“Track by Track” is written by the Artist giving us some insight into their latest work. Today we feature Deleter out of Minneapolis. This Track by Track was made possible by our friends at
Land Ski Records.
Minneapolis, MN, USA
Travis Collins – bass guitar, vocals
Joshua McKay – drums, percussion
Jordan Morantez – guitar, Juno 106, vocals
Knol Tate – vocals, guitar, melodica, Juno 106
Deleter is a Minneapolis post-punk attack team composed of vocalist/guitarist Knol Tate (Askeleton, Killsadie), bassist/vocalist Travis Collins (Spirit Of 76, We Are The Willows), drummer/percussionist Josh McKay (Farewell Continental, Small Towns Burn A Little Slower) and guitarist Jordan Morantez (Blue Green, The King & The Thief).
Formed in 2012, Deleter quickly refined their sound to a bold, loud, yet dynamic sonic force. Tate’s lyrics comprised of poetry with classic lyricism create a voice with a unique perspective. Having long lists of clear influences like garage rock, post punk, hardcore punk, psychedelic rock, as well as less obvious influences like 60’s biker, surf and spy movie soundtracks; Deleter blends genres sometimes calling to mind music as diverse as Wire, The Fall, Davie Allan, The Ventures, The Ex, Born Against and Psychedelic Furs. No matter the inspiration or the influence, Deleter has been able to create their own sound in the time they’ve been together. Fierce, catchy, noisy, and reflective; almost militaristic, Deleter sounds deliberate, sincere and purposely crafted.
With a slew of self-released singles in early 2013 that came to be known collectively as the “A/B Series” and later in the year the “56789” EP, followed by two more EPs; Komposition and Zweite Komposition less than a year later, Deleter’s first proper long playing recording “Oblique Seasons” sees the band refining their sound and lyrical content while expanding the pallet. From frazzled bursts of punk rock and hardcore with tracks like “Dysphoria (Dictionary Definition)”, “Macy Shot A Cop” and “Worry Less”, to strange and angular pop songs like “Seclusion”, “Worst Person In The World” and title track “Oblique Seasons”, to tension filled, haunting and mysterious songs like “A Ridiculous Man”, “No Culture” and “You’re Assassinated”. Deleter has set a higher bar for themselves and their creative output with “Oblique Seasons”. Operating in a music world of short attention spans and instant amusement this LP was crafted to stand out.
Deleter – Oblique Seasons
Track by Track
1 Dysphoria (Dictionary Definition)
Like many of the songs on ‘Oblique Seasons,’ Dysphoria was written as a bit of a improvisation at rehearsal. Rarely does someone come into rehearsal with a whole song or even part of a song fleshed out. Musically, it could be the song on the album that the most thought was put into while trying to make it sound rather random and improvised. We messed with the arrangement for quite some time. Normally, we have an arrangement for a song down in a matter of minutes but this one took several rehearsals to pin down. Lyrically, it’s somewhat about the fine line between physical and emotional depression or maybe how the two interact with each other and how one deals with that day to day. It’s sort of questioning if there’s such a thing as mental illness or do we just decide to categorize individuals into normal and not normal because we still don’t understand how the mind works? How absolutely debilitating it can be to not fit into the so-called “real world”.
Seclusion is about isolationism. Personally and politically. Reading the lyrics, it comes across as rather abstract but in a political context, lines like “and they spoke a version, it’s wrong or right. Either way it’s worded wrong, waiting for a fight” speaks to doubl- talk authorities have become experts at. The song, quite obviously, takes inspiration from the title track to Television’s Marque Moon. We had been messing about with the syncopated rhythm of the song when our guitar player played that little lick you hear in the verses almost in a jazz way of “quoting” the Television song. We kept it. The chaos that makes up the two post chorus parts came naturally as a reaction to the rigidity of the verse and chorus parts. There’s a really weird patch on the Juno 106 that sounds like an robotic aircraft engine speeding up, with random little blips that starts over time as you hit a key, that we used to enhance the urgent and chaotic feel of that part.
3 A Ridiculous Man
People have asked us what the high-pitched, crazy instrument is at the top of the song when the band kicks in. Most people assume it’s some sort of keyboard but it’s actually a guitar with heavy effects and some insane playing and a melodica run through distortion and analog delay. There is very little synthesizer on the record. Mostly used to thicken up chord changes during a verse or chorus. We limited ourselves to only using one keyboard on the album; a Juno 106. It’s a very expressive synthesizer on its own but we thought in keeping with the mostly sparse and simplistic (by today’s standards) method of recording this album it would fit well. The main drum rhythm is doubled with another floor tom and snare drum to give it that weird, slurry effect. The phrase ‘A ridiculous man’ just sounded sort of funny. The lyrics were written around that title. In retrospect it seems to be about feeling like not being a citizen of one’s own country or an outside member of a community.
4 Militant Idiot
This song seems to be the most straight forward song on the record lyrically. Militancy, on any end of the spectrum, is never a progressive or mindful thing. Politically or socially. Militant equals idiot. This was one of the few songs on the record where a riff, a loose arrangement and a feel were brought into rehearsal and then fleshed out from there. The main riff was inspired by a Robyn Hitchcock song from one of his early solo records. Later we found out the Hitchcock riff was inspired by Psychedelic Furs, which should have been obvious at the time to us. It’s a closed circle.
