The Delegates (21 novembre 2005)

Dave et moi nous sommes entretenus avec Menno et Asch, respectivement chanteur-guitariste et bassiste du groupe THE DELEGATES lors du lancement de leur nouvel album, The Diary Of Hamilton Fish, au Academy Club en Octobre dernier. Voici un résumé de notre entretien.
- Cath

[DAVE] We're here with Menno and Asch from THE DELEGATES. Can you tell us a bit about who's in the band?

[MENNO] There six of us: There's Eric and he plays guitar; There's the kid who always looks retarded...

[ASCH] Karim?


[ASCH] Oh, Sammy...

[MENNO] This guy Sam – he gets lost a lot. He plays every instrument. Then there's the drums and that's Karim, and then...

[ASCH] The other kid that plays a bunch of instruments, that's Josh. We started in the september of 99, so it'd been just over six years now.

[DAVE] We're here at the Academy Club tonight, what do you guys think of the venue? It's kind of a new venue here in Montreal.

[ASCH] We're really happy and we hope it doesn't get screwed up! It's an awesome location and it's got a nice ambiance and it sounds cool.

[MENNO] The dudes who are putting on the show, Class E, they're pretty cool guys and they do a Tuesday night here every week that's really fun to go to. We've come to that a couple times and just gone drinking so we thought it would be a good place to do a punk show. I don't think they've had an all ages punk show here yet, but hopefullly this is the beginning!

[DAVE] It's a tango place usually, no?

[CATH] Do they do that anymore or what?

[ASCH] Yeah, they had tango lessons today -

[DAVE] And you were there?


[ASCH] We had to be here for soundcheck at three so that they could get the soundcheck done before tango at six thirty [laughs]. They had tango from six thirty to seven thirty, and screwed around with the sound system for a bit and then let people in.

[MENNO] I think that's why the room is very red.

[ASCH] Yeah, tango and español. It's awesome, it's not dirty. [laughs]

[DAVE] And so are you guys all from Montreal? Where are you guys from?

[MENNO] Right now I live in a country called Bluevannia, population six. It's a blue van, its name is Jean Claude Damn Van [laughs]. It's got serious pollution problems this country. There's only six people who live in it, once in a while there's immigrants.

[ASCH] Sometimes there's seven, the seventh named Roach the cockroach.

[MENNO] Yeah, the wildlife is really nice. There's some cockroaches who live there. One's name is Ivan but we haven't seen him in a while.

[ASCH] He was named after a hurricane. Anyways, the real story is that none of us are originally from Montreal although we've basically lived here for the past six years. Let's see: We got two guys from Ottawa, one guy from Coasta Rica who was actually born in Mozambique, a guy from Egypt, a guy from Vermont and a guy from New Hampshire. So we're sort of international and bring all of our conflicing views together in our blue van and fight about stuff.

[DAVE] And we're here tonight for a new album which is called...?

[MENNO] The Diary Of Hamilton Fish.

[DAVE] Can we talk a bit about where it was recorded and produced?

[MENNO] We recorded in Highland Park, California.

[ASCH] Which is actually a little el salvadorian sector or Los Angeles.

[MENNO] In all the stores nearby, nobody speaks English, every body speaks Spanish.

[ASCH] And the food is amaaaazing.

[CATH] And how did you guys manage out there?

[ASCH] Well, two of the guys speak spanish...

[MENNO] And our producer... we thought he was spanish...

[ASCH] But he denies it! [laughs]

[MENNO] His dad's spanish, and his mom... well we haven't met her, but his mom is probably spanish too! And his last name is Trujillo.

[ASCH] But he doesn't pronounce it Trujillo, he says True-hill-owh [laughs]. Anyways, his name's Mike Trujillo [s'enfarge dans la prononciation]... which I don't know how to pronounce either! [laughs]

[MENNO] Yeah, so he claims not to be Spanish but he looks pretty Spanish to me!

[ASCH] He's done both our albums. His studio's called Succulent Sounds, it's in an area that's becoming sort of like the Plateau.

[MENNO] It used to be really really deangerous though. When Mike was growing up there, it was all gangs and stuff. The studio's in his garage. But we noticed when we went down there do to our first album it was still kind of bad, like there was a shooting about a hundred feet away when we were there one night....

[ASCH] With helicopters flying over and stff...

[MENNO] But in the last two years all these young kids moved in. RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE live litteraly a hundred feet away from his studio. It's kind of starting to get nice.

