Of Creative Satisfaction: An Interview with Daughters/Way Out’s Nicholas Sadler

Photo by Rianne Garrido

Daughters re-imagined and beautifully corrupted their sound on last years You Won’t Get What You Want. In actuality, I got exactly what I did not know I needed. The album has an almost industrial edge to its rhythm section and singer Alexis shouts and wails his grim and poetic brand of elocution over guitar tones that bring to mind a chorus of ghosts howling disjointedly at flipped-out pitches. It’s a testament to the notion that a tiger can change its stripes however and whenever the fuck it pleases. You’re left puzzling over where this sound came from though. It definitely doesn’t fall into any of our convenient little boxes labeled uniformly to help keep the confusion at bay. 

And as we know, through things like the films of David Lynch or Ari Aster, we are creeped out by what we don’t understand. I like being creeped out. It’s what punk rock is all about and, at the end of the day, this is a very punk rock record.

Daughters were thrust violently into the spot-light following the success of YWGWYW and brutally extensive touring and press spots became the norm. I will refrain from speculation on what effect this must have had on the members. But guitarist Nicholas Sadler seems to have miraculously found time to devote to other bands as well.

Way out, a post punk outfit from Providence, RI., are equally as foreboding as Daughters. They currently have two EPs out that serve as a testament to the notion that post punk’s place in time is far more fluid than I ever thought possible. They are among the ranks of Soft Kill and Soviet Soviet as (though not the most popular by a long shot) the heaviest hitters in the genre right now. 

Nick provides bass for these albums and his heavy-handed hammering stands out on these releases. Some of the riffs are more complicated than you would discern from listening to the well-balanced songs, a symptom of a guitarist playing bass-guitar. It blends seamlessly with Derek Knox’s dreamy guitar licks and phenomenal barking vocals. 

They make a beautiful team. Spend some time with last year’s Arc of Descent and you will undoubtedly see what I mean.

As if that weren’t enough, Sadler has been helping out his former bandmate from Fang Island, Jason Bartell, with his solo venture, Mythless, by playing bass, percussion and running drum samples. 

This is the makings, exactly, for the sort of story I love. We are seeing a handful of bands like Daughters and Jeromes Dream rising up out of bygone days with new material that shows that sometimes a hiatus, though sometimes heartbreaking, is exactly what is needed for the evolution of sound. 

Sadler, out of the ashes, is one of the hardest working humans in music right now. Short of maybe cloning himself, I haven’t the foggiest idea how he accomplishes all this.

Photo by Jonathan Velazquez

I was plagued by this and other questions so I interviewed Nick:

There isn’t a lot of info in the internet pertaining to Way Out. Can you tell us a bit about them and how that all came together?

Way Out is a post-punk band that I play bass in – folks who like Wipers and melodic bands like Chameleons might be into it. There are three of us: Anna Wingfield on drums and Derek Knox who sings and plays guitar. We released a short LP called “Arc of Descent” on Atomic Action in 2018, and our first self-titled ep has seen a couple of releases on tape and vinyl from various sources over the years. Both releases have been pretty limited. We’ve had a difficult time finding label support otherwise, and though we have toured here and there, it’s also been difficult getting out there as a new band for various reasons. Derek started Way Out back in 2012 with different members, eventually meeting Anna and myself, which is when the music really began to grow into something cohesive. 

Did you at all expect YWGWYW to be received as well as it has been? Why or why not?

Absolutely not, but it’s difficult to pinpoint why. It’s far exceeded any members hope or expectation, that is certain. Trying to muster a reason why not; what comes to mind is that it feels surreal to see it connect with so many people knowing that it’s something I made. How could something I made between shifts at work, using Garageband, come to have so much connectivity? Something that came from me, and something that arrives 17 years into the bands lifespan. I find the whole experience to be both bewildering and surreal, though I am grateful in every way one might hope I would be. 

Who are some of your biggest pop culture heroes? Writers, filmmakers, musicians, painters, poets, whatever? Who influences you?

The people and things that influence me change often, so it depends on which period of my life I find out about something and how long it takes for that data to either stick with me or fade away. I grew up thinking I would go to art school to paint and draw. Later, when I still thought I’d go to art school after high-school, it was supposed to be about where creative, possibly poetic writing, intersects with filmmaking. I ended up playing in bands and making music for the last 20 years instead, but there was a brief moment recently when SAIC in Chicago awarded me a scholarship to participate in the Sound Art program there. I’ve been making music for commercials and short films intermittently for years and planned to apply this degree to film composition down the line – this is ultimately where I see myself. I’ve always been connected to art-making on some level for as long as I can remember. I think that the general need to be making something is the primary influencer; or, maybe it’s better to refer to it as something latent in me that surfaces at will rather than a specific need. Something inherent, and I would add that in a general sense, peers and contemporaries of any genre, anyone that shows me something I haven’t seen or heard before tend to create the largest ripples. 

What with all the bands you’re playing in and all the inherent obligations there, how do you find time for yourself these days? What do you enjoy doing?

