They Faced Two Natural Disasters This Week, But Delta Spirit Carries On.
For the past two weeks, everyone's been tracking Hurricane Sandy and the destruction it's left in its wake. Understandably so: The largest Atlantic hurricane on record is estimated to have caused $50 billion in damage.
The New York-based band Delta Spirit, who will be performing at the Dallas House of Blues on Sunday, didn't experience any catastrophic losses during the hurricane. They did, however, lose some pricey gear when when six-foot high waters surging through their hometown rehearsal space.
The band wasn't present for that flood, though. Instead, they were in Hawaii, where they were scheduled to play at a music festival — one that was eventually canceled because of a tsunami warning.
After having avoided disaster on both the Atlantic and Pacific fronts, Delta Spirit is now back on safe ground and in the beginning of a fall tour in support of their self-titled release that includes the fan-favorite track, “California.”
In advance of the band's Sunday night show, we caught up with Delta Spirit co-founder and bassist Jon Jameson about the weather-saddled events his band has faced in the past week. To lighten the mood some, we also discussed his passion for microbrews.
Tell me about the last couple days.
It's been a whirlwind. We were practicing for the last week, then took off to Northern California, played a show up there. Then we went to Honolulu and were supposed to play a show on Saturday. But right when we got there, they started sounding the alarms for a tsunami. So, that got called off pretty quickly. We had to beat the masses back to the hotel, running through the streets to beat the tsunami that never happened. And then we ended up doing a makeup show there and had a great couple days in Hawaii. So, that was really fun. People were really excited about music there because they don't get touring bands too often. It's just been a crazy beginning to the tour, and, on top of that, our rehearsal space flooded in New York because of Hurricane Sandy. A bunch of stuff got destroyed, so it's been crazy. We're happy to be alive and that no one was hurt. We're all good and playing music in Texas.
That's quite the few days you've had.
[Laughs] Yeah, it's pretty crazy.
Were there any warnings about a potential tsunami before you guys went to Hawaii?
No. We had no idea. I mean, we had just gotten the news that there was gonna be the hurricane in New York and were like, “Wow, that's crazy!” Then on top of that, all of a sudden, there was a tsunami in Hawaii, so it's like double header. It was definitely kinda crazy because we've never been in any situation like that and people didn't know whether to take it seriously or not. The cops were taking it pretty seriously. The scariest part was probably when we were crossing the bridge back into Waikiki, heading toward the beach and one of those massive storm alarms sounded. Those things project like 20 miles and we were literally right below it, so it shot terror down our spines. We thought we were dead at that moment. We made it back before it hit, but then nothing really happened.
You're from California, so you've gone through earthquakes before, right? I imagine natural disasters are kinda in your repertoire.
Yeah, that's true. I mean we've had earthquakes, but I've never been through a really bad one. That stuff is still kinda freaky, though.
Tell me a little more about what happened to your stuff in New York.
Thankfully, all of our apartments were totally fine and even still have power, which is amazing because I know a lot of people have had a much worse situation. So we can't complain too much because we're safe and our homes are OK. But we share our rehearsal space with this band Cults and another band, We Barbarians, and we thought it might flood because it's really close to the water level, so we lifted everything up about three or four feet. But turns out the water level rose way more than that. We have a chalkboard, and you can see where we had written out set lists and the water level came up and erased it up to about six feet. So there was about six feet of water surging in our practice space and it just literally destroyed all of the other band's gear and, thankfully, we have a lot our gear on tour with us. But all the stuff we left behind — definitely tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment — got completely destroyed by toxic water. It's pretty rough. We feel especially bad for the other bands. We lost some stuff, but they really lost almost all their gear, which is terrible. Thankfully, everyone's OK. But that's kinda hard for a band. We feel really, really bad for them.
What are the plans for the equipment y'all lost?
I don't know. We have insurance; the other bands don't. Hopefully it works. I don't know exactly how all that's gonna play out. If we lose a lot of money, we'll probably do some sort of benefit show or something. But we're gonna do all we can to help them out. I just talked to our friend, Sean. He does Daytrotter and he was freaking out that they lost their stuff and trying to figure out ways to help them out. We'll come together with some friends and try to make it work out.
All your friends and family — they're OK?
Yeah, everyone's OK, thankfully. I know some people weren't so fortunate. A lot of people lost homes and businesses and stuff, so even though we lost some money it kinda pales in comparison.
On a much lighter note, I recently read about some beer brewing you've been doing lately. Did you ever come up with a name for your brew?
We wanted to call it Black Hops Down, but then someone stole that one already. I forget what we ended up calling it. One of 'em was Gorilla Mist. I don't know. I don't like that one. Originally, it was called Midnight Blues, so maybe we'll just go with that for now.
So you guys are really into microbrews.
Yeah, I'm super big into it. I'm from Southern California, and there's a lot of microbreweries popping up there. I kinda got really into that the last couple years. I'm kinda like a beer and coffee snob. It's fun to tour because you get to try the different beers in the different cities. We have on our rider that, whatever's local, bring us the local beer so we don't get, like, Heineken every night or something. It's fun to kinda tour around and try the different breweries, try the different beers and nice coffee roasters. That's part of what I love about tour.
What kind of beer do y'all brew?
We brewed a black IPA this time. Last time, we did an American Pale Ale, so maybe for Christmas we'll do some seasonal thing. It's really fun. It's a cool thing, too, because it works well with the band schedule because you can kinda start if off, leave for a week or two and go do your thing, then do the next step. I brewed the last one with my friend at Mast Brothers. It's a fancy craft chocolate place in Brooklyn; they have a big kitchen, a complete kitchen, which is a little hard for us to come by in New York, so we brewed it there. As soon as I get back from tour, I'll go brew round two.
Are there any big plans for the brew?
I mean, not really. We have some plans for whenever we do our next tour, but I'm gonna keep 'em under wraps just cause I don't want some other band to steal it! [Laughs.] We're trying to figure out different ways to tie in our love of beer and music, so who knows? Hopefully we'll come up with something cool.
Delta Spirit performs Sunday, November 4, at the House of Blues.