David Weiner ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
With their passionate live sound, country rock roots and powerful lead vocals, Delta Rae is staking its claim in the music industry.
Now backed by Warner Bros. Records, the group is already seeing their hard work pay off. The band has been featured in Rolling Stone, New York Times, USA Today, and Forbes as well as had live performances on Conan and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
The group just released their Chasing Twisters EP, with feature track “If I Loved You,” accompanied by Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham. The EP follows their successful debut album, Carry the Fire.
The six piece band consists of Ian, Brittany and Eric Hölljes, Elizabeth Hopkins, Grant Emerson, and Mike Mckee. All of whom work together in a family style unit, making each venue they perform at their home.
Emertainment Monthly got the chance to speak with one of the band’s vocalists Elizabeth (Liz) Hopkins about the band’s journey, Chasing Twisters and much more.
THE BAND’S JOURNEY: I moved to North Carolina in 2009 from Manhattan to a big white house in the woods that Ian had bought. It had been overridden with plants and snakes, but Ian had gutted it and cleaned it out. For about a year and a half we were all working part-time jobs, rehearsing every night and leaving every weekend to perform in towns all up and down the East Coast, it was hard work. I had three jobs at one point and was trying to be a singer in this band. As hard as it was to live together it also really made us a cohesive group and made it so that we’re able to stay cohesive on any stage in any city. I think no matter where we go we can feel at home with each other. Once the music starts we’re home whether we’re in Hong Kong or in Dallas. When we’re playing our songs together we’re home.
MOST REWARDING MOMENT: There was a moment last summer where we were doing a hometown release of our album release of Carry the Fire and when we went off stage the audience kept cheering, cheering, cheering for an encore and when we came back out on stage to do the encore the entire sold out crowd at the Cat’s Cradle were all holding homemade torches. I looked out into the crowd and it was just this sea of bright orange and bright red flames, not actual flames, just small battery lights in these homemade torches. There was a sea of orange flames bobbing back and forth to the rhythm of our song. It was visually jaw dropping, especially the fact that people would go through the work to secretly put all of that together. I feel so grateful and blessed to have had that experience.
BEING ON LIVE TV: We’ve had the opportunity to be on Jay Leno twice and to be on Conan. Everyone that works on Leno and Conan are extremely kind, so thoughtful and so attentive. You do like ten different sound checks and then you go and do hours and hours of hair and makeup, in Brittany and my case. You prepare for it all day and then you go up there and you do one song. It’s hard because by that time I’m ready to do a full show. My stomach was completely in knots, thinking about would I screw up, would I trip… All of the worst case scenarios were playing through my head.
ON CHASING TWISTERS: I have always been so struck by the landscape of the Southwest. I didn’t write the song, but I know that Ian said he came up with the chorus while he was thinking of the landscapes that we had driven through in the Southwest and feeling that there needed to be a soundtrack for the way you feel driving through the night in that part of the country. He also was influenced by the visuals that come up when you think about Pecos Bill who was this badass cowboy who would lasso tornados. I feel so lucky and happy that I get too sing it, the title track. It was inspired by the Pacos Bill folktale, but it also makes me think about the dust bowl and this very famous portrait called Migrant Mother by Florence Owens Thompson that came out during the depression. You can see her weatherbeaten face and the toughness in her and I channel that image when I sing the song.
WORKING WITH LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM: Rob Cavallo, our producer said, “Hey, did my assistant tell you the news? Well, I don’t know if you guys know Fleetwood Mac?” Do we know Fleetwood Mac? Of course we do, they’re one of our favorite bands. “Well I’m really good friends with Lindsey Buckingham and I had him over for dinner the other night and he asked to hear what I was working on.” Rob then tells us Lindsey started noodling around on our song and Rob stopped the song and was just like, “Lindsey would you mind if I laid that down?” And he was like, “Sure.” It was enough for us just the fact that Lindsey Buckingham liked our music, but that he was inspired enough play on it was incredible.
Catch Delta Rae in Boston at the Royale March 1, 2014. Chasing Twisters EP is available on iTunes now.