Destry – Don’t Break My Heart by CMJ Network

When Michelle DaRosa left Straylight Run in 2008, she started looking for bandmates to join her on her most recent endeavor, Destry, an indie-folk outfit that allows DaRosa to explore the softer side of her music. She found a counterpart in Tyler Odom—DaRosa’s 10-year acquaintance who formerly played with Northstar and Cassino—while members of Straylight Run took part in the recording process. Destry released its first album in 2009, titled It Goes On, and followed up earlier this month with Waiting On An Island.

For DaRosa, creating music seems to stem from whatever feels natural. She never restricts herself by using one method of songwriting, having found inspiration from the guitar and singing in the shower, and is comfortable collaborating and working on her own. Though she grew up on Long Island, DaRosa now calls Boston home where the music scene is smaller but more collaborative. DaRosa recently spoke to CMJ about recording Destry’s newest release and her long-distance work relationship with Odom.

You and Tyler have known each other for 10 years. What made you decide to come together on a musical project?
Well, we had toured together when I was in Straylight Run and he was in Cassino, and I remember always watching their band and just loving the music and kind of thinking that it would be fun to be in something a little more mellow. I’m kind of a quiet person, and I thought doing music like that might suit me better than what I was doing. It was at first over e-mail, and I just really liked what he did with my songs, and we got along great so it worked out.

And how has working with him been different than working with Straylight Run?
He actually does remind me of my brother a lot, personality-wise they’re both very laid-back people. But with Tyler it’s actually more of a collaborative process because in Straylight Run, my songs were my songs, John’s songs were John’s songs. And with this, especially with this [record] than the last one, there are songs that, you know, I would have a chorus to and he would have verses to and we kind of put them together, which I think is really fun to do.

And you said that was different than the last album you two released?
Yeah, the first record that we did, I wrote all the songs except for one that Tyler wrote. It was just all my songs, and then different people worked on the instrumentation. But with this record it’s pretty much even. Lyrically we both wrote a lot whereas the last record I wrote everything. I think he’s really talented, and it’s really cool working with him.

What about the content of your songs? Is it based on your own experiences, or is it more fictitious?
It’s pretty much usually based on whatever is happening in my life at the time.

So what was going on when you guys wrote Waiting On An Island?
I can’t speak for Tyler really, but for me, there was a couple years, maybe a three-year stretch of time where a lot of things in my life weren’t working out on every level from personal to career to whatever. I guess I was just going through a hard time for a while, so a lot of the songs might have like, a sad vibe to them, but I tried to put a positive spin on them [laughs]. I don’t know if it worked out.

What’s the music scene like in Boston right now?
I think there’s actually a pretty good music scene here. There’s a couple people I’m friends with in bands. There’s a guy Andrew [Sadoway], he’s in a band called Girlfriend, and when I play locally usually they play. Also my cousin is in the Dropkick Murphys, and he plays with me too. There’s shows every night, there’s tons of venues, and [between] most artists there’s not a competitive vibe. [Andrew] gave me all his local contacts for people to get in touch with me, which is nice because a lot of times people in bands are just out for themselves and competing. I feel like it’s a friendly, good vibe.

It kind of sounds like a small-town vibe within the scene of a big city.
Yeah definitely. Boston is so much quainter of a city than New York. New York is so mega compared to here. As far as the music scene I feel like it’s much smaller. To be in New York City I feel like it would be pretty hard to get people to start to know about you, and here it’s a smaller scene, but it’s nice.

Since Tyler lives in Texas, were you guys together when you recorded the album?
Yeah. Basically, we meet up from time to time. Before the album we knew we were ready to make another album. At one point I flew out to Alabama because he was working in Alabama and living in Texas, which is really weird, so I went out to Alabama, and then we drove to some house in the woods in Tennessee, and we worked on a good amount of demos there. At the time this girl Nicole was playing drums with us, so we went to her house in Nashville and worked on some stuff there, and then when we recorded, we recorded in Baltimore, and we were both there the whole time.

Do you find that there are any difficulties being based in different cities as far as collaborating before the album?
As far as collaborating, no, but it’s definitely not the most practical or ideal situation. It would be amazing to have band practice regularly and play local shows all the time. I wouldn’t recommend people doing that, but I really like being in a band with him, I really like working with him, but sometimes if I have a local show it doesn’t always make sense for him to fly all the way from Texas to play one show. I developed a different version of the band that’s local, but I feel like it’s not really the band when he’s not here.