Derek and the Darling
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Derek and the Darling

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"Derek and the Darling Release "Hustler with a Rescue Plan""

Before Derek Nicoletto started his new band, the electro/rock/pop outfit DEREK AND THE DARLING, he wrote a song called “Hustler with a Rescue Plan,” detailing where he was mentally and emotionally after the breakup of his former band, Telling on Trixie.
Aside from being the opening track of his soon-to-be-released EP ROCKFACE (release date: April 27, 2010 via 7 Trick Pony Records), it has also been pegged as the first single and video (currently in post-production and scheduled for late April).
Download the “Hustler with a Rescue Plan (Black Cloud Remix)” here:
SKOPE IT HERE!
Download the original “Hustler with a Rescue Plan” here:
SKOPE IT HERE!
www.derekandthedarling.com - Skope Magazine


"Discovery Channel - Planet Green"

Music doesn't lie," said the great Jimi Hendrix. "If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music." On that note (pun intended and apologized for), I submit two "somethings" that need to be changed in this world:

Intolerance

Animal abuse


That's where Derek Nicoletto and his new band, Derek and the Darling, come into the picture. Derek is a singer/improv perfomer who just so happens to be gay and just so happens to be a father and just so happens to be a rescuer of animals...and his bandmates are as equally diverse. With Rockface, a 5-song EP from Derek and the Darling, set to drop on April 27, it seemed like the ideal time to have a Planet Green chat with Derek Nicoletto.
But First: Meet the Band

Derek Nicoletto: vocals, keyboard, knuckles on skull
Sammi Garett: vocals, guitar, eyelashes
Mike Fisher: guitar, keyboards, Ableton, b/g vox
Will Haywood Smith: drums

My Conversation with Derek Nicoletto
Planet Green: So, let's see...you're a rocker, you're gay, you're a father, and you rescue animals. I'm guessing you're not too popular in the Tea Party demographic, huh?

Derek Nicoletto: I grew up in a house within a community of Indiana Republicans. So, I'm very used to them and their way of thinking. Just to give you some perspective, I met my first Jewish person in college at Indiana University when I was 17. And now, I live in New York City. So, it's been a glorious journey for me as I've met the world in my adulthood. I feel extremely lucky to have been born into the body of an entertainer because for some reason, it's a an exception the narrow-minded seem to make. I've long mastered the art of entertainment as survival. I got people to like me first and to think I was funny or talented. Then they forget I'm gay and let me in their club. I don't mind it. I'm doing the entertainment part anyway, so if I can use it as a tool to for people to put a human face on "gay father" or "environmentalist" or "animal lover" and force a pause in their prejudice, then fantastic. I actually love being from a small town in Indiana. I loved many parts of my childhood, but many were horrific because I couldn't understand why I was being bullied for something I didn't understand myself at the time.

PG: For those attending your gigs and/or buying your music, are you seeking to introduce them to tolerance and diversity or is it about the music, first and foremost?

DN: It's about the music, first and foremost. First of all, I'm in a band of four and I have a female co-lead singer, Sammi from Long Island. Will our drummer is from Hexham, England. Mike is an established nightlife personality and has traveled the world as a DJ, but grew up with a single mom in Massachusetts. Individually, we have four radically different stories. If we told our separate stories on stage at once it would be chaos. We're telling one unified story, the Derek and the Darling music. I fully expect fans of the band eventually to learn I'm gay. They will find out the minute I speak, actually. But I'm there to do a job for them, regardless of who they are. We don't discriminate or preach. If we touch the narrow-minded in our music, we've put our foot in the door for them to to meet a gay father, a Jewish girl, someone from another country and someone who grew up in a single parent family from meager means. Diversity is a fantastic by-product.

PG: Talk a little about your role in this unified story.

DN: All my life, I've been people's "first gay friend" or "only gay friend." Frankly, I forget I'm gay or even different in my day-to-day because my family operates very much like a fluid, working family would. There's a ton of love and joy. There's breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are diapers and bills. But then I get reminded by others that I'm seen by them as something odd or even threatening either because I'm an artist or because I'm gay. I learned how to move through those situations when I was eight. Although, when I see the people who are so angry and fearful about gays, my first thought is they must be self-loathing closet cases themselves. Most people that I know who are secure in their sexuality don't have this irrational, vengeful fear. Either that or they've jumped on some bastardized form of religion or peer bandwagon and are terrified of non-acceptance. I believe in God, myself. But growing up in an intolerant community in Indiana, I know how much "fitting in" was cloaked as spiritual practice.

