"The future's so bright, gotta wear protective gear"
Interview with Daniel Ledinsky from The Neverly Boys
by Császár Gergő
When and how did the idea of this collaboration come to your mind?
Dave and I became friends when we wrote Happy Idiot and Trouble for Dave's other band TV On The Radio's back in 2013 and since then we've become extremely close. My only living relatives are my sister and her daughters back in Sweden, so for me Dave is very much my family. We never sat down and were like "let's start a band", there was no plan at all. We just started writing a ton of songs and after a while we realized that we were a band.
To what extent does being a performer change your attitude when writing a song?
Well both me and my band mate Dave Sitek write and produce music for a lot of other artists, and when you write for someone else you are basically just (hopefully) helping them in their expression. The Neverly Boys is an outlet for us to write music without frames.
As a producer, how hard is it to control your own personal music?
Nah, it's always super effortless for Dave and I to make music. We don't sit and ponder on what to do, we write cause it's fun and it gives us a sense of magic. Making music with Dave is my favorite thing in life, and it's not about having control, it's about losing control.
How did you divide the tasks during creating this album?
Dave makes most of the music really, cause he's a wizard. We both wrote lyrics and stuff, but more than anything it stems from a feeling we share. We don't really have a plan or hand out tasks, we just get lost in the song and all of a sudden it's done.
Who were the contributors to the album, in addition to you two?
We recorded the album a year ago at Sonic Ranch in El Paso. We brought with us a bunch of our friends and lived like a collective for a month. Matt Stone, the creator of South Park, plays drums on Red Flag. Ben from Grouplove, Jamie Lidell and Tei Shi was also with us and contributed a lot. RnB artist Miguel has also been with us at the ranch, and he's a good friend and huge inspiration for both of us. We have a core of musicians we work with and they are all a part of Neverly.
The whole album is characterized by very meticulous work, thoughtful instrumentation, yet the whole thing has a kind of spontaneous atmosphere… What do you think about this?
Thank you! Yeah that's kinda what we were aiming for. We both have been making songs for a long time now and hopefully that means that we somewhat know what we're doing... so we only focus on the feeling and just like you said, to create a spontaneous environment, free flow. We don't wanna be smart or cool, we just wanna make something honest.
The tracklist follows a really nice arc. When did the final list and sequence of tracks develop? Are there any songs that have been left out?
Haha, I think we got hundreds of songs. Our manager Dino Paredes was very important on picking songs and stuff, cause he likes our music and he's got more perspective.
I noticed the presence of plenty of names in the lyrics. Which artist’s song would you like to be mentioned in?
I don't think either of us care about stuff like that. We love a lot of artists of course but that just feels like an ego thing. There's some artists we would love to collaborate with, but in a way we've been fortunate enough to have done so already. Dave and I made a song for Blondie, that was kinda crazy. Dave has worked with Jay Z, Beyonce, Run The Jewels and David Bowie to name a few, and I've worked with Rihanna etc... and TV On The Radio haha!
What does the album cover symbolize? What was the concept behind it? Will there be a tangible edition?
Dave's been really into skulls and optic illusions, and he created the artwork with his brother Jason. It symbolizes whatever you put into it I guess. For me it captures the feel of the album, life is a mer preparation for death. The album is about will to live, and an urge to control the end date. Someone close to us commited suicide the night before we started the recording and it is a big part of the album.
How does it feel to have the album released right now when it reflects so much on what’s happening in the world?
We were actually supposed to release the album later this year, we had some sort of plan... but we kinda just felt like putting it out there now with the hope that it might mean something to someone. It's been a truly sad and scary time, and people are really struggling, especially here in America. With everything going on, launching music feels silly really, but music is powerful and can help heal, and maybe it will help someone. We could feel the darkness on the horizon last summer when we recorded it, the first song we wrote in the studio, Mushroom Cloud, has the opening line "The future's so bright, gotta wear protective gear"and obviously we named the album Darkside Of Everything, so it feels like whatever is happening now started long ago.
Do you plan having live shows after the COVID-19 situation eases?
Definitely, a big reason for doing this was our longing to be in a room and play music with our friends. As producers and songwriters we rarely get to do that. We've played a couple of shows in the Us before the world shut down and it felt really special. We suck in a great way I would say.
What do you mean by this remark? - „Please listen to the album. It’s important. Now, more than ever.”
It means what it says, listen and maybe you will find out.