Portland, Oregon’s Dark Numbers are in the spotlight for this week’s Meet The Band. Their debut album is If It Was It Would Be So. Vocalist Natalie Lucio and drummer Ben Stoller introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Dark Numbers.
Ben Stoller: I was living with Dan (O’Hara, guitar) a few years back and since we always had been into each other’s bands it seemed like a no-brainer to start jamming in the basement and cranking out tunes. The vibe started coming together really fast so we started looking for buds to join. It wasn’t long until Natalie and Kirk (Evans, bass) found us and the group was born.
Describe the songwriting process for If It Was It Would Be So.
Natalie Lucio: Dan and I demoed out a lot of these songs in his basement. It’s great living together because if I hear something he does that catches my attention, I can record my vocal idea then and there. My lyrics and melody lines are all usually built off of a Dan riff. There’s definitely a stash of recordings from this process that have yet to be recorded or fully realized. However, some riffs predate my entry into the band. Kirk and Ben add a lot of dynamics and the glue that holds the Danny riffs together.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Natalie: I guess that Dan quit his job and devoted his attention to the recording, writing and production of the album. I would come home from work and he would have a new synth line he had added to a song. All synthesizer parts were recorded in our basement. I worked very early in the morning and would often fall asleep to the sound of backing vocals being recorded outside my door. Poor Fester! We had so many tracks to add to the initial drum, bass, guitar and vocal tracks that were recorded at the studio. His patience with us was commendable.
How would you characterize its style/sound?
Natalie: Being the sum of our collective influences, I guess we straddle a definitive genre. People throw around the prog word a lot. I prefer space rock. I approach the vocals from a hyper melodic place. Dan has more complicated, mathematical sensibilities. Kirk and Ben round our sound out with a sludgier edge. I don’t really know what to call us, but our recording engineer called us something like “a doomy E.L.O.”
What lyrical topics do you cover?
Natalie: A lot of the themes that run through the album have to do with the passage of time, nostalgia and being honest with yourself, even when it’s painful. Dan and I had an on again, off again relationship from the time I joined the band to the time of the recording, which made for an overall melancholy mood to the record. I processed a lot of what we were going through in the lyrics. Maybe dating your bandmate isn’t always advisable, but it sure makes for great lyrical content.
How did you come to sign with Nadine Records?
Natalie: A few of us had played shows with Mandy’s band Nasalrod before, but I think most of us were friends with her just from playing around Portland. She is an all around great human and one-woman record label – which is kind of amazing. We sent her our demos, hoping to join the family of Portland bands and friends whose records she had already put out. We shook hands on it last year, right before a show and we are proud to be a part of the Nadine Records family.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Ben: Put it on a golden record and shoot it in to space? I guess I don’t really have any expectations since it’s our first record with a new project but I know we’re all really happy with how it came out. Goals would be to hopefully line up some shows or a tour with some bands that we’re into and inspired by.
What has been your most memorable Dark Numbers live show?
Natalie: We have played with some great bands locally and from the Northwest region but I think our favorite was the night we got to open for Big Business. Along with being super nice dudes, they are amazing live. I love the way they are this super heavy band with a massive sound but at the same time have melodic and catchy vocals. We listen to a lot of Big Business between the four of us, so it was a total hero show.
Ben: I agree that was a really special night for sure. It was also at Mississippi Studios where I work, which is always a great room to play.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
Natalie: We had our album release show May 24th at the Tonic Lounge here in Portland. Our drummer tours a lot as a sound guy and I am currently going to school, but we are hoping to hit the road in some capacity in the coming year.
How did you get started in music?
Ben: My parents both played music while I was growing up so I was just always around it and my moms drums just looked so COOL. I couldn’t not play them.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Ben: When I was really young l fell in love with bands like Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode and The Cure. Then I got really into punk/metal which was the scene in the small Wyoming town I grew up in. A lot of the local bands I saw growing up in garages/basements/coffee shops were a massive influence for sure. I had a serious prog phase with a lot of King Crimson in there too.
What was the first rock/metal concert you attended?
Ben: I saw Tears for Fears when I was 10 and then Iron Maiden or Slayer would be the first big metal concert. Also High On Fire played a BBQ restaurant in my hometown of Laramie when I was still pretty young. It was so fucking loud in there.
What was the last thing you binge watched?
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Ben: Blut Aus Nord (I’m obsessed), Helms Alee, Big Business, The Body, Yob, Bell Witch, Evil Feast, Amenra, Sumac and Earth to name a few.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Ben: Just another shout out to Mandy at Nadine Records!
Natalie: I play guitar for a new deathrock band called Vueltas who recently recorded a demo with our very own Dan O’Hara at Plural Mural Studios (aka our basement) and mastered by Lorin at 40 Ocean. We are putting the tape out ourselves some time in the next few weeks. I’m pretty proud of how it came out.
(interview published May 25, 2019)