PG: How has your background informed your music?

DN: As a musician, I have a musical point of view and an enormous imagination that I have a duty to express to the best of my ability for those willing to support it. I see it as a job and I've accepted the whole world as my listeners, if they so choose. As an artist, you can't start your journey in someone else's head or begin with their belief system. I make the music I make regardless of whether my husband likes it, so why should I care if Glenn Beck digs it? Luckily, my husband likes the music. Same goes with our other artistic expressions like music videos. This current video, for "Hustler with a Rescue Plan" is setting off some strong opinions amongst my inner circle. But it's the video we wanted to make and I'm glad it pushes some buttons. Musical taste is so subjective; people feel so strongly about the bands they support. If a Tea Bagger loves Derek and the Darling and thinks what I do at the end of the "Hustler with a Rescue Plan" video is totally Rock and Roll rad-ness, then we've successfully introduced them to a diverse group of artists without having to preach anything. Score! I trust that the thought will eventually seep into the Tea Bagger's head that the lead singer is a gay father and her/his natural curiosity will challenge long-standing prejudices. I've seen it happen and when it works, it's great.

PG: Tell us how your experiences in improv helped create Derek and the Darling.

DN: Derek and the Darling was created when I met Sammi Garett in the Upright Citizens Brigade training program. It's wonderful and intense. Finding out this incredibly funny and attractive woman had graduated Berklee College of Music just months before made about 1,000 sirens, flags, and whistles go off in my head. After we performed a music-centric scene together which involved Stevie Nicks music as a subject, I thought to myself, "Maybe I've got my own Stevie Nicks right here." Somehow, Sammi still participates full-time in the Upright Citizens Brigade program. With Derek and the Darling taking off and full-time fatherhood, I had to pare down the improv.

PG: How did you get started in animal rescue? What can animal loving Planet Green readers learn from your experiences?

DN: My husband and I adopted two tabby cats from Minnesota Humane Society in our second year together. We moved to New York with them and shortly thereafter adopted a third cat from North Shore Animal League. Still wanting to scratch that paternal itch, we got Moses and Henry, our dogs, from North Shore Animal League as well. That means we have five animals, two guys and now a baby in a Manhattan two-bedroom apartment. It means we locate ourselves next to parks so the dogs and kid can play a lot. In addition, there are four walks day. Everyone who comes to my house (or "the Ark," or the "zoo," as my friends call it) says that my cats act like dogs and my dogs act like kids. I think it's because we didn't just adopt them and sit them in our house as decoration. The love they give, when paid proper attention to, is blinding. Their personalities, when fostered, are humongous. I've always preferred animals to people, frankly. It's not hard to see why I would.

PG: How did the animals welcome your son?

DN: I thought it might be a rough adjustment, but it wasn't. The tabby cats threw us some jealous bitchiness at first, as they like to do, but then got over it quickly. Our Dalmation-mix started standing by my son's crib right away, every time the baby cried. Now I'm to the point that I want to scream every time I see some puppy-mill importing store because I know there are no need for those puppy mills when there are so many gorgeous dogs and cats in the shelters. I'm gay, I know, "gorgeous." You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars for some puppy that came from an abused pure-bred parents in order to get a gorgeous, loving pet. If you buy from a stores that imports from puppy mills, you pay for animals to get abused. And don't trust what the store owner says, they want to make a sale. There are plenty of rescued pure-breds, if that's what you really want. My mother says our dog Henry looks like "a cross between a Beagle and a pot-bellied pig." But Henry gets complimented on the street almost every day. I should also note that he was three when we got him, yet he was the quickest to adapt to his surroundings. Older animals rock. Our cat Charlie was four. He head butts me every morning after I feed him. Love.

PG: Speaking of older animals rocking, tell Planet Green about the new songs and when we can hear them/watch videos/see live gigs.

DN: Rockface comes out on April 27 on iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby (hardcopy), and about every other digital service you can think of. It's a 5-song EP that we see as our starting point. We're really excited to finally be able to share the entire EP with the world and will have more to share before the year's end. Rockface will be supported by several cross country tour dates this spring, summer, and fall, so we'd love to meet your readers in person.

- Discovery Channel


"BlogCritics Album Review"

Rockface is the debut release from Derek And The Darling, a new band made up of the former lead singer of Telling on Trixie (Derek) and Sammie (aka 'Darling') and set to drop on April 27th. This EP is poised to give your summer a great soundtrack. It's a great mix of pop tracks mixed with a splash of elecronic, then add in some piano for good measure!

