Dear Darkness is Stacey MacLeod on vocals and guitar backed by Samantha Linn on drums and backing vocals. None of us need to waste any time pretending to be surprised that only two people can make a lot of ruckus in one rock band with such a setup — certainly not here in Detroit, where we have precedents for such a thing. Dear Darkness have been around a few years and are one of the best bands in the city.
And yes, it’s just two people up there, forging that super solid post-punk wail that owes as much to London circa 1978 as it does Olympia circa 1993. It’s a sound that’s raw but glam, powerful, and verging on out of control. I visited with Dear Darkness in their epic Inkster practice space the other month, but then my phone ate the interview; MacLeod and Linn kindly agreed to an email interview.
Metro Times: When we hung out the other month, I was impressed by your rapport. You seem to be good friends but also feel free to give each other a little bit of playful shit, maybe? That was my impression. You'd be surprised how many bands just seem to hate each other, and not just while on tour.
Samantha Linn: Actually, I wish I were more playful with Stacey. I often fantasize that we could call each other "bitch" in public and say rude things to each other that would make us both laugh.
Stacey MacLeod: I think Sam and I are able to communicate in many "languages" together. We know each other well enough that I can tease her about being weird, in the tenderest of ways. We also have a nonverbal rapport that I believed we earned by playing music together for the last seven years, excluding the time she was in New York.
MT: How did you guys meet, then?
MacLeod: Samantha and I met while we were working at Whole Foods in 2007. I was cutting fruit when Samantha came in to say hello. She worked in the bakery department. We learned that we both made music, and we formed a band called the Looms and then later, a band called the Heaven and Hell Cotillion.
Dear Darkness is finally just us two. It feels right this way. We say "yes" to each other's crazy ideas. A unanimous decision is hard to get in the band with a ton of other artists.
MT: Tell me all about your new album, Be Nice Honey. How and when was it recorded?
MacLeod: We recorded four songs with Jim Diamond in January of 2015 at Ghetto Recorders, a few weeks before he moved to Europe. When we wanted to make the initial EP, I Only Came Here to Dance, into an album, I contacted Jim to see if he could suggest someone for us to work with. He just happened to be back visiting from France and he suggested we finish what we started at the Tempermill in September of 2015. So we did five more tracks there.
MT: How did you come to work with Matt Smith on it?
MacLeod: Sam was in Outrageous Cherry with Matt for a while and I would corner him at shows to question him about his rock theories and beliefs. So, he knew what he was getting into.
MT: Do you experience much chauvinism/weirdness in the Detroit area, or not really?
Linn: There are a couple of venues where the vibe is a little off for me, personally. But overall, I love the experiences we've had as a band here, meeting people at shows and around town.
MacLeod: For the most part, I have met some great and talented artists in the Detroit scene. Seriously, some great people. What I like seeing most is when Detroit artists experiment with performance and basic rock instrumentation. I like seeing/hearing Detroit musicians who are unapologetically themselves — what they are, and make what they make.
I also dream of a Detroit scene that dances! Sam and I are always dancing right up front at shows. Support is what makes a scene.
MT: What is the last song that you listened to over and over, on repeat — and why?
Linn: "Your Love" by the Outfield. It made me feel happy and sad at the same time and that's a great feeling, so I kept listening to it.
MacLeod: I listened to a live version of Simon and Garfunkel's "Kathy's Song" all the way down Woodward from Eight Mile to the MOCAD. It's a chill-ass song and it was soothing me that day.
MT: Do you listen to your own music ever, aside from while you're making it?
Linn: I only have two CDs in my car; one of them is Be Nice Honey by Dear Darkness. I usually listen to it a few times a month on the way to work. I enjoy listening to the music I've made because I try to make music that I would want to hear. If I like hearing something I did, that's how I can tell if I've succeeded in making music.
MT: And what about the band name?
MacLeod: Dear Darkness is the title of a P.J. Harvey song on her album White Chalk. She is a huge influence, because of her bravery as a singer and guitarist.
MT: Who else is a huge influence?
MacLeod: I am inspired by the minimalist guitar of Johnny Ramone. Brett Anderson from Suede and Adam Ant inspire me vocally. I wish I could write lyrics like Jarvis Cocker from Pulp; I love the humor in his words. Todd Trainer from Shellac and Keith Moon from the Who both inspire and influence Samantha as a drummer.
MT: What are your future hopes and plans and dreams?
Linn: My ultimate dream for Dear Darkness is to play on late night television.
MacLeod: I've always wanted to play CMJ. In 2016, we have plans to record an EP with Matt Smith, to get signed (ha ha), and do a little touring.
Oh, and I should mention that Sam and I are both working for Icelandic conceptual artist Ragnar Kjartansson at MOCAD, from now through April. Kjartannson has also worked with Sigur Ros and the National; this piece of his is called "Woman in E." I am on the podium Friday nights, and Sam is doing Sunday afternoons.
Dear Darkness performs on Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Marble Bar with Jimmy Ohio, Bueno No Bueno, and Scissor Now; Doors at 8 p.m.; 1501 Holden St., Detroit; 313-551-3158; $5.