Exeter, Devon UK • Jul 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Music Live Review: Darwin Deez @ Thekla Bristol + Interview w/ Darwin Merwan Smith

Live Review: Darwin Deez @ Thekla Bristol + Interview w/ Darwin Merwan Smith

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On Wednesday 3rd of October, Darwin Deez took the stage at Bristol’s Thekla to perform their new album that came out late August entitled 10 Songs That Happened When You Left Me With My Stupid Heart. This being their fourth album it was interesting to see the journey they had made from their first album. Darwin later admitted to me, after asking him about this journey, that there was no progress since the first album, only change. This “change” is evident in Darwin’s increasing use of a synthesizer and the fact that he has cut off all of his infamous curly hair…

In terms of the live performance, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a gig where the artist sounds exactly the same as they do recorded. From the opening song, The City, to his last, The World’s Best Kisser, and then a double encore (calm down Darwin!), the vocals were impeccable and the energy from the band was contagious. I very much enjoyed the random dances that the band would suddenly whip out in between songs, which, in fact, seemed not very well rehearsed and appeared to come out of nowhere. In terms of the audience, the turnout was pretty big and fans closest to the stage were singing along to all of the lyrics. In particular, Darwin called out to a young girl who was singing along with her eyes closed and said to her “I’ve been trying to make eye contact with you for this entire song – are you an introvert?” I think it’s nice how he interacted with his fans, and especially with Thekla being such an intimate venue it made it easier for him to do this.

I loved existentialism though, Nietzsche. Every 18-year-old boy loves Nietzsche.

I was very lucky in being able to interview the rather eccentric Darwin in the upstairs bar in Thekla, and in between him taking swigs of my own gin and tonic, he answered my following questions…

How are you finding the UK?

It’s not cold. I thought it was funny when I saw a solar panel off of the motorway. I mean a solar panel in the UK? Not really. Because it’s a bit cloudy isn’t it?

How is the tour going? What other venues have you performed at?

Tour is going good but Caitlyn isn’t going to do the US part. The shows have been good though. Brighton last night – really good but low ceilings though – I banged my head a few times. I’m pretty tall. I don’t know how tall I am in your language. Actually, I’m 6”3. Is this an interrogation?

So, the first song I heard of yours was ‘Constellations’ which I believe was around four years ago. I was wondering what your progress has been since then?

There’s no such thing as progress. Change but progress, no. Progress is a story about change. All there is is change.

So, what’s changed?

Everything and nothing. Things changed. I’ve started using more synthesizers. I’ve wrote some songs on the keyboard. Tim wasn’t the drummer when we first started. That changed. (At this point Darwin starts flirting) That’s a nice ring. But your whole outfit is jammin’. You’re just at the top of your game fashion-wise. For me personally, I’m not on the top of my game. I’ve done this stuff before and I’ve gotten better results.

So, when were you ever at the top of your game?

First Record.

Do you write all of your own songs and where do you get the inspiration from?

Yes, I steal from other songs. Millionaire by Kaliz, ideas about syncopation from Deerhoof, chords from Regina Spektor. Steal, steal, steal, steal. Although cover your tracks, no one will know (until they read this article, Darwin).

Who would you compare yourself to as a band?

The Strokes. But not as huge or as consistently good.

I’ve heard you being compared to Fleetwood Mac – what do you have to say about that?

I mean there’s not two of me and I’m not in a love/hate relationship with myself. Only love. It’s the way we are all are. Hate is an illusion. Only love is real. Everything is love. Hate is love.

Who is one person alive or dead you’d like to have tea with?

Hendrix. Oh, what a good hang that would be if he wasn’t too stoned. It would be amazing to have his attention because he’s an introvert. Introverts are the most attentive to others. Did you see him on the Dick Cavett show? He was so quiet, on stage he’s so loud visually and audibly but then you sit him down and he’s a quiet potato. (Starts sing “a potato flew around my room” to the tune of ‘Thinkin Bout You’ by Frank Ocean).

Are you going to release another album in the future?

Yeah, I think so. Life is so long. Most definitely. Could be wrong though.

What’s your favourite song out of all the ones you’ve released?

‘You’ (laughter). ‘Chelsea’s Hotel’ that’s a good one. I like ‘Flirting’ (more laughter). ‘Constellations’ I love, I ripped that one off of Coldplay’s song ‘Clocks’ – the same chords, the first two. From the new album? I think ‘Getaway’ or ‘The World’s Best Kisser’ – I love her – she really is the best kisser. The shittiest kisser I ever kissed was probably the person before her and the person after her too.

What did you mean in ‘The World’s Best Kisser’ when you said you wanted to change a girl into a leaf?

I was thinking about her. She taught me how to love someone. She said, “don’t try to change me”. We all try to change our partner. Can I just change 3% of you and then I’ll be happy? Then she was like no, don’t change me at all.

Did you go to university?

Two years, philosophy but then dropped out. I didn’t want to become a professor. I started to become practically minded. I loved existentialism though, Nietzsche. Every 18-year-old boy loves Nietzsche.

When you’re not doing gigs what do you like to do?

I walk. That’s what I learnt from Nietzsche, never trust a thought that comes to you while you’re sitting down. He wrote all of his books while walking apparently. When I walk I can think through my thoughts and my head feels clearer. Lots of people in America go to the gym or do yoga. I find that exercising the mind is better.

What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?

Go open mic night every week for a year. That’s what I did. And now I’m here.

Thank you very much, Darwin.

Thank you.

Overall, Darwin was definitely a pleasure to watch live and I’m glad I got to meet such an unusual and eccentric artist. Judging by the usual gap between each album it might be a while until we get to hear his next one, but I’m excited to see his further progress – sorry I mean change. Anyway, after sitting down whilst writing this review, and in regard to both Darwin and Nietzsche, I think it’s time for a walk.

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