Like Nirvana did almost two decades previously, the pop-friendly indie trio Daphne Loves Derby originally formed in a small town near Seattle, WA (Kent rather than Aberdeen, in their case) when the bandmembers were still teenagers. However, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic didn't have the Internet when they were kids, so they didn't have the opportunities to jump the queue afforded by websites like MySpace and purevolume, and Cobain's personal demons are nowhere to be found in this young group's tuneful and relatively sunny music.
One of the new generation of bands whose high online profiles led to a relatively quick record deal, Daphne Loves Derby formed in 2002 when a 14-year-old prodigy named Jason Call sent an instant message to high-school sophomore Kenny Choi after he saw Choi's first band play a local party. Choi, a singer and guitarist, accepted Call's invitation to jam with the young bassist and the equally youthful drummer Stu Clay. Fitting rehearsals around their academic schedule (impressively, Call managed to graduate not only from high school, but from college, in time for his 18th birthday), Call, Choi, and Clay made their public debut at a local music festival where they learned just before they went on-stage that there was already another band with their original name; Choi impulsively announced that their new name was Daphne Loves Derby, a meaningless handle that nonetheless stuck.
Daphne Loves Derby's homemade demo and free online downloads showcased the band's blend of winsome popcraft (à la the Shins, whose breathy vocal style Choi fairly approximates) and Death Cab for Cutie-style indie rock, garnering the band enough of a fan base to begin touring. In early 2005, Daphne Loves Derby signed with Outlook Music, a burgeoning indie label owned by Denver Broncos linebacker Trevor Pryce, and released their debut EP, Closing Down the Pattern Department. That EP, which consisted primarily of the songs already available online, was quickly followed by the all-new On the Strength of All Convinced, a more varied and poppier record that included the single "Hammers and Hearts." The band went on tour in North America and Japan soon after, sharing the stage with groups like Copeland, Paulson, House of Fools, Waking Ashland, and Sherwood. A year later, Daphne Loves Derby took a break to put together their second full-length effort. Recorded at the home studio of Panic! At the Disco producer Matt Squire, Goodnight, Witness Light found the band following in the pop-oriented footsteps of their first full-length. Call left the band in order to go to school and pursue missionary work soon after the album was completed. ~ Stewart Mason