Delta Spirit on ‘S— Music,’ Kurt Cobain’s Death + More
Delta Spirit are honest musicians who have loved making music ever since their 2006 EP, I Think I've Found It. Consisting of frontman Matt Vasquez, guitarist Will McLaren, bassist Jon Jameson, drummer Brandon Young and multi-instrumentalist Kelly Winrich, the indie rockers released their latest album, Into the Wide, last September. Diffuser spoke with Matt, Jon and Brandon at this year's Lollapalooza about the state of rock and roll, making a music video on the cheap and the ongoing conspiracy surrounding Kurt Cobain's death.
You guys are no strangers to Lollapalooza. In fact, the first time you played is when the festival evacuated Grant Park because of a huge storm.
Jon Jameson: We were staying at the Hilton across the street, so we videoed it out of the window. But we were the last band to play a full set on the main stage before they evacuated the park so it felt like we headlined Lolla for a minute there. Until they brought people back and Black Sabbath played.
Matt Vesquez: No no no no no no. We headlined and Black Sabbath played the next night. And they were great [Laughs]. There was a fist fight and blood all over the place in front of the hotel. I was kind of on edge.
Brandon Young: There were people peeing in the stairway. It was bad.
You've made comments in the past saying all of you were screwed by the music industry one way or the other before forming Delta Spirit. What made you keep your faith in the industry?
Vesquez: We don't have faith in the industry! We have faith in music listeners and that's about it. We love all sorts of music and belong here to play it. It's either going to go well or go bad, but it's going.
After being in the business for more than 10 years, has it gotten better?
Vesquez: Yeah, we make more money now. Or do we?
Jameson: Kind of. We spend more money now, too.
Noel Gallagher recently said that rock and roll isn't dead, it's just in hibernation. Record labels don't take chances on working-class bands and the internet has made things worse. Is he right?
Vesquez: Here's how it works. Working-class bands start something really cool. Bands will start a music scene, and I'm not just talking about us. In general, cool bands will get started and then there's a homogenized, younger, cuter version of that, that the major record label goes and make famous. But the band that paid its dues and made something great usually gets overlooked -- overwhelmingly so it's like that. Not to say that these new bands don't deserve a fair shot. Everybody here is just trying to f---ing play music. It's not their fault.
Do you think there are bands who care more about being perceived as cool than their own music?
Jameson: Even people that make s---ty music probably really care about it and they just happen to be into cheesy stuff and that's fine.
Vasquez: Yeah. It's not their fault they play s--- music.
Jameson: If they play s--- music and they know it, then that's kind of silly.
Vasquez: It's the people's fault for liking it [Laughs].
Your new album, Into the Wide, is great. The video for "Language of the Dead" is fantastic. That was all D.I.Y., correct?
Vasquez: I did the whole thing in front of my garage. The guy drinking Miller High Life is my cousin's husband who's a vet. We rented a bunch of costumes, bought beer and got some lights. The whole thing cost about $500. Spaceballs meets my cat in space. That's the idea.
How long did it take to create the concept for the video?
Vasquez: Five seconds [Laughs]. As soon as they were like, "You got to do a video." I knew what I was doing.
You're very efficient.
Jameson: This guy has an unbelievable work ethic. A lot of musicians are lazy and do the bare minimum. When we were making the last record he was at the studio everyday. He treats it like a legit job.
Vasquez: Holy s---, we get to play music. Let's keep doing that. Why wouldn't I want to show up at my fun-ass, super-cool life job that we get to do?
Do you re-listen to your old albums and pick what you can improve on?
Vasquez: Our own records? Absolutely. Tempo is one thing that we learned after the second record. Half the songs are lightning speed faster than that. The other thing is that we're still learning how to deconstruct and make it something that works live. That's what we've been really trying to focus on. This last record was like, "How do we do it live? Let's try to figure that out."
A music festival like Lollapalooza usually has a diverse lineup and theoretically exposes attendees to artists they normally wouldn't listen to. Do you think you've gained new fans from playing at Lolla and similar events all these years?
Young: I think there are a lot of kids who either have never heard of us or are in a different realm of music. We're a live band and we kill it every single time we play. It's really cool to see new, young fans come see us at these festivals.
You guys are Nirvana fans. There is a conspiracy theorist who tried suing the city of Seattle to get unreleased photos of Kurt Cobain's suicide. Why are fans so obsessed with rock stars like Kurt and can't let them go?
Vasquez: That one I don't know if they should let it go. I'm not saying who did or who planned on doing it...because I don't want her to come after me [Grins].