As part of our On The Rocks feature yesterday, the AU review’s, Alex Houle, recently caught up with Elliott Hammond, the opinionated singer of The Delta Riggs, to chat about their recent Foo Fighters tour, their latest album, Dipz Zebazios, and the current state of Rock and Roll. In this no holds barred interview, we get Hammond’s opinion on the controversial Kanye West, Gene Simmons, Die Antwoord and Tom DeLonge‘s recent departure from Blink 182.
You recently won the Rolling Stone award for Live Act Of The Year. What do you think your band brings to the stage that other bands today are lacking?
Elliott Hammond: I don’t know if it’s other bands lacking anything. We have an urgency to our live shows that I guess stems from our various backgrounds playing in Punk bands. So it’s like seeing a punk band with [rock] songs.
You choose to live-track and self-produce your albums. What do you think this adds to (or subtracts from) the creative process and, subsequently, the overall resulting album?
EH: It’s a thin line to track and self produce. The biggest risk is being so involved that you are missing the bigger picture, which is often the producer’s role. For us it’s something we approach (as producers) with a lot of research and planning. We have a blueprint of what we’re chasing as far as sonics, atmosphere and the palette of sounds we are looking for. This allows us to hone in on the intricacies that an album requires.
While your EPs and 2013’s Hex.Lover.Killer had a more predominantly classic Rock and Roll sound, your new album, Dipz Zebazios, is one that ranges comparatively from bands like Spoon/Kasabian to Outkast. What lead to this massive progression in sound?
EH: The EP’s and first album were a collection of songs written over 3 years from our time living together on an Orange orchard. The Dipz material was written in 3 months directly after we finished mixing Hex.Lover.Killer. By that stage we were musically searching for something more urban and gritty and began referencing heavily stuff we’d only brushed over on Hex.Lover.Killer.
There are hints of the R&B/Hip Hop soundscapes on Hex.Lover.Killer, on tracks like “Streetsigns & Breaklights” and “Save It ‘Till the Morning.” We were listening to a lot of Fugees and The Roots. With Dipz Zebazios, we explored that more fully, referencing stuff like Jurrassic 5, Beastie Boys, The Beta Band, Tribe Called Quest and The Clash, to name a few. Obviously there’s a big English vibe there too.
Going off your experience so far as an artist, what changes would you like to see take place in the music industry on a grand scale?
EH: I’d like to see Record Labels stop shoving watered down shit down people’s throats. But as if that’s gonna stop. It’s kind of cool anyway because there are so many emerging artists not relying on that old model of doing things. People are part of the problem too: there is so much current, awesome music available to people. But whatever, I don’t ever really think or worry about that stuff… maybe I should. It honestly only enters my mind when I encounter some normal civilian and I think in my head “I feel sorry for your loss of quality music and living experience”
The Delta Riggs have risen to a considerable level of fame in a relatively short period of time, going from playing shows for few, to playing for crowds of thousands: how has this affected the band’s self-perception?
EH: Our perception of ourselves? We aren’t rock stars, or interested in glamour or notoriety. We treat each other the same, as respectfully as you would treat your best friends or family.
You’ve just gotten off the tail end of your Australian tour with the Foo Fighters: can you tell us about that? How did it compare to tours you’ve played previously?
EH: We don’t usually play to 20 000 people every night so it’s impossible to compare. Foo Fighters are great guys and were so nice to us. We were asked personally by their management to do the tour. I got away with telling [their drummer] Taylor Hawkins he can’t shuffle… So in short they’re pretty good sports.
With a live show that rivals that of the greats, what band/artist would you most like to tour with next?
EH: Die Antwoord. I feel their creativity and output is trumping most of their peers right now and they seem to be doing it effortlessly.
Judging by the band’s Instagram account and lyrics, you guys haven’t exactly shied away from the proverbial sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll lifestyle that seems to be offered with the job. Does the band feel any pressure to live up to this pre-prescribed rock star image?
EH: I don’t really think we’re like that at all. We like drugs as much as the next person but any idiot can do drugs and it’s not something I’d say we promote like some of our peers do. It’s the lifestyle we lead and it is real. It’s not contrived or pre-empted. We are a band constantly on the road; the stuff on Instagram is just what happens. It’s not like we asked Johnny Depp to show up. We didn’t even know he spoke English.
On that note, if you could emulate the career of any rock star before you, who would it be and why?
EH: The one that has the yacht and the selection of pea coats and Louis Vuitton sunglasses.
Rock and Roll as a genre has taken some big hits as of late, with the demise of Blink 182, Beck’s diss at the Grammy’s, and Gene Simmons’ speculation last year that Rock is finally dead. What is your opinion on the matter: is Rock and Roll over?
EH: Just because Kanye West says he is the Next Mandela doesn’t mean it’s true. Again, people are sheep. Rock and Roll isn’t dead; it’s just reinventing itself in different forms. The devil works in mysterious ways—c’mon, we all know that. And Blink 182 aren’t Rock & Roll. They’re 3 rich guys that squabble over whose bus leaves the festival lot first. And while I’m on this: KISS suck balls, Gene Simmons to me represents the absolute worst qualities a human being can have. Beck’s on the money. Gettin’ bent like a wet cigarette.
What can we do, we being both artists and fans, to keep Rock and Roll alive and strong?
EH: Buy Records. Go to shows. I don’t know, I don’t have the answer to everything. I’m not Yeezy.
You’ve toured with Kasabian and the Foo Fighters, won the Rolling Stone Award for best live act and can count Johnny Depp and Jimmy Page amongst your fans. What do you most want to accomplish next, and how will you work towards it?
EH: We want to release music as often as possible and stay true to our goal of being honest artists who push ourselves for the benefit of music. We’ll work towards it the way we always do: one step at a time.
Check out The Delta Riggs’ latest single, “The Record’s Flawed” below: