The Underground Sounds of America: Daughters
Welcome to the latest installment of U.S.A.: The Underground Sounds of America, our series that shines a spotlight on the most underrated rock, metal, punk, and hardcore bands in the United States. Each week, we ask one band member to answer five unique questions so you can get to know them better. Because if you aren’t already a fan of the artist featured below…you should be.
If you’re looking to jam on some classic rock tunes like dad used to listen to, then Daughters are here to ruin your night. The Providence, Rhode Island-based quintet have always experimented with harsh and unorthodox musical styles ranging from grindcore to math rock, and on their upcoming new album, You Won’t Get What You Want, they take a turn towards grating industrial with shadowy goth overtones — all tied together by the gleefully menacing lyrics of frontman Alexis S. F. Marshall.
The band’s new sound is what one might expect from an album with such a confrontational title — which is, of course, exactly what Daughters were going for.
“The title is almost a disclaimer,” Alexis says. “Listeners should leave their expectations at the door and simply experience this record. Genres and labels and so on tend to be an affliction — creating an expectation. One could love this record while despising our earlier work, or vice versa. We entered the creative process without expectations; the listener should do the same when pressing ‘play’.”
You Won’t Get What You Want is the culmination of a five-year journey for Daughters. After breaking up in 2010 shortly before releasing their self-titled album, the band reformed in 2013 when Andy Low, founder of Robotic Empire (their first label) tricked Alexis and guitarist Nicholas Sadler into having dinner together. The band began dropping hints that they were recording in 2014, only to shelve those recordings and start over to introduce new influences into the band. The final result is an album that’s seductive in its abrasiveness and venom, taking a slowed-down and hard-edged approach to the band’s style that in no way loses the experimentation and electricity for which they’re known.
For Alexis, the immediate differences on You Won’t Get What You Want hint at a much more interesting sonic evolution beneath the surface. “There are obvious changes: an industrial influence and an exploration of sparse or ambient soundscapes,” says the singer. “The more important influences and more on the creative end and in that of our personal relationships with sound. The structure is much more capable on this record; there’s a confidence here that I feel is missing from our earlier offers.”
Masochists that we are, we asked Alexis to tell us how Daughters make disappointment sound this good.
1) If you had to play one Daughters song to introduce a new listener to your music, what song would it be?
I’ve no idea how to answer that question. I could play a favorite song, but that says more about my personal preference than gives an overview of Daughters. The band has undergone such a dramatic progression through the years, I can’t imagine there is a single song that could lend any ounce of a clue to the new listener.
2) Who are your five greatest musical influences?
Such a deceivingly simple question. I’m inspired by energy more than talent. Alice Cooper is a great performer. I love the way David Yow, Will Shatter and Nick Cave take off-timed, seemingly erratic approaches to singing while ignoring the boundaries or parameters the typical verse and chorus structure forces. I’ve found myself enamored of the poet Robert Creeley; recordings of his readings are wonderfully awkward and intentionally disjointed, almost. I make no attempt to emulate, but Beth Gibbons has always fascinated me, both vocally and on a perhaps mystical level. She seems so much more than a singer — more than human. I’ve loved Peter Gabriel since I was a kid. He seems to have little to no concern for what is expected of him. I’d say the same for Scott Walker, as well. Gabriel and Walker are easily two of the greatest. Is that more than five?
3) Who would be on Daughters’ dream tour?
Killing Joke and Nine Inch Nails. I could easily put a more eclectic lineup together, but I’m not a huge fan of eclectic lineups. I’m not sure I’d be emotionally or mentally prepared for the Stooges after a Marianne Faithfull set.
4) How do you feel that being from Providence has shaped or informed Daughters’ sound?
Providence was a major influence in pushing us. It is an incredible environment to create art in and the inherent strangeness provided us a comfort zone in terms of the ability to explore music in a non-traditional way. As young punks, we found the scene in Providence and realized there was possibility to grow and still belong. I don’t see that in many other cities or scenes. Perhaps I’m biased?
5) The songs on the new album has a real mixture of beauty and hostility. Do you purposefully try to walk that line, or does it come naturally?
The effort to evoke a particular response falls somewhere between foolish and futile. Our intention is to challenge ourselves and continue to be as creative as possible. Our work is over, at this point. From here, it’s up to the listener to decide if they would like to continue this journey with us, or go elsewhere.
Daughters’ new album, You Won’t Get What You Want, comes out Friday, October 26th, on Ipecac. You can pre-order it here.
WORDS: Chris Krovatin
PHOTO: Reed Haithcock
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