Old school workers clean up as band’s future starts to sparkle

St Annes band, Darlia, fronted by Nathan Day, centre
St Annes band, Darlia, fronted by Nathan Day, centre
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It’s the sort of back story which will go down in history, when Darlia hit the big time; three lads working as school cleaners, fired from their jobs when they sought time off to seal a record deal in London.

“It was so alien,” frontman Nathan Day recalls of that fateful trip down south for the St Annes trio. “We were three cleaners in a band who wanted to be big.

“It was surreal meeting producers, agents and managers, other people we’d heard of connected to bands we were fans of.”

It’s been less than 18 months since the trio of Nathan, bassist Dave Williams and drummer Jack Bentham walked away from their brooms and bleach at Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College.

While it sounds like something of a dream come true, there’s a certain world-weariness about 20-year-old Nathan when he looks back on the journey so far.

“The whole dream of wanting to be in a band and getting a deal, it’s a false tale these days and it breaks my heart to say that,” he said, admitting he’s become slightly disillusioned at the ‘pantomime’ and ‘politics’ behind the scenes of the music industry.

“Times have changed with the internet. It’s really sad, but I knew when we got a deal that it wouldn’t be this magical moment for us.

“Life doesn’t change over-night, there’s a massive campaign to it. As it is, someone has shown faith in us and is backing us with funding but that’s all it means.

“I can do so much more by working through the internet. You look into a lot of bands success stories, from Rebecca Black to Mumford and Sons and they’ve done it. But in this day and age, it’s not quite what I wanted it to be - I would rather you had to struggle and put on a show to impress people and get your deal, but that’s the 80s and 90s.”

Despite this, there’s an excitement at the prospect of releasing music in 2015 under the very ‘bespoke’ deal signed by the band - hailed last year by Radio playlist boss Nigel Harding as “the most exciting new guitar band in the UK” - which has allowed for mini-album Petals in February ahead of a full length release.

The former Lytham St Annes High School pupil has been playing guitar and writing songs since the age of nine, and joining forces with Jack at 13, resulting in 11 albums worth of music in their back catalogue.

The special deal has allowed that progression to not go to waste, and the release of Petals tells Darlia’s musical history so far in preparation for their move forward. “The mini album is something very intentional,” Nathan said. “The full album is completely different sound from what we have been through, so if we didn’t put out this mini release out, these songs might never be heard - and they should be.

“It’s half a step backwards before going forwards - strictly in terms of the music. The sound we are stepping into is very drastically different, so why waste these old tracks?”

Their single releases to date Candy Man, Dear Diary and Stars Are Aligned all feature, as well as a new recording of debut Queen Of Hearts - which Nathan wrote in his early teens.

“This time last year, we had a full release ready to go, but had a phase of writing and writing which pushed songs out of line and the songs I wrote were far better,” he added.

Darlia’s initial sound came from Nathan’s earlier ‘melancholy acoustic’ feel, which got ‘sped up 15 times over’ when Dave and Jack came on board, and going into 2015 fans can expect a slower pace and fewer ‘bashed out chords’.

Darlia made a real impact at several of this year’s festivals, a pleasant surprise to have drawn capacity crowds at some of the main events - including Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds.

“The summer was our moment to really push the ‘show’,” Nathan said. “We have definitely got a lot better live.

“Reading and Leeds were phenomenal, and the John Peel stage at Glastonbury where the tents was full with people chanting our name 10 minutes before we were due to go out.

“We expected more of a reception at the smaller festivals, as people who like Darlia would be more likely at those than the big ones, so it was amazing.”

And the festival bookers are already knocking with bookings coming in for the 2015 season, but before that Darlia are headlining their own promotional tour for Petals in the new year.

Visit www.darlia.co.uk for tickets to their North West date, at Academy 3 in Manchester on Friday, February 20.