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Monte and Elliot of The Delta Riggs chat happiness, desert island records and Kirin J. Callinan’s dong

Known as Australia’s resident outer-space rock n rollers, The Delta Riggs are a band of misbehaved misfits who have been blazing through the Aus music scene, and popping up on people’s playlists since their formation many years ago.

We caught up with front man Elliot and guitarist Monte to chat ‘exciting’ new music, old music, makeshift motel recording studios and Kirin J Callinan’s dick.

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Photos by Liam Cameron

Expect some stuff real soon: going on half a year since The Delta Riggs released Active Galactic, Monte and Elliot divulge what’s next for the troublesome troubadours.

HAPPY: So you guys released Active Galactic in August last year. Tell me about the writing and recording process of the LP?

MONTE: It first started with Elliot and Rudi who’s not here, they spent a few months in LA writing a few songs for other people, writing session stuff, and they showed a few songs to our producer, Jason Holmes, and he was like “dude you can’t give these songs away, you’ve got to use these songs” so that’s where the sound started. They were sending songs back and I was into them. I’m the barometer.

ELLIOT: Hot and cold.

MONTE: Yeah, hot and cold. And so basically we spent nine days in January recording the album up at The Grove… Do you know where that is?

HAPPY: LA right?

MONTE: No, no, just up here in the Central Coast, Summersby!

ELLIOT: We stayed up for days at a time and finished it. One time we actually couldn’t stay up anymore and we all went to sleep, and we were stuck on this one song, Sunny. Then Rudi stayed up all night on one of his benders, and the song was a hip-hop song which turned into an eight minute opus. It ended up better, the new version of the song.

HAPPY: What inspired Losing All Our Love – the album’s only acoustic offering?

ELLIOT: Ahh, it’s a song that I wrote when I was away.

MONTE: (laughs) He doesn’t like talking about it.

HAPPY: Ok well, why did you decide to make it an acoustic track?

ELLIOT: Well I showed it to Monte, and it was just recorded on my iPhone, and we did try to turn it into a song with the whole band, and there’s a good bass line to it, which is kind of cool but in the end we just decided it was more raw and more earnest as just the bare bones.

MONTE: Do you like that song? Is that why you asked?

HAPPY: Yes, I do like that song, but I was just intrigued. When I was researching I seen that people were really loving that track, and specifically the fact it was acoustic.

ELLIOT: There’s always been a bit of a theme of ending our albums or recordings with a kind of sombre song, and we’ve done that from when we did EPs.

MONTE: I think it’s always like a cathartic release to the record and we spoke about this maybe after Dipz, it’s the way we finish the record, we always do. It’s like we’ve been through the process and the most poignant, sad, moody song ends up being the last song on the record. It’s kind of like leaving that behind, and stepping forward. I guess that’s the unspoken theme.

HAPPY: Cool. So you guys recently released the video for single, June Gloom. Who recorded the video, and where did the concept come from?

ELLIOT: Who shot it? Our photographer, James Adams, he’s shot the last three videos actually, and I guess we just wanted a clip that didn’t need the bells and whistles, because the last one was pretty full on. We just wanted to tell the story, it’s a breakup song, so yeah the concept was pretty simple, and James basically did the whole thing. We’re only in it for ten seconds I think, and that was done at five in the morning, in Melbourne. Monte was off it.

MONTE: I hadn’t slept.

ELLIOT: Yeah actually, I distinctly remember him not saying goodbye, when he had to leave. He just got in an Uber and drove off and I thought “that cunt didn’t say goodbye to me”.

MONTE: Oh, and a bit of trivia, the girl in that video is Beaker from Sticky Fingers’ girlfriend.

HAPPY: Ahh, I was actually wondering if she was one of your girlfriends!

MONTE: Nope, she’s the drummer from Sticky Fingers’ girlfriend, and we knew her through them. She’s a legend, a rad, rad person and that’s why we got her to do it. She was a good sport.

HAPPY: Yeah, she suited the video. So, where does your love from old school fashion and music stem from?

ELLIOT: The Band.

HAPPY: The Band, the band?!

ELLIOT: The Band, the band. I don’t know if they’re our biggest inspirations necessarily but I guess stylistically in a way, have you ever seen The Last Waltz?

HAPPY: Yeah! It’s my favourite, ever. I love it!

MONTE: Oh really? Well Elliot showed me that, and got me into it and my brother as well actually.

ELLIOT: His brother’s like a historian on The Last Waltz and The Band knowledge (laughs).

HAPPY: What’s your favourite performance on The Last Waltz?

MONTE: Ahhh, I don’t know there’s way too many it’s like trying to decide your favourite cheese. There are too many cheeses.

ELLIOT: But yeah, back to the original question, I don’t know, do we look old school?

HAPPY: Nah mate, you don’t at all, you just have a mod haircut, and… yeah, you do!

