The Silver Lake/Echo Park scene figured to lose one of its most intensely burning stars in 2012 when Summer Darling announced it was calling it quits. They were an indie rocker’s indie rockers, and their self-titled 2010 album was a brute, emotionally and physically, adhering to a directness and complex musicality seldom heard since the seminal 1990s emo bands ran against the grain. But it turns out that Summer Darling’s obituary was premature – Benjamin Heywood, Dan Rossiter, Heather Heywood and Mike Horick have been sitting on a finished album for much of this year. “Abandoner” will be out Jan. 14. So, happy new year indeed. As Heywood sings in “Outer Dark,” “No one ever knows where they’re going.” Especially if that place is away.
The album, recorded last December in Mammoth, features the core quartet along with Robert Cheek and S. Foye, who co-produced. Foye did the mixing and mastering. Heywood talks about the process:
||| Stream: “Outer Dark”
Many were under the impression Summer Darling was moving on. Not so?
For a while, it seemed like, yes, Summer Darling would no longer exist. I had a bit of a breakdown in 2012 and made some pretty rash decisions. These decisions weren’t fair to the other members, and most of all, they weren’t fair to my wife. Ultimately, she was the one who got things rolling again. She made me promise to get some therapy and grow the f*ck up. I’m happy I did. This record wouldn’t exist without her and some other very close friends who stuck by me.
Can you walk me through the creative process for the new album? For a while you were doing a diary, but then…
Initially, we went about writing the record the same way we always do: the four of us jamming in a room. However, for a myriad of reasons, it was clear to me that the record wasn’t going to get written in the old way to which we were accustomed. So we took a different approach. I wrote the lyrics and basic melody structures and song framework then went into a studio with Mike [our drummer] and hammered out the songs. From there we loaded all the gear into the van and split for Mammoth. We used [producer] S Foye’s family cabin to make the rest of the record. Everyone worked 15 hour days for a week, adding whatever inspired them in the moment. There was no time to over think anything. It helped that it was 7 degrees and snowing the whole time, There wasn’t anything to do but play music and drink.
Did any particular experiences or series of events inspire the material on “Abandoner”?
The story of the title is telling. My friend Paul [Harper] abruptly moved away a few years ago. We’d been playing music together in a couple of other projects and I was bummed he moved. I started kidding him, calling him the “Abandoner” when we’d talk on the phone. He said that was a great name for a record and that I could use it. I immediately loved it, told my bandmates about it, etc. This would’ve been in late 2010. I saw him for the last time in February 2012 when [Ben’s side project] Heywood played a show with his new band up in Chico. He passed away shortly thereafter. Most of the songs on the record are about this experience: death and the end of things, and what it does to the people who are left behind and what the f*ck is the point of this life anyway.