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by Yves Philippot-Degand & Philippe Archambeau
Septembre 2008.

RTJ : Hello Darren, can you tell us where you come from ?

Darren : I was born and raised in Franklin, Tennessee, U.S.A. , 20 miles south of Nashville.

RTJ : How did you start your musical experiences ? Can you talk about them?
What were your first influences ?

Darren : My family were all music fans, althouth none actually played instruments, except my grandmother, BIRDIE BROTHERS. She was an amazing piano player. She played at home and for her church for over 50 years. That was the very beginning of my musical interests. She's still kickin', and will be 100 years old in February,  2009!!  I was also exposed to country music early on. Living 20 miles from Nashville, it's hard to not be affected by music. A big momment for me was when my older sister played "Beatles" records at home. I immediately loved what I was hearing!!!  The very first "LP' I ever owned was "The Beatles Rubber Soul" I am still a huge Beatles fan to this day!!!   But the one "HOLY SHIT" moment came late one Saturday night in 1977, when I saw Peter Frampton, The Allman Brothers Band, and Bad Company on TV. (I think it was Don Kirschners Rock Concert). That completely blew my mind!!!!! It was the first time I realized you could have long hair, play a Les Paul, and girls would go APE-SHIT!!!!!  (LAUGHS)           
A short time after, my parents bought me my first guitar. It was a shitty no-name Les Paul copy, that you could'nt pry from my hands for like 2 years!!! In the summer of 1979, I started guitar lessons with a guy named Billy Phillips, a great jazz fusion/rock guitarist. This guy was a monster!!!! He could play anything you wanted to hear! Through Billy I was turned on to bands like Marshall Tucker, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, Johnny Winter, Robin Trower, The Outlaws, Jeff Beck, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, T-Bone Walker, Wes Montgumery, Foghat, The Dixie Dregs, and  the Slide Mastery of Duane Allman!!!!!  A very influential time for me!!! I knew I had my work cut out for me!!!!!

RTJ : Can you talk a little about your former bands, namely Branded from 1991 to 1997 and Kidd Kelley Band from 1997 to 2003 ? Can we still find the Branded's CD recorded in 1995 ?

Darren : BRANDED was a project that I'm very proud of. They were Kickass Southern Rock musicians before I ever owned a guitar!!!! I was the youngest of the 5 members. They were like older brothers to me, and taught me alot about, how a band works together as a team. BRANDED was actually a spin-off of another band called  "Marshall Law Band" from the 1980's. Former MLB members Nick Nichols-guitar/vocals, Barry Polk-bass/vocals, and Jerome Jordan-drums/percussion joined forces with Doug Waller-lead vocals/guitar, and myself to form BRANDED.    
And yes, we are re-releasing our 1995 record  BRANDED  (STILL REMAINS) in January 2009!!
  It will be available online at THEDARRENBROTHERSBAND.COM.                  
Oh yes, The Kidd Kelley Band, I almost forgot!!! (LAUGHS) That band had a little "too much fun"
if you know what I mean!! (LAUGHS) We were a Blues/Rock/Funk trio, that played around the south alot, recorded some great music, but never released anything. Barry Polk and Jimmy (Kidd) Kelley are both members of THE DARREN BROTHERS BAND!!!

RTJ : How many instruments do you play ? And which one do you  prefer ?

Darren : Guitar has always been my #1 instrument of choice, but I also play  bass, dobro, mandolin, and lapsteel.

RTJ : Can you tell us on what equipment you play ?

Darren : I prefer Gibson guitars and Fender amps, although  I occasionally play a Fender Stratocaster onstage with the Winters Brothers Band, because it just fits on some songs.
Most of the time I play my black 1978 Gibson Les Paul Standard through a Fender Hotrod Deville, or  Fender Blues Deville 4x10 amp. I use Boss effects, a Dunlop 535Q wah pedal,
and Jim Dunlop glass Slides.

RTJ : You are mainly known in France as the WINTERS BROTHERS' guitarist.
How did you join the band, as bass player I think?

Darren : Yes, thats right!! Not many people know that! In July 2004 Dennis (Winters) called me up, and ask if I could play bass on several shows he had booked. Former WBB bassist Ron Dunn had retired from road work to spend more time with his family. Dennis was kinda' apologetic, because he knew guitar was more my thing, but I gladly accepted!!  After 7 or 8 months on bass I was bumped-up to Lead/Slide Guitarist.