MONTE: Well, ever since I watched the Supersonic the Oasis documentary, I started looking like this. I’ve got a newfound love for Liam Gallagher.

HAPPY: Well, I’d say you look better than Liam Gallagher, personally.

MONTE: Thanks, but he was a good looking chap back in the day!

HAPPY: Hmm, I beg to differ but each to their own!

MONTE: Well I guess so, it’s subjective.

HAPPY: So you guys are playing Party in The Park tomorrow?

MONTE: No, it just got cancelled two hours ago!

ELLIOT: We’re boycotting it!

MONTE: It flooded. We were looking forward to it. There was a good line up. Elliot did a lot of stuff with Angus for Dope Lemon.

ELLIOT: I was really excited, Angus was excited. Ah fuck, it’s a bit of a shame it’s not happening. So yeah, we’re not playing it in short. No one’s playing it.

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HAPPY: So what are you going to do instead?

ELLIOT: I’m going to the studio. We’re building a studio in a motel room, tomorrow.

HAPPY: To record what?

ELLIOT: A hip-hop EP.

HAPPY: You’re recording a hip-hop EP?

MONTE: We already have recorded one.

ELLIOT: Nah, I just made that up to try and touch a nerve with you because you said you didn’t like hip-hop.

HAPPY: You aren’t touching any nerves here, I was intrigued. I’m not judging.

MONTE: We have a whole rock band version of a hip-hop record that’s online and you can listen to.

ELLIOT: No, but tomorrow we’re just writing, and we’re going to put down some instrumental stuff. We’re also going to rework five tracks off Active Galactic. It’s a special release that’s coming out.

HAPPY: Oh really?

ELLIOT: Yeah, but I don’t want to say much more about it.

HAPPY: Ok. So do you guys have any on tour traditions or crazy on tour stories? Two questions in one for you.

ELLIOT: I don’t like the second question really, but I like the first one.

MONTE: Yeah we do have rituals, and things that we need before a show. Like we need a bottle of Jameson and if we don’t have one then we don’t go on. The show won’t go on.

HAPPY: Because you’d be sober, God forbid!

MONTE: It’d be like a Sticky Fingers tour.

HAPPY: Ooh, low blow!

MONTE: (laughs) Nah.

ELLIOT: Other traditions are…

MONTE: Berrocca. We play cards too! Have you played shithead? It’s brilliant. It’s hard to explain without the cards, but there’s a lot of heckle, more heckle than skill.

ELLIOT: There’s a lot of heckle in general, that’s probably almost a ritual as well.

MONTE: We’ve started doing a huddle before we go on as well, that’s a new thing to kind of bring everyone together.

HAPPY: And do you say anything in the huddle?

ELLIOT: Sometimes we do and sometimes not. Sometimes you don’t know what to say; sometimes you’ve got a lot to say. The other day we had a fucking awesome show but we got into the huddle and it was like “let’s do the show then, huh?” it was very nonchalant.

MONTE: And I don’t know, wild on tour antics? It’s all wild, all the time.

HAPPY: I’m sure it is for you guys, just always wild?

MONTE: No we’re quite tame, wild in a tame way.

ELLIOT: It’s ridiculous; it’s not really ‘wild’, there’s just a lot of nonsense.

MONTE: You’ve got to keep yourself entertained. Keep it fun, and keep it entertaining for yourself.

ELLIOT: You cry a lot from laughter.

HAPPY: That’s a good thing. It’ll help you live longer!

ELLIOT: You know when you’re just laughing for like three days, and at the end of it you’re just like “I’m exhausted” because you’ve been laughing so much?

HAPPY: Can’t say I’ve had that recently, but I know those feels.

MONTE: That’s what it’s like, except when it’s shit, then it’s bad. Fortunately for us it’s been really good lately.

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HAPPY: Cool. So what are each of your desert island records?

ELLIOT: One forever?

HAPPY: Yep. You, an island, and one record.

ELLIOT: Hmmm, well do you go for length of record to get the most out of it or do you go for a short record? Like you’re not going to take Sum 41, with no appeal and no feel in it.

HAPPY: Well you could take a short record and get more out of it emotionally then a long record.

MONTE: Yeah, I’d maybe do Tom Petty Wildflowers, I like it, I think that’s a great record.

HAPPY: Petty! Have you seen him live?

MONTE: I have actually, I seen him at the Hollywood Bowl nine years ago and it was amazing. I had better seats than Taylor Hawkins, and Ben Harper was sitting right behind me. Charlize Theron was making out with a dude the whole set!

HAPPY: Damn, she doesn’t know what she was missing!

MONTE: I know! But yeah I have seen him. Oh, and Neil Young’s Zuma would be one too I reckon, that’s my favourite Neil album.

ELLIOT: I don’t know, it’s too hard!

HAPPY: Well, what’re some tracks or albums that you’ve been digging recently?

