Narrow Head and the different shades of darkness behind Moments Of Clarity

It can take something life-altering to make you realise what’s truly important, and for Narrow Head’s Jacob Duarte, that clarity came through processing the loss of loved ones. Here the frontman explores how his new perspective on existence is changing him for the better…

Narrow Head and the different shades of darkness behind Moments Of Clarity
Mischa Pearlman

There’s a well-known quote in history that goes something like this: “You have two lives. The second begins when you realise you only have one.” It’s largely been attributed to the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, but who knows if he actually did say it. Regardless, it’s made its way through the centuries and embedded itself in Western culture – Ricky Gervais has tweeted it, and it probably adorns a whole lot of twee posters that officious middle managers, like the kind the comedian played in The Office, love to display for motivation.

Jacob Duarte doesn't have such a poster, yet the sentiment permeated both the gestation period and the writing process of Narrow Head’s latest record, Moments Of Clarity. During that time, the frontman lost some friends, and their deaths weighed heavily on his mind and heart. Writing this album was a natural way for him to process that loss and grieve for them, but it also had a profound effect on his attitude toward his own life. It made him realise that he does indeed just have the one.

“It’s just given me a different outlook on things,” he admits, talking via Zoom on his phone from the band’s van. It’s a day off, midway through their first U.S. run supporting the record, and he’s chatting from somewhere between the band’s hometown of Dallas, Texas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they’ll play the following night. When he speaks, he does so slowly and deliberately, presumably as a way to keep his stutter – which is something he addresses directly in the song Stuttering Stanley on the band’s 2020 record, 12th House Rock – at bay as much as possible.

“I’m a bit more positive now,” he continues. “There’s a lot of things in my life that I haven’t done that I want to do, so I would like to be around still, you know? So it kind of straightened out my outlook.”

That doesn’t mean Moments Of Clarity isn’t imbued with the same dark spirits that possessed 12th House Rock, the album Jacob considers the band’s proper debut, or even Satisfaction, the one the band self-released in 2016. The blackness, however, isn’t quite the same shade. Rather, it’s interspersed lyrically and musically, with bursts – or at least slivers – of light and optimism that are emblematic of the album’s title. Interestingly, that was something that just seemed to manifest during the creative process which just made sense. It captured Jacob’s mood and mindset perfectly, and fed itself into the collective identity of the band – on this album completed by Kora Puckett (guitars/synths), Will Menjivar (guitars), Ryan Chavez (bass) and Carson Wilcox (drums).

“Moments Of Clarity was a phrase I kept seeing,” he says, “and a feeling that I was feeling, too. Sometimes I’d just get hit with a moment or a wave of something. There’s always some darkness in there, but I feel better as a human being now than I did a couple of years back, and this is definitely a more optimistic record.”

That new approach is something that extends both to Jacob’s day-to-day existence and his attitude towards the band. (“This is the first tour where every time we get gas we put it down in a spreadsheet,” he says with a wry smile. “We need to keep track of shit, so we’re trying hard to fucking focus.”) He doesn’t abstain from substances completely, but he feels he’s more in control of things – the band, its finances, his life, his intake – than he ever has been before.

“I do drugs and stuff as much as the next guy,” he admits candidly, “but there’s no addiction involved. It’s just sometimes, if I’m depressed, it’s possible for me to turn to those things. But it’s not because I’m like, ‘Oh, I need this.’ It’s just like when you’re sad, you also fucking eat fast food, too, which is just as bad (laughs).

“I’m in a different headspace now, and, like, my bank account isn’t in the negative anymore. When I was like 24, it was hard to keep $200 in my bank, you know? Now I’m more of an adult. I think about stuff a little harder now, I actually put thought into things. I’m still the same person, but I’m in a different place.”

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