Based in Richmond, Va., one of the cities rising stars in the indie pop genre is the four men of MY DARLING FURY. With a flair for the cinematic and illustrative side of their lyrics, the band, which has only been playing together for two years, combines the confidence and musicianship of seasoned veterans of the scene. However, the members, which includes Danny Reyes(vocals/keys), Clark Fraley (guitars/synth), Todd Matthews (upright and electric bass), and Joel Hollister (drums/percussion) are no strangers to the stage. Since releasing their debut album Licking Wounds, the band has been diligently touring through good times and bad, but they have become stronger as band through it all. Currently, they are in the process of writing for their sophomore album, which we discussed with Reyes and Matthews, as well as their video for “Over, Under”, their transition from a five-piece to a four-piece, and their upcoming collaboration in a local video blog.

I read online that most of you guys are classically trained in music. Where did you study?

Danny: I went to Florida International University, and I started singing there. Todd studied at JMU in the Performance and Music Industry program, which is pretty much a recording studio concentration, and University of Southern California for grad school out in Los Angeles. I know Clark studied a little bit of jazz performance at VCU, and Joel, our drummer, learned mostly through playing in bands. He was pretty much just self-taught.

What are some examples of the “extensive uses of imagery” you incorporate into your songwriting?

Danny: I think that is meant textually, mostly in the lyrics, but we do try to bring that out in the way the music is arranged. But just in general, you can find it a lot in the lyrics. For example, in one of our songs, “The End of the World” is kind of cinematic. I’ve described it before as a love song set in an AMC post-apocalyptic series. I put two lovers in a post-apocalyptic world, and it’s about imagining how they would still be in love in that setting. There is a scene where the two lovers are on a carousel, and they are watching the asteroids hit the earth. That’s just one example of how we use evocative imagery, but also, in general, if we use a metaphor, it’s normally one that is unusual and gives you a fresh perspective.

Earlier this year, you guys released your music video for your song “Over, Under”, which showcases some of your unique, atmospheric elements of your performance, and I understand that it was written as a reward for a backer of you Kickstarter campaign to fund your debut album, Licking Wounds. Can you tell me more about the meaning behind the song and how it relates to the concept of the video?

Todd: On the Kickstarter, for the reward, we said we would write whatever that backer wanted. I emailed him and said, “We’re working on the songs now. Thank you so much for being a backer and supporting us. What would you like your song to be about?” And his email reply was just one word: “flight (any meaning).” Which we thought afterwards was kind of nice because we had many options and directions we could go with that. We shot the video on the third floor of where we rehearse, which used to be an old elementary school that this lady has bought and turned all the classrooms into rooms you can rent for artists, sculptors, painters, and some bands in the basement. But on the top floor they have a really nice auditorium with huge, high ceilings. So we asked her if we could record the video up there.

Danny: That was actually the first song that we had written as a four-piece. We used to be a five-piece.

Todd: The sound of the band was going in a different direction as we were writing that piece, and part of the purpose of recording that live was more to show what you would expect to see of MY DARLING FURY live at that point and going forward versus all of Licking Wounds.

Danny: We only had two hours [to shoot the video] so we had some friends come out to tape it with various digital cameras, and we tried to do as many takes as we could to pick out the best ones of the bunch.

Since you guys released the video, have you been working on any other new songs for your next album?

Danny: We have been working on a lot of songs, and they definitely don’t sound like “Over, Under”, but in comparison to Licking Wounds, it’s more in that vein. A lot of it is more sparse instrumentation-wise, and it is also more beat-driven. We already have six or seven songs we are [considering] for our next album, and we should be getting started on that in a few months.

In addition to writing new music, you guys have been touring extensively. Can you tell me about one of your best experiences from tour?

Todd: From the Licking Wounds era, we did a short tour with KISHI BASHI, and there was a show in Charlottesville at The Southern that we played. The stars were aligned that night. Our soundman was incredible, and it was a sold out show. The crowd was really supportive, which isn’t always the case for the opening bands. Everything was hitting perfect. All of us were feeling really good about our performances, and we had a few nights of playing shows to get into the swing of things. Lately, would you say Iota?

