Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Captain Melody Exclusive: Interview with Kelly Winrich of Delta Spirit

On Friday, September 12th I had the privilege to meet up with Kelly Winrich of Delta Spirit before they performed at Lola's Saloon in Fort Worth, TX. I was led to a side room in the club where Kelly was chilling with his Apple laptop. He was gracious to give me a lot of his time and share tons of information on their album "Ode to the Sunsine."

Captain Melody: Overall, how is the tour going? You all have been on the road quite a few days now.

Kelly Winrich: Yeah, once the shows start kicking in that’s when it becomes fun. We drove out to Conan. We actually did a few 17 hour drives - one 17 hour, one 14 hour and one 15 hour drive. That takes it out of you.

CM: And that was all by van?

KW: Yeah, once we got with the Dog (Dr. Dog) things started kicking in. We play a show every night, and it’s a lot more fun that way.

CM: You all have toured with Dr. Dog before, right?

KW: Right, twice so far.

CM: Do you all play tricks on each other?

KW: Dr. Dog stopped off at a fireworks depot and got little mini-popping sticks that you put in the end of cigarettes. They gave us pack, and the guitar player and I were the only ones that knew about it. Most everyone in the band smokes. Right when they lit it, it exploded in their face. That was the extent of it.

CM: I am not familiar with Dr. Dog. I saw them perform on Letterman recently.

KW: All of their performances are pretty tight.

CM: I’ve seen a lot of bands perform on Conan and other late night talk shows. I was very impressed with your performance. Some bands sound different on camera from their album or live shows, but you sounded true to your album, if not better. Vasquez’s vocals were incredible – a lot rougher live.

KW: I think we were fully prepared. During the first verse when Matt was singing his stool dropped 4 inches when he was playing. If you watch it you will hear a stutter in the vocals during the first verse. But once we got past that it was good. We had a lot of fun. Conan loved it. He had nothing but good things to say about it.

CM: I wanted to ask you about Conan. He always has awesome indie bands perform on his show. Do you know if he is involved in choosing musical guests?

KW: I don’t think so. I think he has a music director that does that. At sound check we played the song twice, I think it was right after he did his rehearsal. I guess he was having a shitty day. When we started playing he came out on the sound stage and started dancing around. It was sweet. I had never met Conan before and it looked like he enjoyed our music. After we got done playing the show and he came over to shake our hands, he gave us a spiel on how many bands come through, and that he was having a horrible day, and said, “You guys turned it around for me.” That was sweet.

CM: I believe he plays guitar. I’ve seen him in a few skits playing.

KW: While we were there, at one point he was backstage with a Japanese guitar company. He was endorsing their guitar and he was totally shredding.

CM: You all released “Ode to Sunshine” recently. Have you noticed a growing fan base coming out to the shows with the release of the album?

KW: I think so. It’s hard to tell at this point since we are touring with the dog and most of the shows are sold out. It’s hard to tell whether all of it is for dog, or it’s half and half. We did a show on the way up to Conan in Chicago. Last year in Chicago we drew about 50 people, and this show we drew over 150. So I feel like radio play and publicity, whatever the label is doing we don’t know about, is helping. We sold out in Chicago and we were really excited about that.

CM: Do you have any plans to headline your own tour?

KW: Yeah, once we finish out this tour we have a small tour lined up with Nada Surf. We are actually coming back here for that.

CM: Is that next year?

KW: No, that’s in November of this year. After the beginning of the year we will consider headlining or co-headlining a tour. That is definitely the next step.

CM: Are you interested in signing to a major label or are you comfortable with where the band is at?

KW: I don’t think so. It’s not like we are a crazy indie band that says fuck labels. Certain labels just don’t make sense for our type of music. Rounder made a lot of sense because they are music dorks. They aren’t very flashy; it’s just a normal conversation with normal people. They said they liked the record; they understood it and wanted to help us. As opposed to a label that says “We want you to sound like this” or “You guys need to go back to your first EP to be more successful.” Rounder wanted to help us instead of make us something we are not. As it stands right now we have a couple records left with Rounder and I think so far they’re doing a great job. There are no plans of jumping to another label.

CM: By the way, I’ve noticed your site is down.

KW: For a while we had a splash page that led to our Myspace. We had a simple website before but realized everything on Myspace is the same thing on the website so we didn’t need two.

CM: I’ve noticed a lot of bands just using Myspace.

KW: We can update everything on Myspace so easily. It’s a lot easier for us. We want a website but we want to find the right person to do it. We haven’t found that person yet.

CM: Back to the record, is it true that you recorded it at a remote location?

