EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: THE DELTA SAINTS

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

MARIA CIEZAK: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. For those who are unfamiliar, can you provide a brief background story on the band?

BEN RINGEL of THE DELTA SAINTS: David Supica (Bass), Ben Azzi (Drums), and I (Ben Ringel – Resonator/Vocals) moved to Nashville in 2007 to finish up college. The band pretty much started as a necessity for a social life. We each played music and had some idea of doing it as a career, but at first it was more for the drinking and conversation. We started writing songs, and a few months later, we played some of our first shows. We started touring more and more, and after a few personnel changes, and five years, we’ve arrived here.

MC: The Delta Saints, I dig the name. Is there a whole crazy meaning behind it?

TDS: I wish that there was some great deep meaning behind the name. You hear stories of bands who have these religious experiences with songs and books, and their names come out of these crazy experiences. Our name came out of necessity and in passing. We had a few songs written, a gig or two booked, and no name. Someone just threw it out, and we all like the sound of it, and felt that it worked for this swampy sound that we all had heard in our heads. One day we’ll make up a great story about how we got our name. It will involve prison and bourbon and voodoo, but until then the truth will have to suffice.

MC: I always hear such fantastic things about the Nashville music scene, and how it’s like no other. Would you agree?

TDS: I definitely would. There is something for everyone… Well, almost everyone. There’s obviously a lot of country music, and that dominates a big part of Nashville. But there is a really great rock scene in Nashville. Some of the big guys moved their camps down to Nashville, like the Black Keys, and Jack White’s seemingly endless endeavors. We’ve also got guys like Kings of Leon coming from just south of Nashville. There’s a whole other level of rock and indie rock just below the obvious surface though. I’ve been super impressed over the past few years of great bands starting up around Nashville. Bands like The Apache Relay, Kopecky Family Band, and The Blackfoot Gypsies are some groups that are just killing it lately. I think one of the big reasons, is that the atmosphere in Nashville is pretty supportive for new artists. It’s still the same cut-throat industry, but there is community in the struggle.

MC: You guys have a nice solid US tour in the works for the fall. Any venues you are most excited about in particular?

TDS: We’re really excited about the whole fall run. We’ve spent five of the past six months over in Europe, so it’s nice to be able to come home and finish the year with a solid US tour. We have started a tradition of always playing a Halloween show in Lawrence, KS. It’s basically our home away from home (and a few of the guys are from right around there). It’s always a great time and a great show. It’s nice to be able to look forward to traditions like that. We’re also really excited to be coming back up to NYC. That city is just enchanting and overwhelming. It’s always a huge rush in both time and adrenalin when we’re up there. We never end up staying for more than 18 hours, but we always seem to leave happy and usually still well within the effects of the night before.

MC: I know you also just wrapped up a stint in Europe. Did you bring back any exciting stories with you?

TDS: We’ve certainly found ourselves within situations that we hadn’t planned. On this last Euro tour we had a fly-out date to Las Palmas, which is in the Canary Islands. We essentially didn’t sleep for 72 hours, because there were gigs on each side of that particular show. We walked off stage in Las Palmas around 3AM and had a taxi scheduled for around 4. After load-out, we had just enough time for a shower and to collect our things. Our cab driver showed up on time, and it was about then that we all recognized him from the club. He was the one pounding drinks at the bar all night. We also noticed that he had some company in the front seat, and a cooler full of beer in between them. So there we are, at 4AM, speeding down the Spanish highway, having not slept for 2 days, our cabbie is drunk and still drinking, there’s what seems to be a prostitute in the front seat, and the sky is just starting to show signs of dawn. It was a bonding moment between us and God.

MC: I’m obsessed with single Liar, and have a few other personal favorites too, including Steppin. What are your influences as a band, and is the writing done as a group effort?

TDS: Between all of us, we listen to a pretty wide variety of music. I feel confident in saying that no one in this band listens to the same thing. There are bands that we can all agree on, but if you compared what everyone was listening to at any given moment, it would range from commercial pop, to hip-hop, to indie rock, to funk, to blues, and folk. Because of that, each person brings a different perspective and idea to the music. We definitely write as a band. I write all of the lyrics, but songs don’t necessarily start with lyrics. When we first started writing, the process was very one dimensional, but as we’ve grown, it’s really opened up, and now they can come out of nowhere. I think it’s the same with our influence. At first, everything came from a really small box. It was very much in the blues or swampy realm. As we’ve grown and progressed, that box has opened up. Now, we’re able to listen to bands like My Morning Jacket or The Derek Trucks Band, or even guys like Townes Van Zandt and experiment with ideas that come from listening to their records. It’s certainly gotten a lot more interesting as the years have gone by.

MC: Your sound is very unique and original. I feel it can be tough in the music business these days to maintain that originality. Is that something you guys ever think about when recording?

TDS: I think it’s all about deciding what you want and how you want to get there. I think that will decide how original and how much control you are able to have. We have high aspirations, but we know that growing slowly will allow us more control and a bigger space for creativity. We definitely have a specific sound that we all hear for the band, and we try to write songs that will not only progress and strengthen that sound, but will also push the band forward. It’s just a balance of art and commerce.

MC: Would you say you prefer recording over live shows?

TDS: They are two different worlds. I love both, personally. I think my favorite part of the entire process is actually writing the songs though. I just enjoy the freedom that it allows for, and being able to create and conceptualize every little detail of an idea.

MC: I actually found out about you guys from Red Bull Sound Select. How did you guys get involved with that awesome program?

TDS: There is a great radio station in Nashville called Lightning 100 (100.1 FM) that really puts a lot of focus on local artists in Nashville. They partnered with Red Bull for the Sound Select campaign, and a few of the guys over there talked with us about getting involved. It was a really great thing to be a part of, and the show was awesome. Red Bull seems to be one of those companies that is doing things right. They are not only doing really interesting things with athletes and artists, but they offer opportunities to smaller bands, like the Sound Select campaign, that really give support to bands like us. It’s nice to see a company actually investing in entertainment, and not just throwing money at the same old tricks.

MC: It seems like the future is very bright for you guys.. Was there ever that one moment where you thought: “This is actually going to work out for us?”

TDS: I think that we are all still waiting for that moment, and I’m curious as to what that moment would look like. For us, everything has seemed to grow slowly but steadily. So, it’s never this eye opening, trumpets sounding moment, but when we step back and look at where we are compared to where we were the year before, it’s always surprising to us.

MC: This is a question I ask a lot of artists, because I like to see what else you are feeling on a personal level. If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

TDS: In various forms of rehab… I would probably be in a kitchen somewhere. I’ve been a line cook since I was about 14, and really loved it.

MC: Where can fans learn the most about you and access your music?

TDS: Our website is a great place to start, but we’ve also got a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and various other social media outlets. There’s even a Myspace for those looking for a nostalgic look back.

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