Keep on Moving: The Technique Is No Technique: An interview with Daughters guitarist

Nicholas Sadler

You may not know that one of the era’s premier industrial noise rock bands has its origins right here in PVD. Daughters formed in 2002 in the wake of grindcore band As the Sun Sets, becoming known for their unhinged live performances and aggressive touring schedule. After some band infighting, their well-received album Daughters was released in 2009 in the wake of a breakup. Eight years later, the reformed group released You Won’t Get What You Want, pushing themselves musically and gaining new levels of national attention and critical success. The album was even in the running for The Needle Drop’s recent “Album of the Decade” conversation. 

Their music is often harsh and noisy with a dark intensity matched only by the relentlessly grating vocals and subject matter. The circular “Long Road, No Turns” has an industrial clanging over a buzzsaw guitar, and “Less Sex” brings some electronics into the mix, like a ghoulish Gary Newman. It reminds me of a slow disintegration in audio form. Not in the gaudy, Slayer, drinking blood kind of way, but rather a withering away, the soundtrack to the insidious elements that eat into your soul.

I recently spoke with Daughters guitarist Nicholas Sadler, whose textures create the macabre bedrock for Alexis S.F. Marshall’s vocals. Sadler, 37, who still resides in RI, moonlights as the bassist for post-punk band Way Out, and has formerly performed with bands like Fang Island. Other local music credits include doing live sound at AS220 sand managing Jam Stage in Pawtucket, and Sadler has also worked in music publishing and film scoring.

Jake Bissaro (Motif): What is your take on the scene here? Do you think this is a good place to make music or art?

Nicholas Sadler: I think we have a really cool, multi-faceted scene here, with many talented people in many different corners. Generally, the best places to start a band or play music are cities where you can live cheaply. There was quite an explosion here of great music and art for a long time — it seems less like that now, but I’d say still definitely a viable option, especially compared to place like New York.

JB: Talk about the process of putting You Won’t Get What You Want together. 

NS: Because we’re spread out (our drummer lives in Austin and our singer lives in Pennsylvania), it was a lengthy process. The album started with me working on it when I had time in between other projects. I’d come up with shapes and ideas for songs and share them with the band via Dropbox, which had well over 100 tracks at one point. Everyone listened in to figure out what they like and don’t like, and we settled on the ones everyone thought would work best for a record.

JB: How was recording at Machines with Magnets?

NS: We’ve made almost all our records with them, and love working there. This area is lucky to have a place for such high-quality recording and talented engineers [Keith Souza and Seth Manchester]. The biggest advantage is that they’re not trying to force anything on you, and will let you try out your weird ideas. In studios, you often have no wiggle room, and end up fighting with someone you’ve never met who wants to put their stamp on music you’ve spent years working on. With the kind of work they’re doing, I think they’re setting themselves up to be legendary in that space.

JB: Do any of the tracks in particular stand out to you? 

NS: I’m particularly proud of “Satan in the Wait,” which sounds much darker than it actually is. We tried to step outside of the box on that one; no instrument overplaying, and there’s plenty of space, and a lot of repetition without becoming boring. I’ve always loved film scores and minimalism, so I’m really happy with that one.

JB: A lot of great guitar tones build the foundation for these songs. Is there a particular way that you shaped your sound?

NS: There’s no specific road map I use, but I’ve always found it helpful to force myself to do something I’m uncomfortable with. When I first got into guitar, the sounds I liked were seedy and weird, not something you could learn at the local store, so I had to figure it out myself. In a way, not having any technique became the technique.

JB: Was there any strategy to building an audience like Daughters has?  

NS: I think making your band stick is part intent and part right time, right place. People take for granted that there are tons of factors in play that you can’t control. Our first record came out with a lot of hype, and we were in Rolling Stone and all of that. The second record took some chances and effectively buried the band for a while, and I have zero explanation for why the new record has taken off as it has. I’d say the advice is to basically just keep going. But there is something to be said for being realistic. Like, will you still like your life if you’re making music but nobody cares?

Daughters comes to the Paradise in Boston on Sat, Dec 21. 

Release Madness!

Doris Duke – Need EP

Doris Duke is a Newport-based quartet that specializes in a mix of grunge and energetic punk rock, describing their sound as “angry music normally reserved for those half their age.” The EP may not share the ultra-refined refined pedigree of the namesake tobacco heiress, but it’ll definitely give you the hit of rock ‘n’ roll you’re looking for.

It’s a well-rounded five tracks, changing from breakneck speeds to sludgy riffs. The opener, “Ripper” is just that, and “Debt” reminds me of the politically charged punk rock of bands like Anti-Flag. “Need” is a midtempo grunge number reminiscent of Alice in Chains. The high point is the excessively titled “(Excuse me, I don’t mean to interrupt your dinner, but you so look like my friend) Shaniqua” for its deft stop/start timing and Descendants-like catchy hooks.

Need is available at dorisduke.bandcamp.com

Carinae — Carinae

A shoutout to my old bandmate Kasey Greene and his band Carine, which is out of Hadley, Mass, and recently out with their excellent self-titled LP. They take the swirling, vintage sounds of psychedelia and mix in an indie rock sensibility. Lose/Find yourself in the spacey keyboards and waves of delay in tunes like “Making Breakfast” and “Bread Mansion.” The epic “eta/Someday” has a powerful slow groove that builds into a some plain old rockin’ out. The catchy, playful tune Of Montreal-like “Honey Money” is the best for my money, but it’s hard to go wrong with any track on here. 

Find the album at carinaeband.bandcamp.com/album/carinae

Chris Capaldi — Frequency EP

Chris Capaldi is out with Frequency, the follow up to 2018’s Far from Here. Capaldi is an excellent songwriter who can really wail on the guitar. The songs are very impassioned (sometimes overly so) and bring an element of heartland rock. 

“Thin White Line” is a straight-ahead, Petty-like radio rock song and “Make it Out” is a smooth ballad. The arrangements are tight throughout, with tasteful backing vocals from Catie Flynn. Capaldi shows off his writing chops in subtle ways; the compressed funk of “Too Late” includes a refreshing post-chorus breakdown. There’s always something intriguing to unpack in his music.

Find Chris Capaldi’s music at: open.spotify.com/album/5YTe9CbZpjgfROwknt4EqK?si=EYKsn4c8TC6p0kcQYcZx-Q 

Last but not least, there’s a great show happening as part of the Route 44 Music Series at the Harmony Lodge. On Thursday, Dec 5, Smithfield natives Sarah Potenza and Ian Crossman return for an intimate performance. Opening the show will be Sean Finnerty-Robcats, Biscuit City and Forever Young.

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