Delorean, Moving Forward
ABOVE: DELOREAN. PHOTO BY BENJAMIN STELLY
After touring material from their 2010 full-length Subiza for just about three years, Delorean decided to make a record more like a band and less like a production team. That’s not to say any of the sounds on Subiza are fabricated to a fault, but instead the band wanted to write music the way they’d been playing it for the previous 24 months, with actual guitars, synthesizers, and drums. When we initially mistook the band’s new approach as a simple switch to all-analog production, singer Ekhi Lopetegi clarified the band’s position on the performed versus the programmed: “We would never leave the computer aside.” We spoke with the band in Central Park at the end of August.
MATT PUTRINO: How were the L.A. shows?
EKHI LOPETEGI: The L.A. shows were pretty good. The first show was a warm-up, and we had some visuals. It was pretty cool. And FYF was a very good energy show. I think that festival is getting bigger and better.
PUTRINO: I’m always fascinated about the experience of writing songs as multilingual musicians. Do you see different versions of your music if you’re writing in English, Spanish [Castilian], Basque, or Catalan?
LOPETEGI: Well, sometimes you’re limited to what you know about a language. If you try to say things properly in English, you don’t master the language the same way you do with Spanish or Basque. When I write lyrics in English, I use big words. I don’t know the expressions that are more down-to-earth ways to say things. I don’t really know how irony works in English, so it’s usually very open and explicit and literal.
PUTRINO: Big sentiments.
LOPETEGI: Yeah. It ends up feeling very open. That’s because I don’t know the tricks.
PUTRINO: Did you ever consider doing this record in Basque?
LOPETEGI: I would love to write songs in Basque some day. I’d be happy to try it. I’m not sure if we’d have a good response in English-speaking places, but it’s something I’d personally want to try.
PUTRINO: The band was here in New York for almost a month recording the album. How was your time here? Did you gravitate toward one area or were you all over the place?
IGOR ESCUDEO: It was in February, so it was extremely cold. After the studio we would run directly home and maybe hang out a little bit in Williamsburg. That’s where our apartment was.
LOPETEGI: We actually only had two days off. Or maybe just one. But we went to Queens. The rest of the time was working time.
PUTRINO: Like eight-hour days?
LOPETEGI: Eight, 10.
PUTRINO: Can you tell me about the recording process? You moved away from the computer and used all analog equipment?
LOPETEGI: We didn’t want to do everything analog, but we didn’t want to write another record by clicking on a mouse. Most of the record is based on a computer, but we wanted to write the record as if we were in the studio, with all the tools available to us at any time. Like a guitar here, a bass here, keyboard there, drum machines, we bought a bunch of proper hardware too, like a mixing board and all that. All based of course on the computer, and we would still edit a bunch of stuff. The first idea usually comes from messing around with something on the computer. But we didn’t want it to feel like the Subiza album, which is all edited. There’s not a single bass line. This time we wanted to integrate analog and digital.
ESCUDEO: We wanted to play, basically.
LOPETEGI: That’s it.
ESCUDEO: We wanted to play drums, play the guitar. That’s what Ekhi said. On the Subiza record, he didn’t play the bass and I didn’t play the drums on the entire record. So this time, after touring for two years, the whole live show was based off a lot of samplers, pushing buttons the whole time. We wanted to rock a little bit. That’s the main idea. It’s a mixture between the computer and playing and trying to find the common ground there.
PUTRINO: If Apar was written with live instruments in mind, it must be pretty fun to play it.
LOPETEGI: It’s actually way easier to play the new songs than the ones we made for Subiza. I don’t know, it just feels more natural. We always change the songs so they work better live. The response has been very good, so it’s been easier to put on a live show.
PUTRINO: You’re playing some bigger venues in the U.S. There’s a Webster Hall show coming up in New York.
LOPETEGI: Yeah, it’s pretty big. The last time we played in New York headlining we did two shows: Brooklyn Bowl and Bowery Ballroom. One was sold out, one almost sold out. Yeah it’s a bigger step, but that’s something we want to achieve on this record. We want the live show to feel big. We’re already working on production for some shows, we’re trying to bring a singer with us to do the back ups. We would like to do a big show.
PUTRINO: You mentioned visuals, too?
LOPETEGI: That’s something we’ve only tried at the Fonda [in Los Angeles]. It was like a test. But we would love to put something together and bring it on tour with us.
