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Shades of Grey: Marshall LaCount on Dark Dark Dark

Photography by Sam Balling

When I step into Dark Dark Dark’s green room at Higher Ground, the first thing that banjoist, clarinetist, and singer Marshall LaCount does, is offer me tea. Singer/pianist Nona Marie Invie, Trumpeter Walt McClements, drummer Mark Trecka, and bassist Todd Chandler lounge comfortably around with incense burning. Marshall hands me a cup and in his soft-spoken, calm voice says, “Let’s go outside where it’s nice and quiet.”

The night is warm for the time of year, and Marshall, bedecked in black attire but a color-busy hat, represents the group’s modern and old school Americana and worldly- influenced culture loving. They love poetry and art. They love music, and theirs is serene, usually somber, but often beautiful and hopeful, maybe worthy of one Dark, but the three Darks is just accentuating the band’s self-understanding. Marshall turns his face up towards the streetlights and tells me about his group’s interesting history.

Marshall LaCount | Dark Dark Dark

Why three darks?

It started off as a little bit of a joke. At the time there was so many folk bands reviving old murder ballad traditions and naming their bands things with “black” or “dark” or “death”- that kind of imagery, that goth, old-timey thing. We were doing a lot of the same things and starting to see that it was getting funny and did three darks.

But we realized soon after naming it that there’s a T.S. Elliott poem. It’s opened ended enough, the name Dark Dark Dark, that it doesn’t mean anything, or it has a lot of meanings. That’s usually why we pick names for our records or the bands; the free association possibilities are there.

Do you write music collectively?

I’d say we write collectively after the lyrics and basic structure is there from Nona. The reason we’ve chosen the band and the line-up we have is because each one has a special influence on what happens. We don’t tell people what to do too much, once it’s time to arrange.

Are you recording people?

We’re a touring, live band. That’s all we’ve done for five years. I haven’t paid rent in one place for more than three months in the past five years because of our schedule.

We’re just starting to realize how we like to record and how we can do the most justice to our chemistry. We wanted the energy of the live performance and the energy of the audience to be present without making a live recording. We still want to make studio recordings but we need that energy there. We’re a lot closer.

How?

We record live as a quintet or sextet, including vocals, so we’re trying to have the most musicality and communication. We’re all pretty much sitting in a circle like Frank Sinatra; the first take is the most musical take.




 

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