SCOTT SIMON, host:
Delta Spirit has sure made a name for itself in a hurry. The band has a label and underground following just three years after they met on a San Diego street. Delta Spirit makes its musical home somewhere between indie-rock and alt-country, with soul-crashing vocals and a few creative instruments. Don't be surprised to hear a trashcan lid on a few tracks. Here's the title track for their album, "Ode to Sunshine."
(Soundbite of song "Ode to Sunshine")
DELTA SPIRIT: (Singing) The sun, the sky, my shine. The sun, the sky, my pride. I could run but I never can live without your love.
SIMON: Joining us from the road now are the lead singer, Matt Vasquez, and drummer Brandon Young. They're at Soundscape Studios in Little Rock, Arkansas. Gentlemen, thank you both very much for being with us.
Mr. MATT VASQUEZ (Lead Singer, Delta Spirit): Good afternoon.
Mr. BRANDON YOUNG (Drummer, Delta Spirit): Thanks for having us.
SIMON: Now tell us about that fateful meeting on the San Diego street. I don't know that story.
Mr. YOUNG: I was downtown San Diego working on - in the studio. I used to be a graphic designer, and I went across the street about two o'clock in the morning to a convenience store to buy a pack of smokes, and I heard this incredible loud guy singing right at the Charlie tracks. And I kept in touch with him for a good four years, and then the band that I was in broke up. I called Matt up. I said, wondered if you wanted to play, and he said, I just wrote my whole solo record but I'll call you back in 30 minutes. He called me back in 30 minutes. He said, the record I've been working on for six months I just threw away and fired my whole band, so let's play. I don't know how this is going to work. Let's just try it.
SIMON: I want to hear another track, if we could. This is the song "People Turn Around."
(Soundbite of song "People Turn Around")
DELTA SPIRIT: (Singing) It's time all you people, turn around for a love we've been living, messing around. The love we've been spilling, if we just try, the love we've been killing is still alive like my...
SIMON: Is this a message song or do you do message songs?
Mr. VASQUEZ: I think that that song, especially, is - when I'm saying, time all you people, I'm really saying it to myself, and I'm kind of envisioning somebody singing it at me. And then all the issues I'm trying to work out are really my own, you know. There's too many things to count on this planet to join up because I'd rather just focus on my vanity and take one thing at a time.
(Soundbite of song "People Turn Around")
DELTA SPIRIT: (Singing) I'm hoping and waiting. There's something to sing like the angels in heaven, the bums on the street. Hoping for love to find a new one,the song that needs singing has already been sung before.
SIMON: Let me ask you gentlemen about the album. You have a member named Kelly Winrich, whose uncle - and I guess uncle and aunt...
Mr. YOUNG: Oh, I know, the Chinese checkers.
SIMON: I guess they are playing Chinese checkers. But they're in a bathtub. I mean...
Mr. YOUNG: We've all been in bathtubs before.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIMON: But usually not on CD.
Mr. VASQUEZ: You know, I think when we first started this band, we knew we wouldn't be the band that had lots of, like, hit singles. And so we kind of just made the music we wanted to make, and we made the artwork that we wanted to make, too. And one thing we can always agree on is family and friends, and so our artwork will always be photos of family or friends.
SIMON: But seldom produced in like a single weekend session.
Mr. YOUNG: We went out to a Kevin and Julian(ph), which is a apple-pie country, weekend-warrior motorcycle riders, and our buddy, Derek, had a cabin and a dog named Spot, Black Lab, pretty great.
Mr. VASQUEZ: It just felt so good to record up there. We just said, you know what, even with no label and no real fan base, really, it was just like, we'll just record a record. So it was about two weeks. We just recorded everything. Mostly live, few overdubs and lots of late nights, lots of wine and lots of lovin'.
SIMON: This is another song from this album, "Children."
(Soundbite of song "Children")
DELTA SPIRIT (Singing) Children show your eyes. We'll tell you what to see. This world is burning down and you're the ones to lead.
SIMON: What's touring like for you?
Mr. VASQUEZ: Touring is so normal to us that - I don't know. It's really bizarre. It's like when we actually are driving back from a tour, when we get to Texas, we think that we're close to home, and we live in California. The United States has become very small to us.
SIMON: On the road you're home, in a sense?
Mr. VASQUEZ: Definitely, or at least the 15-seater van and anything resembling at double-tree(ph) or a Marriott.
SIMON: Gentlemen, thank you both very much for being with us.
Mr. VASQUEZ: Yeah, thank you.
Mr. YOUNG: Thank you.
SIMON: Matt Vasquez and Brandon Young of the band, Delta Spirit. Their latest album is "Ode to Sunshine."
SIMON: Tom Jones has been making women - and a lot of men, for that matter - scream and sigh for over 40 years, strutting his stuff across the stage.
(Soundbite of song "It's Not Unusual")
SIMON: Now, at the age of 68 and selling over a hundred million records from 45s to downloads, much of the pop world is rediscovering a consummate, professional performer. He's got a new album called "24 Hours," his first U.S. studio album in 15 years. He combines Big Band sounds but with new, catchy beats, occasionally suggestive lyrics, and a voice that can still reach the back rows.
Mr. TOM JONES: (Singing) It would be a crime to ever let you go. It should be a crime to keep you very close, no one else can...
So, if you've got a question you'd like to put to the Welsh king of pop, go to npr.org/soapbox. Please have your questions by next Wednesday. A conversation with Sir Tom Jones, coming up next Saturday on Weekend Edition.
(Soundbite of music)
This Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.