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Interview : The Delta Riggs

Words by Samantha Groth - Published on October 13, 2014

The other day, I got on the phone to Elliot Hammond from The Delta Riggs. He’d gotten a haircut earlier and it was his Birthday. It had become clear in the ‘how-do-you-do’s’ that I had curly hair, so his shaggy mop decided to reverse the interview.

It went something like this:

Elliot: Remember that show Felicity, the girl with the curly hair? I never watched that show, I don’t know anything about it or anything but I know that a big part of it was that she had long curly hair and it got to like the third season and they just shaved her head. What kind of writing strike happened, or how could the plot have gotten so bad that that they just went, ‘Alright let’s just shave her head and then see how it goes?’ What does it actually  mean?

Sam: Maybe she had a stint as an artist. That seems like an artsy thing to do.

Art, art! That always answers all the unknowns doesn’t it?

I know I have never done anything to my hair that wasn’t in the name of art, including all the drain business in the shower. That’s my artwork.

Well that’s all part of the creative process.

You just did a big Euro/UK tour. Do you think leaving Australia has affected your approach to music?

I think we’ve always had a pretty big English influence anyway. What the Europe tour did for us was let us tour so much more, because your tours in Australia can’t really go for that long because there are only so many capital cities you can play. In Europe you’re just going country to country, city to city and you can literally play every night. That meant we were playing four to five times a week for about three month straight. It was such a huge thing for the band, spending an hour on stage almost every night. It made the band approach playing live in a whole new way because we’d never spent that much time playing.

Culturally, everyone in the band loved Europe. We were right into the soft cheeses and the different cuts of salami available. There’s nothing better than touring in Europe, it’s the cream of the crop. Every night there’d be a caterer there; if you were in Germany you’d be getting schnitzels… it was huge…

In the off days we had we were just scoping out the local art galleries and just being tourists. We went on walking tour on countries we’d never been to before, I think it had a pretty positive effect on the band, we were laughing it up.

You talk about art galleries, your new album cover has some pretty intense art. Where’d it come from?

This guy whose name is [Jason] Galea who you can look up. He’s just done a new film clip for King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, [Cellophane], the 3D clip. I haven’t watched it with the glasses on, because I don’t have the glasses.

Just use cellophane.

Oh right, I need to get some cellophane. I fully missed that. But, that’s totally what it is, isn’t it?

You learn something every day. It’s my birthday today and I’ve just learnt how to make things go 3D any time I want.

Happy Birthday. How old are you?

You don’t want to know.

I do.

I just turned 29.

So another couple of years before proper adulthood.

… Well I’m more childish and immature and reckless than most people younger than me, so I don’t really feel like my age is catching up to me there. I remember when I was playing in clubs and pub bands when I was 22 and I’d see guys that were like 26, 27 and I’d be like, ‘man they must have their shit totally sorted out. They’re so much older than me’. Then you get to that age and you’re just like ‘I’m still doing the same stuff as I was back then, it just looks like I’ve got my shit more together.’ Because you’ve got a bit more life experience and that’s about it.

It’s all a façade… Who’s ever got their shit together? Noone’s got their shit together.

N00bs have their shit together.

Well someone’s got to but I guess it’s not for us. It’s not for you and I.

Also, real classics have their shit together, and I saw you cited some inspiration for Dips Zebazios (pron: Zeb-ah-zee-us) from the likes of The Roots and Outkast. What are your thoughts on less classic forms of music. For example, I recently saw a video of a guy performing ‘fart metal’.

I reckon that video would probably have more hits than our current single on Youtube, because that’s what people are interested in. It doesn’t say much…

…I was just watching the new Taylor Swift video for ‘Shake It Off’ and I was just looking at it thinking, I swear I saw Gwen Stefani do this about 4 and a half years ago and she did it way better.

Why am I even watching this? Yeah this bird is hot and that’s undeniable but as far as artistic statement goes, it’s completely lost on me.

I was worried about that for a while. As a musician and an artist, if I’m that out of the loop and in my own world so much was I missing the reason people are grasping onto this. I just realised, I’m actually not the one that’s crazy. Everyone’s gone fucking mad and I’m not going to get on that ship so I may as well just keep doing what I’m doing.

I’m just trying to keep it real and find things that have substance and art that still has expression, because it’s still there and it’s still in the pop world. I don’t know if you’ve listened to the new Pharrell Williams record; he has taken some great elements of early R’n’B and the Motown sound and pushed it to the forefront of music so the masses are playing it. That is quality stuff.

There’s other bands who are doing that stuff as well, Die Antwoord out of South Africa who don’t have the resources a lot of these other artists have but they’re pushing things artistically with their visuals and their music… All you can really do about that when you’re in a band is try to keep being as true as you can to what you’re doing…

… It’s all out there but unfortunately it’s not what it should be. I can’t solve that problem. I think Nirvana are fucking awesome, obviously they were awesome enough to become one of the biggest bands in the world, but you wonder if that could happen again in 2014. I think Violent Soho are fucking awesome and they should be as big as Nirvana, but do you think they could be? Who knows? Can a band do that? Am I asking you the question? Is it rhetorical? Am I asking myself?

I am going to say it’s rhetorical because I don’t have the answer and I don’t want to look like an idiot.

One big band, who is only getting bigger is Glass Animals and you covered them for Like A Version which was great, but I have a bone to pick; I saw you play live, and you did not play it. Are you going to play it on your upcoming tour?

We have been playing it… But we can only play so many… so I’m sorry. How bout I make a deal with you; tell me which show you’re coming to and I’ll play it the song. I actually enjoy playing it.

Newtown Social Club.

Excellent. I’ll make sure it’s on the set list. (M8, you better play me some Gooey)

Go see the loons get live.

Sam likes music, wine, dancing, puppies, radio and hot chips. She also likes to yell at the television old man style.

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