Aquarium Drunkard is presenting tomorrow nights Delta Spirit show at Republic New Orleans , Wednesday, September 9th. Hurricane Ike be damned, its going to be a good show. We caught up with the band’s bassist, Jonathan Jameson, last week to discuss the new release Ode To Sunshine .
Aquarium Drunkard: Ode To Sunshine is an intimate record. One that calls on the familiarity of folk and yet still captures the rawness of punk rock. Describe the recording process at that cabin in Julian, CA and will you be doing more recording there or branching out to other locations?
Jonathan Jameson: Heat. Dogs. Friends. Heat. Live. Fun. Discouragement. Work. Slip n’ Slide. Heat. Whiskey. BBQ. Eli. Sauna. Accomplishment. It was beautiful. It will be very different next time…that is all i know.
AD: As you were recording these songs, did it, at the time feel like what you thought Delta Spirit would sound like as you formed in 2005? Are there ways your original vision was different than the current group?
JJ: Yeah. The biggest difference was that we started with four people and now we have five. we have never tried to change our sound or send it in one specific direction, but it has changed and evolved and I’m sure it will continue to.
Continue Reading After The Jump…
AD: What is the story of finding Matthew (Vasquez, vocals and piano)?
JJ: Brandon was working downtown in San Diego doing some design. He went out to get some cigarettes at 2 in the morning and heard Matt singing by the train tracks. Matt and I had met previously so the connection was made and within a few years we were all in a band together.
AD: While you were playing the early shows, before recording and touring extensively, can you isolate a moment where you felt that your band had true chemistry?
JJ: We felt it in our first practices. There were moments when we would be overcome by joy and excitement just by putting a song together. We were finally doing what we wanted to be doing and with the right people. those moments still strike us from time to time when we are seeing things most clearly.
AD: Following that discovery, was it exciting to tour with Dr. Dog and Cold War Kids and be completely unknown to the crowds at first, and then surprise them with these songs and your performance?
JJ: It was amazing! People really responded and we are indebted to those bands and a few others for the fans that we have now.
AD: What are your songwriting inspirations? Is it a collaborative process?
JJ: It is. The songs usually start with Matt or Kelly (Winrich, multi-instrumentalist) and then they hit the tumbler. We probably spend more time with each other than our girlfriends and family put together, so a large amount of
what is experienced by one is also experienced by the rest of us. You can also be very distant from one another in the closest quarters. We are also trying to remember that the world is a lot bigger than the individual and bigger than the five of us as well. This is where a lot of it comes from.
AD: The first album is always one of establishing a group’s identity. What are some of your favorite debuts? What music were you listening to while writing and recording for inspiration (production wise, as well)?
JJ: We are usually listening to very different stuff. we agree on the basics and some new stuff like Richard Swift and Elvis Perkins, but I’m not sure any record directly inspired the recording process. As far as debuts, I like Definitely Maybe by Oasis, that Bon Iver record is great (not sure its a debut) and Bjork debut. Bad pun.
AD: You begin the album with “Tomorrow Goes Away” a brief introduction to the band’s rustic appeal and harmonies and then immediately take off into the electrifying “Trashcan.” Were these two songs meant to go together or was that a very smart sequencing decision?
JJ: Let’s go with smart sequencing. Thanks for the compliment!
AD: The ‘wandering souls’ that you are in “People C’mon” simply call out to the ‘soul-searchers’ in a defiant almost sermon-like statement. Here you present a sort of minor-key verse where you assure everyone that you will fight and then in true benediction-style stop the music to call out to the masses. Is religion a part of this album?
JJ: Religion is the search and the invocation and the veneration of the almighty. The itch of something bigger than ourselves. The admittance that no man is an island. That we are not self-sufficient.
Also, it is the love of our neighbor. You can study and practice these things for a lifetime and still have no idea what you are talking about and/or doing, but somehow we still can’t shake the idea that we aren’t enough. that is the religion of this album. a search for the true self under and behind all of the false selves that we have always identified with, prescribed for ourselves and been handed. It’s liberation theology. but that is only a part of the album.
AD: In “House Built For Two”, you use an older, familiar sounding piano to reiterate ‘that a house fit for two, is too small for you’ and painting the details of a dissolving relationship. So much of songwriting is about using images to thread a story- does a song like this just appear from a mood or drawing on memories. How much of your writing comes from that place?
JJ: This is probably the most matter of fact song on the record. It’s history. It’s been lived. There is no metaphor, just hard times and real lives. We appreciate metaphor and it can be a beautiful poetic tool, but this song has no room for that.
AD: Over the course of just a few songs, you quickly establish your identity as a band and your songwriting skill. How do you react to those who take your music so close to their hearts? Are you planning the second chapter of “Delta Spirit Taxidermy Station of North Central Alabama.”
JJ: Thank you. that means so much to us. we play music for the community of it, not just the self expression. but in a great expression of performance art we will be made into taxidermy for the promotion of the second album.
AD: “Trashcan” says “The world’s too small to feel like nothing.” Is this song sort of a ‘so long’ to the past and a ‘hello’ to your new identity? Is loss a part of this album?
JJ: It’s about moving on from all that we had been doing separately and trying to do this new thing together. It’s about the start of our band. Every new beginning is a loss. Like T.S. Eliot said, ‘you come back to the place where you started and know it again for the first time. words/mik davis