An interview with The Deslondes

A Q&A with New Orleans' new country/R&B stars

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How easy is it to run a band as a democracy, with so many singers and songwriters in the ranks?

SAM: Every band has its challenges… operating as a co-operative of five equal members has its own set of kinks that have to be ironed out. It feels rewarding and worth it for everyone involved, though, when we’re all creatively invested in the project and each individual voice or idea is respected. It also keeps us integrating new ideas… Everyone has something important to bring to the table, and that’s exciting.

RILEY: Democracy just seemed natural for this band because we all have our own priorities so to come to a majority rules decision is sometimes the only way to come to agreement. We also did not become a band to be a business, at least not at first, so there was never any worry of how anybody else was doing it, we just did what seemed equal and fair to us.


Notwithstanding the way the album sounds, there aren’t that many references to New Orleans in the lyrics, “Still Someone” and “Out On The Rise” excepted. Was that a conscious decision?

SAM: I don’t believe that was a conscious decision. In many ways, this album feels like a homage to New Orleans and specifically our community of friends and musicians who live there. I didn’t feel the need to name drop New Orleans or have it be the lyrical focus. It’s in there though, just naturally, ya know?

RILEY: No it wasn’t really a conscience decision. Some of these songs were written on the road or at different times, years and places but mostly came together as songs in New Orleans.


A lot of the lyrics, written by all of you, betray a real love of classic simplicity, a sort of historically resonant and direct language that could maybe be seen, at times, as cliché. Would you agree?

SAM: I certainly agree that we have a lot of respect for simplicity, and timeless direct language. Whether or not that is seen as cliche is up to the listener. Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie are two of my favourite song writers and they wrote things as simple and straight forward as they come… Boiled big ideas down into their essence so that people from all walks of life could relate to their music. I have a tremendous respect for writers who are able to do this. As a side note, I just recently stumbled on my old High School poetry notebook, and if you were to make an attempt to read/decipher a page from it – you’d soon realize it hasn’t always been so simple. Hah, I had good reason for changing my style up a bit.

RILEY: No, I never thought of that as cliche. Not every song needs to be a ballad that tells every tiny detail, though I do enjoy those, and also enjoy saying more with less.

CAMERON: Our lyrics express our feelings and experiences. It’s often said that cliches are cliched because they speak to something true about the human condition, and classic lyrics can not only express emotions but also point listeners towards our influences and reference shared cultural experiences.

How do you feel about contemporary country music? Do you ever worry that your love for ’50s and ’60s music and culture might make you seem anachronistic?

I’ve thought about this quite a bit and really we just make the music we hear and feel and there’s no use in worrying about what people think. Our songs are modern songs about the times we live in and our own experiences. If we were a cover band I’d be more concerned with being written off as anachronistic I just can’t get into most contemporary country music lyrically or sonically. Of course, there are some exceptions and some exceptional up and coming artists in that field, but fitting into that seen has never been a priority.

RILEY: Had to look that word up. Haha no, I heard once that influence and repetition can be defined as style. I think we will always have a love for old music and new from all corners of the world and walks of life. In the US there is definitely an appreciation for rural culture that is on the rise so there is your country music/old time but I think it’s up to the individual to project what they have soaked up and feel closest to at the time. There’s also a lot of people who are just into the history of American music from the chart toppers to the guy who only made one 45 that you never heard of till you stumbled upon it in a junk shop. I guess let ’em talk if they think it’s cliché, makes no difference to me, I think musicians will do what they will.

DAN: I’d say we like all kinds of music, contemporary or not. We don’t worry about being anachronistic because we consider ourselves and our music to be contemporary. Whether or not others agree with that is up to them, and we’re not losing any sleep over that.

That being said, we do admittedly cherry-pick certain musical ideas and concepts from the past, including the ’50s and ’60s. There were some good ideas that came about then, and we’re gonna run with them. You being a journalist are also probably influenced by journalistic styles from the ’50s and ’60s, but I wouldn’t consider you to be a “throwback” if I noticed them in your writing.





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