On Tuesday, September 4, less than a day after local musician Carter Albrecht was killed by a gunshot wound, another young local musician died. Darin Matthew Archer died of a self-inflicted wound. Archer was raised in DeSoto, lived in Dallas and was the drummer for local band the Sheena Militia. He also was a film buff and was working on several projects in that vein when he died. He was 33 years old. John Freeman, a friend of Archer's and a freelancer for the Dallas Observer, remembers him. —Jonanna Widner
On a lonely Labor Day night, a talented young man at the end of his rope took his own life with a .22 revolver. And although Darin Archer had been through more bad times in his short stay on Earth than most could cram into three lifetimes, his actions remain unclear, and his friends and loved ones mix grief with shock and confusion.
There were good times too. Darin toured the country with a crazy gaggle of garage bands, including The Cheater Slicks, Fireworks and '68 Comeback. He performed at the grand re-opening of the Bronco Bowl in 1996 alongside such Dallas musical luminaries as Tripping Daisy, Comet, Funland and The Dooms UK. And at the time of his death, Darin was a drummer and songwriter for the dark garage-pop duo the Sheena Militia.
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Darin and I had been friends since the early '90s and shared the same loves and vices. The mid-'90s were, for us, filled with rock 'n' roll and the lifestyle that often accompanies it. We shared a passion for music, an addiction to drugs and a desire to live life to the extreme. As a musician, Darin was uniquely skilled and toured with several local bands as a guitar tech and fill-in drummer, always leaving his mark wherever he went. At times, he made as many enemies as friends—he didn't always make a great first impression. But every person who came in contact with Darin felt the goodness of his heart underneath that grubby exterior and knowing smile.
In the early days of our musical careers, drugs were seen as almost an expected accessory. All our heroes were junkies: Sid Vicious, Johnny Thunders, G.G. Allin, Elliott Smith and so on. Darin and I were not immune to it. But Darin's demons far exceeded anything that could be classified as "junkie chic." There was so much more going on—clearly more than I, or anyone else realized, as his actions that Monday night have now revealed.
I don't know what finally pushed Darin to the point where he felt he could no longer live. He had started taking steps toward making a go of it. His personal life had improved; he was working and had moved into a new apartment. He was getting medical help for his narcolepsy, amongst other things, and seemed to be taking advantage of (another) fresh start. Creatively, he was inspired, working on multiple projects for Troma. Just as the revered indie film institute had begun producing his script Die, Cheerleader, Die! he wrapped up a second one—a hilariously terrifying horror-movie called The Dick Eaters.
The real tragedy is that, whatever the reason, more people didn't know the real Darin Archer. I guess a bad first impression can take a lifetime to live down. But the Darin I knew was full of untapped potential. He was as bursting with ideas and unrealized projects as his shelves were with Italian horror flicks. And now Darin Archer will never get to make his perfect film or record his perfect song or perform the perfect show. What's worse is the world will never get to watch it or hear it or see it. And it would have been some of the best they'd ever seen. —John Freeman