Music Q&A: Ben Ringel of The Delta Saints

This week, Paul Wood chats with Ben Ringel of The Delta Saints, who will perform at 9:30 tonight, Aug. 29, at The Canopy Club, 708 S. Goodwin Ave., U.

Based in Nashville, the band includes Ringel, David Supica, Ben Azzi, Dylan Fitch and Nate Kremer, who just joined the band before its summer European tour. He brings the organ and piano to the group, replacing the harmonica.

Q: What is your latest project?

A: In January, we released our first full-length album titled "Death Letter Jubilee." We're currently touring off of that and are starting to write songs for the next album.

Q: How did you grow interested in music?

A: Some of us played in various school bands, while some just played our instruments in garage bands growing up. Once we hit late high school and college, we each had stepped out and were gigging around our local towns. Eventually we started piecing together this band, and it's been a five-year project so far.

Q: Which bands did you like when you were a teenager? Which bands now? Who has influenced you the most?

A: We each listen to very different music. With that, we each bring different musical influences into the sound. I think some of the common ones are bands like The Derek Trucks Band, My Morning Jacket, Fleet Foxes, Led Zeppelin and Ray Lamontagne.

With that, we all grew up on very different types of music. Our bass player comes from a jazz, funk and soul background. Our drummer comes from pop and pop-punk music. Our guitarist grew up on The Allman Brothers and Zeppelin, as well as guys like Albert and Freddy King. Our piano player came out of blues and jazz music, as well as bands like Little Feat.

And I grew up with artists like John Lee Hooker, R.L. Burnside, The Dave Matthews Band and Eric Clapton. As far as influences and likes, we're all over the place.

Q: Do you have a favorite instrument? What kind of amplifiers do you prefer?

A: I mainly play Swamp Works amplifiers, and I absolutely love them. We've got a few Fender amps rolling around, and some National, Fender, and Gibson guitars. We play what we like — and what sounds good to us. Personally, my favorite instrument is my National Model D guitar. It's the best-sounding guitar that I've ever heard.

Q: How did your band get started? Where does the name come from?

A: We started back in the fall of 2007/spring of 2008. The four original guys transferred to a university in Nashville, and we pretty much just needed friends. We were all "the new kids" and needed drinking buddies, as well as a musical outlet.

After we had a few songs written, we were starting to talk about playing shows. The main problem was that we didn't have a name. I think The Delta Saints just kind of came out in passing, as we were talking about what to call ourselves.

Basically, New Kids on the Block was already taken, so we had to go with No. 2.

Q: How often do you play? How do you balance this with work and family?

A: We are playing about 200 shows this year, 80 of which have been in Europe. As far as balance goes, you'll have to ask our wives or girlfriends. We have strong women, who are patient.

Q: Do you write your own songs?

A: We do write our own songs. The writing process is pretty open. Everyone has the freedom to come to the table with ideas and riffs. We generally listen to what everyone brings, and then pick out the ideas that we like the best.

It's definitely been an evolving process, but we hit a pretty good stride with this last record. Writing has definitely been a fun process the last couple of years.

Q: Is touring still fun, or has it become a chore?

A: Touring is definitely fun, but it becomes a job. You can romanticize anything before you do it, but when you're doing anything full time, you have moments where it becomes a job.

The good news is that we love our job. The hardest part is just being away from home for long periods of time.

Q: What's your favorite song? What's your favorite song by your own band?

A: Personally, my current favorite is "Live Oak" by Jason Isbell. I've heard it said that a songwriter or band's favorite song is the one that is being written. Currently, we're writing a song or two that we're pretty stoked about.

Q: Do you feel a special connection with the audience?

A: We definitely try to connect with the audience at every show. I think that's what makes a show really stand out, and is the reason people leave a show and still talk about it.

Plus, the crowd's energy is what feeds our energy. We need that connection as much as the crowd does.

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