“In this day and age, a band like No Doubt in their heydey can totally go bankrupt,” Matthew Logan Vasquez said to me over the phone a month ago. “It happens often.”
Vasquez, frontman of one of San Diego’s biggest indie exports Delta Spirit, is no stranger to financial hardship. In 2016, he, his wife and his newborn were forced to move into his mother’s house in Texas because things had gotten so bad.
“We were bleeding money,” Vasquez put it bluntly.
In the midst of all of that, he released an LP (“Solicitor Returns”) and an EP (“Austin”) of his own music under his full name. And eventually, things started to turn around as he and his family regrouped in Austin.
“We built everything financially, bought a house -- someone was killed in the house so it might be haunted,” he said.
But one thing that doesn’t really haunt him at the moment is Delta Spirit.
“We’re not broken up, but it’s going to be a while before there’s another Delta Spirit album,” he said. “We’re all in different situations in our lives. There are chapters being turned in super positive ways for everyone: John is studying to become an Anglican priest, Will is producing different projects and playing with Hideout [Soda Bar talent buyer and Cults drummer Cory Stier’s project]. Everybody’s been involved with a bunch of stuff and doing cool things.”
While there might be some mixed vibes about it all, there doesn’t seem to be any hostility according to Vasquez, and there’s some common understanding about coming back to Delta Spirit in the right way.
“Our friendship has remained what it is. I have to step into another place, and by stepping away we can kind of do it. I want to carry this kind of vibe into Delta Spirit in a healthy way and not an obligatory way. There’s a holiness that I feel for it and an integrity that it needs to carry,” Vasquez told me.
So, in the meantime, he’s “writing songs and chasing whatever ghosts are there.” On his new album, “Does What He Wants,” released on April 21 via Dine Alone Records, he does just that -- avoids being pigeonholed, dodges “Mumford & Sons-ism” and takes on a defiant “take me as I am” attitude.
Part of his newly found temerity might come from the birth of his son Thor, which caused a “tremendous priority shift in [his] creative life and business life.”
This rebellious streak made me curious about a song called “The Fighter” on his new album. The lyrics detail the song’s narrator reading an email that evokes chills in him. According to Vasquez, the song is about his first manager, Stephen Short. Short got health insurance right before he got in an accident and hit his head. An X-ray incidentally revealed a brain tumor, which he battled for two years before dying.
“Stephen was there for me in my steps toward agnosticism, and he was such a positive influence in my life. That song was the last song he heard before he died,” Vasquez revealed to me.
Whatever spirits and ghosts Vasquez might be chasing, it’s evident there are some helping him along the way as well. Because of that, he’ll continue to do what he wants regardless of the material hardships that follow.
Rutger Rosenborg was almost a Stanford neuroscientist before he formed Ed Ghost Tucker. He now plays in the Lulls and makes music on his own when he's not writing. Follow his updates on Facebook or contact him directly.