While braving both Canadian and U.S. highways, Ought frontman Tim Darcy, 26, took a few moments off from his 10-date tour to chat about his debut solo album “Saturday Night” and his Sept. 15 show in Lansing at Mac’s Bar. We spoke about his origins, his inspiration for the new album and what he’s looking forward to on the tour.
You’ve made two albums with Ought, correct?
Yes, two albums with Ought and then an EP. The first one came out in 2014.
Have you ever toured as a solo artist before?
Previous to Ought it was kind of all I had done really. I had played in a few other bands, started a few other bands. The longest running thing I had been doing since basically I had got a guitar was writing and playing solo.
Where did the title of the album come from?
We were just there, kind of late one night — Charlotte is the drummer on the record. Charlotte and I just started doing some spoken word incantations from my journal and that song, “Saturday Night,” kind of came to be and it felt like it summed up the spirit of the record. It felt like it was tied to a particular space that we were recording it in and we were able to get into the recording studio for free if we came in on evenings and weekends — that’s another reason that “Saturday Night” was the title, that we would go in Friday and Saturday night after everybody had left, and kind of stay there as long as we could to just try and make some stuff.
How long did it take you to create this new album?
Some of the songs are quite old. A fair few of them predate Ought even. In that sense, some of the more song songs were already formed and I had four track recording versions of them. As far as the actual time we spent making the record, it was about six months and I live in Montreal and we made the record in Toronto and I would go over for the weekend and maybe a total of four or five times and we would record for one or two days in that same style and in the evenings. It was very few days if you lay them all out, but it was spread out over six months. It was a very interesting and unique way to make a record.
But I’m sure you’re OK with not making the 6-hour trek from your hometown to the studio so often.
It’s definitely like that. It was so germane to this record of how the magic came to be, but it was also not without its stresses. Having to haul gear on the train or sort of not having my kind of immediate community to pull things from — that was difficult. Then going in for one night and then not going back for a couple of weeks, it’s not the same buildup of energy that can happen from weeks straight of working on something.
What were some of your influences on this album?
The influences are really scattered on this record. For me the project of it was, ‘I’m going to take these old songs of mine and much newer ones and really play around with tones. There was no constraint. There was no mandate of, ‘This has to become something,’ because of people who were working on the record. I was so honored to have had that experience.
Part of what made it feel possible beyond the song structures and tones of the Velvet Underground, is that there’s something about that world of New York ‘70s. It’s stuff that’s always really spoken to me. That was definitely an inspiration as far as feeling the record coming together in the way that it did. So much journeying that happened, moving from a three-chord pop song to a bowed guitar, so for sure, those artists are present in my palate.
What’s the tour been like so far and what are you most excited for during it?
It’s like hanging out with one group of friends and then spending time with another, except it’s more like coworkers and also you’re in a submarine.
Lansing should be fun because I’ve never been there before. The highlights of what remain are DC but Chicago is one of my favorite cities in the U.S., but every night is about the audience. If the audience is really vibing and great, then it doesn’t really matter where I am.