Daughters’ music speaks for itself — even above the band members themselves at times. Their sprawling, experimental, and cinematic rock feels as though it’s taken on a life of its own via You Won’t Get What You Want, their 2018 Ipecac Recordings full-length. The music’s inherent tumult even rocks the musicians behind the work.
“It’s been interesting to see how listeners react to what they perceive the mood to be,” guitarist Nick Sadler says. “I’ve seen a lot of folks describe it as terrifying and scary — and the word horror has come up quite a bit. I understand that completely, but those aren’t the things that I hear when I hear the new record. Those phrases are even flattering in that regard — I know what I think sounds scary in music, and our stuff doesn’t, but I do appreciate a lot of scary sounding music. For a listener to describe it in that regard means there’s some element that was not on my radar that’s in there — or I’ve become so immune to the scary aspects of what this music is that I don’t even realize it.”
The Sounds Of You Won’t Get What You Want
The band’s newest record represents not so much a shift in purpose for Daughters as the musicians behind the work zeroing in more closely on what they’ve been working towards in the first place. You Won’t Get What You Want is the band’s fourth full length release, emerging some fifteen years after 2003’s Canada Songs but carrying on with the biting edge they’ve made themselves known for. Through it all, there’s a strangeness at hand in life that isn’t exactly going to vanish anytime soon.
The roots of the band’s newest outing go way back. Although the record flails and contorts magnificently, it’s not just a runaway hot air balloon. It’s tied down to the surface level — and even, you might say, to us as listeners directly.
The members of Daughters are included in that group as much as those who just listen to the band. Sadler has taken in an impressive array of experimental electronic music over the years, driving him to push his own work that much further.
“It just sort of took hold,” he explains of his relationship with ambitious experimental music. “Suddenly I found myself gravitating towards that kind of thing. At one point I was absolutely positive that Tangerine Dream was my favorite band of all time, and that nothing else mattered, and then eventually I found Catherine Christer Hennix and The Electric Harpsichord, which is probably my favorite piece of music of all time.”
Sadler got to be a part of a massive presentation of a similar piece, performing as one of 200 guitarists in Rhys Chatham’s “A Crimson Grail for 200 Guitarists” at Lincoln Center in Manhattan about a decade ago — an experience he calls an “epiphany” covering just what experimentation and specifically minimalism can accomplish. In the time since, he’s worked on film scoring and wants to expand his horizon that direction. He continues to be inspired by similar artists like Alan Vega in the process.
Daughters listeners will no doubt see the connection here. On the band’s newest release, their sonic experimentation feels dialed up yet another notch, including on the album’s opener “City Song.” The track features nearly six minutes of what sounds like an electronic madhouse, driven by a droning undercurrent.
This structure of the music lends towards what Sadler imagines as its impact.
“For me, I was trying to focus on having longer melodies, and I’ve been wanting to do Daughters music that has an undercurrent that was somber or still or even sad – trying to bring that in a little bit,” he explains. “I think probably the biggest achievement we have on the record from my perspective is ‘Satan in the Wait.’ I think it has a lot of restraint that I’d been hoping we would get to. It has more volume dynamics; it’s more minimal than anything we’ve done — and it has a really strong sense of melody in the chorus obviously. I think the song slowly develops and unfolds in a way that I like. That’s the best song for me on the record, and I think it describes the mood and tone that I was hoping to get out of the album the best.”
The Record’s Emergence
That mood remains deeply set and intertwined with all of the album’s music.
“I would just say that it’s more cinematic than anything else,” Sadler says of his band’s newest work. “The goals in my mind were to create mood and tone above anything else, and to try and elicit more of an emotional response, more feeling outside of just basic aggressive rock or metal or art rock influenced stuff.”
The sprawling, sometimes contemplative and sometimes mind boggling, raw sound does the writing process itself some justice.
In fact, the music’s so natural that it at least partly came together in GarageBand.
“I don’t mind sharing this — the whole thing was created in GarageBand to the degree we actually exported a couple bits and pieces straight from GarageBand into ProTools, and you’re listening to some GarageBand shit on this record,” Sadler says. “I won’t explain what or how, but that’s what we have. It’s about making more with less.”
The record spent some six years coming together, and the guitarist explains that throughout that period, his take on music grew. “I like minimalism,” he says. “So when those things emerged in the music, for me, it was about recognizing that and letting go, to a degree, of what is Daughters and letting those natural inclinations take priority.”
That might serve as a great summation for the record itself, really — a combination of natural inclinations. Listeners can find anything from horror to a somber tone in those dynamics, and it’s left the album pulling in more and more listeners as time goes on. The band embarked on a largely sold out tour in late 2018, with fans bulking up some of the new material’s live presence. “‘Satan in the Wait’ has been working out very well live. People seem quite enthusiastic about that one and it has gotten a really strong real time verbal response,” Sadler says. “People are singing the words. Honestly it’s been kind of a mind blowing, humbling thing to watch people respond so positively to Satan in a live setting.”
They’ve got no plans to stop, the guitarist explains, with the music’s momentum continuing to pile up. “The two lives that you have to lead as a band are like fighting against each other, and we’re just trying to figure out a way to enjoy ourselves,” Sadler says, laughing.
Photo via Reid Haithcock
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