By Jose Lopez-Sanchez of Dead Curious.
Delorean seemingly manifested out of thin air in 2009, entering the American musical consciousness with their infinitely danceable (and wonderfully titled) Ayrton Senna EP. In reality, the Barcelona-based quartet had been releasing music in one incarnation or another since 2001, but it only came to international prominence in the wake of the EP, as well as some notable remixes of Franz Ferdinand, and Teenagers songs.
The band soon established a reputation for expansive and sparkling tracks that evoked its Mediterranean surroundings and offered a modern take on Balearic Beat, a sound that originated on the island of Ibiza in the mid 1980s, and caught on in the U.S. in the wake of chillwave’s growing popularity in the spring of 2009. 2010’s Subiza saw broader stateside distribution on Matador Records’ True Panther Sounds, and the band was given the chance to tour North America with Swedish acts Miike Snow and jj, which gave this author a first glimpse at one of Europe’s most exciting live acts on a sweaty night at Atlanta’s Masquerade.
The band would eventually return to Barcelona and build its own studio space, where it worked on what would become Delorean’s fourth LP, Apar. In October 2013, while touring Mexico to promote the record, the four were victims of a “virtual kidnapping” and held hostage for approximately 48 hours. In the wake of the incident, the remainder of Delorean’s fall tour was canceled, but the band did perform the shows scheduled for early 2014.
Delorean is about to embark on an international tour, including several shows on the East coast of the US. I was able to catch up with drummer and percussionist Igor Escudero over the phone last week, who fielded the call from his home in Barcelona.
Delorean has been playing together for several years now, and this is the band’s fourth album. How has your creative process evolved as a band?
I think that we’ve been developing as people and as a band too. We were friends before we started the band, and both things have developed the same way. Musically, things started to work when we discovered the computer – I think it was back in 2006. That’s when we started to put thought into how to make music.
How has having your own studio impacted the songwriting and album writing process?
Well, I think that having our own studio has helped us save money! You have your own studio and you feel more relaxed, as well. When you go to another studio, you aren’t necessarily thinking about having the best performance ever, but you’re focused on not failing. Once the recording button is pressed, you are nervous, and not concentrating on giving your best performance. Having our own studio has helped us a lot.
What brought you guys to Barcelona?
Different reasons, really. Ekhi [Lopetegi – vocals & bass] came here 12 years ago because he wanted to study philosophy, and the only good university program for philosophy was in Barcelona. Unai [Lazcano – keyboards] moved here because he was bored of our town, and he wanted something new. He came here with Ekhi and started working in Barcelona. I moved here 8 years ago because I found my girlfriend here, and so I moved for her. [Laughs] We ended up having the band together in Barcelona, and it helped us – for the first time, we were able to see each other every day, and we found our studio space, and I don’t know – that’s when things started to work.
You mentioned discovering computers as changing your songwriting process. As a drummer and percussionist, are there any bands or people who have guided your style?
We have always been really into dance music. Before we started Delorean, we were already into dance music, and it was weird that we wanted to get that sound only with live instruments. Well, not weird, but for example, we have always liked bands like LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture, and they were doing dance music with organic instruments. When we discovered the computer, that was it. We found other techniques, and we saw that it wasn’t that difficult. The computer has helped a lot.
On the Subiza album, I didn’t record any of the drums. Everything is programmed. And I’m OK with that. The only problem comes when trying to replicate this live, as some sounds we just can’t replicate, but I try my best.
Both Subiza and the Ayrton Senna EP were very much in the Balearic Dance Pop category. Apar has a lot more of that classic Madchester sound. Did you guys ever listen to any of that stuff – like the Stone Roses or Inspiral Carpets – or was this just a coincidental organic transition?
Honestly, I think in the last album we didn’t try to emulate the Manchester feeling. It’s 80s, but different 80s. We always say things that aren’t cool to say, like Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel. But I agree, there are some guitars that sound like the Stone Roses, which is totally cool – they’re a band we really like.
This is your first album with guest vocalists. How did you guys come about these collaborations?
If you listen to Ayrton Senna and Subiza, both albums are full of vocal samples from libraries, and we were kind of fed up with vocal samples. We wanted to replace those with actual recorded vocals. We didn’t know Caroline Polachek [vocalist, Chairlift], but we asked a friend for suggestions as to who could sing this track on this song well, and he recommended her as someone who was really skillful. Basically, we wrote her an email and she was really nice, so she sent us her recorded vocals and it worked perfectly.
With Erika Spring [vocalist, Au Revoir Simone], we thought of someone who could do the backups for the whole album, and another friend introduced us and it worked. We knew Cameron Mesirow from Glasser, as we had toured with them two years ago. Our bands also happen to be label mates [on True Panther], so that was really easy.
Did they come to Barcelona to record, or was it all done remotely?
We recorded those vocals in New York. The album was mixed in New York. We did about 50% of the album in our studio in Barcelona, but we finished recording in New York, at Chris Zane’s studio.
I was shocked when I heard the news about the situation in Mexico last October. Did this event change your outlook on touring?
Not really. In the beginning, I didn’t want to tour, I wanted to stay with my family and stay at home for a while. Right after Mexico City, we were scheduled to go to Japan, and in the beginning I didn’t want to go, but then I thought, “This could happen to you anywhere.” So we decided it was best to forget it. and that’s it. We also did a five-week tour in the states this past winter, and so we have already been back on the road.
Is there any city in the US, or any particular music venue that you enjoy playing?
We always like playing in the U.S., especially New York and L.A. Also, Atlanta – we went to play there right in the middle of the snow week, so we only got to play for like 10 people, even though we had about 200 tickets pre-sold. That was such a bummer; I’d really like to be able to play there again.
Your first show in Atlanta back in 2010 was really fun, and pretty well attended. But it seems that whenever it snows there things shut down. People really can’t handle harsh winters.
We had really bad luck with the weather on our last US tour. It was too cold for us! If you compare the weather with Barcelona… New York was like -20 Celsius! I don’t understand how people can withstand that.
Is there anything about the United States that you find strange, as someone who comes from Spain, and from the Basque Country specifically?
Yeah, when I see all the news about gunshots and stuff like that in the cities, and to think that people are able to have a gun so easily in this country. But I guess I don’t ever think about this when I’m actually here. I don’t know. [Laughs]
What are you looking forward to the most on this next tour?
We are coming back to New York, which is one of our favorite cities, with a big audience and a lot of friends in town. It’s always exciting to play there. Also, really looking forward to playing in Philadelphia. I think we had our best show ever as a band there.
What made that show special?
We reached a really huge connection with the audience at that show particularly, and we could feel the audience’s energy. I remember during the last song, people got on the stage. We didn’t invite them up, it just happened. There were so many people on the stage that a few fell on my drums, and I couldn’t play! I think someone also broke Ekhi’s bass pedal. It was wild, and spontaneous, and magical.