The Delphines: Warm and fuzzy with a tight foundation
The Delphines have a warm, fuzzy carefree sound. It's sonically blissful while lyrically dark. It drips with that sort of conflicted teenage nostalgia, the feeling of having the whole world waiting for you, while still being internally hesitant and confused. It's all pumped into a single microphone and done in a single take. But despite that youthful glow, the group is knit together, the foundation is strong, and the music crackles with a tight energy.
The Delphines arrived on the Milwaukee scene in late September and have been working hard, playing just about every show they can. But if you haven't gotten out to see them yet, don't take that for granted. Their next show is Friday, Jan. 25 at Quarters Rock 'n Roll Palace, 900 E. Center St., and while there is no plans for it to be their last, changes are afoot.
"You've got a job!?" Jeremy Ault, the Delphines' drummer asked of singer and guitarist, Harrison Colby.
"I go to North Carolina on Monday..." he announced casually.
"What!?" Ault asked, as the rest of the band laughed.
Colby turned to me. "They didn't know until right now."
The prospect of anyone under 30 having jobs in this economy might seem surprising, but the youthful vigor and carefree sound that the band projects betrays their solid foundation. All of them are grad students. Bassist Lucas Riddle is working towards a Masters in German literature and translation, while teaching German at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Singer Jami Eaton also teaches German at UWM and is studying linguistics. Ault is a Trinity fellow at Marquette University, works with an adult learning center and studies history in his free time. And Colby is an art director and set designer in the film industry.
About the Image
"To be honest, I was expecting you to be a lot more like...I dunno...teenagers," I had to admit. "The music has that free, summery..."
"Free wheelin' Bob Dylan?" asked Jami.
"We do have that naive image," admitted Riddle.
"You're not the first to think that," said Ault. "But we're past the part of living off our parents. And that makes it better for us. We can keep everything in perspective and really have fun, and the intentions are good for us. We don't let playing get too big or too small for us."
"If I was still 20 and doing this, I'd be getting drunk every night instead of, y'know, getting work done," laughed Riddle.
The origin story
In September, The Delphines recorded their first album and started playing shows shortly after that, but it didn't take long before they received an ecstatic endorsement from Tom Crawford, the station manager at 91.7 WMSE, on Local Live, a weekly showcase of Milwaukee musicians.
Riddle explained, "We had a show at Frank's and I just shot the station an email right before the show seeing if they could say something about us, or The Ladybirds, who we were playing with. They said they didn't have time, but asked us if we wanted to play Local Live like three days later."
"I thought that was a much better deal," smiled Colby.
"Yeah, and people still came to our show. So we won!"
The band laughed.
There is a sense of ease between the band members. No pretension, just a lot of support and collaboration. Even in setting up the interview they wanted every member of the band to be there to contribute.
"You seem to be in this together," I suggested.
"We hung out a year before we talked about playing together," says Ault. "We really just got together as friends. Initially we would just hang out together and go to each others' open mic nights, so we didn't really have any great ambition. It was just something else to do after school instead of drinking wine."
"Which we still do," he laughs, "But now we do something pretty constructive, too."
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