INTERVIEW: The Delta Riggs’ Frontman Elliott Hammond, Talks New Album, ‘Surgery Of Love’ & Peeing Next to Kevin ParkerWritten by Zanda Wilson on June 28, 2016
When Aussie rockers The Delta Riggs perform it really just gives off a vibe like a bunch of mates having a fun time. For sure their style of rock has psychedelic tendencies, but they are definitely a band who are still exploring themselves stylistically, with the lead track from their forthcoming album Surgery Of Love giving off a vibe of greater urgency and energy than their previous work to date.
The Riggs are gearing up for another Australian tour, having already been on the road this year and also having spent doing a massive tour supporting the Foo Fighters last year; something that really helped the guys hit new levels of performance, and which also saw them gain a heap of new fans. Their rising star continued to reach new heights this year – after they were called on to cover Tame Impala’s Let It Happen; APRA’s song of the year at the 2016 awards, a performance that divided Impala fans.
We had a yarn with the Riggs’ singer Elliott Hammond to find out more about their forthcoming album, that time he ran into Kevin Parker at the APRA awards right before covering a Tame Impala’s Let It Happen, and why there’s no such thing as making a song ‘too sexy’.
Music Feeds: What can we expect from you guys on the upcoming Australian tour?
Elliott Hammond: We’ve got new songs, new dance moves, a new band member. Just a new outlook, a fresh outlook and our psyche is good. So we’re going to be playing shows differently because we feel really good about ourselves.
MF: How has your outlook changed, has it changed how you’ve written music?
EH: We’d played all these new songs for a while, when we were writing them and getting them ready – they run on a bit of a different frequency to our older stuf. These are still urgent but they’ve got a different feel, like the first single Surgery Of Love.
MF: It seems a little bit more laid back, but there’s still a lot of energy there.
EH: Yeah, so there will be a different approach to performing these songs – figuring out how to play them live. I don’t think it’ll be like any other shows that we’ve done – that’s for sure.
MF Did you consciously set out to write differently this time or was it more of an organic change within your sound and process?
EH: I just kind of happened. The songs, we wrote over a year period or something – but then we recorded them in nine days, so we crammed a lot into that time. We do the same thing every time we go into the studio really. As far as preparation goes; we don’t really give the other guys in the band too much time to learn the stuff, we just put it out there when we’re in the studio and try to capture the magic oaf that time.
There’s always something special, someone can go in and play a part backwards – but there’s something exciting about just being able to hang on by the skin of your teeth sort of vibe. Like watching a tightrope walker; you kind of what him to fall off but your don’t – you want him to make it… but there’s that point. We didn’t go in thinking we were going to change our attitude. We went in like normal civilians and came out like a rock n’ roll band.
MF: You guys already played a national tour this year and last year, as well as a bunch of support tours last year too – it sounds like your recording is so condensed that it wouldn’t get in the way of your touring schedule.
EH: Personally I prefer the studio. I love touring, but if it was up to me I would just have fun in the studio all day. We don’t really spend too long in studios because we work pretty quickly, but also we don’t have the luxury of being able to stay in studios as long as we would like. So it doesn’t really affect the touring side, and the touring is a bit of a necessity to expand your audience and open them up to the awesome album you’ve just done. It’s a chicken/egg style scenario.
MF: Even if you find touring something of a chore sometimes, I imagine touring with the Foo Fighters would have been something incredibly worthwhile?
EH: Oh, it’s not a chore. I’m grateful if anyone comes to see us play. Obviously some tours are easier than others – with the Foo Fighters we didn’t have to do anything. They have their own chefs on the road with them and you’re working with a massive road crew. So that touring experience is what you want to work for in your life- to get to that. That’s the top of the pile, and not everyone tours like that.
MF: Was there much you learnt from that tour that you’ve been able to implement into your own solo shows?
EH: They helped us out so much, the Foo Fighters – not only with what we learnt from playing with them but also in the six to eight months we’ve had a lot to do with them. They opened us up to our team in and our management in America, so they’ve actually been – without realising it, pretty influential on our path. On the way that it’s all panning out for the Rigs this year and next year, through the relationships we have with those guys and the people they have around them. We did, we learnt a lot. I don’t have a bad word to say about any of them.
MF You guys got to cover Tame Impala’s Let It Happen for the APRA awards, what was that like?
EH: The musical director for the night asked us if we wanted to play, and they don’t tell you at the start what is, and then they presented us with that. When we got given that one we thought it would pretty tough, especially when we found out that Kevin Parker was actually coming to the show. I was trying to cram in all these lyrics, I had them on my hands and I walked into the awards. I walked into the bathroom and I was mumbling to myself all these lyrics, and I look across the urinal and Kevin Parker was standing there. I said ‘hey man what’s going on’ and he said ‘hey’. I’ve only met him once before, so I said ‘I’m Elliot and I’ve got your song stuck in my head, I’ve had it on repeat all day’. And he said ‘really do you like it that much’, and I said not but I’m playing it tonight. I did like the song…
MF: Did he impart any words of wisdom?
EH: He asked me what I was having trouble with and I mumbled something back, and he just said ‘good luck’ and walked out. Fortunately I got the lyrics right, then we started reading comments on Facebook where people said we’re not allowed to cover a Tame Impala song and it’s not the right thing to do. I just think that’s really funny, that people thing that they can go around telling people what to do like that.
MF: And there was just as much positive feedback after the performance though…
EH: Totally, obviously you can’t please everyone. Even with that cover situation – we did Gooey by Glass Animals for Like A Version, and I was really proud of it – I think we did a really cool job, and then you’ve got some people saying it’s awesome and other’s telling us that we made the song too sexy. Have you ever heard of anyone making a song too sexy? There’s no such thing.
MF: What was it like working with Remi last year, and can we expect any collabs on the forthcoming album.
EH: I can give you a hint. There is a collaboration on the record with a Sydney band that we’re very, very chummy with. It features the singer and the bass player from said band. Is that too cryptic? In short, you might hear a collaboration with Sticky Fingers on that record. It was just one night we were hanging out and said ‘you guys should get in on this track’.
By the time we got around to it they were doing their album in Thailand and they had a studio there, and we were doing ours at The Grove – so we were sending session files back and forth to each other. So we weren’t in the studio for some of it and then the second half I met up with Dylan at the Sticky studio and we finished it off so it was a two part process.
MF: How did that collaboration with Remi come about, given he’s someone from a completely different genre of music?
EH: We were just massive fans of Remi. The song with him had a really cool vibe because it had a really cool vibe and subject matter. We’re huge fans of a lot of styles of music, and I consider myself something of a savant idiot on old 90s hip-hop and that’s what Remi’s all about. Sometimes it’s easier working with some artists than others, and sometimes it just happens effortlessly. All the times that we’ve collaborated it’s been with people that have just made it easy and fun.
The Delta Riggs Australian Tour 2016
Presented by 123 Agency & Music Feeds
Friday 24th June
Fat Controller, Adelaide
Saturday 25th June
Thursday 30th June
Jam Gallery, Sydney
Friday 1st July
The Imperial Hotel, Sydney
Saturday 2nd July
The Brightside, Brisbane