Darren Jackson, aka Kid Dakota, began writing the songs for Denervation (released via Graveface Records on February 9), his fifth full-length studio album, and first in over six years, while convalescing in a hospital bed in South Dakota in 2014.
What began as a brief summer vacation at his parent’s house in the Black Hills, turned into an extended nine-month stay after he fractured his pelvis in a horrific bicycle accident. The blunt force trauma also caused severe nerve damage, which made it questionable whether or not Darren would ever be able to walk again without a brace.
Understandably, Darren was in a very dark place. To cope with the crippling depression, Darren started writing the songs that would eventually constitute Denervation. After making some rough recordings, Darren sent the demos to longtime friend and producer John Kuker, whom he had worked with on previous Kid Dakota recordings at Seedy Underbelly in Minneapolis, MN.
John immediately recognized the raw potential in the demos and suggested that Darren come and make the album at Pachyderm, the fabled recording studio in Cannon Falls, MN that John had recently purchased and renovated. John also suggested that Darren enlist Matthew Kazama of Birthday Suits to play drums.
Darren agreed and got on a plane for Minneapolis in December 2014. The guitar and drum duo then spent two weeks woodshedding the new material before heading into Pachyderm in January of 2015. After three days of tracking, they had the basics of Denervation in the bag and planned to finish the album at John’s studio in Los Angeles that spring. Tragically, however, John died from a heart attack on February 2, and the record came to standstill.
Born out of Darren’s attempt to come to terms with the trauma of his bicycle accident, the album was now inexorably linked with the death of one of his best friends. It was only after getting married and moving back to Minneapolis in the summer of 2017 (Darren had lived in Minneapolis from 1999-2010 but left to teach music in rural South Dakota and ultimately ended up pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy and film at Virginia Tech) that Darren began to muster the fortitude to finish what John and he had begun over two years prior. To aid him in this endeavor, Darren called upon both some long-standing musical conspirators (Martin Dosh, Andrew Broder, and Alan Sparhawk), as well as some new (Johnny and Molly Solomon, Jeremy Ylvisaker, Jeremy Messersmith, Todd Trainer, and Dave Simonett).
The result is an intensely personal record that addresses the subject of loss from diverse perspectives. From the loss of the use of limbs in the title track, “Denervation,” to the loss of the people closest to one in “The Convalescent” and “The Nurse,” to the loss of expectation and optimism in “Hope,” to the loss of one’s ability to deal with reality without the help of medication in “Pills,” Denervation is a visceral picture of the experience of the initial shock of trauma and its lingering effects.