It’s always fun to get to talk to artists when they come through town, but it’s rare that I get to interview and get to know the musicians before seeing them live. In this case, The Delta Saints – who just released an album, Monte Vista, on Friday – will be playing at the Rumba Cafe on Saturday, and I highly encourage you to check them out and go to the show.
Monte Vista is full of fizzy indie rock, complete with catchy hooks and irresistible guitar riffs – but, of course, you’ll be hearing all about that on Sunday when I write another post all about it! In the meantime, check out the interview below.
If the world was ending and you only had a day to live, what would you do?
Drink the good bourbon that I’ve been hiding away, adopt 30 dogs, make a decadent dinner, get a little stoney-bologna, and listen to some vinyl records with my wife and our newly acquired herd of furry children.
How would you describe the color blue to a blind person?
Blue is the color of things that are impossibly large: the ocean and the sky. It’s the feeling of being small.
Do you guys have any weird fan stories or encounters?
No stalkers yet, but there’s hope for the future. The latest one that comes to mind was when we were playing a festival in Colorado, and a guy excitedly comes up to the stage. He finally gets to the front and I watch as the flames of excitement in his eyes turn to a sort of quizzical concern. He looks at me and asks, “Delta Spirit?” Crushed.
What kind of music are you all listening to, currently?
We’re on a collective hip-hop kick. The new Kendrick Lamar album has been on heavy rotation. Before that, it was Anderson Paak’s Malibu, which is still one of my go-to records. I’ve also been really digging the new Spoon record Hot Thoughts and Glass Animals’ How to be a Human Being. I’m always a sucker for sad folk/Americana music as well. Ryan Adams’ Prisoner is wonderful.
What are you most excited about for this upcoming tour?
We spent so much time creating the record, and getting to now transition them to the stage is really exciting. I’m really stoked to tour and to see how these songs evolve and take on new life.
Do you think that the new album will be different to perform live? How so?
I hope that it’s different! Otherwise, people could just stream the album from their couch and not need to come out to a show. The songs are different every night. Those differences are huge, but they are never exactly the same. I may massage the vocals in certain parts, or Dylan may tell a different story with his guitar solo. There’s a freedom when playing a song live as opposed to being in the studio. We can try new things, and they only live in that moment.
I’ve read that California is sort of a “safe haven” for your band. Can you elaborate on that, and the symbolism that the West Coast has in your music?
“California” has this certain type of mystery to us. I’m sure it’s a “grass is always greener” kind of thing, but it’s always occupied this space of excitement and recklessness within the band. There’s a creative element there that’s hard to describe. We’ve made irresponsible all-night drives while on tour, just to have an extra couple of hours in the sun and cold Pacific waters. It’s just always been that way.
How would you say your new record, Monte Vista, is different from Bones? What do you like the most off of this new record?
I think Monte Vista is another big step in the evolution. When we wrote Bones, we challenged ourselves to make our best record yet, and we did. With Monte Vista we looked at the huge gains we made and then challenged ourselves to triple them. We broke down our songwriting and relearned how to build a song, a melody, and a record. I don’t think we’ve ever grown as much as we have with Monte Vista. I really love that the record tells a story, and really conveys a specific feeling. I think the record is steeped in chasing a certain level of recklessness and I love that Monte Vista is so story centered.
Your website says that events in 2016 influenced your music, like the deaths of David Bowie and Prince. I loved your tribute to Bowie, Spaceman. Would you consider them personal musical influences?
Absolutely. Both Bowie and Prince exemplified this unbelievable level of creative genius. In addition, they had this unwavering spirit that didn’t allow for compromising their creative vision. They followed the muse and nothing else. As someone who aspires to simply touch that kind of creativity, I’m not sure there are 2 better people to look to.
How has the political climate, especially in 2016 while you were writing Monte Vista, shaped your lyrics and sound? Do you ever use your music as a medium for awareness?
No matter which side of the line you’re on, I’m not sure it was possible to live through 2016 and not be affected or aware. It definitely creeped into this record. In every instance, we tried to be careful not to be “loud” just for the sake of making noise. I think that’s where the line is so easily crossed, from being expressive to being obnoxious. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to write the next huge protest song, but it’s got to come from a really honest place, or else it’s just clickbait. I think more than using our music as a form of awareness, we use it to express our frustrations on the things we’re seeing around us. Hopefully people connect and share in our frustrations, and then the song ends up bringing people together. That togetherness is what creates change, and music has historically been such a powerful tool in that connection.
What sort of impact do you hope your band has on the world, either within the music community or outside of it?
Honestly, I just want to make music that isn’t so disposable. I think we’re entering into weird times, when art is being taken for granted, and consumed to so quickly and without thought. There are so many bands that are making music that bucks this trend, and I’d love to one of them. (*steps off soapbox*)
Finally, what’s one thing that most people don’t know about you guys that you want them to know?
We settle as many tour disputes as possible via Mario Tennis or Super Smash Bros on the N64. Easily the best investment the band has ever made.