Robert DeLong is an old pal of Racket’s, even once reviewing a pair of shoes (final verdict: “I feel like a congressman, everyone wants to shake my hand.”). However, he is also an electronic musician, playing drums, drum pads, joysticks, Wii controllers, and singing: all by himself. I met up with him at the Glasshouse in Pomona, CA where he promptly took me to the back alley to conduct the interview.
Why do you like alleys so much?
Because I love loading out, it’s my favorite thing to do.
So there’s no real love for 1930’s gangsters making a quip before blowing a guy to smithereens with a Tommy gun?
No, actually, that’d be dope. Growing up and going to shows, alleys were so exciting. I used to line up at the Showbox alley.
I’m not familiar with it.
It’s in Seattle.
I don’t want to deal with that much rain. How much of a shock was it to you to go from non-stop wetness to non-stop sunshine?
At first I hated it down here, and now I could never go back, it’s just depressing having rain all the time, and you realize you don’t have to be depressed just because it’s cloudy or whatever.
You’ve been touring your ass off, do you actually consider any particular place home?
Fortunately, in the last two months, we’ve had a lot of time off in LA, so it actually feels like I live there now, which is great. I love it, I love LA. This summer, we were only gone three or four days at one place, so we’d still have three or four days at home.
Was there any place you visited that you’d want to return to just for the food?
Ooooo, that’s a good question. To be honest, London was a little too hectic for me, but they have some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had. I love Indian food, and they had the spiciest thing I’ve ever eaten, it was amazing.
You don’t get massive bubble guts when you eat spicy things?
I do, but I love it. I don’t do it before shows, though, I made that mistake a couple times. I think the last time I did that, I ate a bunch of really spicy Chinese food before I went on stage, like ten minutes before I went on stage and then I was pretty much pooping my pants the entire time I was on stage.
Were you farting on stage?
Were you laughing your ass off thinking “everyone here is adoring me and my music and I’m up here sharting?”
It was also like 95 degrees in that room, so I’m sure it was just wafting.
Did you try to play it off like, “Nah, this is just my musk?”
Ha! Everyone in that room kinda smelled, and were probably on drugs, so they won’t remember anyways.
Do you find there to be a lot of drug use at your shows?
It’s half and half. I do a lot of the rave-y festivals, and drugs are part of that scene, then I do rock festivals and people are just usually drunk.
When people ask me to describe your music, I tell them it’s “white girl dance music,” is that fair or unfair to say? Please cite resources in your answer.
You know what, I think there’s a major part of my music that you could probably say is white girl dance music, like playing Coachella, you get a lot of flowers in your hair, same with some of those rave-y things. Yea, I suppose 70% of my audience is white girls dancing. But then I’ll have fifty year old nerds there pumped up about my nerd shit.
In playing an ass-ton of festivals, have you ever found yourself fan-boying out about any of the other acts?
I always try to go out and see other acts at festivals and just see how they sound and stuff, but I think the only time I was ever too nervous to even be around someone was Thom Yorke. I’m not even, it’s whatever, I mean it’s Thom Yorke. You grow up looking at pictures of him and here he is walking around Treasure Island.
Did you ever see that Rolling Stone magazine where the band had made lists of what they’d like to see different about their bodies? Then some Photoshop wizard came and made it happen? He wanted symmetrical eyes, and Johnny Greenwood wanted longer fingers or some shit. It freaked me out seeing it.
That sounds worse, actually. It’s like part of Thom Yorke’s thing.
Is there anything you’d like to real-life Photoshop about yourself?
I don’t know, maybe if I could grow a beard. That would be pretty dope. I get it, it’s just all blonde and gross and I look like a 15 year old.
Do you think it’s weird when men’s beards are different colors than their hair?
It depends, if it’s red, it’s not weird, that’s a pretty normal thing to happen.
I think it’s really weird, why is that normal? Why would ONLY your beard be red? Why are your genes like, “Blonde, blonde, blonde, no, no, stop, RED?”
I literally don’t know how these things work.
Which field of science freaks you out the most?
The things that really freak me out is thinking about molecules are also waves. That’s kind of terrifying.
