In a high performance world, Braun creates innovative designs built to last seven years. For the Built to Perform series Braun profiles 15 guys in an intimate look at their life passions and the unique objects of design and durability that power their life.
Seven years ago, Delta Spirit didn't exist but charismatic frontman Matt Vasquez has never questioned that he was destined to be a rockstar. Growing up in Austin, Texas, Vasquez's musical inclinations were encouraged by both his mother, who also sang, and his grandmother, who bought him his first guitar. In 2005, Vasquez's chance meeting with drummer Brandon Young while busking on the streets of San Diego turned into the fated birth of Delta Spirit. Since then, the band has released three studio albums and moved from Long Beach to Brooklyn.
The first two albums, "Ode To Sunshine" in 2008 and "History from Below" in 2010, labeled the band's sound as a cross between alt-country and indie-rock. Not wanting to be pigeonholed into one particular genre, Vasquez and his bandmates decided to get back to their rock 'n' roll roots and set out to make the next "Great American Record." With their new self-titled album, released in March 2012, Delta Spirit called in famed indie producer Chris Coady to helped explore new sonic ground. Delta Spirit has torn up the indie circuit, headlining such household-name festivals as SXSW, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Coachella.
With a knack for soulful lyrics and heartfelt vocals, it's no wonder that Vasquez's prized possession is a bust of Elvis from his late '60s "Comeback Era." For Vasquez, it's a symbol that you can't fail as long as you persistently follow your instincts.
How did you first get into music growing up and how did you meet up with the other members of Delta Spirit?
Kelly [Winrich] and I went to rival high schools. We met senior year. I met our drummer busking in San Diego.
You have been quoted as saying you finally found your sound with your latest album, released this spring. What do you attribute this new sound to? How would you say it differs from your first two studio albums?
It's more adventurous. Songwriters often find themselves in a rut writing the same song over and over again. Bands unfortunately pin themselves or get pinned into one genre of music. We made a beautiful album and I'm very proud of it. It doesn't mean we have landed or that we are content. We've just found a new stride in our music together.
You're currently on tour promoting your new album. What do you love and/or hate about being on the road?
Playing live music has been a worthy reason to wake up every day for the past seven years. The hardest part is missing my wife who has become my reason.
What has been your favorite venue to play so far?
9:30 club in DC. It's just a very special room with too many very special memories.
What music-related item could you never be without while on the road and why?
Jazzmasters and distortion pedals. I need and love both of those things.
Your Built to Perform prized possession is a bust of Elvis. What era of Elvis? Where were you when you first bought it and how long have you had it for? Why is it your Built to Perform possession?
The era of Elvis is the "Comeback" era. In 1968, after spending most of the '60s making movies and avoiding the Beatles, Elvis returned to what he did best. Kicking lots of ass and shaking his hips.
This bust is one of two identical comeback busts that I own. For me "Comeback Elvis" is a symbol of self-belief and hard work. Even if everyone thinks your best days are behind you, you're the only one who decides when to quit.
In one sentence, tell us why you couldn't live without your Built to Perform possession.
My possession is more then a thing. It's an idea that I believe in. It's like having a cross on a door.
Images by James Ryang