Jonathan Bates’ Big Black Delta plays Every Show like it’s his Last

Photo by James Moriarty

I’ve been a huge fan of Jonathan Bates’ music for a long time. He was in the LA based band Mellowdrone, who I first saw back at the Troubadour in 2003 and loved. I first saw Big Black Delta at the Satellite in Los Angeles in mid 2011 during one of the free Monday night residences. I can’t remember who else played that night, but Big Black Delta made a lasting impression. I didn’t even realize it was the singer from Mellowdrone, since it was just Bates on stage by himself in darkness with a laptop and an array of lights behind him with a harder electronic sound. I did know that I was instantly taken by the music and his intensity. Earlier this year I saw him open for M83 at Club Nokia, this time he was backed by two hard hitting female drummers which definitely made it a more powerful dynamic and I was blown away again.

I was fortunate enough to speak with him the other day and he was nothing more than gracious. When I asked about his intensity on stage, he mentioned the old adage, “I like to play every show like it’s my last, since you never know”. I also asked what was the one record that changed things for him in regards to making music. “Sparklehorse. When I first heard Good Morning Spider… he played all the instruments on that record and I thought, I could do something like that and make my own thing. I even named Mellowdrone after his band, using a three syllable name just like he did”. The “he” Jonathan is referring to is the late Mark Linkous, mastermind behind Sparklehorse. I mentioned that I had known him back in the late 80′s when we worked together at a telemarketing office in LA, he was in a band called Dancing Hoods at the time. Probably dated myself there, but hopefully he got a kick out of my story.

Recently, Jonathan wrote a very thoughtful piece for the Huffington Post about his interest in Ufology which I highly recommend checking out. I asked if he’s ever been to the Integratron which has quite a history involving UFO’s, “I know about it and I’ve been trying to drag my friends there”. I could talk for hours about the place and even had to tell him that in no way do they pay me to endorse them. Still, I told him it’s a must go, “You’re preaching to the choir” he replied.

Big Black Delta is about to embark on a mini West Coast tour starting tomorrow, December 18th in San Francisco. He told me he’ll be performing many new songs, “I love playing new songs live to see if people like them… you want to know if that one part that you think clicks works as you think it should”. He also said, “I haven’t played in some of those clubs and I really don’t know what to expect?” I’m sure more adoring fans. Tickets are still available for all shows including the last stop at the Satellite in Los Angeles on Dec. 22nd via Ticketfly. Also, check out the video for Betamax, it might give you an idea of what to expect when you see him perform live.

 

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