Getting Louder

Christy Darlington wishes he'd never gotten so many tattoos. Well, not really, but he knows they give people the wrong idea, especially women. The girls those tats attract think they're getting a typical punk-rock boyfriend, he says, someone who can keep up with them, raise at least a little hell. Instead, they get the guy who one ex-girlfriend called "the most boring guy to go to a show with," after he sat impassively, arms folded over his chest, at a Green Day concert at the Bronco Bowl.

Darlington says this last part with a smile, because it's, well, true. He's almost 30, and he'd rather spend his time flipping through channels on digital cable or through the pages of fashion magazines.

Which is why most of the songs he writes for his band, Darlington, tend to be about those subjects. He tells skier Picabo Street that "when you broke your leg it broke my heart/I watched it all on SportsCenter." He explains to "Karen Elson" that he "can't read a word of French or Italian Vogue/But the pictures still look far out cool." So, despite the title of Darlington's latest album, Louder Than Morrissey, don't expect much in the way of soul searching on the disc, which is just getting its domestic release on End Records, though it's been out overseas for several months. "There's enough bands that do that," singer-guitarist Christy Darlington says, and he's probably right.

Instead, Louder Than Morrissey is packed with shout-outs to supermodels ("Gisele & Me," among others), pop-culture references ("Gretchen's Gotta Dance," among many others) and inside jokes that, Christy and drummer Steve Visneau both admit, "no one will get" (pretty much every song on the record). With lyrics such as, "I got a problem with incontinence/But I can love you like a reptile all night long" (from "Melanie"), and song titles like "Boobs, Boobs, Boobs," Louder Than Morrissey won't be confused with Kid A anytime soon. But, like Christy says, enough bands go that route. He'd rather just have fun.

Louder Than Morrissey certainly accomplishes that, a joyride through the group's recent past. On paper--with a track list that includes a cover of Olivia Newton-John's "Xanadu," a snippet of one of the group's appearances on KDGE-FM's The Adventure Club and a few new songs, as well as tracks from rare and out-of-print releases--Louder Than Morrissey should be more of a grab bag. Especially since the disc features three different bass players (Angelique Congleton, Todd Pertell and Ron "Ripper" Malippa, who played with Christy and Steve when they were calling themselves Mess) and Brian Midway on guitar, none of whom are currently in the band. ([DARYL] front man Dylan Silvers and bassist Omar Yeefoon were playing with Darlington last time we saw them.) But it all holds together well since, for the most part, every song skips past the Ramones and goes straight to Joey and Johnny and Dee Dee's source material, the Beach Boys. A louder version, but still.

And it doesn't really matter who's playing with Christy and Steve for that to happen. Darlington says he used to worry about finding a stable lineup for the band, but as he's grown older, he's realized it's not important who's in the band, as long as someone is. People have other bands, jobs and families, things that might not let them go on the road for a few weeks, reasons they can't come to the studio when they're recording. But there's always someone else for the gig: "It's so incestuous," he says, referring to the local music scene.

At the moment, Darlington's ready to take the latest incarnation of the group out on the road; since its last American tour, the band has been to Europe twice. But he's not getting close to closing up shop on Darlington, no matter who comes and goes, no matter who puts out their records or doesn't. No matter what. He talks of he and Steve playing music together when they're 50, old and fat and balding.

He'll probably really regret the tattoos then.

An addendum to last week's column: No, we don't really have any "idea what it takes to sell one fucking CD in this industry on a national level," as one person put it. Never said we did. And while that's true, to take the analogy we used last week one step further, we might not be able to fix a car, but we know when it could use a tune-up. We also never said the local musicians and labels weren't doing great things; it's God's work, as far as we're concerned. We just want more people to hear them.

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Zac Crain
Contact: Zac Crain