Girltroversy (Last Beat)
An interview with Cris “Christy” Darlington
by Scott Hefflon
How much of your bio stuff is true?
What, my wearing dresses and stuff? I do it for fun, just to goof off and be silly. It’s especially fun here in Dallas, in Texas, and the South. When you throw on a dress, people freak out. In California and New York, no one gives a shit. But it’s fun to get a reaction out of people. I don’t do it all the time ’cause I don’t want people to expect it or think we’re just a gimmick.
What’s your area like?
It’s the Bible Belt. It’s really conservative and wound up tight. Clubs that are cool tend to close down, and those that stay open have to cater to the conservative crowd to keep going. There’re curfews and stuff like that.
You used to be Mess, right?
Yeah, but there was a band called Mess, and they owned the trademark. While we could’ve kept the name, if we ever made any money, they could take us to court. We have a different line-up and we’ve moved in a different direction musically, so it made sense.
Is Darlington your real last name?
Yeah, and it’s also a stock car race track that I really like. We actually went by there not too long ago and just ran around for a while.
What bands do you listen to?
Pretty much the obvious: Ramones, Screeching Weasel, The Queers, Mr. T Experience – bands that are silly and have driving beats and guitar. I listen to Western and swing, but my favorite type is that kind of punk rock. I listen to NOFX and stuff sometimes, but I like the slower, more bubblegum silliness. We never talk about politics or anything. I think people like us because we poke fun at ourselves as much as we do everything else. Mohawk punks and Goths don’t seem to like us too much.
Ironic seeing as you’re all dressed in black and look kinda Goth.
Well, when your on tour, black clothes are pretty handy. When you can’t do laundry all the time, you can get away with more if you wear black.
Hagfish is from your area, right?
Yeah, but I haven’t really kept up with them too much. I think they’re going for a little more of a serious songwriting approach. They’ve also had to deal with some things that we haven’t, so that’s got to change your perspective a bit. We’ve actually been talking with Joe Queer quite a bit recently, and I think he might produce us in the future. Actually, our drummer Stevey is on tour with them right now. Their drummer, Hugh, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. That sucks really bad.
Just cuz it just finished playing, what’s up with “Espresso” being so droning and slow?
Well, I like a lot of bands like Weezer and The Toadies, and I like that song. I’m not going to not do a song just because it’s not punk rock. We don’t do it live because it feels like we’re doing a rock epic or something.
I hear you correspond a lot with fans.
Yeah, I’ve met so many cool people from all over the country, and I try to keep up with them whenever I can. Everyone from kids to people in bands … It gets weird sometimes with fans and stuff, because you never know what they’re thinking when you’re just talking. I’m really outgoing, kinda spastic, and I like being friendly – I could never just hide out in the van.
Do you feel you lost any momentum, or any fans, because of the name and style change?
Both. We lost fans because the Mess was “more punk,” I guess. The singing wasn’t as melodic, and it was a dirtier sound. On this album, I really concentrated on trying to sing and get some cool harmonies. If I could sing like The Go-Go’s, I’d love it. Beauty and the Beat has coolest harmonies of any record I can think of.
Do you know the Teen Idols by any chance?
I don’t know them personally, but I think they have really good songwriting. It’s one of my favorite new releases. The lyrics are so great – “Let’s make noise in the bathroom,” I mean, how do you come up with something as silly as that?
What’s the future hold?
Well, we still have one record left to do for Last Beat, but we’re moving to New York in November, so we’re not going to their studio, which is all tied up anyway. So there’s talk of co-releasing our next album maybe with another label… That’d help us as well as Last Beat. They have a bit of variety in the bands they have, but they’re small and not very well known. Except for us, Clowns for Progress and Riot Squad, none of the other bands have toured. When we move to New York, we have to find another bass player because Spyche just quit.
She wasn’t in the band very long, was she?
No, just a few months, but long enough to record the record. She has her own projects going on anyway. At the time, we were at a loss because we didn’t have a bass player, but we had the studio time and we had to get a record going… We didn’t want Last Beat to get sketchy on us or think we broke up or anything. We thought of who we could get locally, and we came up with Spyche. We left all these messages for her, and then Donnie from Hagfish was going to do it, but then he went on tour, so we were stuck in a bad spot. Two days before we had to go in the studio, she got back into town, called me back, and said she’d do it. We did the record, a bit of touring on the East Coast and Midwest, then booked a West Coast tour, but we blew the motor in the van in North Carolina and were stuck for a week in the middle of nowhere and had to take a U-Haul back. We had to cancel the whole West Coast tour. Spyche may’ve quit, but she kinda saved our ass at that point.
You have a pretty new record out, but your bassist quit and your drummer’s out touring with The Queers…
And I’m just sittin’ around getting tattoos.
Your drummer is coming back, right?
As far as I know, yeah. He really wants to stay with Darlington, but I don’t know what Joe’s plans are for The Queers. The rest of his line-up is from Jon Cougar Concentration Camp, so they’re going to have to get back to their own band, sooner or later. It’s weird how we hooked up with him in the first place. We like The Queers so we sent them the first demo tape we ever did. They played a show here a few years back, and when I gave him a 7″, he started singing “Marcia Brady,” one of our first songs.
I was kinda surprised with a title like Girltroversy that you used a promo photo as the cover.
The original was vetoed by the label. I’d made a collage from a huge stack of fashion magazines with the faces of all these models I like and put a photo of Jackie O., back in the day, in the center. My thoughts were, hell, even if any of the models or photographers want to sue, who cares? We’ll just have to change the cover, and we could use the publicity. But no one wanted to get into it. So we used our promo photo. I’m not really into artwork anyway, it’s the music that counts.
(2819 Commerce St. Dallas, TX 75226)