INTERVIEW: Darby Mills, 1 of Canada’s vocal driving forces, is going stronger than ever at 59 and breathing life and passion into her new and re-released masterpieces.
Our musical veteran Darby Mills was born the last of 4 children, into a musical family on December 3rd in 1959 in Vernon BC. She is a daughter, a mother of 2 talented sons, a wife of 34 years to Brian Wadsworth, is an athlete, singer, song-writer, recording artist & hand-crafted Jeweler. 42 soon to be 43 years into her musical story, Darby Mills (former voice of the Juno nominated Canadian rock band the Headpins) has embarked on her 1st solo project in years, after 4 decades in this thang they call rock n roll. 1 of Canada’s vocal driving forces, is ready at 59, to breathe life and passion into her new and re-released masterpieces from both 2015 album Flying Solo and most recent 2018 album ‘LIVE’.
I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with one of Canada’s most recognized female rockers of all time, Darby Mills.
Deb: Good Afternoon Darby. Your Hamilton fans are thrilled to hear of your return to Ontario this Spring. Are you, your guitarist Randy Gabel, bassist Dave Hopia, keyboardist Doug Rasmussen and drummer Chris Murray Driver all revved and ready to unleash your creativity amongst your legions of Ontario fans?Darby: “Absolutely, we’re really excited for what’s coming up. The Project has a new rhythm section and with a few more rehearsals and some start up shows out west we’ll be ready to Roll for the 2019 Spring and Summer dates.”
Deb: The last time we spoke Darby, was back in August of 2017 when you were residentially surrounded by forest fires, so it is good to hear you still have snow, a lot safer than out of control raging fires. Darby: “Ya, the forest fires came barely a week after having 3 or 4 towns locally flood. So, don’t get me started, (laughs) it has nothing to do about Global Warming (laughs again). But it is a crazy time and lots of people are going thru terrible things, so I am not going to sit here and bitch about snow. It will be nice when it’s gone, but we are good here, definitely good.”
Deb: The summers as a youngster, were spent at your parent’s cabin. At night your family would sit upon the driftwood logs that lay on the beach, the bonfire lit the night, your dad would serenade the world with the songs of his youth. Would you say this was initially what drew you to music? Darby: “Yes, definitely it was the 1st sense of what delivering a performance and having an immediate reaction could be. Dad would sing with the whole north end of the lake sitting at their bonfires, up to a mile and a half away. You could hear the applause from the people on the other side of the lake, it was like WOW that’s cool. So, that was my introduction to give and take or give and give. I did from an early age figure I would be an actor or an actress or however you want to describe it. This was, in my opinion, what lead me to my first performance with my very 1st band in Grade 10, if you want to include that in my years of performing, I am at close to 42-43 years now from the time of my 1st performance.”
Deb: Wow, that’s incredible! Darby: “A lifetime you know. My dad was definitely the 1st experience I had in regards to what performing was all about. Although, as I mentioned before, I figured I would be in the entertainment field from an early age, as it was imbedded in me from somewhere, some past life of some sort. Even though the journey has been far less than perfect, I am still grateful for all the experiences, as that’s how I met my husband, and life goes on.”
Deb: That leads up to my next question, who inspires you? Which you described already that your Father was an influence. Darby: “Well, of course, I mean that’s for me, a given. He was and still is an awesome human being, even though he is only a part of himself these days. Anyone my age I am sure, they have experienced having their parents go thru the issues that come to an 80-90+year-old human being. I have been dealing with putting my father into a care home from a retirement home. You take away a lot of their freedom doing that, BUT, he needed the extra care. There are days he really doesn’t know who I am, so ya, he’s here but not here kind of sort of. I lost my mom 6 years ago now and that is what really helped me to start on this path of “what’s it all about.” Asking myself are you happy? Have you fulfilled the things in your life that you have the ability to do and are either too scared to do or too lazy to do, for whatever reason? Are you going to hit the end of the road and think, as I’ve said this before, I didn’t even try! Fulfil your dreams, if you’re not here to do that, what are you here for?” Deb: I lost my parents when I was young, I feel for you. Darby: “I’m sorry to hear that.” Deb: It’s a part of life lol. Outside of your parents, who else inspires you? Darby: “My children inspire me, my husband inspires me, as he has been a huge part of having me take these steps to find myself or I should say ourselves. I met him in this business, he was the Headpins co manager and agent. He started doing that from a young age as well. I like the fact that he’s back not only in the business but back taking every step with me and planning for the future. It takes a team, as much as you sometimes look at things and go aww, it would just be better or would suit me better if I did it myself, it would be the way I like it! But sometimes learning how to let go and realize that you can’t do everything yourself. Finding good people to be on your team or on ‘The Team’ with you is key to having a good life. When you are younger, 30 something you’ve got so much life ahead of you. But, when you’re knocking on 60, you realize that you are on the downside of that ride! I believe it’s important to have a life. It is important to be fulfilled in as many aspects of living, but that’s just my opinion.”
