Stream: My Darling Fury, Licking Wounds

Sjimon Gompers

My Darling Fury bringing the pain and fury. (courtesy of the band)

Richmond, VA's My Darling Fury harbor a constructive rage against the face of modern qualms and conflicts. The machines of opposition are met with a minimal orchestral sensibility, a certain flurry of deeply expressed fury that acts upon an enduring and personal songwriting and arrangement strategy. Lead by Danny Reyes, percussion backed by Joel Hollister, bass control by Todd Matthews, with guitar and keyboard duties from Alex McCallum, and Clark Fraley; these five horsemen conquer the inward fears and master the processes of self-healing on this exclusive stream of their just released album, Licking Wounds.

From the get-go, Licking Wounds lifts off with a song for the marginalized, a song for those stuck in the margins, or simply swimming in the proverbial margarine, on “Blots on in the Margins”. A lullaby for the downtrodden, “Margins” bucks the downward trends and downward dog yoga addicts with an attitude that takes control of the pen that maps out life's autoCAD blueprints and designs. “We'll take the plan, and we'll write the whole thing again.” From making lemonade out of crates of lemons, “Spilled Milk” sucks it up as “Perfectly Mad” makes it's way through a seven minute course of life like a slug carrying luggage and singing all the while.

An album of many aspects, facets, different sides, and different surfaces; “Magic Creatures” gives a moment of choral and pastoral piano lead beauty. “The End of the World” is an apocalyptic crash course where cataclysmic scenarios bring the start of new chances, new lives, new opportunities, and new songs. Attached companionship of the corrosive kind are lamented and longed for on “Friendly Parasite”, where empathetic sentiments are stitched up like Stockholm syndrome, where “love is just a bug you learn to like, and that's alright”. Brutal non-conformity is depicted like calumnious invitation on “Schoolyard Warrior”, to the sordid matchmaking profile detailing of “Frail Thing”. Closing the album are some of the biggest battles against today's largest bank backed automatic tellers like the pains of poverty on “Overdrawn” to the sincere and center stage sweep of “In The Ring”. To borrow a quote from today's featured conversation with Danny Reyes, the lasting message MDF leaves you with are that the answers and questions thrive from within, during patches of duress. “Our most collaborative, our most sympathetic, our most creative, our best versions of ourselves [are] when times are tough.”

Danny Reyes gave us an intimate portrait and view into My Darling Fury's full-length labor of love, songs of struggle, songs of resistance, and songs born out of the conflicted keys of life.

The existential block knocker “Blots In The Margins” begins the album and it's song with thoughts of “plans, thought up by some big man”. Are going for a kind of, sound of humanity breaking out of ideas of being just a happy mistake of occurrence?

When we first started working on this song, the Occupy movement was gaining momentum. Although I was never involved in it, I drew inspiration from it. With the 'big plan', I had our modern social and economic orders in mind. It’s easy for the oppressed to accept their circumstances if they feel as though things are the way they ought to be, the way they’ve always been. The 'big man' is a shadowy figure, the anonymous father-knows-best who put the plan into action. He stands squarely between those who benefit from the plan and those who suffer because of it. The big man represents the ideologies that support the systems in place, he’s the premise. Accept the premise and the argument follows, irrespective of the outcome for the persuaded. Get a population to believe that a system benefits the hard-working and punishes the lazy. Tell them that there’s a class of contributors and a class of moochers and they’ll accept that the few haves are deserving and the have-nots simply haven’t done enough. Although a socio-economic struggle was the source of inspiration, the song deals with alienation in broad terms and represents all systems where a few are beneficiaries at the expense of many-it is a call to arms for anyone who has been marginalized by a big plan. I think this is why it connects with people. We all know what it’s like to get the short end of the stick and we want to be prodded to snap the stick in two.

Licking Wounds feels very concerned with moving through the motions of moods in different stages, like the responsive cues of “Spilled Milk”, “Perfectly Mad”, and then everything is flung into this orchestral realm of a kind of enchanted possibility like on “Magic Creatures”.

Yes, that’s right. That’s the reason we felt Licking Wounds was a fitting title, despite it being a snippet from just one song. A lot of the songs on the album deal with coping, healing, and dealing with adverse circumstances.

“The End Of The World” sounds like an ambitious new beginning. What's the story behind this epic number?

An ambitious new beginning…that sounds like a more interesting backstory than the one I have. You might be treading on some psychological territory I hadn’t charted yet. A few years ago, I was grocery shopping with a friend and we started imagining a post-apocalyptic scenario. His plan of action would be to hit a grocery store first and that got the sparks going. I thought that if you put a young couple in that world, it could be very romantic–in an AMC series kind of way. So for a while, I had a song in mind that would have the lyrics, 'the end of the world would only be the start of it all'. I thought of a couple having an 80’s montage at an abandoned grocery store and then at a shopping mall, trying on different hats, those two scenes didn’t make the cut, running from zombies, and ending up on a ferris wheel holding hands before they die. Well, I was never able to pull it all together. One day, Todd sent a couple of songs he had worked on in the past, and the riff for this song was one of the ones he sent. It didn’t hit me at first. I started to write about a modern Noah-type character. A crazy cat guy who starts to build a ship and everyone laughs at him. Well, we all know how that story goes. I got past the first line when I thought, this could be that 'end of the world' song. What really makes it epic is the way the theme was internalized by all the guys in the band. The way Joel’s drums tell the story, progressing from a groove, to a somber rumble, to all-out chaos. Clark’s hook in the chorus with that rising Wild West style guitar part. Alex’s haunting coda at the end sets the ferris-wheel scene to music. There’s peaceful resignation and a shudder of fear in it. The sudden silence at the end was Todd’s idea, he thought of a flash of white and created a sound for it. We were definitely on the same wavelength and it took all of the guys thinking very cinematically to pull this song off.

I feel like strings of self-therapy and reflective perspectives inform songs like “Friendly Parasite”, “Schoolyard Warrior”, and “Frail Thing”. What are your own particular and personal approaches to song of this kind of vulnerable songwriting?

Yes, you’re right on the money. For a lot of these songs, I’ll start off with a theme, a title, or a phrase. Then I reflect and write about it in a stream of consciousness exposition-something similar to a journal entry. This helps me to organize my thoughts and home in on a specific aspect of the subject matter. Along the way, metaphors and little tidbits of phrases come up. From there I might just wing it, or I might set up bullet points which are later expanded into stanzas.

What is the key to writing both a My Darling Fury sad song and a happy song? Closing couplet “Overdrawn” and “In The Ring” bring a present tense of bankruptcy, and the formidable opponents of keeping alive in the daily struggle. If there could be the My Darling Fury guide or mantra of zen, what would it be to help heal the wounds of yesterday and today?

The happy song is yet to be mastered. Hats off to guys like Stevie Wonder who can give you full-throttle joy and still come out sounding cool. I’m always tempted to temper the brightness with a shade of darkness. The darling comes with a fury, the friendly comes with a parasite. So, no guide to zen that I can think of, but perhaps a moral–an observation, and it could be found in 'Magic Creatures'. It’s that we are our most noble, our most collaborative, our most sympathetic, our most creative–our best versions of ourselves, when times are tough.

2014 plans for My Darling Fury?

We’ll continue to promote Licking Wounds. A music video for one of these songs is likely to happen soon.

We’ve got a lot of shows to play and we’re going to start to get to work on new material for our next album.

Grandiose music, Danny, appreciate your talents and time.

Thank you very much. We love doing this and this album is our first baby. We’re going to spoil the hell out of it.

My Darling Fury's album Licking Wounds is available now via iTunes.

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