The Delta Riggs: Indie Escapism
Photography: Ady Neshoda | @adyneshoda
Rhece Anthony sat down with The Delta Riggs after their show at Manning Bar on 22 February to talk the pros and cons of technology, being on the road, and their new album. Gig photography by Ady Neshoda.
“We’re an escapism band.
People listen to us to either trip out or get away. But we want to walk that line where we’re still saying something about the climate we live in, without jamming shit down people’s throats.”
This is the take of Elliot Hammond, lead vocals for The Delta Riggs, about the band’s upcoming full-length album. Set to be released later this year, he says it’s their best yet, and one that, “I think our fans have wanted for a while.”
Having finished three back-to-back shows towards the end of January, the Melbourne four-piece played Manning Bar Friday 22 February for the middle leg of their east coast tour, supported by stellar performances from Eliza & The Delusionals, Bec Sandridge, and Tiny Little Houses.
First appearing on the scene with Hex.Lover.Killer in 2013, The Delta Riggs were acclaimed for their gritty indie rock. But it wasn’t until Dipz Zebazios the year after that came into the sunny, tongue-in-cheek psychedelia that made them festival line-up favourites.
With Hammond’s eccentric vocal performances and colourful musicianship from his band-mates, the band toured prolifically and saw audiences from Splendour at the Grass and Groovin the Moo, to the Culture Collide and CMJ festivals in the USA.
2016’s Active Galactic shed the guitar centred psych-rock of their early albums. Instead, their third full-length featured glitzy synthesizers and earworm hooks, and was home to their biggest single yet, ‘Baddest Motherfucker in the Beehive’.
The two tracks currently out from the new record, ‘Fake That’ and ‘Out of Place’, suggest the new aesthetic is here to stay, though the band has never sounded as tight and as sure of themselves.
“We’re more focused on song-writing, as opposed to trying to impress each other in the studio,” says Hammond.
“I think because now we’ve had a few albums’ worth of experience, of putting together a record, it’s a more listenable body of songs. You could put it on at a house-party. But you could also sit and listen to it with headphones on.”
Having spent the time since Active Galactic playing across Australia and the USA, Hammond says The Delta Riggs have let the experiences of touring shape their new music.
“Being in such a transient nature when touring, you only really have a moment in time with people, whether its backstage after a show or when you run in to them at the bar.
“A big inspiration for us is going on the road, and the people you meet.”
Also influencing the album is a concern, or more so an observation, of the role technology and social media play in our lives.
“The record is about the pressures of modern-day problems, the speed that technology is taking us. There’s these pressures that maybe even five years ago weren’t as relevant. It’s the kind of situation where if you don’t roll with it you kind of get left behind,” says Hammond.
“It’s not all negative, there’s a lot of positives to having this technology accessible. But people don’t always really use it to its advantage, or for the right reasons.”
The Delta Riggs entered the stage at Manning Bar passing a bottle of Jameson and lobbing an inflatable flamingo into the crowd. They delivered a set-list of the group’s biggest tracks, like ‘Street Signs and Break Lights’ and ‘Supersonic Causality’, with a reinvented pop glamour, and also gave fans a taste of the new album.
Hammond, sporting a Jagger-esque swag and a glam-rock stage presence, interspersed mic-stand theatrics with harmonica and tambourine, and on occasion swapped onto the keyboard or drumkit for a performance.
Finishing the set with their new song ‘Fake That’, The Delta Riggs closed off a night of noteworthy stage lighting, an undeniable punk rock energy, and a line-up of some of the best indie music in Australia right now.