Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Show Preview - Delta Spirit - Interview - Brillobox - 11/30/10 - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Southern California’s hard-working, hard-rocking Delta Spirit will play at Brillobox on Tuesday, November 30th. Relentless touring behind a great live show along with the critical success of their sophomore album, History from Below, have ensured Delta Spirit a growing and appreciative fan-base. On the heels of their full-length release in June, the boys have put together an EP, The Waits Room, specifically for this tour—it is only available at the show on vinyl or on iTunes. Much cooler to come to the show and get yours on wax!

Delta Spirit’s music is a soulful rock, steeped in the roots of Americana. They are known for putting on a great live show. We talked with singer/guitarist Matt Vasquez last week about the band’s live show, touring, and the connection between their new EP and Tom Waits.

What has changed for the band since your first album came out in 2008?

Well, we were a four piece and now we are a five piece again. And we’ve been on tour a lot since then. We toured our first record for 3 years. We did a lot of work and got to tour with bands like Cold War Kids, Dr. Dog, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

We had only been a band for like 6 months when our first record came out. We had a lot more time to write this last record.

As far as what kind of band we are, our schtick is no schtick. Our band is not selling t-shirts at Urban Outfitters. We love writing songs. We're influenced by our friends’ bands. That's what we do. That "our" thing.

Bushwick Blues by Delta Spirit

Your album History from Below has been getting great reviews.

Yeah, it's going great! For us, in the US, it's not like we have to create some gimmick. Our fans have usually seen us live and they like the songs. So instead of some single that they heard on the radio, it's because they like the whole record and the whole sound. We're all very proud of that. It just takes longer than your average Pitchfork-exploding band scenario.

As far as getting more attention now than with our first album, I feel like the difference from any recognition we have is from all the road work. Just touring so much and getting new fans that way.

With this record, we tried to make the record as good as we could and to sound like what we sound like live. Which is also a tricky thing, because what we sound like live is always changing. Sounds continue to be honed in and recreated. I think our real strength is playing in front on folks.

You just finished a tour in Europe with Ben Kweller. How was the tour? Were there cities and audiences that you felt you really connected with?

Yeah. Glasgow, Berlin. London...they're just so informed. They know what's going on a lot better than your average college town. Playing out there it's like playing in certain areas of the mid-west where you only have the internet to tell you what's cool and certain media and press is so important. And for us, press has never been a real big deal....or maybe we've just never done it right. You know what I mean? How do you sell a band that's just friends who just write music?

Your sound evokes the roots of American rock. How does your sound and your lyrics translate to a European audience, who may not have the same cultural context as your American fans?

People get the lyrics a lot more I figure in the U.S. But it's not rocket science to figure out what we're saying in our lyrics—we're pretty direct. And it's even more obvious in a live situation where you can see the sincerity in the musicians. That comes across. We didn't worry too much about playing slow songs where people had to focus on the lyrics, though—we were busy trying to play loud and have fun and get people to have a good time. We have shorter sets out there, and because of that we just try to kick ass as much as possible. Leave a good impression.

With the US shows, we have room to do the songs which are centered more on the lyrics, and it's nice. Depending on the fans and the mood of the night, we'll play a lot of slow songs. Sometimes if a crowd is just too talkative, you don't want to stretch people too far and you just play rock. You want to make sure everybody has fun. You know, the way these tickets are these days with surcharges of $15 bucks sometimes, and even if you paid $10 bucks—y ou paid for a night of fun with a band that you like and you like the songs. You want to play as many of those songs that people want to hear. Even if people want to hear the slow songs, sometimes it's maybe better that they don't hear it. But when the mood is right, it's awesome.

White Table by Delta Spirit

It sounds like your basic philosophy for a live show is to make sure everyone has a good time.

Yeah! Well, we want to read everybody. We're always trying to read out situation and go from there.

What’s the idea behind this upcoming tour?

We'll be on tour for about a month, and we're starting in Lawrence, Kansas and working our way up to Pittsburgh. Doing New York, Boston, Chicago, and hitting the cities that we didn't do last tour. We missed Pittsburgh, and Nashville, and a bunch of places we would have liked to. So we thought...well, we'll put out this EP and...

Yes! Talk about the EP.

The EP is a funny situation. Our record label, in their infinite wisdom, paid us to go back up to the studio in northern California and lip-sync a few songs after we had already finished the album. They wanted video of us tracking the record. So we did that and it ended up on a few blogs. It’s funny, because every record label makes the bands do these kind of silly things. And they had the opportunity to do it while we were recording the record, they just didn't think of it. We had, but nobody listened to us.

So we went back to the studio, even though the record was already done, and videotaped ourselves lipsyncing with the record. It took all of two hours to do. But we had a whole weekend with the film crew, the studio, and the engineer who did our record. So we thought...well, let's do this EP. We had this crazy idea of doing different versions of songs. Like the song “Bushwick Blues,” which sounds like a really driving rock song. On the EP we did everything live, and it sounds kind of like Harvest Moon. There's a library of congress song called “John Henry” that we turned into a kind of Nick Cave-punk-soul song. And a few other songs that were unrecorded of ours.It's only on vinyl on the tour and on iTunes. There are only 300 copies of the vinyl, and you gotta get to the show to get you hands on it. And it sounds great.

Golden State by Delta Spirit

Where does the name The Waits Room come from?

We tracked the EP in this room at the studio that we barely fit in, with a 10 x 10 floor and about a 15 foot tall ceiling. It's a concrete-floored barn room—just this excess room the studio used for storage space. But it turns out that Tom Waits had done every sound of his record Mule Variations in this one room, and it got dubbed the "Waits Room." And it's a cool room, and that's what we did. So the EP is called The Waits Room.

Well, I hope you have still have some of those 300 copies by the time you guys get into Pittsburgh on November 30th.

Definitely! Come out and get a one.

Thanks, Matt. I’ll see you at the show.

--Daniel Hammer