“It started as a solo project and Rich slowly somehow long-conned us into being members of the band.” - Drew McQuade, Drummer
Awaiting their set time for the Sugarmama BK x Little Dickman Records showcase for CMJ, I sat outside Legion Bar with half of Darkwing to talk with the band about their complex past and promising future.
The self-described surf grunge New Jersey-based band has come a long way from being the solo project of songwriter and frontman Rich Rogers.
Rich began his musical journey in White Trunks, a band he and his friend formed in 2012. Having disparities in their songwriting, Rich broke off and began the original Darkwing project where he jowned forces with Carl, the bassist, and Darren, a drummer Rich met through his cousin. Eventually Darren left the band and the bassist’s friend, current member Drew McQuade came to fill in before Carl’s own leaving, to form the new and improved Darkwing.
Rich: We played this one show at the John Ryle House that no longer exists in Haledon NJ right by William Patterson University… this kid Kyle said, “Yo Rich, I’m gonna break a bottle over your head.” He didn’t do it the whole time, so at the end of the set I started headbutting him and he was like, “Oh, right!” and when we climaxed to the end of the song, [Kyle] bashes this bottle over my head. We were all wasted at the end of the show and Drew drunkenly comes up to me. (imitating Drew) ‘So, I know I said I would be like a fill in drummer, but you don’t have to look for anybody else.’
Drew: It was that show. We had way too much fun watching him get hit in the face with bottles that I wanted to be his drummer.
Rich: That was that. Then Carl quit and it was me and Drew for like 8 months.
With influences like Wavves, Nirvana, and The Misfits, Rich likes to call themselves “indie punk with a lot of grunge influence.” Evolving with the band’s sound and non-conformative nature, Darkwing slinks into a beach metal genre, especially with Zakk Mild’s “rippin’ solos.”
Rich: When I was getting this latest release mastered there’s this one song called ‘Bars’ with a 1:30 long solo in the middle, ‘stupid noisy shit’ –
This is where Zakk Mild hopped the tiny fence of our glamorous interview location of an enclosed sidewalk and joined the conversation serendipitously, as Rich went on to explain his joining the band.
– I was talking to Scott (who mastered the album). ‘You know what this song needs? A rippin’ metal solo.’ I was kind of friends with Zakk on Facebook and I was like, ’I know this kid’ll fucking do it. I hit him up and he was like, ‘Yeah I’ll fucking do it’ and he comes over and did 5 takes and since then he’s been: “Yeah, let’s play.” Zakk joined the band but he was playing bass. We recently brought on Sharif [Mekawy, of Looms] to play bass, so now Zakk gets to play guitar again… it feels good.
Although a relatively new band, Darkwing had undeniably chemistry on stage and the sweetest incestrous shit-talking off of it. Their performance had the makings of a show classically their own full equipped with a sea of pedalboards, capes, and a dreamy yet upbeat sound that you can both sway and headbang to.
As I inquire about what we can expect to hear from Darkwing in the future, Rich and Drew sidebar– “Should we tell her the name of the EP?” They go on to describe it, “These songs were written in a much smaller span of time. It’s a more cohesive album. Less all over the place with more guitars.”
We are briefly interrupted by Sharkmuffin, who we quickly debate over considering the “female Darkwing” and vice versa. (I was a tad lady star struck, as I had accidentally seen Sharkmuffin perform a few weeks prior at Mercury Lounge. They are some undoubtedly talented, rad babes.) We are quickly brought back to the present moment and return to the bar/venue, at CMJ. Here’s to another successful week where I discovered some of my new favorite bands.
Darkwing is currently recording their upcoming project at Sabella Studios. Although they’re keeping their EP title a secret, they assure me it is going to be “dank”…so I can’t wait to leak it.
Darkwing is the lovechild of R. Rogers, Drew McQuade, Zakk Mild, and Sharif Mekawy. Check out and grab their latest release, Lameonia. Your ears will thank you.