By Poppy Tohill
When I sat down with Australian rockers The Delta Riggs lead singer, Elliot Hammond and bassist Michael Tramonte (Monte) all I knew them for was the fact that Elliot thinks he’s Noel Gallagher and they ruin people’s nights, but as we delve deeper into a fantastically, strange conversation I discovered that the people who say such things are false.
If we’re getting serious here - I’ve never learnt so many things over a cup of coffee in my life. Whilst I quite possibly didn’t find out as much about their new album Active Galatic as I should have, who wants to be that first interviewer after a big night out that asks all the hard and serious questions (not me). So what I did learn however, was an awful lot about Japanese bars, Harry Styles opinion on avocado’s, next level stalkers and the origins of Nippy’s chocolate milk, so some would say it was a success none the less!
“Peeled cucumber is my pet hate,” Monte announced with utmost importance, as a bottle of water, garnished with some floating, peeled cucumber was placed onto our table. A great start, following our let down over what he thought was coconut water, but in fact, we later learnt, was something completely different.
“This is the world we live in right, where a fully grown man is talking about tweens,” Monte laughs as Elliot confirms Harry Styles pet hate - Avocado, (in case you were also wondering). “I don’t know why I’m talking about him,” Elliot adds with a chuckle, “but Harry Styles recently tweeted - ‘why does avocado have to ruin every perfectly good sandwich?’ and this tweet just went rampant. People were completely up in arms about it and everyone got involved in sharing their thoughts and opinions on avocado’s, it was absolutely hilarious.”
Believe it or not, we did discuss music at one point throughout the interview, delving into conversation about the recording process for their latest psyche-punk, disco-fussed record Active Galatic. “We recorded the entire record over nine days in Sydney,” Monte explained. “Which is actually longer than the last record, which only took us four days,” he revealed. “We used to work a lot quicker, but because there were more production elements throughout this record, we were more focused on the tones,” he concluded.
“We’ve always recorded everything live,” Elliot chimed in. “We did that again for this record too, but as Monte said, this record is a bit more tonal so we spent a lot of time trying to find our sound,” he revealed. “You know when you hear Unknown Mortal Orchestra and you immediately know it’s them, because you recognise ‘their’ sound. That’s what we were looking for, which I think we found on our previous record [Dipz From The Zong], but then pushed away from that slightly with the more psychedelic undertones in Active Galactic. My favourite song of ours is Super Sonic Casualties, from the last record, so I’m always trying to write a song as good as that, but it’s not easy!” he added with a laugh. “Maybe I’ll go insane if I keep trying too hard!”
“I think we’re both!” Montee replied when asked if The Delta Riggs see themselves as more of a studio band or a live band. “In the studio we’re more focused, where as anything goes when we’re playing live,” he concluded.
“It’s two completely different things really,” Elliot added. “Tame Impala for example pretty much re-create exactly what they do in the studio, when they play live, which is sick, but if they didn’t have the lights and shit, it would probably get a bit boring,” he exclaimed. “If you want to listen to the songs exactly as they are, then that’s great, listen to our record, otherwise know that if you come to a show it will sound slightly different, because it’s more footloose and fancy!”
When it comes to The Delta Riggs songwriting process Elliot explains that it generally works better in two’s. “One of us will write a song and then bring it to the other to tie off the loose ends,” he reveals. “Usually I write a lot of the lyrics, but there is a song on this record that Monte and Rudy wrote the majority of, which was a first!”
“When we first started this band, I was actually the drummer,” Elliot confessed. “The original singer was a great songwriter but he just couldn’t sing! I mean, I couldn’t sing either, but I knew I was better than he was,” he added with a laugh, “So that’s how I became the singer.. I was the best of the shit bunch!” they both laughed.
“Have you seen the Amy Winehouse doco?” Monte asked, as Back To Black came on the radio in the background as we diverted topics, once more. “We had this English guitarist for a white and his girlfriend was her stylist for a few years,” Elliot announced. “When they started making that doco Winehouse’s management kept pushing Naomi to give them all of Amy’s costumes, so she had to move them to her mum’s place so they would stop harassing her and trying to find them,” Elliot revealed. “Her [Amy] dad just screwed her over so much it’s heartbreaking, honestly,” Monte concluded.