ELLIOT: This week I’ve been listening to the new Moses Gunn Collective single which is called, well I don’t call it what it’s called, I call it Silly, Silly, Spooky, Spooky but I think it’s called Silly, Silly, City, City.

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MONTE: Ahh, I haven’t heard that!

ELLIOT: That’s a really good song. And this band called the Bombino, they’ve got this record called Nomad and they’re kind of like Middle Eastern, Dan Auerbech from The Black Keys produced it.

HAPPY: I just call everyone ‘bombino’ I don’t know why…

MONTE: You just call people that? Like “how you doin’ bombino?” Wait, have you got a tattoo that says ‘Clapton Is God’?

HAPPY: Yeah, he’s my God.

MONTE: But he’s so white! (laughs)

ELLIOT: How do you have ‘Clapton Is God’ tattooed, and have not seen The Last Waltz?

MONTE: She said she loved The Last Waltz!

HAPPY: Yeah, it’s my favourite and the blues is my religion, so why not get a tattoo!

ELLIOT: Fair enough. I like the blues too.

MONTE: It’s better than saying like ‘Nicki Minaj is God’ or something. Nah, I like Clapton, I like Cream.

ELLIOT: But Eric Clapton just doesn’t fucking move!

HAPPY: Ok, let me tell you something! Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs is a fucking masterpiece, if you listen to that record from start to finish and still think Clapton is ‘meh’ then that’s your own issue!

ELLIOT: Look, I don’t think he’s ‘meh’ he’s just too technical for me. I like grittier guitarists! But he’s a virtuoso. Do you want to know who my favourite guitarist of all time is?

HAPPY: Buddy Guy maybe?

ELLIOT: He’s up there, Buddy Guy’s great! But I’d say the best guitarist in rock n roll at the moment is Kirin J Callinan.

MONTE: Yeah, fucking oath!

ELLIOT: Best guitarist in rock n roll!

HAPPY: He always gets his dick out on social media, it was annoying me, I’d see it every second day.

MONTE: He’s got a good looking dick though. He’s such an interesting fellow. I’ve come across him a fair bit, I’m going to the Chippendale Film Festival tomorrow and they’ve done a short film, and he’s the star of it! He owns a sex shop, and it’s like the sex life.

HAPPY: I was going to apply for a job at my local sex shop the other day, but then decided not to because they’d probably be some creep who would follow me home…

MONTE: Yeah, but you could’ve worn this jacket, it has a bit of a BDSM vibe!

HAPPY: That’s not really who I am, but I could’ve fooled some people, and made them think I was gonna get up to some real freaky shit, and then just be super vanilla.

MONTE: Yeah I’m bland as (laughs).

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HAPPY: Ok, so if you guys weren’t musicians, what career would you be doing?

MONTE: An astronaut, I’d be an astronaut. Or a palaeontologist, I love dinosaurs.

HAPPY: Ooh, like Ross from Friends!

MONTE: Is he a palaeontologist? Like David Schwimmer is?

HAPPY: Yeah! In Friends!

ELLIOT: Not in real life!

MONTE: Oh I didn’t know he was a palaeontologist! I didn’t watch much Friends, I’m more a Seinfeld guy.

ELLIOT: I got this question the other day so I’m prepared for it, and the answer is, I’d be a fireman because it’s a noble job, and you still get to cruise around in a truck with your mates, kind of like the way we do it on tour.

MONTE: You get to go in those sexy fireman calendars. You get laid as a fireman, I reckon.

HAPPY: Yeah, I have this one aunty who is constantly walking past the fire stations just to catch a glimpse. She ended up dating one of them too…

MONTE: Yeah, they love to check them out. Good on her!

HAPPY: Basically! So besides Kirin’s junk, what makes you two happy?

MONTE: Hanging out with this guy is pretty fun. Even though he’s a cunt, he’s a likeable cunt.

ELLIOT: (laughs) When you walk outside, and it’s a warm day and you feel the concrete beneath your feet, that’s happiness.

HAPPY: Not on those 40 degree days! That calls for burns.

ELLIOT: I’ve got this rule that when it gets over 34 degrees I walk to the cocktail bar, and it’s cost me so much money lately because it’s been so hot!

HAPPY: So, do you guys have any shows coming up?

MONTE: We’re going over to the states in June/July and we’re sorting out some shows now.

HAPPY: Will you be recording whilst you’re there as well?

MONTE: Maybe. We should!

ELLIOT: We’re going to record this weekend, we never stop recording.

MONTE: We’re recording right now!

HAPPY: That’s true! And when can we expect to hear this new stuff that you’re recording?

ELLIOT: Quite soon, quite soon.

MONTE: Hopefully by the end of the year. We want to move quickly.

ELLIOT: No no, I mean, there’s this new exciting project coming real soon with new music.

MONTE: Yeah, expect some stuff real soon.

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March 24, 2017