[DAVE] Ok so it's kind of getting gentrified...

[ASCH] Yeah, but it's like college students and artists and misicians, there's cooler bars moving in. I mean, it's not really that good cause it jacked all the property prices for a lot of the local people, but the neighborhood's got a lot of character.

[MENNO] It's a good place to record an album, it gives you lots of inspiration and stuff to think about. There's an elementary school there with all these kids that speak Spanish and we went and talked to the music teacher there and we brought a class of kids in to come and sing on our album. So the last song's got all these little kids from Highland Park singing on it. It's kind of cool.

[ASCH] Although they wern't as young as we wanted them. [laughs] They were like fifteen, we wanted little kids for the real little kid effect. But yeah, they were like thirteen. It would've been realy good if we had like five year olds singing, but you know...

[DAVE] And why did you guys record in California instead of Montreal?

[MENNO] It's really cheap! Mike's studio is really cheap and he's our friend. He actually fronted us the money so that we could record. We didn't have any money, we wre totally broke. So he said, « just come on down, record an album and if you guys make a million bucks then pay me. » But, it goes without saying that we haven't paid him yet. [laughs]

[ASCH] We're working on it! The other reason is that it's kind of part of the adventure and we're good friends with Mike and for some reason, despite any other obstacle we might encounter with him, we get along with him in terms of the music making and the recording. And then we also tour when we go out there. We do well in certain areas in the US, we have a preatty good following in Tallahasse (Forida), Baton Rouge (Louisiana) and Mobile (Alabama) – these are all weird little pockets of the US where people like our band. And the when you hit Texas everyone hates our band! [laughs] So we go hit up those places, visit family along the way and make a real road trop out of it. I mean, you can go and pay somebody a lot of money but if you got somebody who you know is going to do a good job you might as well go to him.

[DAVE] And it's free also...

[ASCH] Well... not free but.... He'll work for you.

[MENNO] If we don't sell a lot of copies of this record then we're going to owe him some children or something... [laughs]

[ASCH] He's going to get our first-born.

[MENNO] He eats a lot of weird food ans so we think he's impotent, so we're going to make some babies for him.

[DAVE] And can we talk a bit about the music on your new record?

[MENNO] It's rock n' roll music. We were listening to a lot of different stuff, a lot of Tom Petty when we were writing it.

CATH Is it much different than your previous record?

[MENNO] Yes.

[ASCH] It's different in the sense that the previous record, we wrote all the songs over the course of four years. On this one, we were like, « ok, we want to go and make a new album » so we set some time period in the summer where we just wrote songs. So the nature of the music is less influenced by high school and more ... [laughs]

[MENNO] Listening to the comments that people have said, on the first album people were saying « that song sounds like PROPAGANDHI or that song... ». People would compare us to bands but for this one they don't know what to think. We don't really fit into any genres, it's not a ska record and it's not a straight rock record, it's not a punk record...

[ASCH] Have you heard it yet?

[DAVE] Well I heard the four songs on MySpace and they were really good! Karim was supposed to have one sent to me.

[MENNO] Yeah, that's Bankshot!'s deal...

[DAVE] And how did you guys hook up with Bankshot!? Was your first album with them as well?

[MENNO] Bankshot! put out albums from LEFTOVER CRACK and OSKER and those bands also recorded with Mike. So Mike told us to send out album to Bankshot!. We went through New York on our first tour and the boss took us out drinking. He's really crazy, he got us all wasted and brought us to the middle of New York when none of us had really been there before. We were all just standing there and all of a sudden he ran away! [laughs] He just totally ran away and we didn't hear from him for like a year.

[ASCH] This is for our first record that we're talking about...

[MENNO] This was just after we'd recorded out first album so we were talking to him and we were like « do you want to put out our first album? » and he was like « maybe, whatever, I don't know.... Here have a nother beer! » [laughs] So we were all smashed in the middle of New York and he just took off! And then we didn't hear from him for like, no joke, a year! We'd call him and there'd be no one around. He's crazy. We just actually found out that he got kicked out of his apartment and got dumped by his girlfriend and -

[ASCH] No no no no no, here's what happened: He was moving out of his apartment, which was also where he ran the record label from, and he was going to move into his girlfriend's apartment. But just as he moved out they broke up so we haven't heard from him. He even lost his phone, so... He calls me up and says « I'm sleeping in a box! » [laughs] But nonetheless he's doing a good job with the record and it seems to be getting way more interest in the press than our previous one so we're very optimistic.

