Last year, Milwaukee quintet The Delta Routine won the WAMI for best alternative act. But that's something of a misnomer. While the band, fronted by singer and guitarist Nick Amadeus, has a sound all its own, its rooted in rock and roll tradition.
Pop in the band's just-released third disc, "Cigarettes and Caffeine Nightmares," and you'll hear the blues-infused rock of the Rolling Stones and the swagger of The Faces, but also the catchy riffs and melodies of The Strokes.
So, rather than letting their influences pin them down as revivalists of a specific era, The Delta Routine instead parses a few decades of rock and roll history into a thoroughly modern sound that is familiar enough to grab listeners.
That style has earned the band a number of honors. We talked to Amadeus about those awards, about the new record and about the band's upcoming tour through the Midwest and the East Coast ...
OnMilwaukee.com: You guys had a really good year in 2011, winning band of the year from 88Nine and the best alternative artist WAMI. Did that change things for the band at all in terms of bookings and how you were seen here at home and beyond?
Nick Amadeus: Definitely! Probably more at home than beyond. Things seem to be getting a little easier in respect to booking. We are currently doing our own booking, but are in talks with a few agents right now about getting on a roster. The awards are definitely a nice little addition to the resume.
OMC: Has it led to interest in terms of labels or management outside of Milwaukee?
NA: As far as the awards are concerned, I think they were more about our rep up here in Wisconsin. With this new record we really didn't have to jump up and down waving our hands to get the press and industry up here to notice what we were doing, which is nice. Now we're just jumping up and down waving our hands trying to get the rest of the country to catch on. The big national push just started, in regards to the new record, and I'm very eager to see what pops up after everyone gets a chance to hear it.
OMC: Did it put pressure on you in terms of the third record? Did you ever have a moment of doubt and maybe fear that you wouldn't be able to meet the new expectations for the band?
NA: Well, at the time we won the 88.9 award, in early march 2012, we were in the process of losing our guitar player, and it really felt like we might be done. It definitely didn't feel like we were the "Band of the Year" at that moment. And in my head I said, "uh oh, now we gotta really step it up." But by the time the WAMI's came in the middle of April we had our new lineup, adding Victor Buell IV on guitar and Al Kraemer on organs, and were already in the process of recording the new album.
Our first show with the new lineup was at the WAMI awards weekend up in Appleton, and after we got done with our set, me and our bass player (Evan Paydon) looked at each other and said, "I finally feel like I'm in the band of the year." Any pressure that came from the awards was replaced with excitement to get the new album out and get back to work.
OMC: Tell us a bit about making "Cigarettes and Caffeine Nightmares." It was recorded here and in Illinois, is that correct?
NA: Yeah, half of the album was recorded in our Riverwest studio in Milwaukee, and the other half was recorded at an old factory in Barrington, Ill. Most of the tracks done up here were engineered, produced and mixed by me. The tracks done in Illinois were engineered, produced and mixed by Mike Hoffmann.
The two sessions couldn't have been more different. Up here in Milwaukee we tracked everything individually, starting with the drums and guitars and so on, until we had the final product. In Illinois, we pretty much got everything we needed doing live takes, only going back to overdub a few back up vocals and a few other little things.
OMC: The response has been good to the record so far, hasn't it?
NA: Yes, seems to be going pretty well. We released our first single off the record "Switchblade" at the beginning of august and the response was great. All the hype is pretty new for us, and I'm just trying to soak it all in. I'm still waiting for the first bad review, heh, getting myself mentally prepared.
OMC: After your Stonefly show, you hit the road. Tell us about the tour. Is it your first time hitting a lot of these places? What are the expectations?
NA: Well, we can't wait to hit the road. Our stops include, Minneapolis, Louisville, Nashville, Chicago, Indianapolis, Columbus, Philadelphia, New York City, St. Louis. Most of the dates are part of a two week stint out to the east coast with our favorite band in the world, Hero Jr., out of Indianapolis.
We've been to most of these cities already, but this is the first time with a real PR campaign set up and also the first time we're doing a whole tour with another band. Expectations are high, as is moral. After we finish this up we're going to try and hit the west coast and south this winter/spring, as well as get back in the studio for another album.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.