Matthew Logan Vasquez on Parenthood, Solicitor Returns and Being "Texas Famous"

Music Features Matthew Logan Vasquez
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Matthew Logan Vasquez on Parenthood, <i>Solicitor Returns</i> and Being "Texas Famous"

While Delta Spirit are between records, lead singer Matthew Logan Vasquez has taken the opportunity to dive into his personal stash for his first solo LP, Solicitor Returns. It’s an album full of rock and roll anthems and lyrics that focus on his own biography, from his beginnings all the way to his new life as a husband and father.

Paste : The new record is under your full name. What’s with the formalities?
Matthew Logan Vasquez: The formality is that I own the Instagram name! It’s funny, there’s less confusion on Instagram and more confusion on everything else. There’s a lot of Matt Vasquezs out there, which is surprising to a lot of white people. Vasquez is like Smith, and there’s a lot of Matts, like there were a lot of Brandons born in the ‘80s, there’s a lot of Matt Vasquezs my age. I named my son Thor.

Paste : You did! I couldn’t tell if that was his nickname or real name.
Vasquez: It’s his real name. It’s a family name on Martha, my wife’s side.

Paste : Is that true?
Vasquez: Yeah! So is Ulysses.This crazy great-great-great-grandfather of mine was an atheist and wanted to name all of his sons after Homer.

Paste : You got lucky on that. Usually a guy would come up with a macho-bizarre name and the wife would never go for it, but you had it on your side.
Vasquez: Well, Thor is just like saying Dave in Norway.

Paste : So it’s really common over there?
Vasquez: Super common. It’s really cool.

Paste : You’ve been pimping your kid out on Instagram.
Vasquez: Cute babies are cool!

Paste : Have you already seen the impact it’s had on how you’re suppose to continue in this career?
Vasquez: Yeah, it changes your priorities. It’s very much like, “Well, whatever happens, that baby’s going to have to get some diapers.” And of course I need to see him as much as possible, and my wife, too. That’s why I’m doing this tour as a Texas residency every week playing Houston and then the Dallas area and then San Antonio or Austin. Back in November I did this in California too, and it was really fun. But it’s great. Martha was saying yesterday, “You know, this schedule is great.” I’m only gone two nights a week, but I play four or five shows a week, so that’s great.

Paste : You’ve figured it out.
Vasquez: It’s my master plan to be Texas famous. I grew up in Austin. I remember people like Ian Moore, who’s a very Texas famous person, who’s got this cool career where he can drive around the state of Texas and Oklahoma and Little Rock and anywhere he wants to go. He’s not chained to that. But to be popular in this region, it’s its own nation of people. There’s so many people here that you can work all of these markets. It’s pretty great.

Paste : Some of the other hometown guys like Bob Schneider, that’s one of his things, to only go out so many days so he can be home with his kids.
Vasquez: Unless you’re Bob Seger where you can afford to take your private jet and fly in.

Paste : I know you’re not too deep in it yet, but do you find with the new family that it’s easier to do this solo than with Delta Spirit?
Vasquez: Financially it’s a bit more helpful to control everything. But I think the reason the why I did it is because I had too many songs and a lot of the songs didn’t fit within the realm of Delta Spirit. So I wanted to make sure that I had something to turn people onto. I tried to do this before, but made a real crazy record. That’s why I’m calling this record Solicitor Returns, because that one was Solicitor. I don’t think I’m ever going to really release it. I made these flash drives that I’ve been selling at my residence and my website. They’re super crazy. It was a really insane record.

Paste : What’s so crazy about the music?
Vasquez: It was just like every idea that farted into my brain. I give it the most due diligence possible. I have a song called “Dog Shit 808” on it.

Paste : I think every artist should do this. It’s almost like cleaning the palate of your creativity to do that stuff.
Vasquez: Yeah, I had made it right after the self-titled Delta Spirit record, everything for me creatively was peaking. Delta Spirit had realized that we wouldn’t be a folk thing. Whatever we want. So I made a record like that.

