The Show Is The Rainbow: “I did consult my wife before going on tour for honeymoon”
Awesome punk-rap dude talks to Rocklouder's Steven Morgan about his acclaimed new record and playing 1000 gigs.
Last June, Nebraskan hip-hop, punk, electro, kitchen-sink mentalist The Show Is The Rainbow released his fourth album 'Tickled Pink'. Another respectable addition to an incredible back catalogue with songs with incredible detail yet undeniably accessible, they grab you by the ears and shit a unicorn into your mouth, to quote Nietzsche. Over the course of near 1000 live shows to date, he’s built a loyal, cult following worldwide that includes the likes of The Faint, The Mae Shi & Neil Hamburger. He’s renowned for live performances so intensely energetic and unpredictable as to leave even Tim Harrington of Les Savy Fav looking like a prude. Currently on a ten month tour which doubles up as Darren’s honeymoon after recently getting married to his long term partner Lacey, his work ethic and dedication to his art is enough to make Henry Rollins blush. We caught up with Darren in anticipation of his first show on UK soil in many years this September 14th at Roadtrip in London.
Who's idea was it to start a ten month honeymoon touring the world? Does your wife mind?
I suppose it was my idea initially, but I've consulted Lacey in almost all of the decision making, except for a few snap decisions, none of which she seems to have minded!
What's been the highlight of the tour so far?
Well, we've only toured the US so far, but we leave for Europe in a few days, getting to tour for five weeks all over Europe is sure to generate some new "highlights", but if I were to pick one from the tour thus far, it would probably be opening for the almighty Man Man in Washington D.C.
'Tickled Pink' feels to me to be more adventurous in the scope and exploration of individual ideas than you have with the more quick-fire nature of previous albums. Is this a conscious change from what's come before, or a natural progression from 'Wet Fist'?
You know, I hadn't thought of that, but it's totally true. I think when I started out I thought it was really cool to confuse everyone as much as possible, by throwing a million ideas a minute at them. Well now, I realize that my compositions are so complicated and weird, that it's ok for me to stretch them out. Something that feels poppy and repetitious to me will probably still feel pretty crazy and hectic to
I noticed that this latest album is out on It Are Good as opposed to Retard Disco, who put out 'Wet Fist', why was that?
Well, I wasn't sure I was going to do another record at all, and then I just sort of ejaculated 'Tickled Pink' really quickly. This was during a time when Retard Disco was scaling back their projects, and so it just wasn't right to throw them this album, for either of us. I've always liked the idea of self releasing, and as I focus more on some new projects, TSITR is sort of headed a more DIY, part time, fun band anyway, so it just felt (feels) right.
Back on Safe Art you took exception to British Press, can I just apologise on behalf of us all?
No problem! My first full length 'Radboyz ONLY!!!!!' came out on Tsk! Tsk! Records from London. Lisa, the woman who ran the label, told me that it was really important to get good press and a lot of press in the UK. She was right, which is unfortunate for me, because I am terrible about getting my shit to press people, hahah.
With so many monikers that you perform as, how do you decide what's suitable for The Show Is The Rainbow as opposed to another project?
It's just really obvious to me what project I'm working on at what time. I sort of have different methods for composing, so like, if I sit down with some certain gear, or open up a certain program, I'm already sort of starting to align myself with one of my projects. Of course there is nothing set in stone, but I've never started working on a song, and then used it for another band.
It's been quite a few years since Radboyz Only!!! now, how have you found the music industry has changed over the time?
Well, when I started, bands were really "punk" about not licensing their songs to commercials or movies. Now it seems like musicians have accepted that doing that is one of the ONLY ways to have a true "career" playing music. You read Pitchfork.com and they talk about what bands are appearing in what commercials. It's a lot harder to tour now too, because with the economy being so shitty, there are a lot more places hosting live music, which spreads out the already thinning audiences even more.
And of course, no one pays for music anymore...but to launch into how that has impacted touring is like pissing in the wind. Is it just you performing on your recordings? Do you produce them also?
It's usually just me, there are guest musicians from time to time, but in general, it's all me. I produced everything, with some mix assistance from Joel Petersen from time to time. 'Tickled Pink' is all me production wise, and I played 98% of what you hear on the album. I record using the Pro Tools Digi 003 and control surface.
Though never one to shy from controversy, what inspired the incredibly explicit cover of 'Tickled Pink'?
I just finally decided to embrace the fact that I'm proud to be an abnormally profane, yet clever, dude. TICKLED PINK, it's so funny!
You're renowned for incredible live shows. How important is touring to what you do?
Well, at some point in Europe I'll reach my 1,000th show, which is astronomical obviously. Touring is really important to me. No matter how much I love partying, or travelling, ultimately my favourite thing is playing a show every day (or as close to as possible). I really must be addicted to playing, because after 1,000 shows, I'm still ready for more.
When touring internationally, you seem to favour some countries over others. Are there any particular destinations you always try to get to?
Yeah! I supposed in Europe, I really try to get to Norway. Bergen is just a fucking cool city, and I have this amazing friend there who runs a huge booking company, and he has taken pity on me for whatever reason, and helps me out with these otherworldly shows, and organizing these beautiful tours of the countryside for me.
I also love Italy, because it seems like many US bands spend most of their time in Germany and Netherlands, and I think it's really cool to explore places that other bands don't. You get a really different audience, and overall a really different awesome experience. My first Euro tour ever, I played in Padova, Italy, and got to spend a day in
Venice. As a dorkly, weirdo, Nebraskan, this was a really really mind blowing beautiful experience that makes me feel very fortunate. Last, we are hoping to move to New Zealand, so touring there is a super high priority to us!
Playing with as many bands as you do, what other artists have been exciting you lately?
Zach Hill is releasing great albums for sure, and I'm still totally into Squarepusher / Venetian Snares / Aphex Twin. Fast noisy music with breakbeats. Been diggin Mr. Oizo, and Yip Yip has an absolutely amazing new LP called 'Bone Up'.
Do you anticipate continuing making music and touring indefinitely?
Yeah, I do. Maybe I won't be wanting to do DIY tours of Europe by train when I'm 40, but I'm happy with how things are going for now, and I think there will always be music creation and performance in my life. Cute hipster girls still show up to my shows, so I know I'm not that old and horrible yet.
Are there any particular goals you feel you still have yet to achieve?
I want to tour Japan. I want to release an album on a major label. I want to sell 10,000 copies of an album. I want to tour Europe with UUVVWWZ. I want to do a full month tour supporting some giant band, not in the States. I have all sorts of goals. I'm a pretty hardworking, goal oriented guy. I'm not afraid to fail, but I think if I don't set goals for myself, then I'll just keep bumming around doing the same shit.
Your lyrics are quite literal and biographical, are there any songs you look back on and think differently now?
Yeah sure. There are definitely songs I wish I hadn't written, or been so harsh in. There are songs like 'Drug Free', which, while comical, is definitely not really something I can honestly stand by anymore, as I've become a dumb pothead. I dunno, I guess some of the sillier stuff it doesn't matter if I still "stand by", and the really fierce political/social stuff, I probably do still stand by. All in all it's no big deal, no major regrets!