KW: We went to a cabin in Julian, in the San Diego Mountains. We had a cabin lined up with another friend but that one fell through. We were scrambling because we had already planned the whole week to go up and record some songs. At the last minute a friend said he had a cabin in Julian and was writing a book. It was just him and his dog and he said if we wanted to come up there to record we were more than welcome to. He had piano up there, already tuned up. The cabin had half carpet and half wood floors, vaulted ceilings, and a bunch of rooms you could record in. It was completely unfurnished so we could setup everywhere, it didn’t matter which room we were in. We’d record and crash on the floor. It took about a week – finished most of the songs and went back up there to cap everything off. It was out in the middle of nowhere. We could concentrate. There wasn’t a flat screen TV we could dive into. There weren’t any bars we could go to. We brought a little whisky and made it happen.

CM: Did you have a set number of songs or did you record a lot of material and narrow it down?

KW: Originally we went up there to record an EP – about 7 songs. And once we got half-way through we realized we should record a album. Once of our biggest – I don’t want to say fears – is putting something out and sitting on it. I think we just wanted to get all of the songs out and move forward, instead of sit on a bunch of songs for a couple of years. We wanted to keep moving forward and progressing; and felt it would be better that way. Originally we went to do the EP - decided to do the record. We finished it, pressed it ourselves, and released it in October of last year (2007). We decided to sign with Rounder. We thought it would be released earlier than it was, at the beginning of the year, but it ended up being August 26th. We were happy with it – new artwork, it was re-mastered and we added a song.

CM: Is the artwork really a picture of a band member's relative?

KW: It’s my uncle actually. He’s the Dean of Agriculture at Mizzou. He and his wife live in Columbus, Missouri and every time we go through we stay at their house. They have a full bar, pool table and we all get beds. He was happy to let us use the picture. He saw the Conan performance with his picture right their.

CM: You all are known for using unconventional instruments onstage. What unconventional instruments did you use on the album?

KW: On the Trashcan song we used the obvious. That song; we never really thought about a title and with using the trashcan we thought “Let’s play the trashcan song” and that’s what we called it. There is a track called “House Built for two” and we had; I don’t know why we did this - this was actually Sean’s idea; we had some wine bottles and different glass bottles in the room. He was in the bathroom and Brandon was in a little corridor with a tile floor right next to the bathroom with drums. I was in another room playing piano and Matt was in another room playing guitar and vocals. On the song you hear a lot a clash and scraping and breaking around. I don’t know how that pertains to the song. I think we were just kind of flowing with it and didn’t have anything else to do. It created kind of a honky-tonk atmosphere.

CM: What kind of music did you listen to in between recording sessions?

KW: We all had our laptops so I’m sure we listened to some music. I don’t remember what I was listening to at that point.

CM: What are some of your influences or music you are listening to right now?

KW: Normally, I get most excited about friends’ bands.

CM: In the San Diego area, or all over?

KW: All over. We’re friends with a band called, actually a guy called AA Bondy - sort of a folk guitarist. He actually inspired me how to finger pick and how to go about it. Of course, the Cold War Kids; they took us on our first tour which was very important to us. It’s not really writing music but the way their band works; the way they do things. We Barbarians are a good band. And Port O’Brien. There is a band called Doz, they’re from LA.; kind of like Credence Clear Water meets The Band; a lot of 3 part harmonies and they are really solid musicians. It’s a lot of stuff not a lot of people know about it, but we get excited about. We inspire each other to do certain things.

CM: What’s your favorite city you’ve played in?

KW: I think it’s unanimous that St. Augustine, Florida is the best stop. There is a place called CafĂ© 11, right on the beach. That with white sand, sweet people and a tight knit community; they are really nice to us. We can relax out there. It’s more like a vacation.

CM: Do you find touring easy or grueling?

KW: It depends on your mental state. If every one is getting a long in the band it’s real smooth. I feel like it has a lot to do with your mood. Since signing to Rounder we now get tour support. They budget a hotel for us. Now that we have a hotel to stay at we don’t have to worry about finding a floor to sleep on. When we were in Canada we didn’t know anybody. We had to finagle for space to crash on. We didn’t know anybody so we were asking people. We had a sign on the merch table saying “Can you take us home tonight?” Now that we have a hotel it’s a little more stress-free work.

CM: If you had a motto or mantra on tour what would that be? What keeps you tight and together on the road?

KW: We started doing pre-show powwows. For a long time we would go through the motions and we’d notice certain shows were great and some were not. We didn’t really know what was making the difference. We played the same songs so that wasn’t it. Every single night we tried to think of ways to make it fresh and new. So we started getting together; making eye contact and saying let’s have a good show. The key thing is us playing together. If everyone is making a conscious effort to play together, looking at each other, finding their groove it makes a difference. That’s what it is – playing together. It sounds pretty simple but makes a difference.

CM: Thanks for your time, and have a great show.


Music Guru said...

Soooo coooool! How did you land the interview? How did you appraoch them (i.e. tour manager, group, etc.) to land an interview? Details please...

Tony said...

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