Friday, November 27, 2009

Deleted Scenes: A Must See

When I first met the guys from Deleted Scenes it was the summer of 2007 & I was drumming for D.C. based art-rock band Bellflur. It was a 16-date tour that both bands had put together & we were to share the alternating headlining time slots as well as where we slept after each show. I got to know the guys pretty well. Their unique sense of humor was refreshing after all the daily stresses of living on the road & sleeping on a friend of a friend’s kitchen floor. As the tour chugged on, each day/night was as unpredictable as the next; locking your keys in the tour van with all of your equipment still in the van, running out of gas on a turnpike, having your vehicle covered in denim by the locals while you’re playing a set. So much happened, you could write a book, that’s why I’m finding it hard to write a concise introduction on “How I met a group of guys called Deleted Scenes & by the way, they kick ass every night”. Well, here it is; at least what I remember of it…

The scene was set, it was the 400 bar in downtown Minneapolis, all the merchandise tables set up, and everyone had their 2-beer tickets, just waiting for doors to open whilst Dinosaur Jr. was playing 1 block away. We were convinced we’d be playing to an empty house & right we were. It would be a perfect night for us to warm up being the first show out of many to come. The only highlight of the evening seemed to be the fantastic Greek food sold in the area, meeting our booking connection & then being blown the fuck off the stage by Deleted Scenes. Hearing them in a club for the first time, I was convinced that I was watching the next Weezer or (Insert more favorable pop act that exploded). I couldn’t stop watching them; my eyes were glued to the stage & every move they made. I was captured by the overwhelming chemistry & raw talent I was witnessing. If you saw footage of just the singer/guitarist (Dan) you would think he was bouncing about, jolting sweat, belting out notes & singing his heart out to a crowd of max capacity but once the footage panned around, you would see the other bands watching in awe & at that point you would realize that he’s just doing what he does. Rocking your face off seemed so effortless for the four that it made the show fun and you just wanted more. That’s what I remember about Bellflur’s first show on the tour, experiencing another band… Deleted Scenes.

From time to time, I would go to the band’s myspace page just to hear their infectious, catchy songs that I had grown to love from hearing them every night on tour. While listening to such songs as “Ithaca” & “Fake IDs”, I would read all the excellent press they were receiving and I was glad to see that someone was paying attention to them. I wanted to catch up with the guys & see what they were up to. The band consists of Dan (Guitar & Vocals), Fatty (Bass, keys & backing vocals), Scheffey (Guitar & keys) and on drums, Brian J. Hospital. While some of the members reside in Brooklyn, NYC, the other members still live here in the District, where they are making quite a buzz. A lot of local bands I talk to ask me, “Man, have you heard this band, Deleted Scenes”? When I hear that, I know the listener had the same reaction as I did when I first heard the band live. It’s just a question you ask yourself, “How are these guys not huge and all over the radio”? I recently bumped into the bass player, Fatty & the drum slayer, Brian J. Hospital to ask them a couple of questions.

Casey: Being exposed to you guys for 16 straight gigs, I already know that as a band you "Bring it" regardless if there are 2 people in the audience or if there are 20 or 200, so I am sort of biased as a fan, but can you tell anyone reading this interview or someone that has recently heard Deleted Scenes how your live show is different from your recordings?

Brian: Well, we've actually talked about this a lot. I guess it's obvious to anyone who's heard us on record and heard us live that the two experiences are quite different. It wasn't intentional, or anything, it just sort of happened that way. We had the ability to experiment with different sounds in the studio, so we did. However, if you want to be an efficient touring unit, you can't exactly bring a Wurlitzer, a B3, a glockenspiel, and 5 other people everywhere with you (unless you're Bellflur, I guess!). It seems to me that people like to debate whether or not a band is better live or on record, and I think that leads bands to try to make one experience better than the other. That may be a bad thing . . . but maybe not. For us, we basically just kept playing the songs like we always played them, and didn't really think about it. What people have told us is that our live show is more "rocking", which I feel is appropriate 'cause we're a rock band (I hope). That isn't to say that the record doesn't "rock" (though I'm sure plenty of people think that it doesn't), 'cause it does at points, but I suppose it's more dynamic and sonically "delicate" than our live show. Another thing I've noticed is that people who had seen us play a lot before "Birdseed Shirt" came out, tended to like our live show more than the record, and anybody who got into us because of the record, preferred the record. This wasn't always the case, of course, and I suppose it makes sense. Personally, I like them both in their own ways, as I am obligated to do because I'm in the band.

