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Switched On

Thankfully, [DARYL]'s new album, The Technology, wasn't derailed by the Unabomber. [DARYL] is, from left, Dylan Silvers, Jeff Parker and Mike Lamm. Not pictured: Dave Wilson and Chad Ferman.
Dave Wilson

Practice isn't supposed to begin for a few more minutes, so [DARYL] bassist Jeff Parker sits on one of the two couches outside of the room the band rents at Universal Rehearsal, smoking a Winston and ashing into an empty Dr Pepper can he found in the hallway. Leaning into the back of the well-worn couch, he looks at the CD resting in his lap and smiles.

Singer-guitarist Dylan Silvers and keyboard player Chad Ferman are inside setting up their gear, and with all of the amplifiers and keyboards and microphones and guitars and the drum set, the room looks too small for two people, let alone five or six. The rest of the band--guitarist-keyboard player Dave Wilson and drummer Mike Lamm, who pretty much everyone calls Spammie--isn't here yet, and neither is violinist Nicole Siu, who'll be sitting in with the group at a gig later in the week. In another rehearsal room, the closest one to the couch where Parker sits, another group is already in the middle of its own practice. It doesn't sound as though it's helping all that much, but who knows. It's hard to ignore, but Parker isn't really paying attention to that or anything else that's going on right now. He's looking at the CD.

"This is, like, the greatest day of my life," Parker says, still smiling, turning over the shrink-wrapped CD in his hand. It's a copy of The Technology, [DARYL]'s first full-length, which arrived in the mail only a few hours ago, and just two days before the CD release party the group had scheduled at Club Clearview. "My last day of college, and the CDs are here," he explains, tearing open the disc. At the moment, it's clear he's more excited about the arrival of the new album than being freed from six-hour film classes at the University of North Texas.

Parker and the other members of [DARYL] have more than enough reason to be relieved at the sight of a few boxes filled with copies of The Technology, courtesy of Washington, D.C-based Beatville Records. (The label's connection to [DARYL] goes back a bit: Lamm's old band, The Graduates, was signed to Beatville, and Ferman's other group, Kid Chaos, released an album on the label last year.) The band's last release, a 7-inch single ("Axonometric" b/w "Reconstruction") issued by Quality Park Records, was supposed to come out late last year but didn't show up in stores until April. And the last time [DARYL] scheduled a CD release party at Club Clearview--for last year's Communication: Duration EP--the boxes that showed up in the mail from Urinine Records, the label that released the disc, didn't contain exactly what the group thought they would.

"They sent us a spindle of 50 CDs and laser copies of the covers," Ferman says later, after the rest of the band turns up and everyone moves to the post office next door, the nearest place for some peace, quiet and protection from the wet-blanket humidity. "We had to cut them out at Kinko's."

"I was so pissed off," Silvers says, picking up where Ferman left off. "I had to get jewel cases. And that was the fucked-up thing: They didn't tell me." To make the thrown-together copies of the EP worth something to fans who wanted one that night, and to make good on the CD-release promise, the band numbered each disc, turning Urinine's gaffe into a special limited-edition version of Communication: Duration. Still, after cutting posters and hunting down jewel cases for two days, Silvers says, "It wasn't really what I imagined for a CD release party." No kidding.

This time, things are different, and even if they weren't, The Technology is worth waiting for. The album borrows guitars from The Police and recipes from The Moog Cookbook, yet the band comes up with something completely its own, music that uses old sounds as a jumping-off point, never a base of operations. The songs on The Technology don't take the easy way out, but they don't make it too hard for you to follow them to where they're going. More than anything else on the disc, you can hear how much the five members of the group love playing these songs, love playing them together. Even though [DARYL] has already released an EP and a two-song single, this is what they were really working for.

That's why Parker was so excited to be holding a copy of their new album with plenty of time to spare. Well, one of the reasons. After all, the band had already seen one release date for The Technology come and go with nothing to show for it, made another set of plans that were too late to change. Three releases in, [DARYL] almost expects delays, practically counts on them.

 

"We were supposed to have it two days before we left on the last tour," Lamm says, referring to the group's East Coast trip with Red Animal War almost two months ago. It was a two-week swing littered with female condoms, though, it should be pointed out, not for the reasons you might be thinking; they were the band's props for the almost constant practical jokes it played on Red Animal War.

Wilson adds, "That was the whole point of the tour."

"So it was a 7-inch tour, pretty much," Lamm continues. "We'll have it right on time in about three more records."

