Electric Darling have the buzz, the pedigree, the chops, and the stage prowess to play the part of Knoxville’s Next Big Thing; all the band lacks, now, is the recorded output — something for fans to stick in their earbuds between their dynamic and free-wheeling live performances.
To be sure, E.D. issued four songs on SoundCloud within months of their founding back in 2015, an arrival that posited them as a sort of Phoenix from the Ashes of the late, lamented Knoxville roots/blues-rock act the Dirty Guv’ nahs. But that was then and this is now, and those four tracks play thru pretty quickly, Bubba. It all raises the question: What have these Darlings done for us lately?
Band co-founder Cozmo Holloway — the ex-Guv with the sizzling and versatile guitar chops, and, at one time, the city’s most impressive white-man’s ‘fro — promises there’s more music on the way. “We’ve got around five or six new songs,” he says. “I think we’ve solidified the first phase of what this band is about.
“We released those first four songs right after the Guv’s farewell tour. But there’s always a pretty drastic change that comes after that first release. And then we wrote that one tune that steered us in a direction, and we built off that.”
To wit, Electric Darling came about as a result of the Guv’ nahs’ calling it quits in 2014-’15. DG members Holloway and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Hyfantiss decided they weren’t quite ready for pasture, and set off collaborating on new music, and a new band. Then they happened on local singer Yasameen Hoffman-Shahin, a talented young soul chanteuse with classical training (!) and a preternatural affinity for the stage.
Since then, they’ve added keyboard whiz Aaron Mastin, and the rhythm section of Matt Nelson (bass) and Luke Bowers (drums), the latter two also serving with local Americana act Cereus Bright. All of which means that Electric Darling have come a far piece since Hyfantiss and Holloway first sat down to pen a song.
So far, the Darlings have manifested as a charismatic soul/rock hybrid — the band members are open in their admiration of kindred spirits the Alabama Shakes — and Holloway says that founding premise hasn’t really changed. “We’re concentrating more on the idea of space,” he says. “It’s becoming more about what we can leave out, as opposed to ‘What else can we put here?’
“And we’re focusing more on the rhythms. I think we’re creating music that’s very danceable, that has a lot of energy, as opposed to more of a big wall of sound. There are still elements of rock, but with a definite groove — a ‘stapled’ groove.”
Holloway allows, however, that the new approach to songwriting doesn’t prevent band members from occasionally stretching out once they take the stage. “We’re starting to jam more at the shows,” he says.
Holloway says the band is entering an exhilarating phase of its development, as the members settle into a promising new partnership, one filled with spark and creative fecundity. “It’s been great,” he says. “Kevin, Yas and I — it starts with us. We’ll come up with ideas, bounce them around and come up with a skeleton. Then we present that to A-Ron, Matt and Luke.
“Everybody has ideas. And we seem to work well together.”
And he hopes that Darling can enter the studio in August, though that may depend in part on Nelson and Bowers’ touring schedule with Cereus Bright. If all goes as planned, the band hopes to issue a six- or seven-song new release sometime around winter of 2017.
“I’d love for it to be November,” Holloway says with a chuckle. “But we won’t know whether that can happen for a little while.”
Electric Darling will play Scruffy City Hall on Saturday, June 4 at 10 p.m. in Scruffy City Hall, with opening act 3-Star Revival.