Rockface starts off with the first single and video from the band, "Hustler with a Rescue Plan," a song with catchy hooks and lyrics that will have you humming along with by the end of the song. The video for this song features both Derek and Sammie, and has Derek covered with various paints and masks. One comment on youtube about the video: "Lady GaGa doesn't know weird compared to this." A very true statement.

The second song, "Lucky Lola", introduces the smooth voice of Sammie, and proves why she is part of the name; the two of them compliment each other well in this song. Things slow down a little on "Alabaster Sky," which starts with Derek and just a piano, but brings in a great string section about halfway through. I find that this song will capture you and keep you coming back just to hear how Derek's unique voice as well as the imagery the lyrics create. Kicking things back up, "You" gives The Darling her own song to shine. Sammie brings her lead guitar skills to this song, and shows that she can carry a song effortlessly. This is probably my favorite song off the EP, I really enjoy Sammie's voice in front of the great rock melody.
Finishing off the EP is "Suddenly," and it brings Derek And The Darling together again for a perfect finale. This song takes the listener on a journey filled with crazy parties, cops, scars, and great porterhouse steak. This song has a great pop vibe to it and one that you might find in a TV or movie soundtrack, perhaps a show or movie called Suddenly?


Rockface is a strong debut, and I feel that this will not be the last we hear from Derek And The Darling!. If you would like to hear from the band, you can hear me talk with them live during my show on BounceRadio.net on Monday April 25th at 8pm ET. I plan on playing a couple track from the EP, as well as talking to Derek & Sammie about the band and how they brought it all together. - Blog Critics


"Wonka Vision review"

"Let’s begin with vocalist Derek Nicoletto. One has to really… every journalist does, because he really is a phenomenal singer. Nicoletto has a big voice, a powerful delivery, excellent enunciation, a pop spirit, and a heart full of soul that pours into every word he sings." - Wonka Vision


Discography

"Rockface" - EP (due April 27, 2010)

Photos

Bio

Derek Nicoletto cradles the six-inch chicken in the crook of his left arm as he hails a bus with his right. Sammi Garett slows the bus and lets him on board. Seconds later, the two are belting Stevie Nicks’s “Edge of Seventeen.” Scene. Most New York City bands are formed from Craigslist ads or through mutual friends somewhere in Brooklyn. For Derek and the Darling, this improv scene in October 2009 was the true moment of formation, on a stage at the Upright Citizens Brigade, the improvisation school founded by Amy Poehler and her colleauges that now features weekly shows by students and current castmembers of 30 Rock alike. In this scene Derek and Sammi noticed how well their voices matched. In a conversation immediately following, they discovered that Derek had just finished a stint with an established indie rock band about the time Sammi graduated Berklee School of Music. So, as their classmates began to form improv troupes, Derek and Sammi started an electronica-inspired rock band, because it was “way less nerdy.” A month later, after some time with their keyboard and a guitar (compliments of a Wyclef Jean and Western Union), Derek and Sammi brought all their new material, whether individually or co-written, to producer Jamie Siegel (Whitney Houston, Kid Cudi, The Roots, Taking Back Sunday).

Enter musical director and veteran DJ (Deep Dish) Mike Fisher on guitars, Ableton and synths and Will Haywood Smith on drums. By February 2010, a new band had formed and their debut five-song EP, “Rockface,” was complete - including a cameo by Taking Back Sunday’s Matt Rubano on bass. The video for first single, “Hustler with a Rescue Plan,” will debut a few weeks before the EP’s April 27, 2010 release. “I wrote ‘Hustler’ in September about my own boundary-less ambition. I found Sammi at UCB a few weeks later and learned immediately that her drive to be a performing songwriter fit mine exactly, as reflected in the spirit of this song. It was like Match.com commercial, without the marriage at the end. Or the sex.” After the EP release, Derek and the Darling will begin to tour in Summer 2010, a lively show including a few moments during the set with audience interaction that will inspire musical improvisation.

Garett says, “Our live show will have our Derek and the Darling music as a foundation sprinkled with elements of our improv training and featuring Mike's DJ skills, resulting in a unique electronic rock show none of us have witnessed anywhere else on the music scene. In rehearsals, we’ve been laughing hard and rocking harder. By the way, if you do both at the same time, you’re bound to make your “Rockface.”