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Arts and Entertainment

Interview: Jon Jameson of the Delta Spirit Talks About Deserted Islands, Katy Perry, and Taxidermy

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Photo by the talented Ryan Roco via Myspace

The Delta Spirit, those unconventional rockers from San Diego, will be headlining a show at the El Rey tonight in support of their album Ode to Sunshine. Their hit Trashcan in which they use an actual trashcan lid as percussion launched them from local rock band to radio sensation last year.

The band was formed when friends Brandon Young (drums) and Jon Jameson saw Matthew Vasquez busking on a bench in San Diego. They got to talking about music and realized they had a lot of friends in common in the music scene. All of the guys were in separate bands, but a couple months later when the bands fell apart, they decided to form the Delta Spirit. Bassist Jon Jameson was kind enough to speak to us last Thursday about the upcoming show.

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Where did you get the name Delta Spirit?
My mom’s Uncle Red, who was from Birmingham, AL. He had a taxidermy shop. He was an air force controller, who also ran a shop called, "Delta Spirit Taxidermy Station of North Central Alabama." So I just took Delta Spirit from that.

Have you seen this shop?
No, I never even met Uncle Red. He's dead now. When we toured through Birmingham I thought about going to look for his shop. I used to come home from school and find my mom talking to him on the phone for a long time. I guess he was lonely. But I never met the guy. He seemed like a sweetheart.

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What made you pick up an instrument? How old were you?
I was in sixth grade. I don’t know how old that is? Eleven, maybe? I wanted to play guitar, but my friend already played guitar and he said I had to play bass. So I played bass. I learned the drums and guitar too, but mostly I stuck with bass.

Everybody needs a bass player
That’s true! There are tons of guitar players and singers, but not many bass players. I got to play in whatever band I wanted in high school.

Is your band a democracy or a dictatorship?
In all truth, It’s a democracy. Matt is the one who sings writes majority of stuff and Kelly writes majority of the music, but all the songs come ready to be demolished and rebuilt by the band. Everyone has a say. I mean all of us have brought ideas to the table. If its ever a complete song, it's usually either Matt and Kelly who brought it because they have good voices. Otherwise we just jam stuff out. Rehearsal is always a new event. But we're really excited about writing after two years of playing the same stuff.

Whatever you do, don't rush it. I don't know if the label is pressuring you to quickly put out another album, but don't do it too quickly.
It’s not too bad. The pressure is more internal. We completely love that we’re making it with each other. We want songs that make us happy. Worrying about whether the public receives it well or not is not a big deal.

What is your favorite thing to do in LA?
Man, I haven’t been up there in awhile. My girlfriend used to live in Hollywood, so I was up there all the time, but now she lives in Long Beach. The Delta Spirit really grew in LA more than anywhere else. With all of our residencies we were up there all the time. Oh I know, I used to be going to Café 101 and get the waffle sundae and watch celebrities late at night.

Who did you see?
Oh man, I saw Noel Gallagher there once. And that dude in Tenacious D that's not Jack Black. That was on the same night actually.

What was the worst show you ever played?
(laughs) Lawrence, Kansas. We played the worst show ever. We kept getting shocked the whole night by the mics. All of us just really hated it. We thought we were going to get electrocuted. But at some point we just realized, "Ok this show is total shit," and had a crazy Nirvana spaz out jam session at the end.

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Did the audience like it?
Maybe, who knows? We're usually really friendly after the show and like to hang out, but that night we couldn’t face it. But we're going back to Lawrence on our next tour, and we're going to redeem ourselves!

What is the weirdest thing you ever saw at a show?
We played this show with Matt Costa in Florida one time that was totally weird. That tour for some reason we had six shows in Florida. At this place the stage was a fake boat and the audience was dancing on the sand. Next to this stage was this fake lagoon. It was like a really bizarre MTV beach house.

If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
It would be great if bands, who worked really hard would have to live at their parents' house.

Where were you the first time you heard yourself on the radio?
The first time we hear ourselves for real?

What do you mean for real?

Well you can fake hear yourself on the radio if people call you and tell you about it. That doesn't count. Legit radio hearing has to happen by accident. We were in the car in San Diego and the song before was the Beastie Boys then this DJ said, "You just heard the Beastie Boys and coming up...The Delta Spirit." And I looked at Matt in the car and said, "Hey that name sounds familiar." It didn't hit for awhile.

Would you rather be burned alive or frozen to death?
Oh, frozen for sure. Because there is always a chance you would always get warm. But if your hot there's no escape. I mean if you're frozen there is always hope that a St. Bernard will show up with a barrel full of whiskey . Whiskey doesn’t help in a fire.

What is the worst thing about touring?
The worst thing is going to the bathroom after five guys have used it. Oh and having eight people staying in one hotel room.

Do they allow that?

No, we have to be very secretive. You know, we just sneak in the side door.

What is the best thing about being on tour?
You know, Brandon and I were talking about this the other day. We have been to every state except for Maine and Alaska, which is pretty good. We’re going to Europe in a week, which is exciting. You get to travel all expenses paid. I mean we don’t make money, but we get to travel.

Do you have any strange promoter stories?
Oh I don't, but Brandon does. Let me put you on with him.

Brandon: In an our early career we touring with a band who was a friend of ours. We were playing a show in a Nebraska bowling alley. We were supposed to be paid some money. I think it was something along the lines of five dollars and a Coors Light. But the guy that owned the place flipped out when the tour manager tried to collect, and they got into a fist fight on stage.

Holy crap! That's my kind of band manager. Who started the fight?

Brandon: Um, I don't really remember. I think the tour manager swung first, but the owner started pushing him. I'll give you back to Jon now.

Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
Jon: I don’t love her music, but I keep thinking Katy Perry. She used to be in love with Brandon.

How do you know?

Because she kept coming to the shows. She would show up all the time. Also in an interview she called him, “The most beautiful emo boy in the world.” (laughs)

But he’s not emo.

I know. It doesn’t matter. She was dating some other guy in the band.

In your band?

No, another band.

She’s a good looking girl.

Yeah, to me she looks like a beat up Zooey Deschanel, which all things considered is not a bad thing.

Do you have a favorite local band at the moment?

My friends are in this band called Tijuana Panthers. I saw them the other night. I really didn't want to go because I was so tired. They were supposed to go on at ten thirty but they were pushed back to eleven, then eleven thirty, and they finally went on at twelve. And I was really tired by then. But they went on and they were great.

If you were stuck on a deserted island,and you could bring three things what would they be?
Sunglasses would probably be useful on a deserted island. An iPhone probably because I could get any music I want or look up any information I need. Oh, and my girlfriend.

I don’t know if that’s sweet or not… What if she doesn't want to go?

Well she probably won’t want to go, but she’s stuck with me so she’s going to have to.

Be sure to check out the Delta Spirit out tonight at the El Rey with local favorites Everest.

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