Milwaukee's The Delta Routine has a new record out and "You And Your Lion" is the fourth record in about the same number of years – an impressive string for a local band.
Fronted by Nick Amadeus, The Delta Routine doses its poppy garage grit with Americana roots to create a thoroughly Midwestern sound, fueled in part by the slashing guitar of local veteran Mike Hoffmann.
We recently asked them about making "You and Your Lion," produced by Amadeus and Hoffmann at Chicagoland's Factory Studio, and officially released on Feb. 17. A record release party is slated for Sunday, Feb. 22 at The Hotel Foster at 8 p.m.
OnMilwaukee.com: You guys have kept up a pretty impressive schedule of releasing records, which isn't always easy for a band to do, thanks in part to resources, but also to having the time to write and record new material. How have you been able to do it?
Nick Amadeus: Well, it really hasn't been as quick as we would have liked. We were trying to get this one out last year, but it just didn't end up working out.
As for keeping the schedule moving, I think I'm always trying to write new stuff, always thinking of the next album or release. I think a lot of bands start songs and projects and when they don't work out right away they toss them to the side and they never end up seeing the light of day. I like to keep track of all my older ideas and make sure I go back and listen to them months or in many cases years later. Even if you just find a great chorus or chord progression to work into something new it's very much worth it and can really help keep up the release schedule.
Mike Hoffmann: Well, as I've seen in my career, the top writers have spurts of complete inspiration and you run with it. In Nick's case this spurt came in gap between our tours early last year and was phenomenal because of how strong it was.
OMC: I've never really asked you about this connection before, but what's it like being in a band with a guy – Mike, of course – who was in a band (Semi-Twang drummer Bob Schneider) with your dad 25 years ago? Did you grow up knowing him your whole life?
NA: I wouldn't say I've known him my whole life. I knew him as a kid back during Semi-Twang's first run in the '80s; we really didn't see each other after the break up for a long time. I do remember as a kid watching old VHS tapes of Semi-Twang at home and always wanting to be like the guy with the long hair, so I guess you could say he's an early influence. I looked up to all those guys though, and still do.
As you know, Mike is amazing, so it's been pretty great working with him as a fellow band mate for the last year and a half or so. It seemed really natural for him to join when he did – we had lost our second guitar player in as many years and I just didn't want to have to start from scratch again. Mike has produced us from the start and has always kind of been the silent member going back to 2007-08, so the transition was really smooth. He's also one of those people that really wants to be in a traveling band and we had that to offer.
MH: Our relationship is based almost completely in creating music. I remember the first time we met was on stage at a Semi-Twang sound check, we were headlining somewhere, and before getting off stage I heard a righteous drum beat coming at me. It was Nick on his dad's drums. So we jammed. Nick was 3 year old! Then there was a gap, I didn't know Nick growing up but 10 years ago I saw him banging out a rendition of "Green River" at the Up and Under and we picked up where we left off.
OMC: You guys collaborated on the production of the new record. What's the studio dynamic like between you? Did you have to get beyond a sort of student-teacher relationship or was it never really like that?
NA: I think there was more of a student-teacher like relationship on the earlier albums. I definitely learned a lot of engineering and production tips from Mike through the years, just being around him and watching.
This time it was more of pure collaboration – when he would get tired of sitting in front of the computer screen working he would tag me in for a bit. I'd do some work and then tag him back in. We'd both make notes on stuff and work together to get what we were looking for. It was a great experience that I think relieved a little of the stress of it all for both of us.
MH: We've always learned from each other, even with all my major label experience, we each bring something. Super tag team stuff. Never stop learning!
OMC: Tell us a bit about the new record; about the songs, about making it, etc.
MH: We did some preproduction at Nick's studio and then went down to The Factory in Barrington, Ill., where I do most of my bed tracks, overdubbed at my post production room here in Milwaukee and Nick did some at his. We combined it all and mixed at my place.
NA: We're really proud of the new record. I definitely think it's our most mature, solid album yet. It's definitely my favorite in terms of fidelity, as well as my vocals and lyrical work. We're also really happy with our arrangements and the development of the songs, something I think we lacked a little in the past. We are extremely happy with the final product.
MH: We all bring our special gifts, it's very collaborative. This album is great for me because I'm in the band now rather than just producing so the timbre and vibe has got more of my personality stamp on it.
OMC: Hitting the road now? What's in the immediate future for The Delta Routine?
NA: Definitely going to be hitting the road pretty hard soon. We have a packed release week planned with stops in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. We also have SXSW on our map for March as well as an east coast return this summer and a trip back into Colorado in May-June. Should be a lot of fun stuff popping up soon.
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.