The genre-crossing indie band has had to work for everything so far.
Nashville-bred Those Darlins seem composed for a rock band. The group's third record in four years came out this month on its own record label, Oh Wow Dang Records. When I catch lead singer and guitarit Jessi Zazu on the phone, she sounds relaxed, even though she is in the midst of touring on the tail of a new album, Blur the Line.
It's in the music where things are less buttoned-down, but not in a harmful way. Those Darlins' sound is sharp and raw, and Zazu's vocals are as distinctive as those of Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O and The Dead Weather's Alison Mosshart. It's in the music where you can hear the fight. Over the course of three albums that explore folk, punk, garage and beyond, the edge in their sound born from the struggle of just trying to make it is a constant.
"The three albums are really good testaments to where I was mentally and maturity-wise at the time they were recorded," Zazu says "It's funny to listen to my first album. It's brings me right back to being 17 and being super-optimistic about everything."
Zazu makes it clear that Those Darlins have always made it a point to do it their way. Foregoing record labels by creating their own meant uninhibited creative control, putting them in the carpool lane of the music industry and bypassing the messiness of controlling labels. But that hasn't come without its drawbacks. Self-made means what it says. "We learn by trial and error. We're still learning," Zazu says. She was only 17 when Those Darlins started out, but Zazu has no regrets, even when she acknowledges the perks of being on a major or larger indie label..
That isn't to say Those Darlins' journey has been an easy one. Each record has been a test, bringing along each time a moment where Zazu and the band questioned whether it was worth it to forge forward. "There were a lot of times where we just didn't think we were gonna keep going," Zazu says. "There may be a million reasons to stop, but the reasons to keep going are better. That whole fight makes you think, 'If I'm going to make another damn record, I have to do it as good as I can do.'"
Those Darlins take the Carnival Stage at 2:15 on Friday.