Deb: Infusing your life with musical action, never idle in 39 years, filled with a plethora of creativity and passion with a drive to leave your fans inspired in the rock n roll frame of mind. What is your most valuable memory or piece of advice given to you back in the day that serves as a motivator today, to keep you driven forward in your passions and your new Darby Mills Project?Darby: “Oh my goodness!” I don’t know if I can just give you one, I don’t know if I cangive you any to tell you the truth. Follow your heart, follow your intuitions. I couldn’t tell you who gave that to me. But now with the social media and Facebook, there are so many posts about this every day, lol. I know I’ll put one out when I am having a bad day. I try to remember to think about the positives. Get your focus off the things that you don’t want or need in your life. There is this thing called “The Law of Attraction,” start focusing on things that you do want! I started to think positively and open myself up to good vibes and happiness. I am very pleased to say, that as hard as that has been, as I have always been a glass half empty individual, I am in the process of changing that to a glass half full! Achieving this has really opened my eyes. There will always be challenges and there will always be hurdles, so why don’t you take those hurdles to the end of your means, in other words quit working someone else’s dreams. Focus on what it is that makes you happy and work towards that end. There are always going to be struggles ahead so change your focus and maneuver those hurdles and work through those struggles to arrive at your own destination, not someone else’s. If the purpose of coming here (Earth) was to learn something for yourself, figure out what it is you are supposed to learn, which takes bravery and strength, we all have it, you just need to believe it’s there, then go for it!!”
Deb: Exactly. Darby walk us thru your album “LIVE” Darby: ” It’s a live album. Simple, right? In all those years I’d performed with the Headpins, many times I questioned why not? As we always favored ourselves as a great live entity. Even though there are live recordings out there, we never did a live recording ourselves. Now that I am back out on my own, it was just a given. I learned there are things I want to do and now that it is my team, I put my money where my mouth is, and we invested time and energy to do a LIVE recording. Also, I heard there were rumors I had left the Headpins band because I had lost my voice and could no longer sing! I thought this could be a wonderful way to disprove such claims and give us an avenue to show a new side of myself and what the Project was about, so there were a few reasons to do a live recording. After all, it is a business and you must work the business for all that it is worth.”
Deb: Would you consider yourself a hunter or a gatherer, leader/follower? Darby: “I think I’m all of them. There are times in life where you must be 1 or the other. My sign is notorious for being able to adapt. I believe I have done that in my life without even realizing. Yah, it’s the realization that (silence…….) everybody dies, nobody makes it out alive. So, no matter how you do, how high you are or how low you are on that podium or ladder, everyone ends up in the same place. Quit worrying about the wrong things and start figuring out your own destination and when you understand that, at least for me, when you start seeing that picture, it becomes not easier but less weighted. What’s going on in the back of your mind as you’re saying to yourself, this isn’t right, this isn’t right, but you do it anyway. Find your own path. You might still have some concerns and fears of, “have I done the right thing? But, on the good days, it feels REALLY GOOD, when you have made an achievement, and something has gone right. “Just go for it! “
Deb: You are an inspiration to me. Darby: ” Aw thank you.”
Deb: I love tossing in a fun question. Darby, you’re a new addition to a crayon box. What color would you be and why? Darby: “I think I would be diamond colored (laughs) In other words, I would be white thru to black, I would be all the colors there, as life could be really boring as only one color.”
Deb: If you could have your fans remember one thing about you, what would it be? Darby: “That I tried really hard.”
Deb: What can we expect from your Ontario tour dates presented by Jasa Entertainment that lands at 730pm on May 8th at the River Run Centre in Kitchener; May 9th Hamilton Studio Theatre and May 11th at the Kingston Grand Theatre? Darby: “A Band that is damn happy to be there. We are straight ahead rock n roll with a little bit of blues and little bit of funk. We got the Killer Dwarfs on the bill with us and I know they are classic rockers and there’s no way we could come out and try to blow them off the stage. My intention for Darby Mills Project is to come out and be a project that people can just absorb. Whether you get up and dance or you just sit in your chair and close your eyes and go, Oh My God I haven’t heard this song, it’s such a great tune. Just a great night of memories and new experiences to turn into even more memories. It’s going to be a great show; DMP is going to be come out with some swagger and send you home with a perma grin.”
Deb: Thank you so much Darby for your time today, looking forward to attending and reviewing your May 9th Hamilton Studio Theatre presentation. As well, thank you for helping the 4th Annual Cystic Fibrosis fundraiser last Fall 2018. Your musical gift package assisted in raising quite a bit of $ for that organization, they were appreciative to your contribution and your kindness. Darby: “That’s wonderful to hear. See you in just over a month, take care Deb.”
HURRY, don’t delay, get your $43.90 tickets (all taxes included) today for Darby Mills Project, May 9th Hamilton Studio Theatre performance. Event is located at 1 Summers Lane and is presented by Jasa Entertainment. Available thru Ticket Master