“Fuckin’ sweet man… Are we allowed to swear?”
It’s half 12 on Friday afternoon and I’m stood backstage with three quarters of Delta Sleep at ArcTanGent Festival. Frontman Devin Yuceil just joined us seconds earlier, keen to let us know just how good their night was. On Thursday, Delta Sleep played to a huge crowd in the early evening, sandwiched between titans of the festival Rolo Tomassi and TTNG.
“It was *fucking* good.” Adds guitarist Glen Hodgson with a laugh, joining Devin on the profanities. With only two stages operational for the early-entry day of the festival, it was the PX3 stage that housed Delta Sleep for the evening, causing the tent to swell and a giant audience to form far past the stage itself.
“It was cool man. Amazing turnout and really, really cool vibes from the crowd.” Sums up Drummer Blake Mostyn. “The participation from them was pretty mindblowing to be honest – sing alongs and shit. It was great.”
ArcTanGent has started to become a staple of the social calendar for math-rock fans throughout the UK and beyond. Over the past four years, math-heads from all over have been coming out in droves to Fernhill Farm in Somerset. But it’s not just punters having all the fun, as evidenced by the majority of the bands in attendance getting stuck in with the festivities.
“I think it’s great, man. It really kind of solidifies the scene.” Says Blake of the festival. “It’s all about the community here and it really kind of brings it to life. You can really see the level of all the bands that are coming through. I think the math scene at the moment – if you call it that – is really strong… Everyone’s really pushing the boundaries, new styles coming in and out. It’s great, and everyone’s a part of it – the crowd are really knowledgeable about it. It’s really strong vibes, you know?”
“I think you don’t actually realise how big a scene it is in the UK until you come to ArcTanGent and then suddenly you see everyone.” Adds Glen and it’s absolutely true. At this year’s ArcTanGent, French math-rock instrumentalists Totorro played to a huge crowd, many citing them as the highlight of the whole weekend. A couple of days later, they played to a small room above a bar in Manchester.
The organisers at ArcTanGent have really done a sterling job, the festival acting almost as a meeting place for fans of all things math/post-rock and creating huge crowds for acts that might not experience that elsewhere.
“Obviously it’s a small scene, but you don’t really realise the size of it until you see thousands of people at shows and bands like Godspeed coming over.” Continues Glen. “So many people are excited about it.”
Last year I spoke with festival organisers, Goc, Simon and James, about the future of ArcTanGent and the lengths it will potentially go. Whilst a week-long festival seems out of the question (“I would actually die. Not enough sleep.” – James), the idea of ArcTanGent Australia, Europe or even America is something they’d like to consider. Discussing such an exciting prospect with the band, Devin agrees it’s believable.
“It seems like they want it over there.” He says. “We get messages all the time from the US saying ‘Why isn’t this line-up over in America?’ So there definitely is a want for this kind of thing to happen in the US. I can see that happening.”
On the subject of overseas, it seems like every other month Delta Sleep are out of the country playing shows (at the time of writing, they’ve just finished a small run of shows in Japan!) During the summer months, the quartet went out to Italy for a four-day tour. Though if the pictures are anything to go by, they spent most of it in various states of undress near bodies of water.
“All of the shows are outdoors, so the stage is outdoors, everything is outdoors.” Says Glen. “We were just talking about this about 20 minutes ago – they’re just so confident that it’s not gonna rain. They’re so sure, it’s like wow – in July it’s probably the wettest month in England. That was fucking cool. You can stay out there as late as you want, shorts and t-shirts. Honestly it’s brilliant, you can’t overestimate how good the sun is.”
“Playing in Italy is always incredible.” Adds Devin. “The food and the people are so lovely, the weather is fucking amazing.”
In an a/s/l special with absentee bassist Dave Jackson, prior to ArcTanGent, he commented that the best thing about pizza is that “It’s free when you play a show in Italy”. Aside from gaining enjoyment from free pizza and being able to wear shorts and t-shirts at night time, Delta Sleep also have a label in Italy they’re real keen on – To Lose La Track.
“It’s just a really cool scene.” Says Glen of Italy and their labelmates. “I was trying to describe it yesterday to someone. It’s kind of this Fugazi, Dischord era post-hardcore that they just do so well out there. Really honest, emotional. A band in the UK, Crash Of Rhinos, they did really well out there but it’s that kind of scene – really powerful, moving stuff. They do it really well, there’s some great bands out there.”
Their European adventure took off earlier in the year, with stops in Luxembourg and Brussels, where the hospitality is believed to be just as on point as it is in Italy. This warm reception from countries throughout Europe is always a talking point with bands that come back from European tours. It really puts the UK to shame.
