
PLUGGED: I heard that you will be recording with Frank Lenz. What's it like working with Frank, and what does he bring to the table for your sound?
SD: What to say about Frank Lenz? He did "I Know You" and he tracked and produced the second EP we'll be releasing later this spring. Working with Frank is like going to a friend's house and making music. Sometimes you drink too much, sometimes the ideas don't work, sometimes you get angry, but at the end you get an amazingly creative record and you're still friends. Frank is our friend.
PLUGGED: What happened to the deal you had planned with Lujo records?
SD: Lujo and Summer Darling had two different ideas on how to handle our music. It's a case where everyone's hearts were in the right place but we couldn't seem to work together in a way that made us all happy.
PLUGGED: Last year you had two songs "Medication" and "Southern Drawl" posted. Where do they fit in, if at all, in the next releases?
SD: "Southern Drawl" is an old song from our first EP. It's out of print so we tossed it up on myspace for a while. "Medication" is a cover of a Damien Jurado song. Neither will likely show up anywhere else.
PLUGGED: Who's in the SD recording lineup and live show lineup?
SD: Me, Heather, Dan, and Loop. We all sort of play everything and anything that needs to be played.
PLUGGED: Name one place you'd like to play where you haven't yet.
SD: Europe. Canada. Japan. Basically, I need some stamps on my passport. Buffalo.
PLUGGED: What albums have you been listening to lately?
SD: Menomena, Midlake, new Radiohead, new PJ Harvey, Via Audio, Band of Horses.
PLUGGED: You have another band called Death House Chaplain that is releasing an album soon. What's your role in that band, and what should we expect?
SD: I play drums in Death House. The songwriting is done by Matthew Holl. He's one of my favorite songwriters and guitar players. Ever. Expect very interesting rock songs with hooks.
PLUGGED: List five of your favorite films of all time.
SD: Heather is gonna field this one, too: Royal Tennenbaums, Reality Bites, Big Lebowski, 16 Candles, The Goonies.I like Wonder Boys, Beautiful Girls, Big Lebowski. Recently I really enjoyed No Country For Old Men and Children of Men. Films about people.
PLUGGED: Ben, thanks for doing this and best wishes for the band in 2008!
Read PLUGGED's review of Health of Others EP.