Fatty: It's definitely a lot more direct, the record sort of merits in all of its nuances. The show is an intense expression of the moment without that much ornamentation.

Casey: Have you guys had any "Epic" shows this year? The one stand-out moment as a band where you just fucking nail it and all the groupies back stage wanna buy you beer and treat you like Billy Idol. Can you tell us where it was?

Fatty: I'm pretty much convinced that there is no such thing as groupies in indie rock. Either that or we're just extremely unattractive human beings. That said, there are a couple great shows that come to mind. Our CD release show at the Black Cat in December of last year was pretty epic for us. Definitely a lot of people came out of the woodwork to check out what we were all about. SXSW was pretty epic in general. Our first headlining Black Cat main stage show in March was quite memorable. Also, our show at POP Montreal was fucking killer.

Brian: I'd have to say that our Black Cat main stage headlining show was probably the most "epic". I forget exactly when it was . . . April, I think? No, it was March, right? Honestly, I don't think we played that well (at least I didn't), but it was still pretty epic. Needless to say, the cadre of groupies backstage was bigger than average. We weren't really supposed to headline that show, but the good people at the Black Cat had confidence in us and asked us to do so. The venue was only about half full when we played but, eh, we still felt like rock stars.

Casey: Where is your favorite spot to play in the District? How does that spot differ from most clubs in DC?

Brian: The Black Cat backstage. If you have 200 people in there, it's packed. It sounds good. They hook up the beverages and food. There's an actual backstage where each band has a dressing room with their name on the door. For a venue that size, that's pretty rare anywhere in the country. I could go on and on about how much I like playing there . . .

Fatty: Yeah, I guess no surprise here.....Black Cat. Black Cat is just sweet. Sweet venue. Sweet staff. Sweet bar. Sweet food. Sweet sound. Sweet ambiance. Pretty much dope as hell.

Casey: I recently read somewhere that Deleted Scenes had the chance to work with (DC local Hero) J. Robbins. How was that experience?

Brian: Yep. We did all of the basic tracking for "Birdseed Shirt" with J., Drums, bass, basic guitar, etc. He's most certainly a hero. He's definitely mine. He's everything you want out of an engineer/producer. The experience was amazing. I wish we were a little more prepared going into that situation, but I think the end product was pretty good. It's not a typical J. Robbins record because L. Skell of the Rude Staircase fame handled most of the "producing" aspect of the record, but you can definitely hear his magical touch. If I had all of the money in the world, I would still do all of my recording with J.

Fatty: J Robbins is a perfect human being. I'm not kidding. It was amazing to have the opportunity to record with him.

Casey: I know bands hate putting labels on sounds, well I do, but if you had to do your best to describe your sound and it all depended on an A&R rep coming to see you guys play, what would be your best answer?

Brian: Normally, since I/we get asked this a lot, I just say that we're a rock band. I don't really know how else to describe it. We're very melody/lyrics-based, which I suppose most rock bands are but, I don't know, we're especially so. That means that the melodies and the lyrics are the strongest part of the band, which is obviously pretty much Dan's department. Beyond that, I don't know. Maybe I'd use the word "dynamic". Yeah, that sounds pretty good . . . and it's nice and vague.

Casey: Out of the band, who lives in Brooklyn? And how does that affect getting together and is it good for networking with other clubs, bands, etc.?

