Q&A with Matt Vasquez of DELTA SPIRIT – Talks New Album, Into The Wide, His “Spirit Animal,” Nirvana, And More.
Posted On 26 Aug 2014
Tag: All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Bonnie Raitt, Brandon Young, Chris Coady, Come As You Are, Decca Records, Deerhunter, Delta Spirit, Dew Process, Dualtone, Dualtone Records, EDJ, From Now On, High Sierra, High Sierra Music Festival, Hurricane Sandy, Into The Wide, Jackson Pollock, Jesse Marchant, Johathan Jameson, Kelly Winrich, Matt Vasquez, Matthew Vasquez, Nathaniel Rateliff, Nirvana, Peter Matthew Bauer, Rothko, Rounder Records, Trashcan, Willem De Kooning, William McLaren, Yeah, Yeahs
Seven years ago, Delta Spirit didn’t exist but charismatic front man Matt Vasquez has never questioned that he was destined to be in a band. Growing up in Austin, Texas, Vasquez’s musical inclinations were encouraged by both his mother, who also sang, and his grandmother, who bought him his first guitar. In 2005, Vasquez’s chance meeting with drummer Brandon Young while busking on the streets of San Diego turned into the fated birth of Delta Spirit. Since then, the band has released four studio albums and moved from Long Beach to Brooklyn.
The first two albums, “Ode To Sunshine” in 2008 and “History from Below” in 2010, labeled the band’s sound as a cross between alt-country and indie-rock. Not wanting to be pigeonholed into one particular genre, Vasquez and his bandmates decided to get back to their rock ‘n’ roll roots and set out to make the next “Great American Record.” Delta Spirit has torn up the indie circuit, headlining such household-name festivals as SXSW, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Coachella.
The newest, fourth album from San Diego-bred five-piece Delta Spirit, Into the Wide was born in a flood-ruined, cave-like, rat-colonized room in the band’s new hometown of Brooklyn. After spending more than a year writing together in the windowless studio they rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy wreaked its havoc, the group resurfaced with a batch of demos and headed to Georgia to team up with Ben Allen (a producer/engineer known for his work with artists like Animal Collective and Deerhunter).
Recorded near an old shipping yard in Atlanta, Into the Wide intimately captures the claustrophobia of Delta Spirit’s creative space, turning that tension into a moody meditation on the restlessness of city life, growing older, and longing for escape.
With its lyrics largely inspired by the murder ballads of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, Into the Wide proves more darkly charged than anything the band’s ever offered up before but—thanks to their command of both indelible melody and sprawling, atmospheric arrangements—ultimately emerges as Delta Spirit’s most gloriously heavy album so far.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa got to catch up with front man, Matt Vasquez and ask him a few questions. Check out their interview below:
Hi Matt! So where does this interview find you today? What’s on the agenda today besides this interview?
Well, I just moved back to Austin Texas. This is the city of my youth. I just spent the last couple hours swimming in beautiful Wimberly, TX. I’ve gotta say, it’s great to be back!
We all came up together in Southern California. Kelly and I went to rival high schools in Orange County. I met Brandon busking in San Diego. Jon came to a show of mine when I was 19, and Will worked at a guitar shop down the street from Jon.
So, Matt, you have literally tried to reach new heights with your music. I heard about your awesome dare devil performance at Austin City Limits Festival, in the middle of the song “Trashcan.” In true rock star fashion, you proved just how serious you are by scaling the stage’s lightning rig and dangling—much to the delight of the crowd—some 70 feet in the air. Was that planned? Has that been the craziest thing you’ve done on stage so far?
I don’t believe in planning things like that. There is an energy we feel on stage. Sometimes it puts me in sketchy situations. Just simply moping around the stage doesn’t really work for us. If people paid for a show, they’re gonna get a show!
Okay, cheeky question…who is your “spirit animal” and why?
Monkey, always has been, always will be. I like bananas and climbing things.
For your album, Delta Spirit, you worked with veteran producer Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beach House, TV on the Radio) is there anyone you would like to work with in the future?
Working with Chris was great experience, but working with Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter) on our latest record was something that needed to happen. We spent about a year working out the songs for our fourth album INTO THE WIDE.
In the beginning, Hurricane Sandy flooded our whole studio in EPA waist water. We spent the next year building everything back up. It was a windowless room we nicknamed THE RAT CAVE. We had about 45+ songs written before Ben entered the picture. When Ben stepped in, he was super assertive. He really helped build our confidence back up. Instead of working in the windowless RAT CAVE we drove down to Atlanta and worked in Ben’s studio. Natural light also had a lot to do with how things perked up. Things just clicked down there.
If you had the opportunity to work with any artist from the past, present or future, who would it be and why? If you could spend the day with them, where would you go…and what would you do?
My answer always changes when I’m asked this question. Today, it would it would be fun to make drones while Willem De Kooning painted. He was part of the whole New York school (Pollock, Rothko).
What was the inspiration for your new single, “From Now On”?
The mysterious way in which people become friends. It’s almost absurd how we meet some of the most important people in our lives. There’s something that just clicks and there it is…
What is your approach to songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes?
I try to not have an approach. I want to be as formless as possible, so when something comes it can be itself. I don’t really capture things. They brew up later after an epiphany. You can write a book off one really good epiphany. Basking in the idea is when you get the good stuff.
Do you guys have a favorite radio station? Why? What are your thoughts on satellite radio and streaming radio services like Pandora, iRadio, and Slacker, or on demand services like Spotify, Deezer, Beats, and others?
Anyone that plays our music and our friends’ music we’re thankful for. Homegrown Rock ‘n’ Roll isn’t something that gets a lot of love these days. So we’re very appreciative when it does.
What was the first song you fell in love with growing up?
“Comes As You Are” (Nirvana). It was the first song I learned on guitar in the 3rd grade.
Who are some of the new artists who inspire you? Who is in your current playlist? Any “guilty pleasure” songs or who would we be surprised to find on your playlist?
EDJ, Peter Matthew Bauer, Nathaniel Rateliff, Jesse Marchant, Bonnie Raitt.
What has been your favorite music festival to play so far and why?
I love High Sierra music festival the best! People can camp right on the grounds! We also get to play 2 sets! It’s the best!!!
What’s on tap next for Delta Spirit?
Out new album INTO THE WIDE comes out on September 9th and we’ll be on tour throughout the US. Come out and see the show!
To learn more about the Delta Spirit, visit their website here