By the time SXSW wraps, Delta Spirit will have played 16 shows at a rate of about four shows a day. "I just eat Halls and drink Whiskey," frontman Matthew Vasquez says of his survival strategy.
It's the Brooklyn band's fifth trip to SXSW. "The first time was the craziest experience, just going to shows and hanging with friends. It was like music summer camp," bassist Jon Jameson says. "There was just so much excitement about getting your name out there. There were 15 people who would show up to your 11 a.m. breakfast show - that was a beautiful thing. Every year it's changed. You play bigger shows and there are different expectations. This one is special to us because our album just came out."
Delta Spirit's third and self-titled LP marks a new chapter for the band, which added new guitarist Will McLaren and some synths and drum machines to their original formula. "The last album was four of us, so we couldn't jam and experiment with songs," Vasquez explains. But during their midday performance on the Radio Day Stage, they showed that the changes haven't been that drastic. "Empty House," the new single that kicked off their seven-song set, has a galloping, urgent rhythm that recalls "White Table," from their 2010 album History From Below. And "Tear It Up," which couples twangy guitar with drum machine loops, hangs on to the band's trademark expansive feel.
"We're so happy to play our old songs; why would we stop playing them?" says Vasquez. Adds Jameson, "Why would we keep writing the same ones that have been written? It's like when you're married. Are you going to be doing missionary every time?" He pauses and laughs. "No. This is our backwards cowgirl."