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Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012

Delta Routine Ups the Ante

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When Milwaukee band Delta Routine received the WAMI Award for Alternative Artist of the Year this spring—on top of being named 88Nine Radio Milwaukee’s Band of the Year last year—they had just gone through a lineup change with a new guitarist and the addition of an organ player. While something like that might throw off the dynamics of some bands, the group’s new full-length, Cigarettes & Caffeine Nightmares, shows the band hitting their stride like never before.

Lead singer Nick Amadeus, bass player Evan Paydon and drummer Kyle Ciske were joined by new guitarist Victor Buell IV and organ player Al Kraemer this March, and that lineup was immediately put to the test at their first performance in April, at the aforementioned WAMI Awards Show. Amadeus thinks they passed that test exceptionally well.

“I’m a big believer in fate, and this is one of the cases it really shined because these guys came in and fit so well,” Amadeus says. “Both of the guys are great guys and were a breath of fresh air when they came in the band.”

The addition of organ proved to be a revelation for Amadeus, who had thought adding a fifth member would just “create all this extra noise that we’d have to fight with.” On the contrary, though, Kraemer’s playing has helped open up space in the songs rather than fill it.

“It brings a whole new frequency up high above the rest of the band that opens up space and air, which I think is extremely important in a band’s sound,” Amadeus says.

That new dynamic came out during the recording of the latest album. The band traverses both the rock and pop spectrums. Early ’70s rock, garage rock, pop and even some Americana are just a few of the jumping-off points for the 11 songs on the album, creating a diverse collection of catchy melodies and easily relatable lyrics on topics like love, determination and struggle.

About half of Cigarettes & Caffeine Nightmares was recorded at the band’s Riverwest studio while the rest took place in an abandoned factory in Barrington, Ill., an opportunity that producer Mike Hoffmann helped to arrange.

The band had recorded a lot of their older material at Hoffmann’s studio in Bay View, but this time they wanted to step a bit out of their comfort zone. Amadeus mixed and engineered the studio half of the album, a stressful but ultimately productive experience.

Recording at the factory and getting Hoffmann to handle more of the technical work was a comparably easier process. The band recorded five songs live, taking advantage of the high ceiling of the factory. After a full day of work, the band let off steam with a fun night in Barrington and spent a rather interesting night sleeping on the factory’s floor (“I think I saw a rat run past me,” Amadeus says). Probably a little hung-over the next morning, the band got coffee and did one more take of the songs.

“It was a crazy experience, and we were only there for a day and a half,” Amadeus says. “We didn’t know those would be the takes we’d use, but when we got back to Milwaukee and listened, we were like, ‘Whoa, those Sunday morning takes sound really good.’”

As opposed to the structured setting of the studio, the factory experience was more in the moment. Amadeus spent the trip south writing the lyrics for the single “Switchblade.”

Though, like their lineup change, the recording sessions for the album were a relatively painless experience, the band understands that not everything comes so easily.

“I’m just trying to stay on two feet,” Amadeus says. “Things are looking a lot better for us, but I’m working a lot harder. There’s a lot of busy work managing the band. With success comes a lot more work, knowing that you have to put in the hours and pay the dues—and that’s really what’s coming up next.”

Delta Routine plays an album release show Thursday, Oct. 11, at Hotel Foster with Hero Jr. and We Are Your Father.
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