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    “We played with Charlie Louvin of the Louvin Brothers in a cave in McMinnville, Tennessee, 330 feet underground. It was so cool. One of the coolest things,” remembers Jessi Zazu (vocals, guitar). It’s just one moment from almost a decade of touring, but it’s a standout among shows opening for Joan Jett and The Black Keys, performing at Bonnaroo and a stint on Mumford & Sons’ Gentlemen of the Road tour.

    Nashville-based band Those Darlins is saying goodbye with an 11-stop farewell tour before the group goes on an indefinite hiatus. The tour will stop at Zanzabar on Jan. 19 (doors at 9 p.m.), the last in a long string of visits to Louisville - Jessi’s family is from the area, bringing the band here many times to play with acts like Wax Fang, Ladybirds, Quiet Hollers and Dream Eye Color Wheel.

    “I always kind of feel like because I have so much family there and some friends, [Louisville] always feels sort of like second home... It feels really familiar…familiar, in a comforting way” says Zazu.

    Those Darlins has had an impressive run, their music picked up many times on television (notably on HBO's "True Blood" and a summer Kia campaign) and they’ve built a fanbase that spans the globe: touring the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia, with stops as far as Beijing.“Traveling around the world with this band has been amazing,” says Nikki Kvarnes (vocals, guitar). “It’s always, ‘Where are we? This is so much fun!’”

    How does a band that’s been together for so long say goodbye? For both Jessi and Nikki, Those Darlins is their first successful musical endeavor and a big chunk of their lives.

    “The camaraderie of the band. It’s like marriage and siblings, this bizarre relationship. It seems so permanent,” says Kvarnes. “It’s a third of my life. I’m at a point now of acceptance, but it feels good to me, personally.”

    The band has faced its share of troubles and insecurities - Darlin’ Kelly Anderson departed in 2012 - and the future of the band wasn’t always clear. “I would say that seven out of the nine years of us being a band, there was at least one time out of the year that I thought we were going to break up. The future was never certain… Being in a band is not necessarily a guarantee. There’s no guarantee that it’s going to last even to the next day, hardly... This is what we want to do in order to preserve our friendships and continue on and be successful as individuals, hopefully,” says Zazu.

    Why a hiatus and not a breakup? According to Kvarnes, “Because you never know. No one really likes the idea of that permanence.”

    “[It’s been] naturally grieving something that I’ve done for 10 years and thinking about the memories and just all the hard work and good times we had. But also, I think I have felt a sense of accomplishment, looking back and thinking, 'Man we did all this awesome stuff.' I just remember when we started and I had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting into. And somehow we went from there to here, with all this experience under our belt. It’s pretty cool that we managed to do that - I don’t know how. In some ways it was like magic. Good and bad, it’s literally bittersweet,” says Zazu.

    We won’t be seeing new music from Those Darlins any time soon, but separately, the members have projects coming up. Nikki is working on putting out more music, “I’m having lots of forward-moving dialogue with lots of artists. It makes me confident that I’ll be able to keep doing this with the help of friends.” The project retains the Those Darlins heavy rock n’ roll sound, but with a sexier vibe. You can also find Kvarnes' work after the tour ends: she’ll be exhibiting at Nashville’s Julie Martin Gallery. The exhibit is a a collaboration with photographer Garland Gillespie, featuring paintings from photos - “self-portraits of me nude and in uncomfortable situations, along with a photo from each shoot [Those Darlins did].”

    Jessi and Linwood Regensburg (the third Darlin’ and current bass player) are working on new music, “We’re going to start a new band. We have some songs recorded and we should have some stuff coming out within the next year. We’re literally two or three songs away from finishing an album.”

    Jessi will also have art exhibited - a show in June at Gordon Jewish Community Center, also featuring art from her father, as well as an eight week show in November at Low Mill Arts & Entertainment in Huntsville, Alabama.

    Those Darlins aren’t gone for good, and plan on staying active in the music scene. “There’s nothing but love for anyone who’s ever supported us, seen us through and helped us grow. Without them, we wouldn’t be anywhere… Thank you and keep your eyes peeled. We’re gonna need them as much in the future,” says Kvarnes.



    Image: Those Darlins

    Michelle Eigenheer's picture

    About Michelle Eigenheer

    A Louisville transplant beginning to appreciate all the city's small things.

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