PUTRINO: Is it 14 years now you’ve been playing together?
ESCUDEO: I don’t know. I try not to think about that. I always see the band as [a series of] different bands. Even though we’ve been the same.
UNAI LAZCANO: I started playing guitar with Igor playing the drums.
LOPETEGI: Five years ago, Guillermo [Astrain] joined Delorean. But we’ve known Guillermo since we were 15. He would play in other bands in the same area. It feels like we’ve been playing together either in Delorean or other bands our entire life.
PUTRINO: Is there any downside to that?
ESCUDEO: I don’t know. Maybe marketing-wise. I think the market likes new bands. Maybe that’s the negative part for us. For us, I always think that we started with Subiza. I see that as the starting point. That was our first international record, that was us thinking about what we were doing or what we were trying to achieve.
LOPETEGI: It was the first serious attempt to make a good record. Before that, it was us not thinking much about what we were doing. Just playing shows and putting out records here and there. It was definitely like Igor said, another period.
PUTRINO: I wanted to ask about being a band from Spain. Is it a little frustrating that in the US when people think of music from Spain, Ibiza usually comes to mind first?
ESCUDEO: I think it’s funny. I didn’t know that people only relate Spain to Ibiza.
LOPETEGI: At least the music coming from Spain in the last four years, it all has the “Balearic” tag. They try to see the Balearic in everything coming from Barcelona. I don’t know, I think it’s just funny. Ibiza was a different thing, and we never lived in Ibiza. Never. I’ve never been to a club in Ibiza in my entire life. We kinda know what happens there, and we know what kind of music is being played there.
LAZCANO: Every big DJ plays in Ibiza.
ESCUDEO: Yeah, the EDM DJs. There are lot of EDM parties in Ibiza, Steve Aoki, Swedish House Mafia.
LOPETEGI: I think if you put some percussion, some congas, on a dancey track and you’re coming from Spain or Barcelona, people will automatically think that is Balearic. It’s a combination of congas and some house beats. It’s just funny. It’s not bad.
PUTRINO: In 2011, you played a show at a club in Madrid called Joy Eslava right next to the #AcampadaSol protests. On Twitter, you mentioned it was an important experience to play so close to the protests.
LOPETEGI: Well, in that time in Spain, a lot of things were happening. It was pretty amazing. It really felt like something big was happening or going to happen. People were really determined to face certain problems and achieve certain things. All of the sudden it got really big, huge. The whole thing in Madrid happened and I don’t know, for a few months everything in Spain would gravitate in relation to that. We all felt close and would sympathize with that. When we played that show at the Joy Eslava, I think it was cool to play right beside that. It was also weird, because we were doing something completely different from that. I don’t know, I think we all felt close to what happened.
PUTRINO: What’s the climate among young people now? Has unemployment gotten better since then?
LOPETEGI: No. There are no jobs, but people just assume that’s what you get. And that’s the sad part about the whole thing. Whereas a couple years ago, people wouldn’t assume that’s what you get.
PUTRINO: How did the collaboration with Caroline Polachek from Chairlift come about?
LOPETEGI: It was pretty natural. We had this track, the vocal melody was made from chopped up vocal samples, some a capella we had. We liked the melody, but I couldn’t sing that. We needed a female singer. We asked some friends in New York, do you know anyone who can sing this? And someone said, why don’t you ask Caroline? We sent her the song, she thought it was cool, but a challenging thing to sing that crazy melody made out of vocal samples. She wanted to do it, and she did it. It’s one of the highlights of the record.
PUTRINO: Any other guests?
LOPETEGI: Yeah, Cameron [Mesirow, who performs as Glasser] sang “Destitute Time.” Erika Spring [from Au Revoir Simone] did backing vocals for like seven tracks. There are vocal backups on almost every song. “Spirit” [below] is co-produced by us, Chris Zane, and Van Rivers, who worked on the last Glasser record. There’s a bit of collaboration.
PUTRINO: Are you still studying philosophy?
LOPETEGI: This year we weren’t touring, and I tried to get back to school and get my work going. I did some work, but not enough. I quit again because we needed to finish the album. Maybe someday I’ll finish my Ph.D. studies. I’m playing music now.
DELOREAN’S NEW ALBUM APAR IS OUT SEPTEMBER 10 FROM TRUE PANTHER SOUNDS. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT ITS FACEBOOK PAGE.