5 Macy Shot a Cop
This song was very much inspired both lyrically and musically be pre-hardcore Los Angeles punk rock.
A verse and a chorus played quickly, repeated once and then over. The words ‘Flow my tears’ come from a Philip K. Dick story called “Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said,” which takes place in a police state in the aftermath of the second civil war. This song is a bit of two views from a first person narrative. The “Cop” and a character called Macy, both out to get each other. In an increasingly authoritarian and panicked world with police departments treating cities like war zones it can make one wonder when someone will strike back? Where that escalation can lead to? Does violence beget violence?
6 Worst Person in the World
This was initially almost our take on a Feelies song cut down to two minutes and sped way the fuck up. It’s almost just too goofy but we like to try to maintain some sense of humor so we went with it. The phrase ‘the worst person in the world’ is thrown around so much lately, mostly by millennials; it’s almost made us forget about what the words really mean. You can hear someone say of an ex-lover that they are “the worst”. Worst than whom? Anyone you’ve ever met? Worse than Mussolini? The worst person in the world to whom? Vernacular is pretty hilarious. There is also a “That’s what she said” joke in there. Sorry.
7 Oblique Seasons
This song starts with the exact same chord and guitar sound that Worst Person In The World starts with. We didn’t quite realize it at the time but when it came to sequencing the record once we put the two songs next to each other it was painfully clear. Instead of spacing the songs away from each other we decided to steer into it. It makes for a good side split for the 12″. A bit of a trick on the listener. The solo or melodic line that takes the place of lyrics during the second verse is actually two guitar parts. Once again we tried to make a guitar sound like something else. People think that it’s a keyboard part sometimes. There is loose rule in Deleter where we decided every song has to have a half-step movement in it somewhere and this song makes use of that rule in the chorus. The song is basically about any given authority to manipulate the media into spreading its message. Even if subtly, by using code words or catch phrases. How quickly those things are picked up on by media and ingested by the public. Words, as the saying goes, are a weapon.
8 Worry Less
A very fast song (over 210 beats per minute) that also has a “verse/chorus then repeat once” structure. We aren’t that keen on bridges too often. There is a large amount of chord changes for a song this fast and short though. We were able to get some pretty disgusting guitar sounds on the verse using some modulation pedals to get that sort of bottom being sucked out of it sound. The notes just sort of slowly drop down in pitch after each hit on one of the guitars. Adds to the chaos a bit. Not entirely sure what the lyrics are about. Sort of an abstract meditation on education and communication. The juxtaposition between the growls of the lead vocal on the chorus and the pretty harmonies are rather Pixies in a way.
9 No Culture
What started as sort of a mellow surf rock type song became more and more psychedelic as we rehearsed and improvised on it. The chorus has a bit of a strange chord structure along with some rather circus like percussion and drumming. The second verse is in a different key than the first making it almost an old timey thing. Another sort of goofy song that still comes across quite menacing in its own way. Musically and lyrically it’s all a bit paranoid.
Regrets is a bit of a personal song. Well, looking at the personal issues of someone that was once close. As much as the politics of relationships and being wrapped in legalese are personal. It’s written as an observation of someone’s divorce and struggle over custody of a child. All the things that one could do differently and the regrets that can stare back at you off the page of a summons or the eyes of a child. The music is the most harDCore (DC Revolution Summer influenced) we get. It started as more of a take on mid-period The Fall kind of stuff but landed much more in a weird sort of groove. The string parts bring a little different feel and spookiness to the bits between verses and the bridge. This song has no chorus, only a bridge where everything crescendos and falls back only to settle into the last little guitar melody and verse. We wrote this song the same day we wrote No Culture and that’s why the two sort of flow right into each other. One of the only bits of album sequencing we knew we wanted to do before even tracking the album.
11 Lab Rats Revolt
The title was taken from something muttered in an episode of the public radio show Radio Lab. How could it not be a song title? The lyrics are sort of an abstract take on being analyzed or over-analyzed and how that makes one feel. It’s another song well over 200 beats per minute with a bit of an overall John Reis (Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes, Rocket From The Crypt, Night Marchers, etc.) hyperactive rock n’ roll feel. The intro guitar “solo” was inspired by a messy Graham Coxon-like noise part. One of the few main guitars parts that was an overdub and not done live during the basic tracking. A bit of guitar pedal trickery with a tremolo pedal.
12 You’re Assassinated
You’re Assassinated is almost a take on the Dead Kennedys’ song “Too Drunk To Fuck”, lyrically speaking. A lot more obtuse than that classic song, of course, but the general idea is the same. How partying, thoughtlessness and excess can lead to social suicide or social assassination. This song came as sort of an improvisation based on the guitar loop/noise heard during the intro. The walking, creepy bass line is really what spawned and drives the whole track. One of the many working titles of the song before the lyrics were added was “Edward Gorey” because it almost reminds us of the intro music to the PBS Masterpiece Mystery show with the cartoons by Edward Gorey. The bridge of the song gets rather large as a tension release. It’s very much of the quiet, loud, quiet structure. There is a pretty cool Ringo-like drum fill in the middle of that mess. The strings at the very end of the song were originally recorded during the last verse but at mix they didn’t quite fit with the backup vocals so we just moved them to the end. Seems like a nice closing to the record.