Darwin Deez, who take their name from lead singer Darwin Deez, whose name is a variation on his real name Darwin Smith, are a great band out of New York City that specialize in energetic indie pop. Their third album, Double Down, is filled with the band’s trademark fusion of rock, pop, and blues that sounds sunny on the outside, but reveals a sadder core when you start paying attention to the lyrics. They’re also perfect vessels for the band’s highy original videos, which they’ve made their calling card. Their latest, for the album’s second single, “The Mess She Made,” features Smith becoming one-half of the faces of giant money bills. It’s striking, clever, fun to watch, and has nothing to do with the song’s lyrics, which is kind of the point—Darwin Deez is here to entertain you.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Dated and diluted.
How did your career get started?
Got into a van. Liked it. There were no seats in the van. Bonus. Played guitar for a friend’s band. Went to Germany for a week of shows. Rocked. Got seen by an industry woman. Myspace page links were emailed to the label that pays me now.
Where do you hope to be professionally in five years?
Where I am now is fine. I’d also accept any amount of recognition from the pop-music industry at large.
What’s your next project?
Touring the U.K. Fixing my pedalboard up. Programming Logic to respond to MIDI messages I will send from a foot controller to manage my guitar-effect changes on the fly. I also need to grease the wheel bearings on the cargo trailer. Had to replace the axle during the last U.S. tour. Don’t want to go down that road again!
What are you most proud of so far, in terms of your career?
People like my songs and they like to sing along to them.
What famous person, dead or living, do you most wish you could have as a roommate?
Roommates are the worst! I want to live alone. I bet Michael Jackson would have been a decent roommate, though. House would have been huge.
What is your favorite driving music?
Songs I already know. Because it’s so hard to hear new music with all that background noise. So, like, Weezer’s Blue Album. Or Ashley Parker Angel’s album, which I know very well.
Whose career would you most like to emulate?
Paul McCartney. I guess that puts me in my grinding-in-Germany phase right about now.
If you had to live in a past time, what do you think would be the most fun era and why?
The ’70s and ‘80s seems pretty good. A nerd invented Ninja Turtles in the ’80s and became set for life. From a comic book that ripped off other comic books.
What activities do most enjoy doing alone?
Surfing YouTube. Writing songs. Walking around the neighborhood.
How do you wind down before bed?
I watch this Canadian guy Chris M., a.k.a. “Kiv,” play Netrunner. He narrates screen recordings of his games and uploads them every day. His voice is so calming, it puts me right to sleep.
When are you most relaxed?
See above. Definitely not at the beach. I like screens. Screen time makes me a grumpy monster, though.
What kind of person were you in high school?
A cool outsider with a puffy Afro and brown polyester slacks. I bought cool-looking vintage shirts from the thrift store and used my sister’s sewing machine to tailor them to my slim torso. I had bright sneakers.
Can you tell me a quality about yourself that you are genuinely proud of?
I have ingenuity and problem-solving skills. I am good at diagnosing what’s wrong with things and fixing them without spending money. Like, I can make a comfortable place to sit out of some speakers, a towel, and a National Geographic. I found a free parking place in NYC for the 20-foot tour van with trailer attached. I save hundreds on flight cases by finding old trunks on the sidewalk, ripping out their interiors, and putting foam in them. I figure out what’s wrong with people and devices and I make them work. I spent $20 on a scan tool that has allowed my car to pass inspection for years, despite a persistent “check engine” light, repairs for which would cost over $1k. You have to drive the car just so, though.
Do you have any phobias?
Don’t think so. Used to be scared of robbers breaking into the house as a kid.
What’s a serious side of you that people are unlikely to know about? Either in terms of interests, hobbies, or personality?
People close to me say that I can be very cold and impersonal. Heartless. I’m also deeply afraid of life. Don’t like to go outside of my routines. Philosophically pessimistic at times. History of suicidal ideation. Ah, don’t remind me!
What are some new hobbies you would like to take on?
Computer programming, hacking, being a script kiddie.
What are some of your favorite Internet “memes” of all time?
I find Laina (“Overly Attached Girlfriend”) hilarious and very cute. Stoner Stanely, a.k.a. “Really High Guy,” is also one of my favorites. Those are usually funny to me, although I never smoke weed as it has never been enjoyable to me! I like to be in control of my body.
How do you hope to grow as a creative person?
I just hope not to die in the middle of making an album. I think about that when I start to get some good songs recorded.
If there was a phrase that you think best sums up your approach to life, what might it be?
Don’t rock the boat. If I take care of my physical needs, take fish oil, walk two miles a day, hopefully I will not want to kill myself. Welp! That got dark. Sorry, NYLON!