“Wherever we go… Even down to just a free bar and just making you feel welcome, there’s always a place to stay. It’s just down to the smaller things really.” Comments Blake. “Being relaxed enough to think that you’ve actually got a bed to stay in, rather than the last minute rush when it gets to one in the morning and you’re like ‘Where we gonna stay?’ Out there, everything’s just laid on for you. It’s lovely.”
“It’s expected, you know?” Adds Glen. “Not always hotels and stuff, but it’s fine – it’s never an issue getting sorted out accommodation, which can be a bit of a struggle in England.”
It still seems only yesterday that Delta Sleep announced the release date of their debut album ‘Twin Galaxies’. Amazingly, a few months prior to ArcTanGent it was revealed that it actually celebrated its first birthday in July! A present fitting of a first birthday came when Big Scary Monsters announced that the initial run of vinyl copies for the album had sold out completely. Such an overwhelming response for its initial release meant three words that fill record collectors with joy: New colour variants!
“It’s pretty cool that we sold out of it in the first place to be honest, so yeah – we’re definitely happy that it’s out.” Says Glen of its second pressing.
“Fucking… couldn’t ask for more, basically. Everyone seems to be loving it.” Adds Devin. “We’re getting kind messages all the time from people saying ‘Just bought your record’. People from all over the world as well. The reception we got for it has been amazing. More than we could hope for.”
Ticking off countries around the globe for people to hear cuts from Twin Galaxies has been a task Delta Sleep have been undertaking since its release last year, but like any band – they’re already more than keen to move on. So what’s the next step?
“Just wanna earn a quick million and leave our jobs and retire.” Laughs Blake. “Nah, we just wanna progress the sound of Delta Sleep really. We’re writing stuff at the moment, got a couple of new songs on the go. We’ll see wherever it takes us. We wanna try and travel around the world with it, do some tours in other countries, see the responses out there. But primarily at the moment, we’re just writing and just excited to see how the sound of Delta Sleep evolves.”
“We’ve got two songs completely finished, which we’ve added to the set. We’ve got about four or five others on the go – basically in a really good place.” Adds Devin. “We’re really, really excited for the new stuff, it’s sounding really good. Funny enough, the new stuff to me kind of feels like the purest Delta Sleep, in a weird way. Twin Galaxies, we kind of wrote half of it with the old line-up, so this weirdly feels like it’s gonna be our proper thing, with everyone involved.”
“I think through the writing process of Twin Galaxies, we’ve kind of refined our writing style together. As Dev was saying, it’s like the distilled version of Delta Sleep.” Says Blake. “We’re quite comfortable with it, the songs are flowing. It’s a really nice writing environment. This is the exciting part of it all really, doing the tours and everything is great, but when you come back after a practice and you’re stoked that you’ve written this cool part – you’re listening to it in your car from a shitty little rehearsal space recording or whatever. It’s exciting. It’s nice to be creating stuff again, rather than just rinsing the old stuff, which is cool, but you wanna be writing the new stuff all the time. To then hear the feedback from people and be able to play it. The feedback from us is, we hear the tracks and it’s so critical. Then to slot a new song into the set and be able to play it for people and gauge their response is wicked. That’s what it’s all about.”
Hearing the songs in a live environment (especially at ArcTanGent) is almost a cruel tease. Whilst it’s wonderful to hear new songs, the realisation that you then have to play the waiting game for something physical to come of them is bitter sweet. Following the wonderful Twin Galaxies, this is certainly the case with the new material from Delta Sleep. Though as it turns out, people might not have to wait too long for another Delta Sleep release.
“We’re just taking it easy, not trying to rush things. I think we’ll probably do another album next, but before then I think we’re gonna try and record a single and a b-side maybe, and release that in 2017 at some point.” Comments Devin. “That buys us time to refine the album stuff, but we’re gonna try and demo all the new tracks before the end of the year maybe. We’re thinking of maybe doing a writing retreat somewhere for like a week, which’ll be cool – work on new shit, demo stuff and do that kind of thing. Then hopefully track a single before the end of the year.”
“We’re gonna do like a ‘Morning View’ session, we’re gonna rent a massive house out in Hawaii.” Adds Blake with a laugh. “Just have the setup there – Stained glass windows, that’s us! We’re going for this gothic vibe on the new album…”
The current incarnation of Delta Sleep has been knocking about for a good while now, and their collective demeanour on stage clearly confirms that they’re having the best time. It’s truly infectious to watch. A band as much as they are a gang of mates.
“Nah, it’s all a façade man” Laughs Blake. “Yeah, it’s good fun. We’re playing the music that we love and we all still like each other.”
A smiling Devin nods and adds “I think it helps we’re just really good friends as well. That’s the best thing to have on tour, travelling a week or two weeks with people that you actually get on with and have a laugh every single day. Very rarely is there down time, which is pretty rare. We just have a laugh together all the time.”