As we went on to discuss negativity within the music industry, the topic of Australia’s Triple J: Like A Version arose as Monte recalls the awful comments some acts receive. “People really dig in, it’s mental. Ours was received a lot better than some,” he admit. “I remember actually reading it looking for negative reactions, because I love it! I find people that actually have time to do that, really entertaining, because people are so more descriptive when they’re negative, like the guy who once told us our music had ruined his life, it’s a good heckle” he added with a laugh.
“We covered a Glass Animals song and the only negative feedback we received was someone saying we made the song too sexy. According to this troll, ‘the song is meant to be about an insular subject matter and we made it too sexy,’ which I don’t even think is a real thing?” Elliot laughed. “The official video for the song is some white dude sitting in a bath, which is the least sexy thing if you ask me,” Monte added with a laugh.
Then arose the topic of fans and all the craziness - both good and bad, that comes along with this epic species.
“The worst fan experience I’ve ever had bordered on stalker shit,” Elliot confessed. “We played a show in New York and later met a few locals who we hung out with after the show. One of them was this girl who was dating this super rich guy.. Anyway, she later blurted out some pretty weird shit,” he continued. “She told me that she’d written out all of our lyrics in this little notebook so she could feel the flow that I would have felt when writing them.. Which I found pretty strange.” he smirked. “Then back in Australia, I was at work one day and she just walked through the door and announced, ‘I broke up with my boyfriend and he gave me $40,000, so we should get an apartment and a car.’ That’s when I was like, ‘what the fuck?’’ You can’t just come into my work and say this shit.. We were actually friends with her sister who is a really nice girl too, so she was very apologetic about the whole thing, but yeah, that was the craziest stalker experience I’ve ever had!” Elliot concluded.
“Most of the time it’s just normal fan experiences,” Monte reassured us however.“There’s this guy named Dr Stu, who is an actual doctor, that has seem us play 24 times,” he continued. “He’s not weird, he’s just kind of an odd fella. He has a form of autism and has a kid who is in his early 20s and everything but he just loves us and never misses a show.” He lives in New Castle and when we played in Sydney he drove hours to come along,”Elliot added. “You can always count on him being at a show, he’s a great fan!”
“We played a festival last week and this guy drove two hours then camped next to a train track to be at the show,” Elliot recalled. “It was right when there was a crazy storm so we we just told him to come back and stay with us,” he laughed. “We just adopt them in,” Monte chimed. “There’s a guy named Tom who is doing that with us at the moment, he’s from Oamaru and we first met him in Byron Bay because he literally flew over to come and see us play and then flew back home, so we ended up telling him to just cancel his flight home and come on the road with us.”
“There’s fans that you can hang out with, and then there’s just those that you can’t,” Elliot exclaimed, “there’s a big difference. Tom has been staying in our hotel room too because he came up for the show again last night and he’s only 19 man! It’s just cool to be able to do that, because we know what it’s like to be a fan too. We were such nerds when we were that age, there’s no way we would have been able to do that and keep our cool.”
With a bit more chit-chat regarding the impossibility of eating miso-soup with chopsticks (later re-confirmed at our Japanese dinner mission that night), sake, how people who work in offices are basically just professional emailers and Monte’s need to go to the adidas store, we of course wrapped things up with the most imperative topic of all - Nippy’s chocolate milk.
“It’s the pride of Australia!” Elliot exclaimed, later revealing he doesn’t actually know if it’s Australian-made or not. “It actually sounds too classy to be Australian,” he chuckled. “It’s probably from here, or England.”
“The straw is so great though, and the oddly shaped box is just perfect too,” Elliot declared, delving deeper into the beloved product. “They just really break all the rules don’t they. They’re they punk rockers of chocolate milk!” - The perfect wise statement we all agreed would be perfect to end the interview with.