Brian: I'm the only one who lives in Brooklyn anymore. There was a time when Scheffey, Dan, and I all lived here. I guess they both left 'cause they're wusses. That or they didn't feel like paying $600 a month for a tiny, dirty box above a wholesale clothing store. It definitely makes getting together for practice a hassle, but we make it work (sort of). I recently went down to DC for four days, and we practiced everyday, and it was pretty productive. My hope is that the rest of the guys will get their shit together and move up here. That probably won't happen. As far as networking goes, I suppose it should be good, but that would mean that I would be the one doing all of the networking. Due to my aggressive agoraphobia and social ineptitude, this is impossibility. Fortunately, however, we have made a decent amount of headway in New York (a once unfathomable concept). This is partly due to the fact that we're now working with a booking company up here and partly out of luck, I guess.

Casey: Do you feel like you guys have made any head-way in the DC scene or created a buzz for yourselves?

Fatty: Yes, I think we've slowly and steadily been building over the past many years. This past year in particular has been really good for buzz creation.

Brian: I honestly don't know. There are times when we play a show in DC and I feel like we're rock stars, and times we're I'm certain that there's not a single person in DC that cares about us. I feel like we've gotten a decent amount of press in the DC area, but I'm not so sure that we have much of a "fan base". I mean, don't get me wrong, people generally come to our shows, but every once in a while we'll play one of those shows where I'm certain that we don't have any more fans than the day we played our first show at the Grog and Tankard.

Casey: I totally would not be surprised to hear that Deleted Scenes has signed with a major label or an independent outfit, labels being obsolete these days, how would you feel about being able to quit your day job? And I know this is a ridiculous question but it’s sorta the Holy Grail for the musician/artist/actor/actress.

Fatty: That would be amazing, but I'm not banking on it anytime soon. It takes so much for that to happen. You have to be beyond "big."

Brian: Being able to quit my day job would be a dream come true. At least, I think it would be. I've definitely heard my fair amount of horror stories about bands blowing up and that being the beginning of the end of the band. In an ideal world, we would blow up without signing to a label, but of course that's virtually impossible. It's pretty easy to get jaded when you start getting involved in the "industry" of music, but what else are you gonna do? Buckle down and get a nine to five? No thanks.

Casey: What do you see for the band in 2010?

Fatty: More touring and a new record…

Brian: (Interjecting) Hopefully a LOT of new songs. I wouldn't even say that the idea of us starting to record our new record next year is too lofty. I just want to make sure that we are super prepared for that process, and that involves having a lot of songs in which we're super confident. I'd say we have about half a record's worth of songs now, and that feels pretty good. It's important to me that we don't rush ourselves trying to write songs and get the next record out, 'cause that's when bands start putting out shitty albums. It'd also be nice to jump on a really good tour with a solid headliner. We've booked all of our own tours up until now, and they've been fun, but also pretty humbling, if you know what I mean. Of course, I don't want to discredit Dan and Fatty who actually did all of the booking, 'cause they did an amazing job with the limited resources that we have as an independent band. I just think we're all getting a lil' tired of the uncertainty that goes along with the self-booked tour. That being said, playing music in any capacity beats going to work everyday.

Casey: Okay, last question, Deleted Scenes is standing at a huge blank canvas with buckets of paint everywhere, every color of the visible spectrum is available, there are 4 members of the band, each member needs to pick a color and throw it at said canvas... What color do you pick?

* Brian: Orange.
* Dan: Flannel.
* Scheffey: Hot Pink.
* Fatty: Black 123.

So, there you have it, one of D.C.’s finest up and comers giving you the skinny on what’s been happening and their ambitions for next year. I am going to step out on a limb here and say that if you want to see what all the hype is about without paying $30 a ticket, now is the time to see them, they are headlining The Black Cat on December 2, 2009. Next year, they may be getting comfortable with playing amphitheatres and sold-out rock festivals. I fucking hope so, mainstream music needs someone to raise the bar. I am proud to have Deleted Scenes as my first expose piece for an ocean of, but none of this truly matters unless you do yourself and the band a favor… GO SEE THEM LIVE! And buy their latest album Birdseed Shirt, every song will be stuck in your head and you’ll find yourself humming along wherever you go.

-Casey T. Buckler
Photo credits: Peter Wadsworth, Jessica Rial & Alyssa Lesser

No comments:

Post a Comment