Like your molecules aren’t really touching?
Speaking of terrifying touching, have any of your fans ever gotten handsy?
Is that pretty rape-y?
Usually Heidi (RDL’s girlfriend) is around, so it’s just nice to go, “Don’t touch me, that’s my girlfriend.” And everyone chills out. Except the girls that walk past her and go, “Bitch.”
Yea, she could tell you about that, that happens a few times.
Have you thought about stabbing these fans?
No, generally my fans are the reason I get to show up places, so I like that.
You use a lot of random bits of technology random MIDI controllers, whatever. Have you ever found yourself walking through a thrift store and looked at a Sega Genesis controller and thought, “Hmmm, I might be able to use this?”
That’s really how I got the joystick. I went to a thrift store and found a joystick. It’s just a Logitech 3D Pro, it’s one for flight simulators. They weren’t selling on Amazon for some time, but they just started again.
Have you thought about hitting up Logitech and saying, “Hey, I use your joystick, I might need some otherssss, send them my way!”
I HAVE thought about that, but they don’t really produce it anymore.
Are there any chance of tech that you’ve tried out and it went really poorly?
Oh, yea. I used to use a Microsoft Kinect, but it would, in different lighting situations, it would just do weird shit. It got to the point where it was too unpredictable. The other one, and I feel like you were at one of these shows, I had this big pole of PVC that I attached a expression pedal for a keyboard, and attached a Slinky to it. It was really stupid, so I stopped doing that. And I used saucepans, but Matt used to use drills with The Denouement (his current tour manager and the band he was in with said tour manager).
How did you go from being in a, by all means, downerfest band, to making people’s ass shake?
For exactly that reason. I was in so many downer groups and it was fun… Psh, fun, they were downer groups, maybe important. I just wanted to do something fun because I was always so bored at shows.
When you write songs, as you have a background in actual music, do you think a lot about structure?
Yea, I’m always thinking about theory. Especially nowadays, when I’m writing songs. If I’m writing more of a pop song, I’ll think about things like chorus, pre-chorus, how many minutes, how many times you should repeat things. But then sometimes I just want to make a space jam. Fucking Space Jam.
Monstars are hanging out, Michael Jordan’s there, Bugs is doing whatever. I recently started my first ever fantasy football team, and I had made a joke about having the Monstar with a cannon in his chest as my quarterback and Galdalf as my defense because THE OFFENSE WOULD NOT PASS. Apparently, that’s not how it works at all.
Then that’s a shitty fantasy!
That’s what I said! You have to have people who are currently playing right now and that’s lame. If you had to have a fantasy football team of, let’s say seven people, who would it be?
Batman. You gotta have Superman because he’s basically God, which is helpful.
Getting into some weird religious implications, but that’s fine, keep going.
Hmm, I dunno. Han Solo because he’s dope. Snoop Lion. Stephen Hawking, but maybe as more of a general manager position. I don’t know, we already have Superman, everyone else is filler. The Flash, because you gotta have someone fast. Aaaand, Michael Jordan just because we were talking about him earlier.
You seem to be pretty heavy into the DC Comics world. Is that fair to say?
It was really my dad who had this giant collection of DC comics from his childhood, and that’s where I got started. To be fair, I don’t know if I’m more into DC Comics. I’m not sure if the stories are better.
Recently, you released the single Long Way Down, is this off of a new album, or just to prove that you can write a song in two years?
It’s part of an EP coming out November 10th which is four tunes, then two or three of those tunes will be on a full length album that will hopefully come out in March. At this point, I think it’s pretty much written, it’s just a matter of finishing it and producing it. A lot of work.
Your debut album was made of songs that you had already recorded…
About four billion times, yes.
…Four billion times, you re-did the vocals, but mostly did it all yourself. What was the biggest shock with going from doing it yourself, to working with producers and engineers?
I worked really closely with this guy, Patrick Mundy, on the mixing process, and kind of song selections, that kind of thing, but he helped me out a lot with the mix things. Now I’ve done some song writing with other people and worked production with other people and it’s been really helpful.
Well, that’s it.