The Delta Saints are ready to bring their brand of rock with a delta blues influence to UT on April 25 for Volapalooza.
In 2007, Ben Ringel, Dylan Fitch, David Supica and Ben Azzi met at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., as transfer students. As they all came from cities across the country, Ringel remembers that they "kind of needed friends." So, they got together and "just started mostly goofing around."
However, goofing around turned into a full-time job when they began booking shows in 2008 and have since continued to grow.
At first, the Delta Saints took a blues approach to their music. However, the more they wrote and played together, the more they found themselves consciously working towards a sound with a larger rock influence.
While Ringel believes the change was an alert decision from every member, it "started very organically."
"That's kind of the mindset I think we're all in right now," Ringel said. "Very much wanting to make just really good rock 'n' roll music."
Defining their sound as rock 'n' roll with a delta blues influence, they picked this name intentionally to avoid being stuck in a generation box.
"The term 'blues rock' just has that negative association, I think, for a lot of people," Ringel said. "They think of stuff that our parents listened to, which a lot of the times, it is. So, we definitely lean more towards the rock 'n' roll with a delta blues influence. Or at least that's what I think; I don't know. New Orleans rock 'n' roll maybe."
Always willing to experiment, Ringel said that one of his favorite songs to play was any cover since there is a lack of pressure associated with not playing your own song. However, when asked about the Delta Saints' covering of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" at its concert with the Black Cadillacs at the Bijou Theatre in November, he changed his answer.
"I take what I said back a minute ago, which was that it's no pressure, because the more I think about it, the more I refute that statement," Ringel said. "Especially on 'Crazy' where everybody knows it; it's like a young, hip song. It's not like you're doing 'Johnny B. Goode' or whatever, a 50-year-old song. It's relevant. But, it's kind of fun to try to do something entirely different with a new song that everybody knows. It's definitely a challenge."
The Delta Saints play roughly 200 shows every year. In taking on this feat, Ringel believes there is a routine that needs to be made. While he is still unsure as to whether they truly have a grasp over managing their day-to-day lives, taking the time to do simple, everyday tasks, such as calling his wife or waking up for a run, impacts life on the road.
"At the end of the day, we have the greatest job in the history of employment," Ringel said. "We get to play music. We get to play rock 'n' roll for a living. It's awesome. But, 200 shows a year, it definitely becomes a job just by the nature of doing it so much. You also learn moderation. Like, you learn not to drink too much too often and sleep every once in a while, you know? It's like anything being young."
While vocalist Ringel said the band members have "no idea" why they were selected to play campus' largest student-organized event; accepting the offer, however, was a "no brainer," Ringel said.
The other two acts, the Dirty Guv'nahs and headliner Fitz and The Tantrums, also helped to propel them into the event.
"Actually, the Dirty Guv'nahs are some good friends of ours," Ringel said. "They've helped us a lot throughout our career. They're just sweethearts, those guys. They're just the nicest people I've ever met. And Fitz and The Tantrums are the headliner. You just see that, and you're like, 'Well, that will be awesome.' Also, it's hopefully a way for us to get connected, at least in the UT scene.
"I don't know how we got it, but we're pretty excited about it."
For Volapalooza attendees who have yet to hear the band, they currently have a free, three-song EP available on their website to help listeners familiarize themselves with the band before April 25.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 of The Daily Beacon's Road to Volapalooza series, which will feature Knoxville's own the Dirty Guv'nahs.