Though they still need to work on their timing, the members of [DARYL] have already gotten the recording part down. Thanks to some guidance from the pAper chAse's John Congleton, The Technology is an album, a start-to-finish statement, rather than just a collection of nine songs. The music never stops on the disc, every gap filled with the splinters of a composition that Silvers wrote and he, Congleton, Siu, keyboard player Vanessa Van Gilder and producer Matt Barnhart (who recorded the between-song songs at The Echo Lab in Argyle) brought to life. With the inclusion of the strings-and-things interludes, The Technology is so packed with music that the track listing isn't quite accurate and the album even has a second title, though only God and fans from Japan know what it is, since it's written in Japanese on the cover. "They're gonna see it come up as 17 tracks and look on the back of the album and only see nine songs," Lamm says of the invisible interludes that prop up the disc.

"The whole record is, like, one big entity," Silvers explains. "Like, reoccurring themes in lyrics, and all the meanings and stuff. A lot of the songs mean the same thing. But the composition--that's why there's kinda two titles on the record. The composition is a whole piece, kind of like a sloppy, punk-rock version of whatever, a classical composition. We recorded that with Matt Barnhart separately from the record. If we would have had more time and money, we would have had more strings and stuff on it. I would have simpler stuff where it was just piano, but there would have been some parts where it was more orchestrated stuff, but we just couldn't get together enough people and time and money. But I'm 100 percent happy with it. I think John was a really big help on it, because the way I had it sequenced, there were songs that fit and went in and out of each other. But the placement of the first couple of songs, and the last couple, were a big deal. He really spent a lot of time listening to it."

"The songs we had picked out to go first were obvious first songs," Wilson says. "Maybe too obvious."

Now that The Technology, recorded in November and December of last year by Steve Curry at Modern Vintage Studios, is out, [DARYL] is ready to get started on the next one. First, they have to get back out on the road, get back in the van, something they're all looking forward to. Just thinking about it starts a tag-team discussion of the recent tour with Red Animal War, with each story hijacked by everyone else as soon as one of the members begins to tell it.

They talk about "the gunner seat," the area at the back of the too-crowded van--thanks to a brand-new transmission, they weren't allowed to pull a trailer--where someone could sit or sleep, as long as he was prepared to catch a snare drum on his head. ("If you were bad, you got stuck in the 'gunner seat,'" Silvers says, and Ferman adds, "That's why I started driving.") Then there was scary man-mountain in Cleveland who wanted to know if the band was "tour gay" yet. ("I was like, 'What's that?' Ferman recalls. "And he says, 'You know, you're on the road for a while, everybody in your band starts looking kinda cute.'") There was the night when Silvers, thanks to a plethora of drink tickets and a new friendship with a local homeless man, began harassing passers-by for not giving the man some spare change. ("What really killed it for Dylan was the glass o' Jack at the end," Lamm says, laughing.)

Every story spawns a new one, from someone pulling a gun on Lamm in Valdosta, Georgia, to a visit with Ferman's extended family in New Jersey, where the group had the treat of hearing Ferman's grandmother say, "Jack me off!" (One of Ferman's catchphrases, apparently.) And yes, there were the 300 female condoms [DARYL] brought with it on tour, many of which ended up donating their spermicide to the lock on Red Animal War's trailer every night.

 

"I don't think they thought our jokes were as funny as we thought they were," Silvers admits.

"I've got to give [Red Animal War guitarist] Matt [Pittman] credit though, because he comes up to me and says, 'Hey, I learned how to unlock our lock without having to touch it,'" Parker adds, and everyone laughs.

The band is planning to add more stories to its running tour diary soon, with some regional shows planned in July and August, and a tour with the pAper chAse later this year. Yet while [DARYL] might not be rushing back into the studio just yet--in the meantime, it plans to reissue Communication: Duration on a different label--at the very least, the group would like to start working more new songs into its set. It's something the band hasn't done much of recently since it already was playing a full album's worth of songs that people couldn't take home with them. But they know they're not done with the songs on The Technology just yet. Not for a while.

"That's the thing that kind of sucks about putting out records," Silver says. "I've had long talks with Murry [Hammond] of the [Old] 97's about this. They played their songs forever and ever, and they had to keep playing them; that's just the way it goes. You get the record [finished] and you already have so many new songs to work on and work with. I'll be glad when people get the record though, because that's why we haven't played a show in a while. I was tired of playing shows with these songs and not being able to sell the record."


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