The 2010s have seen a few successful reunions, but very few with the kind of impact Daughters had when the Providence art punks put out their first album in eight years last October after getting back together following a six-year hiatus.
That acclaimed effort, You Won’t Get What You Want, landed on several best of lists in 2018. In the year since, the quartet of vocalist Alexis S. F. Marshall, guitarist Nick Sadler, drummer Jon Syverson, and bassist Samuel Walker have toured relentlessly. The expedition has brought them through various festivals including ArcTanGent in the United Kingdom, Hellfest in France, and LEROCK Fest in Chile.
I personally find myself listening to You Won’t Get What You Want over and over again because each track has something new that I didn’t realize from the previous time due to so much going on. There’s also a noticeable industrial rock and post-punk vibe. When you, Lex, Jon and Samuel started working on these songs, was it mashing a ton of ideas together? Or was it a lot more fluid than that?
I actually wrote the instrumentals by myself at my house in Providence. We all live in different places and we each have different things we’re doing with our careers outside of the band, so it can be difficult for each of us to get into one place. For example, Jon lives in Austin and he’s a professional tour manager, so he has to plan his year out more or less a year in advance. With that, he has to make sure that he can come up to Rhode Island on his own dime to write—[that] couldn’t happen frequently enough, or it was very expensive and so on and so forth. A while back we all sort of quietly accepted that the ideal of being in the same room together and putting together ideas wasn’t going to happen easily; it sort of fell into my lap in the regard.
When you hear those different influences coming in, honestly a lot of it is from stuff around town in Providence. There are many moments on the record that are inspired by people who either play in the city or have come through on tour that I discovered. It comes from a lot of local stuff, believe it or not.
That’s awesome how Providence’s music scene had an effect on the album. How were you guys able to connect with Mike Patton and Greg Werckman at Ipecac Recordings to get the album released through the label?
Some years ago, when I was like 22 or 23, I did an interview with the BBC for our second record, Hell Songs, and they mentioned that Mike Patton was a fan. That was the first time I heard of anything like that, and years later, as Jon became a professional tour manager, he got picked up to become the tour manager for Dead Cross.
That’s Patton’s band with Dave Lombardo from Slayer. We [know] some of the bands on Ipecac’s roster and they sort of let everybody at the label know that we were touring again, writing new material, and stuff like that. They kept their eyes on us for when we had something to show them. It all came together when Jon was on tour with Dead Cross and he had a chat with Mike and played a few tracks for him. It’s pretty cool, Mike is like this famous guy who barely seems real and he would be commenting on our demos.
Also, my mother knows who Faith No More is, so that’s a plus. That’s some context for the path I’ve taken in life; I can let her know that Mike Patton put out our record and she knows who that is.
Outside of Daughters, you also play bass in the Providence post-punk trio Way Out. When it comes to playing guitar and bass, are there any techniques that you take from one instrument to the other? Or do you keep them both isolated when it comes to tone and distortion?
There are some small similarities, but I find that there’s a lot of differences. Most people probably in my position who play guitar probably think that they can just jump in to play bass, but you learn very quickly that it’s this entirely separate beast. Wrangling tones, choosing your moments within the music, and what the function of the bass really is in a group is evident and it’s entirely different than what you would do with a guitar. In Way Out, I haven’t actually gone out of my way to try to play it as much like a guitar as possible, just as a style choice. When it comes to tone in Way Out, there are a lot of plushy sounds while I’m using a pick and it’s almost entirely downstrokes.
It’s like a classic punk style, but they’re pretty different. Especially with respect to Daughters and Way Out, there are very different ways in playing guitar as bass between the two bands.
What would you say is the biggest difference between this incarnation of Daughters after the reunion versus Daughters before the breakup in 2009?
A bunch of years have gone by; we’re older folks. With that comes a maturity level interpersonally within the band and even in terms of what we listen to and what we hope to create as as group. When I said that I make all of the instrumentals, that’s true, but also everything I make is filtered into a Dropbox account. We all then listen to it collectively at home and we make comments on it while saying what we each like and don’t like. There’s definitely a group effort there and in a way it’s both very different than what we used to do and it’s a sign of how the maturity level has changed.
We also have six people on stage instead of four now, which is a big difference. My buddy Mark St. Sauveur was in Fang Island with me, and he’s played in a lot of bands in Providence; right now he drums in the metal band Violet. He’s our percussionist and sampler, and that’s a huge change. The list goes on, really.
What are your plans for next year?
We’ve toured pretty hard this year and we haven’t had as much time off as we would have thought. When 2020 rolls around, we’re looking forward to having a least a handful of months to ourselves at home. Ultimately what we’re trying to have happen is to write the next record. I began putting effort into that last January, but this will be the first time I have as an individual and us as a group have time put aside where we don’t have to go back to a day job and we can focus on trying to make something new. There’s that and for me personally I’m going to be working with a film scoring and music publishing company in Los Angeles in January, so I’ll be doing more commercial scoring work and stuff like that.
There’s still a lot of music to come and hopefully by the end of next year we have a new record out. If not then it’ll be out in early 2021 or something like that.
DAUGHTERS W/ HEALTH AND SHOW ME THE BODY AT PARADISE ROCK CLUB, SAT 12.21. TICKETS AT CROSSROADSPRESENTS.COM.