RTJ : Your transition to the guitar gave a more powerful sound to the band. How did it happen ?

Darren : Thanks Man, although, I think the powerful sound you speek of comes from the band as a whole! Dennis Winters is a great guitarist in his own right!! With Ricky Burke on bass andChad Booher on drums it levels the playing field!! Very talented cats to be around, and to play music with. 'They' give my playing more power!!!!

RTJ : The Winters Bros.' Summer Jam, that happens every year in June, is today a real event in Southern Rock, can you give to our readers an idea of the atmosphere ?

Darren : VERY  EXCITING!!! You wouldn't believe all the talented people that play the Jam every year!!!!!  A few examples from past and present are Charlie Daniels, George McCorkle, Johnny Rodriegus, Toy Caldwell, Tommy Crain and the Crosstown Allstars, Billy Hester, Ed King, Zack Tucker, Donnie Winters, The Souther Cuzins', The Southern Belles, and of course the late GREAT, MR. POPPA DON WINTERS SR.!!!!!!!!!! Good music, Good food, Good friends!!!!! A good time to be had by all!!!!! June 2009 will be the 30th Annual Southern Summer Jam, and it's sure to be a blast!!!!

RTJ : Of course, we were aware that your first CD released, how would you describe it?
What kind of style did you want for it ?

Darren : I was looking for a southern vibe fo'sure! I didnt want to release something that was'nt true to my heart, and upbringing. I'm pleased with the way it turned out, and the good response I've gotten from it. I think everybody's "debut" is very tedious work! You want to get it  'right' from the start!! 

RTJ : Who is the band's official singer, is it Lin Tennyson ?

Darren : Yes, Lin has been in the band for over 2 years now. He is a great singer, and talented songwriter as well. Lin and I cowrote "FEEDIN' THE BLUES" and also several songs for the upcoming 2nd record .    

RTJ : How did the CD's production go on with Andrew Dickson ?

Darren : Andrew is an old friend of mine, and a fantastic drummer,who played,along with Jimmy (Kidd) Kelley on the DBB record. Andrew has a good ear and overview of what I was trying to accomplish in the studio. Most of the project was recorded in Andrew's studio (STUDIO D)
in my hometown Franklin, Tennessee. He will more than likely coproduce my next project.

RTJ : There's no place for your songs from this album on any Winters Bros.' album, can you explain why to our readers ?

Darren : Well, The  WBB has only released 1 CD (COAST 2 COAST) since I joined the band, and that was un-released material from 1978. Dennis and I plan to write material for an upcoming Blues project.

RTJ : The rhythm section on "Supachaka", the album's second instrumental title sounds very much in an " Allman Brothers" way, is it what you wanted ?

Darren : Thanks Brother, I'm glad somebody thinks so!!!!! (LAUGHS) The Allmans will always influence my music fo'sure!! The 'real ' secret sauce in "SUPACHAKA" IS THE RHYTHM SECTION!!!!! I was very fortunate in having Bob Babbitt-(Motown Session Bassist, Stevie Wonder), Ed Greene-(Drums, Marvin Gaye, Hall & Oates), and my old friend, Rick Gilbreath-(Keyboards, Three Dog Night) come in and play on that song!!!!!  

RTJ : You write all the album's titles, except the well known  Winters Bros.' "Smokey Mountain Log Cabin Jones". How did unfold this cover's recording with Jamie LaRitz on guitar ? Why did you choose to cover this song ? Who had the idea ? It sounds more"rock" than the original, did you want it ?

Darren : Smokey Mountain is one of my favorite WBB songs!! A really cool song to cover!! Dennis allowed me to re-arange it, to my own personal tastes, for my version. It was recorded at Jamie LaRitz' studio (DOG EAR STUDIOS) in Nashville. Jamie is a great guitarist, and a former WBB member, so it was only fitting that he play on the track. It's always fun, trading licks with Jamie!!!!

RTJ : On your album, your guitar playing seems to be more versatile, or even attracted by jazz like on "Biplane Boogie" (song also looking a little like a Grinderswitch' one with its Hammond B3 organ), is it what you wanted to realise ?

