In mid-August, Portland indie band the Domestics found themselves in the middle a Donald Trump-themed marketing ploy when 63 cassette tapes intended to promote their second album were sent to media, purporting to contain conversations between Trump and ex-FBI director James Comey. Even more unnerving, the envelopes were marked with return addresses for the KKK and Westboro Baptist Church.
Claiming no one from the band nor its management was aware the extent the hoax planned, the Domestics swiftly cut ties with their label Tender Loving Empire, which apologized publicly for the stunt and cleared the band from blame in a Facebook post. But there was one last hurdle for the Domestics: their album, Little Darkness, was then just nine days from its scheduled release date.
At the time, the Domestics were forced to put the album on hold. But nearly three months later, the band is putting the tape controversy behind them for good, choosing to immediately release Little Darkness in partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center — which will receive 50 percent the album’s revenue.
“We were left in the rare circumstance having complete ownership the rights to our record and the unique opportunity to do with it whatever we saw fit,” the band explains in a statement. “We have the freedom to redirect the revenue that would have gone to our label into the hands an organization dedicated to the ideals equal justice and equal opportunity.”
It’s not the first time the band has aligned itself with anti-bigotry organizations to demonstrate where its true allegiances lie. Following the controversy that unfolded in August, the band matched all proceeds from their Sep. 19 show in Portland — intended to be an album release party — in donations to the Anti-Defamation League and Multnomah County Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program, which fers nutrition and breastfeeding support.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which specializes in civil rights legislation, is the latest recipient the band's do-goodery. “We’re grateful to the Domestics for their commitment to justice and equality and to finding creative and generous ways to support those ideals,” adds the center in a statement. “It’s especially important that the Domestics are mobilizing their communities in a way that creates strength and solidarity in numbers behind the causes they believe in.”
And while the bizarre story the rogue Tender Loving Empire employee who mailed out the tone-deaf tapes is hard to forget, the surprise release Little Darkness, which is available now at all digital music retailers and streaming services, hopes to put the band in headlines for a different reason: its music.
The Domestics’ Michael Finn and bandmate Leo London spent a solid month developing Little Darkness during 16-hour shifts at the renowned Portland facility Flora Recording & Playback, working with studio owner and producer Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket, Sufjan Stevens). Come Dec. 2, the band will kick f a winter West Coast tour to promote the new material from the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles.
“It feels so great to finally put these songs out into the world,” adds the band, “and we couldn't ask for a better organization to call our partner.”