Danny: Iota was great, and New York was good too. I feel like so much of it is more than just the size of the crowd. That’s always good too, but if the people are feeling it and feeling comfortable, and there is a good stage volume and a good stage sound, it’s so much more relaxing. You can just focus on performing and not having to worry about struggling to hear yourself. More than anything, the most important thing is to have people be really receptive and come after the show and talk to you.

Todd: We definitely realized how much of an impact the crowd has on us and how reciprocal it is. It doesn’t have to be a packed house, but if the crowd that’s there is really getting into it and really enjoying it, then you perform so much better.

Danny: That being said, we recently played our first house show in Richmond as a band. That was a couple weeks ago at this place that they are calling The Granby House, and that was the first show that they had done. That was a lot of fun for us. It’s hard to get really good sound in the basement of a house when there’s like 30 people crammed into a room that’s gotta be 10×10 (Todd laughs), but the vibes are so great. We hope to be doing more of that.

Can you tell me about one of your worst tour experiences?

Danny: This is one that we have been talking about recently (laughs). We were lucky enough to play this festival called North By Northeast in Toronto with some really big acts, not huge but good acts. So we were super excited about this, but we were broke as a joke (laughs). So we were like, “How do we get over there?” Our drummer’s parents said that we could have their minivan, but they said that they wouldn’t recommend driving it too far. So we decided that we would try to pull whatever money we had [together], and we spent about $1,000 trying to fix it up. So we took it to a mechanic, and got it fixed as much as we could. It still didn’t have any A/C, and this was in June (both laugh). So we are driving up with no A/C, and we get around Woodbridge (Todd says, “about an hour and a half into the 13 hour trip.”) when it starts spraying transmission fluid toward the back and smoking. We were like, “Oh geez, what the hell is going on?” We didn’t know what to do, so we pulled over to look at it and see what the hell we were gonna do about it, and we were considering just driving slowly and trying to get back [to Richmond]. Our friend Andy Vaughn, who is a local country musician that writes old, traditional country songs, said we could borrow his van, but we had to get back to Richmond somehow. As we were driving back, we were behind a garbage truck, and it’s hot so the windows were down (laughs). Joel, our drummer, was driving and trying to get around the garbage truck, so he kind of speeds up a little bit, and that’s when it just went kaput. Long story short, we must have gotten up at four o’clock in the morning that day, and we didn’t leave Richmond again until five o’clock that night. Then we drove 13 hours to get to Toronto. That was probably the worst, but it was also kind of fun.

Todd: It was a good bonding moment. The show ended up being great. We got a good slot. We played at either 11:30 or midnight, so there was a good crowd since it was at a time when the bar was packed. And it helped make up for the extremely shitty experience leading up to that.


Can you tell me why you guys chose to release the stems of your song “The End of the World” under the Creative Commons license so people can remix it?

Todd: I was just thinking that would be a way to keep people like me interested, like LOCAL NATIVES, who released their stems for their first and second album, and RADIOHEAD has done that for a song in the past. As a recording engineer, I love getting to get my hands on stems and have fun playing around with them, and I thought that as a newer band, that would just be something else to provide. In this day and age, so many people have access to recording software on their computer, or even their phones, iPads, or whatever. I just thought it would be something fun for people to still be involved or learning about MY DARLING FURY. We had a remix contest too, so that kind of helped. It was really awesome too. We were surprised. We just thought a few people might try it, but we were able to get a decent amount of entries for it. It was really cool to hear these other interpretations of the music that we have worked on for so long.

I saw on your Instagram page that you guys recently did a video shoot. I was wondering if you can tell me what you have planned for that?

Danny: One of my friends, Matt Luger, and another friend, Tebow, are teaming up. Matt is taking care of the sound stuff, and Tebow is doing the video part. They are trying to start this Richmond video series with bands that are either in town or local, and I think after they have compiled a good amount of footage, they are going to do a Kickstarter or some kind of crowdfunding thing. The idea is to essentially do a short 20 to 30 minute set in his living room as if you were playing live somewhere else

Todd: AXP really inspired them. It’s kinda like the radio format where they tape you doing a live set and get an up close and personal take on it.

Danny: His main thing is trying to get bands that are in Richmond and that are also coming through Richmond.

Todd: We just did the very first one, and he wants to get four or five bands done before they try to start the funding. It’s brand spanking new.

For more updates on MY DARLING FURY, be sure to visit their website, “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and listen to their music on Bandcamp.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Falls Church, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with friends.

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