Darren : On "BIPLANE BOOGIE", I was going for a jazz/blues Jimmy Smith kind of feel. You know, an old school R&B shuffle. We had a ball recording it!!! What you hear is the second take  'live'  in the studio!!! No overdubs!!!  We just rolled tape and went to town!!!!! (LAUGHS)   
RTJ : The songs "Shadow" and "No Pie Annie" are in a line close to Pattern Disruptive,
Dickey Betts' album, did someone already tell it to you ?

Darren : No, nobody's said it sounds like Dickey, but thats good to hear!!!! (LAUGH)
 I wrote "NO PIE ANNIE" 10 years ago!! "SHADOW" was written in 2006. 
They're two of the bands favorites to play live!!!  

RTJ : How do you succeed to let Jack Pearson et Dennis Winters come on the title "Shadow" ?

Darren : I met Jack Pearson in 1993, in a Nashville studio. We've remained friends through the years, and played together on several occasions. Anyway, I bumped into Jack, backstage at an Allman Brothers concert in Huntsville, Alabama in 2006. I told him I was cutting some tracks for the new CD, and would he like play on it? He said "sure" and to let him know when and where!!! 
A couple months later we prepared the basic tracks for "SHADOW" and Jack came by and laid down a few lead passes. As for Dennis, I had wanted him to guest sing on the record from the start!! "SHADOW" was the perfect song for his vocal style!! Both  Dennis and Jack did a kickass job!!!

RTJ : You have two drummers, excluding the (occasionnal?) Lin Tennyson's contribution on percussions, what does it bring to you moreover ?

 Darren : Two drummers is the way to go!!! It adds so much more foundation!!

RTJ : Why are you the only guitarist in your band, while playing  in a style where the many resources that offers the association of several guitarist are often very important,
almost a kind of trademark? On stage, are you still the only guitarist in the band ?

Darren : Yes, for the moment. I do most of the harmony lines with the keyboards. 
It works really well!! 

RTJ : Despite what Rick Gilbreath and Jack Pearson played on the album, why does the band not include an official keyboards' expert, a personnal choice or the lack of a good  opportunity?
On stage, have you a keyboard player ?

Darren : Yes, Rick Gilbreath still plays on stage with us.

RTJ : How could you describe Southern Rock ?

Darren : Southern Rock is more than just music!! It's a lifestyle!! A way of life!!! Would'nt you agree?? (Of course, Darren! N.d. R.) It's nice to know that Southern Rock is popular in Europe
and America!!!! I think Duane Allman and Toy Caldwell would be proud that Southern Rock
is still popular in 2008!!!!

RTJ : On some pics, you have an striking resemblance with Duane Allman.
Did someone already let you notice this point ?

Darren : Yes, they have. And it's very flattering man!!!! Duane is one of my alltime favorite cats in the world!!!!! Hopefully oneday, my musicianship will be up on his level! Nobody can beat Duane Allman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RTJ : I'd really like to see the Winters Bros. or the Darren Brothers Band coming and playing here in Europe, do you think it would be possible some day ?

Darren : We hope so too!!! That would be great!!! With the right opportunity,
it could happen soon! 

RTJ : Point Blank came in Europe two years in a row, and thay have more concert dates here than in the USA. Can you say more about the Southern Rock's situation in the USA ? Do you easily find concert dates ?

Darren : Point Blank are a great band!! The situation in America is good! 
Theres still a big demand for Southern Rock music in the U.S.. We've been truly blessed!! 

RTJ : Do you know if a WINTERS BROS DVD's recording is planned ?

Darren : Absolutely!! We're planning to film some shows in Macon, Georgia this December!! Hopefully, it will result in 2009 DVD release!!

RTJ : To finish this interview, a traditional question : if you had to stay on a desert island,
what would the five albums that you would take with you ?

Darren : SHIT,,    MAN  THATS   EASY!!!!!!! (LAUGHS)                                      
#1 THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND (LIVE AT THE FILLMORE)                                      
 #2 THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND (EAT A PEACH)                                                       
 # 3 DEREK & THE DOMINOS (LAYLA)                                                                                
 #4 THE CHARLIE DANIELS BAND (FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN)                                        
RTJ : Do you have something to add to our readers  ?