Delta Rae is a six-piece alt-country band from North Carolina. They have taken their unique folk rock style around the country several times on countless tours, and they are now back on the road, starting their new tour out in the south before passing through southern California and the western states. You may have heard them in TV commercials or even in your favorite shows, such as the Vampire Diaries.
I got a chance to sit down with vocalist Elizabeth Hopkins to discuss politics in their home state, tour life, and the recording process with the band; read all about it below. We are also offering two free tickets to their shows at The Coach House in LA on 9/23; The Music Box in SD on 9/25; The Teragram Ballroom in LA on 9/26; and The Catalyst in SF on 9/28! Enter to win tickets to the shows; simply download the Thrillcall app, set your location, and find the giveaway nearest you. Good luck!
Thrillcall: Delta Rae is currently on tour, supporting your sophomore record After It All. Over the course of the band’s career, you have toured all over the country several times. Where do you guys like to play the most?
Liz Hopkins: This question feels loaded, I don’t want to take away from any region of the world we have played. We’re grateful for all our fans, and every audience we’ve ever played in front of whether it was a crowd of 10,000 on New Years Eve or 10 people outside a popsicle shop in (yes, we did). The place I love playing the most is the Northeast- I just love how distinct the passing of the four seasons is there. It’s probably because a lot of our first fan bases are up there and we’ve been going there ever since the band started in 2009. But I was born and raised in California so it’s always special to get back to my roots and see lots of friends and family.
T: There’s a story about the origin of “Bottom of the River” where the chorus came to Ian in a dream. Is the songwriting process always that natural? Being a six-piece band must make it difficult at times!
LH: Ian and Eric do the majority of the writing. They usually come to the band with a complete song. In some cases Ian will come up with a chorus, bring it to Eric, then he comes up with a verse, or the opposite. Britt has also started writing, which is very exciting and cool. When they bring a piece to the rest of the band, we figure out who will sing it and then come up with ideas for background vocals and the full band instrumentation. It can definitely be a difficult process but it’s also very satisfying when we figure it out.
I have the utmost respect for the songwriters in this band. It’s hard, solitary work and the vulnerability of sharing your heart and innermost fears, desires, pain and dreams with a group over and over has to be emotionally and mentally draining. But there’s a gratifying feeling when a song gets off the ground. When they bring it to the band there are four more people to bounce the idea off of, and we help the song grow into a fully-fledged, living and breathing piece of art that we can share with the world in our live shows and albums. That is always the goal.
T: Your Chasing Twisters EP features Lindsey Buckingham on the single, “If I Loved You.” What was it like working with him?
LH: The way it happened was extremely unexpected. When we arrived at the home studio of Rob Cavallo (the producer of our Chasing Twisters EP) to begin work on “If I Loved You” – he explained there had been a special guest on the track. “Did my assistant tell you about the guest?” He hadn’t. Rob asked us if we knew or had heard of Fleetwood Mac. Of course we did, and we had more than heard of them. Fleetwood Mac is a favorite of everyone in Delta Rae. They’re a huge cornerstone and inspiration to us as a multi-singer band that straddles genres. Rob told us Lindsey Buckingham was a close friend of his and that he’d been over for dinner a few nights ago. Lindsey had asked Rob what he was working on so Rob played him the rough demo of “If I Loved You.” As the track played, Lindsey grabbed a twelve-string guitar off the wall and started noodling around on it as he listened. Rob loved what he heard and asked Lindsey “Would you mind laying that down?” So apparently Lindsey jumped into the booth. When Rob told us this, our six jaws dropped to the floor. It all happened before we even got to the studio! We are forever honored and extremely grateful to him for what he contributed to the song. We hope we’ll have the pleasure of meeting Lindsey Buckingham and thanking him in person one day.
T: I noticed on your Facebook page you posted a message about how Delta Rae is against the so-called Bathroom Bill, or HB-2, that discriminates against the transgender community. How important is political activism to Delta Rae? Do you ever incorporate political messages in your music?
LH: As a band our number one focus is to create music and magic and share it with the world. There is a Martin Luther King Jr. quote that always comes to mind when asked about this. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” When people’s rights are threatened and hateful policies are implemented, when innocent individuals are targeted and discriminated upon, we feel it’s our responsibility to speak up and say we’re against that. Yes, we have incorporated political messages into our music. We released “Chain on Love” as a rallying cry for marriage equality. We released it in 2012 to encourage North Carolinians to vote against Amendment One, which was a motion to adjust the state’s constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman only, effectively banning same-sex marriage in North Carolina. We think this is wrong. We believe it is everyone’s right to marry whomever they love. Luckily now Same-Sex marriage is legal in all 50 States. It took a long time to get there, but finally LOVE WINS. Last summer we also wrote, recorded and released a song called “All Good People.” We’d been talking about writing and recording a song in response to racial injustice in the United States, but we hadn’t fully fleshed out the idea so we scheduled a day to workshop the song and record a rough demo at our home studio in Raleigh, NC. Consequently and very tragically, the day before we’d planned to meet up and work on the song as a group, the Charleston shooting took place at the Emanuel AME Baptist Church in South Carolina. Nine innocent and peaceful lives were ended. With heavy hearts, we sat together weeping and talking about this horrible problem we are still faced with in this country, and we completed the song that day. In hopes of spreading the message that we as Americans must all work together to end racial injustice in this country, we perform “All Good People” every night.
T: Finally, what’s on the horizon for Delta Rae?
LH: Touring! I’m actually in our van right now, we just played a bunch of fun shows in Ohio, Florida, Louisiana and Texas and now we’re headed to Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee. We’re all over the country for the remainder of the year. Check out deltarae.com and click on tour dates. We’re going to places we’ve never played before! Also on the horizon is ALBUM THREE. We’re really excited about the new songs we have been working on and Ian and Eric are always writing. We’ve started recording in Nashville. We are splicing it in alongside touring, which is challenging. But it’s also really cool because we’re able to try new songs out on our fans, and then bring that energy into the studio. We still have a ways to go, but we’re really looking forward to sharing it with everyone. If you want to hear some of the new songs that are in the running for Album 3, come on out to a show on the New Moon Rising Tour.