Delta Spirit, which used to be known as a quintessentially Southern California band, is touring, so it’s a little mind boggling that their recent San Diego and Los Angeles performances were considered homecoming shows.
We (= Purevolume) caught up with singer Matt Vasquez while in transit in Dana Point, where he told us all about moving to Brooklyn, his thoughts on the recent election, getting married and Delta Spirit’s latest, eponymous set.
PureVolume: How is living in New York?
Matt Vasquez: We've been gone since the new year and it's been really fun. It's been a great experience. Hurricane Sandy put all of my studio equipment underwater, but luckily we saved our touring gear. We're insured, but we're waiting to see what is going to happen with that. We might have to file with FEMA. Thank goodness we freighted our guitars and amps we're using for this tour. But over the years we've all accumulated a lot of things; most of those things that I've accumulated in the past seven years of being in this band [didn't make it]. We lost a bunch of sentimental things; weird instruments, old amps from past records, guitar pedals that barely work that I use on certain tours, microphones I sing songs into.
PV: So were you able to vote then?
MV: We were playing a show in San Diego on Tuesday . . . Some of us did mail-in ballots and some of us realized our vote didn't count 'cause we're in New York. We don't know enough about local politics there to really have a conversation about that.
PV: Were you happy with the results though?
MV: Of course! Isn't everybody? Well, I guess half of the country isn't. But I certainly am! The smarter part of this country definitely is happy. Or at least the more compassionate part of this country is a lot happier.
PV: I thought it would be interesting to get your thoughts on the election and the state of this country because your latest set, Delta Spirit, has a lot of existential thoughts in the lyrics.
MV: We don't base our hopes on humanity on the politics of the United States government—or any government, for that matter, obviously. Humanity is a lot better than America, and a lot bigger than rock & roll, so yeah I don't know. There's a lot of things wrong with this country that everyone knows is wrong. Obviously campaign reform is a necessary thing that needs to happen, probably won't. Just like healthcare reform is a good thing, in my opinion.
PV: I was really excited about gay rights being upheld in four states, with gay marriage approved in three.
MV: Step by step, you know? That was the biggest thing that I was most proud about Obama taking a stand on. That really is a huge deal that people love each other and want to be in a monogamous relationship, they should have the same rights. Gay people and straight people should have the same rights, it's obvious. If you give straight people a tax break [for being married], you should give gay people the same thing. It's ridiculous otherwise.
Delta Spirit - "California" (Official Video)
PV: Tell me about Delta Spirit, your third album. What informed the songwriting process?
MV: The second or third page of The New York Times is the usual answer I give that question. (Laughs) It's just anything, you know? We write songs to write songs, always. We don't believe in dogma, in the whole dogma of this song has to be this way or that way, this song has to be verse-chorus-verse like more songs are, or whether it’s out of fashion or what. We work on our own terms, depending on what we're enjoying. And we make our songs because we enjoy them and have this vision for them. Having [guitarist] Will McLaren in the band is a big deal, and afforded a new direction in our music. He's just an incredible guitar player and singer, and he knows how to fit in with the band, where we were missing that in the second record. He's wonderful, I love him.
PV: I feel like the songs are much bigger, much more epic than ones in your older albums. Was that intentional?
MV: We wanted to make a hi-fi record. We're trying to figure out in our band how to show people what we are like live. So we decided to go hi-fi because you can push a lot more volume with a high fidelity record. And you can also enjoy the stereo depth. Working with Chris Coady and Tchad Blake who are both legendary dudes and extremely talented people, they were able to get that depth that we were looking for. I don't know if we're going to make another high fidelity record but it was definitely a fun, and it was a learning experience to take that and apply it to what we've done in the past.
PV: The song "California" is turning out to be the anthem from that album—for now, anyway. Do you think that's interesting, with the move and all?
MV: Yeah, we’re kings of irony. We also stopped playing folk when it was in, too. (Laughs.) When it became hip.
Well for me it was just the right thing to move. I just got married, and my wife is from Norway. We had a lot of mutual friends in New York, so moving there was really cool—we're closer to her folks, it's literally right in the middle.
PV: So did your band just say, ‘We're coming with you!’?
MV: Well, Jon [Jameson, bassist], and his wife wanted to go, and Will was already out there, and Kelly [Winrich, multi-instrumentalist] got on board cause he knew Jon and I were going to go. We're all pretty afflicted with wanderlust. We like traveling a lot. Brandon [Young, percussion] was the only one who stayed in California, he still lives in Long Beach.
PV: At least your occupation lends itself well to wanderlust. What do you miss about California?
MV: The ocean—you can't surf in New York ever. And I miss my grandma and grandpa and my dad and my sister, I have a niece, my brother . . . just family, you know? I miss the sunsets and In-N-Out.
PV: What's your favorite festival to play and why?
MV: Austin City Limits. The lineups are always good and they treat bands really well. I grew up in Austin and my mom still lives there. And I watched Neil Young at the last ACL with my mom and my wife. It was crazy. Get it? Crazy ... horse?
PV: Ew, no.
MV: (Laughs) Anyway, it really messed me up because I went out and bought all this gear for my amp and started getting really crazy about my guitar trying to sound like Neil.
PV: So what's your craziest festival story?
MV: The time Kelly almost punched out Bill Murray is one of them, but I can't talk about that. And then there's the time I climbed on the top of the AMD stage at the last ACL, I climbed 50-feet in the air in front of 50,000 people, so that was pretty frightening. But I did it right after I fell on my ass in front of that many people also, so I made everybody really nervous. Once I got to the top I just swung my legs out, and it was really fucking fun!
Delta Spirit - People C'mon
More Delta Spirit on this blog
Delta Spirit - Delta Spirit (RS album stream)
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
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