The band known as the DAAP Girls is made up of all guys, has barely anything to show as far as web-presence and has yet to release any music. Still, they have been chosen as a nominee for the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards’ New Artist of the Year, and rightly so, as the Girls are a band that already has a strong fan base and is about to hit the ground running.
The group got its name because, as the story goes, they play “love songs written by five lads who met while dating the same lady.” The lady in question was a student at DAAP, which, of course, refers to the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. The rest of the story is that this new group is made up of veteran Cincinnati musicians who came together last April, ready to take a new project to the next level.
The members of DAAP Girls come from other established groups in Greater Cincinnati — namely, The Lions Rampant (Stuart MacKenzie and Richard Sherman) and Newport Secret Six (Jay Duckworth, Alex Duckworth and Daniel Peterson).
“I read in Keith Richards’ biography that he played his guitar a lot in open tuning so I started writing songs that really weren’t Lions Rampant songs,” MacKenzie says of the new band’s formation. “Then my buddy Richard started writing songs with me. Jay and Alex are good friends so they came onboard. Then we tried out a bunch of different drummers and (Jay and Alex) said, ‘Well, do you want to borrow our drummer?’ We started practicing and then started sounding really good and from that came the DAAP Girls.”
The band — which describes its sound as “Gutter Funk and Rock ‘n’ Soul” — will release its first album, Tape Songs, on Feb. 23. The debut resembles a cross between early Rolling Stones and The Replacements, but in a couple of months, DAAP Girls will quickly record their second album to showcase more songs co-written with the rest of the band that highlight their funky side better.
“The band is a blending of all of our influences,” MacKenzie says.
“We all like Punk Rock. I really like The Stones and Richard likes The Stones. Daniel grew up playing drums in Gospel music, playing in these all-black churches in a strip mall in Texas, and he does not like to play Rock & Roll-style but instead plays break beats, so that is really good for us. Jay comes from more of a Punk Rock and Reggae background so he’s not playing straightforward bass, which is really nice. Then his brother Alex, who plays the organ, he and Richard are like the musical geniuses who can transcribe all of the notes and the weird things that me and Jay can’t figure out.”
DAAP Girls have been gigging around town since last June, and with two albums in the pipeline they already have their sights set on national exposure. But they are ready to make their mark in Cincinnati, as well.
Part of what will surely help them in their ambitions is a great performance approach. When asked about how the group approaches their live shows, MacKenzie says, “With intensity.”
“We dress up and wear vintage suits and we’re out to put on a show and make it worth everybody’s while,” he continues. “We like to get pretty loose, so it’s fun. We’ve got a couple of call-and-response tunes that we get the crowd to sing along with and we made a video … that we filmed with a bunch of people that have been coming to our shows, so they know the words. At the Thompson House a couple of weeks ago, we had some chicks come onstage and start dancing with us all by themselves. We try to play the music the best we can and let them do the rest.”
The current lack of any sort of DAAP Girls audio or video footage online — or other basic information, for that matter — is not due to laziness, but perfectionism and a desire to bring some mystery back to music.
“We’ve been pretty tight-lipped about the band because we wanted to make sure that the music was something we were proud of and we didn’t want to leak anything that was subpar,” MacKenzie says. “We kind of like being a little bit secretive. … At first, if you wanted to know about the DAAP Girls, you had to come and see a show.”
While the members of DAAP Girls are thrilled about their CEA nomination for New Artist of the Year, they are also equally, and impressively, happy for their fellow nominees.
“We’re excited,” MacKenzie says. “All of the other people nominated are buds, too. So it is pretty cool to see people that have been playing music in Cincinnati for a long time who are starting new projects get recognized for it. We are fans of all of these bands so it is cool that we get to be in the same category with them.”
For (slightly) more information on DAAP GIRLS, visit facebook.com/DAAPgirls.