There are few songwriters working today that get me as excited about the future of rock & roll/Americana music as Matthew Logan Vasquez. I was a little late to the Delta Spirit party, but in 2014, Baeble shot a session with the band, and I reviewed Into the Wide, and I'm still not sure if any record this decade has had a better fusion of literate lyricism, raw and edgy Americana intimacy, and pure distilled rock & roll.
During the downtime between Delta Spirit albums, Matthew Vasquez recorded his debut solo album, Solicitor Returns, which was released earlier this year. And if you haven't had a chance to dive into it yet, we highly recommend you do so. It's Vasquez's distinct storytelling and songwriting with even more of the raw edges that you saw flashes of on Into the Wide, and I was very excited to have the chance to chat with Vasquez about his new tunes and why he decided to branch out into a solo project.
"Probably the biggest reason for my branching out is that I have too many songs. To make a Delta Spirit record takes a lot of a lot of songs and a lot of compromise. Last record, I wrote 45 songs and the record before that was in the 30s. For one reason or the other, the Delta Spirit guys will pass on a song. Usually it's because we're looking to make a fluid message out of a record. My contributions to Middle Brother were songs I wrote that were left off our second record, History From Below."
Vasquez also talked about his avenues as an artist that he was more free to pursue as a solo artist on the new record.
"'Everything I Do Is Out' is a perfect example of a song that would never make it passed the Delta Spirit filter. Most of the guys genuinely like the song, but as a whole, Delta Spirit doesn't want to play that/this type of rock and roll music."
One of the first things I noticed about the record is how much it embraces its rock roots, and on tracks like "Maria," you can even hear a hint of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers...a similarity that Vasquez immediately acknowledge.
"I do have to say that Mike Campbell & Neil Young are my two biggest inspirations as a guitar player. Most of my guitar tone was my modified Fender Jazzmaster, plugged straight into a 5e3 tweed deluxe, and everything turned to 12. That and the way I recorded everything else brought out the 70s in the music. More song and less reverb."
New York plays both a major role on the record lyrically and it also had a starring role in the album's production though Vasquez's description of how it ultimately shapes his perception of the album was an unexpected detour into synesthesia.
Solicitor Returns was recorded in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in almost complete solitude. If you have synesthesia, it should look brown and red. For me it's always going to sound and smell like 10 pound rats crawling out of the speakers. It's also hard not hear, 'Fuck this; I'm making this record my way.'"
Considering Vasquez made his feelings clear about the rock nature of the record, it wasn't surprising when he had plenty to say about the current state of rock & roll.
"My first manager had a saying, 'They don't call it the music music.' The music business is not about making life changing art; it's about making money. It's always been that way. Rock & roll music is supposed to be subversive not subservient. Hip hop is also subversive and with people like Kendrick Lamar at the forefront, it will stay that way. I guess what I'm getting at is that hip hop is more rock & roll than rock & roll, and us rock & roll bands need to get it together."
Solicitor Returns is out now and you can stream it below on Spotify. Matthew Logan Vasquez is currently on tour in the UK with Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Check out the tour dates (as well as upcoming US dates) below the album stream.
3/9 BRISTOL @ O2 ACADEMY W/ NATHANIEL RATELIFF
3/10 MANCHESTER @ THE RITZ W/NATHANIEL RATELIFF
3/11 GLASGOW @ O2 ABC W/NATHANIEL RATELIFF
3/12 DUBLIN @ OLYMPIA W/NATHANIEL RATELIFF
3/13 DUBLIN @ OLYMPIA W/NATHANIEL RATELIFF
3/29 El Paso, TX @ Lowbrow
3/31 Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
4/1 San Diego, CA @ Casbah
4/2 Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg
4/3 Long Beach, CA @ Federal Bar
4/5 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
4/7 Portland , OR @ Mississippi Studios
4/8 Seattle, WA @ Barboza
4/9 Vancouver, BC @ Cobalt
4/11 Missoula, MT @ Top Hat Lounge
4/12 Salt Lake City @ Urban Lounge
4/14 Denver, CO @ Lost Lake
4/15 Omaha, NE @ Reverb
4/16 Columbia, MO @ Rose Music Hall
4/18 Davenport, IA @ Moeller Monday
4/19 Minneapolis, MN @ Entry
4/20 Madison, WI @ Frequency
4/22 Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theater Group presents: Live from the Back Room
at Colectivo on Prospect
4/23 Chicago. IL @ Space
4/24 Indianapolis, IN @ HI-FI
4/25 Columbus, OH @ Basement
4/26 Detroit, MI @ Magic Bag
4/27 Toronto, ON @ Drake
4/29 New York, NY @ Mercury
4/30 Boston, MA @ cafe 939
5/1 Providence, RI @ Columbus Theatre
5/3 Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
5/4 Pittsburg, PA @ Club Cafe
5/5 Washington, DC @ DC9
5/6 Durham, NC @ Cats Cradle
5/7 Asheville, NC @ Mothlight
5/9 Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
5/10 Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
5/12 Nashville, TN @ Mercy
5/13 ATLANTA, GA @ SHAKY KNEES MUSIC FESTIVAL
5/14 Hattiesburg, MS @ Thirsty Hippo