Verbana Darvell: Unmasked

The return of Verbana Darvell
By CHRIS CONTI  |  January 13, 2009

Verbana Darvell

South County screamo quartet Verbana Darvell recently finished their latest EP, Brought Out the Waiting, produced by studio whiz Mike Poorman at Strangeways Recording in Providence. Verbana Darvell will bring the heat beginning in February, including an all-ages benefit gig with friends Penrose and the Coming Weak at South Kingston High School and an opening slot for Pick Up the Pattern at Club Hell. Check for details.

The Westerly/Charlestown foursome garnered some nice press for their 2005 debut EP Run Automatic Orange, making the 24-hour trek (in a packed minivan) to Alabama for the chance to record with Hot Rod Circuit frontman Andy Jackson. Songs such as "Slice the Fancy" and "High Gusts at Suttle Movements" offered kinetic moments, with lead singer Blaine Wilkinson's trademark throat-thrashing vocals accompanied by Kevin Goguen's guitar riffs and the visceral rhythm section of drummer Brad Cottman and bassist Josh Taber. This led to an appearance on the 2006 Warped Tour stop in Fitchburg, and in January '08, indie authority Alternative Press featured them in their "Unsigned Bands of the Month" section after Cottman sent in the track "Helen Keller's Lost Map."

"They liked it and said it had a raw, early '90s rock vibe and emailed us back telling us they were putting us in, which was pretty rad," Cottman recalled.

Brought Out the Waiting tracks include the booming "Mask Her," "Dig Deep Japan," and "Elephant," and the boys are toying with the idea of adding a brand new song. A video for "Mask Her" is also in the works with local photographer Adam Guindon. The new stuff teeters on post-hardcore madness infused with melodic moments; the opening minute of "Mask Her" cuts through about four different subsections of alt-metal, and when the brakes are applied, the result recalls classic Deftones.

"I guess you could call it simple and distinct with a powerful sound," declared bassist Josh Taber, Wilkinson referred to their sound as "stimulating and odd," while Goguen called it "a heavy, strange indie feel.

"We're not following any sort of trend, and we make music for us, to be enjoyed by everybody," Goguen said. "We just want to have fun and write good songs in the process.

From the grand scale of the Warped Tour to a dingy club or high school auditorium, Verbana Darvell excel in the live setting, and drummer Cottman disagrees with the notion that playing out locally is more difficult now with recent club closings.

"It's not any tougher because there are so many options for promoters to book shows these days, from coffee shops to VFW halls," he said. "We just played in a church basement a few weeks ago. If you put on a good show, people are responsive no matter where you play."

When asked about the immediate future and sniffing out a potential record label, Goguen and his mates still agree on the DIY approach.

"We'll be lining up plenty of shows throughout the Northeast, but as far as labels go — we're handling this shit on our own," he said.

And as for the band name (I assumed it was an alter ego in the Marvel Comics universe), Cottman clarified: "We started with 'Trace Frances,' but it sounded too much like 'Sage Francis,' so we quickly came up with Verbana Darvell." Heat it up

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