Paste : I think you should release it. That’s the stuff that becomes legendary, becomes famous.
Vasquez: It’s legendary within my friend group.

Paste : And since you only want to be a Texas famous artist, you’ve already made it.
Vasquez: I have a lot more work to do in Texas. It’s a very big state.

Paste : That sometimes wants to become its own country.
Vasquez: And was once.

Paste : That’s true.
Vasquez: So when I set out to make this record, I wanted to make the things that I love about rock and roll that aren’t necessarily fitting within the guidelines of Delta Spirit. I’m really proud of Solicitor Returns. This is me playing songs that are maybe super simple so that I can play with anybody. They’re super loud and crazy or just quiet with an acoustic guitar.

Paste : Who are anybodies? Are you playing out with a regular band?
Vasquez: There’s only a handful of shows that I’ll play completely solo. That’s not what this project is really about. It’s more about the whole rock and roll thing.

Paste : Were these song leftovers from the last record?
Vasquez: That’s a lot of what happened. Basically it was like, “Ok, so, I’ve probably put on seven or eight out of 45 that I wrote. But then I also wrote a few as I was going. Once I got the ball rolling with a couple tracks like “Everything I Do Is Out” and “Maria,” that was the thing I wanted to chase after and go towards. I did two things on the record where I double downed my vocals until I had 25 of myself singing.

Paste : That’s not narcissistic at all.
Vasquez: It’s the most narcissistic thing to do, and it’s great. I wanted to make some stuff that had that Pink Floyd metal vibe, where it’s just kind of earthy and psych-y, but not too psych-y.

Paste : And there is the song “Austin,” which is around 18 minutes. Is that a jam or what?
Vasquez: “Austin,” I realized looking back over my lyrics over the past Delta Spirit records, the things that had the most impact for me when I was writing them were based off of epiphanies when I was young and more of a misfit kid, and I wanted to write a song to sum it up and close that chapter and move on and be something else and grow into a different skin.

Paste :I like how you didn’t say “adult” right there. That’s not the word you used.
Vasquez: No! Not an adult. But maybe a dad. But I wanted to write this song and it ended up having a lot of things. I basically just told my story of growing up in Austin. I was born in California, but was awakened with rock and roll music and Nirvana. My parents splitting and dropping acid and going back and forth between Texas and my experiences with Christianity and my experience of post-Christianity and agnostic, and also being a drunken idiot and meeting my wife who is showing me love and kindness and forgiveness and all of the spiritual things that I craved. And the God I sought I found in my wife.

Paste : That’s an amazing story!
Vasquez: On one 12-inch side of vinyl.

Paste : That’s amazing that you can tell an entire life story in one song.
Vasquez: I tried to shorten it to try to make it work for radio because I like the chord structure it has, that CSNY/Cat Power thing, but I felt like any verse I took out, I felt like “I can’t do it that way.”

Paste : Then we hear “Everything I Do Is Out,” which is a great rock song. What does that title mean?
Vasquez: For me, the sentiment is stop giving a shit what people think is cool or not. Don’t care. I can live my life and have tons of fun not being the cool one. Come on over to the not cool side and play rock and roll.

Paste : I don’t think anyone will throw you in the not cool side. Rock and roll goes in its ups and downs. And to be a straight rock-and-roll band without any schtick or tag put on the side of it, that is a challenge in 2016.
Vasquez: That’s been the great challenge of my life and being in Delta Spirit. All of us together have that challenge where it’s like, “How do you be friends and play music that people just like?” A couple people get really fortunate, like Wilco or My Morning Jacket, undeniable live bands with undeniably great songwriters. That is my goal in my life, that I would like to just play music and someone dub me rock and roll. Just fall under that.

Watch Matthew Logan Vasquez perform “New York” live at the Paste Studio in the player below.