[MENNO] It's selling well in America. It's a little expensive in Canada, I think it's twenty-one dolalrs or something so we're trying to find a way to make it cheaper. But on the other hand, for those people who like our band, please suck it up and buy it because what will happen is that if you go to HMV and buy it, that means they'll stock the record.

[ASCH] That makes the distributor want to push our record more and allows us to kind of keep going.

[DAVE] It is cheaper if we buy drectlty from you?

[ASCH] Yeah, obviously if you're coming down to a show to buy it, then yeah. But we don't play that many shows in Montreal and unfortunately we're not around enough to get emails from people and send them our cd; we'd love to do that but...

[MENNO] You can buy it off Interpunk, it just cracked the top twenty sellers yesterday.

[DAVE] Really?

[ASCH] Yeah, not of all times, but of the past three week's sales.

[DAVE] That's pretty big.

[ASCH] Yeah that was cool.

[MENNO] We were pretty excited about that.

[DAVE] And what's up with you guys in the months ahead?

[MENNO] We're touring starting tonight up until December 4th.

[ASCH] No, 18th.

[CATH] He's just going to quit on the 4th.


[MENNO] Yeah, no, no... We have a couple days off between the 4th and the 18th.

[CATH] And where are you going?

[ASCH] Our first date's in Hanover, New Hampshire. Then we're pretty much going straight across Ohio, then Denver, Salt Lake City, up to Seattle. Then we're going all the day fown to San Diego, Pheonix and Tucson in Arizona, and then Austin, Houston, El Paso...

[MENNO] Every time we go to El Paso we almost get murdered. It should be interesting...[laughs]

[DAVE] Can we get a story on this?!

[MENNO] Ok... There's these two people... And these kids are really cool, they're really cool, but... They're crazy! They worked on an army base. It was our first time in El Paso. They were like, « you guys can come and sleep over in our army base! » So we were like, ok whatever. So I got in the car with the girl – she'd been drikning and I didn't realise.

[DAVE] The army girl?

[MENNO] Yeah, and her boyfriend.

[ASCH] No no, it was her brother!

[DAVE] We always get two sides to every story with you two!

[MENNO] Yeah, his brother... Anyways, she was married, she was young though. So we're driving, they're following us and all of a sudden, she just takes off an loses them. I'm like, oh shit. Then she pulls into a parking lot -

[ASCH] That's before we had cell phones, by the way...

[MENNO] She goes over the curb into the parking lot – like, not the entrance of the parking lot, just thunk, thunk over the curb thing – and the car gets stalled there. She opens the door and throws up everywhere. I'm like, holy fuck! And I just ran away. I ran up the street looking for the rest of them and I saw them at the gas station and they were like, « What the fuck?! » So we all got back in the car, and they found us and they were like, « follow us » so we started following them to the army base. When we got close to the army base, they just hit the gas and took off and we never heard form them again. So the next time we go to El Paso, they came to the show and they're like « Hey! You guys want to stay at our place? » [laughs] And we're like, sure! They didn't live on the army base anymore. They're like, « We got our own place. We gotta warn you though, it's a little sketchy » So we're like, oh my God... We have stayed in the most sketchy places you have ever seen, squats in New York and dirty places, the most gross places. So we get into this parking lot, it's right on the border of Mexico, there's electrical wires hanging down on the ground... We get to this building and they're like, « We gotta warn you, don't wake up the neighbors: We have a junkie - this schizophrenic crystal meth addict – and the other neighbor is this convicted child molester. » [laughs] So we're walking to their appartment and I look through the first window and there's this guy watching tv going like [weird noises], scratching his head, freaking out. I'm like, ok... And in the next one, this guy's all passed out on the couch with vomit all over his face. And then I look in the next window and there's this guy who kind of looks at us and he's like, « hey.... » [laughs] So we open the door to their place and I swear, it's no bigger than this alley from there to here, maybe a little wider. There's just a bed, not even enough floor to stack us! So we were like, « We gotta get outta here! » We just got into the car and drove to the next city.

[ASCH] We've become a little more discriminatory cause we got our sleeping bags pissed on a lot by animals and stuff...

[DAVE] And you wear shirts!

[ASCH] We wear shirts! [laughs] We do now.

Merci à Asch et Menno d'avoir pris le temps de discuter avec nous. On leur souhaite une excellente fin de tournée et espérons qu'ils rentreront à Montréal en un morceau...

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