I don’t really have much time to myself at all, but it’s a good thing and I am slowly learning how to make friends with the lifestyle (which is new to me). I spend my free time either writing music or being with the person I love in Des Moines, Iowa. I’m trying to think of this busy but fortunate time in my life as a moment I should use to learn more and make more – to allow myself to see myself as a musician, something I struggle with accepting for some reason. Outside of that, I try to be with my family and friends. 

Can you tell us a little bit about Daughters’ reformation? How did that go down? Was it awkward or did you guys just slip back into it organically?

It was natural. We were tired of the lifestyle and of each other by the time we decided to go on hiatus. Lex and I agreed to write a new album within 15 minutes of sitting down to our first dinner together, after having not seen one another for at least 3 years. I never stopped having new ideas for Daughters and the desire to see what can be done with the project never died out; I was thinking about the band all along, even when I felt dejected and thought I would stop making music altogether.

What kind of stuff did you listen to growing up?

Both of my parents are rockers, and young. In the 80s, when I was little, they had me dressed in leather jackets, patch-laden denim, with a blonde mullet and lines shaved into the sides of my head. Lots of people my age probably have similar stories. I remember crying when my father blasted Welcome to the Jungle at me, I had to be 3 or 4 then, and I remember my mother with a perm, large hoop earrings, a shoulder-padded jacket, blaring Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam. Even though I was probably afraid of some of these things at first, they formed the foundation of my taste in music at the time. I credit my parents for all of my interest in music; my mother always had music on at home or in the car, but was also a big horror movie fan, which is where I first heard Penderecki, Tangerine Dream, and Bauhaus as a young person. Though I had no idea who made that stuff at the time, it became deeply rooted in my subconscious. My father purchased a red and black tiger striped Aria Pro guitar for me before I even had an interest in learning to play, and took me driving at night so we could listen to the local stations Metal night together. He had a mullet, wore a bandana, played guitar with a black rose tattoo on his forearm, and demolished nice cars back then. That Aria is why I had my black and gold tiger striped 9 string guitar made. To this day I still idolize music I heard in movies like Return of the Living Dead and Legend, but theres this peripheral, general, thing of varied cultural debris throughout my life having a latent effect on the music – that is probably everyone, doing everything, though.

I can already hear the influence the new Daughters record is making on the punk rock community. The album defies genre. Do you feel like you have created a new sound? Why or why not.

If we did, it was not intentional. I think of our progression simply as a way of keeping ourselves creatively satisfied, and even just entertained. I knew at least one thing going into YWGWYW, that it was not worth doing if we weren’t going to push ourselves to explore, take chances, and jump into territory that was unfamiliar to the group. I didn’t want to come back after so much time off with an album of standard Daughters songs; the next album really had to be something different, whatever that was supposed to be. Doesn’t feel like all that radical of an approach, really – but it’s so important to stay on that wavelength. Try things, stay open, forgive yourself your failures, accept your limitations as elements of a style, and seek not to compare what you’ve made with what it is you think is known and good.

The album is on Mike Patton’s label. Have you guys met him? If so, what was your impression. 

Our drummer Jon tour manages Patton’ band Dead Cross, so they knew each other by the time Ipecac got in touch about doing an album together. Mike took the band out to dinner in SF when we first toured through after YWGWYW had been released. I skipped dinner because I didn’t want to miss our friend Lingua Ignota’ final set of our dates together, but Patton came back to the show with friends and hung out in the green room with us. My impression is that he is a nice person, and a fun-loving guy. He simply hung out – it was easy going.

It’s hard to fathom what a next Daughters album could possibly sound like. Have you guys been writing anything new?

I’m always writing and planning new things for Daughters. I must have about 15 recordings directed at Daughters from the first half of this year already, but who knows. I just haven’t had the time to really dig in because of all the touring. I do know that I will do the same thing I have always done, which is to choose what I think works best about the latest release and use that as a starting point for the next album.

I feel like the world is sort of sleeping on Way Out. It’s really great stuff. What’s next for them?

Thank You. Way Out has been patiently waiting for me to have a break from touring so we can write and maybe play a couple fun shows with friends. I’m dying to get back into a room with Derek and Anna; we have great chemistry together, I truly love our songs, and they are just excellent fun, people that I also truly love. Of all the band I’ve been in, I think WO might be the only one I know for sure that I would enjoy had I not been a part of it. 

Why did you choose to be a punk musician? You think it could have ever been any other way? What else did you want to be, if anything?

I thought I was going to be many things: writer, filmmaker, painter. I would admit that I have never thought of myself as a “punk” despite having spent so many years at shows that fit within the vast description of punk and its off-shoots. Luckily, I grew up in a place that was completely saturated with creative radicals of all sorts, alongside of a very strong and varied scene of music that carried with it all the important aspects of the general punk ethos, while in some cases undermining, disregarding, abandoning, or just applying it to different kinds of music. This punk facet, or whatever phrase applies, is innate in my involvement with music and creativity because it’s where I first found a place for myself within a community as an underprivileged young person, and so it’s not something I think too much about. I just like to be where music feels vital, creative, radical, and/or exciting; thankfully that can be found in almost all genres of music. 

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