Hot Springs Arkansas’ own Doug Deluca is performing again after a long break from music.
Between 2000 and 2010, Deluca wrote, recorded, and self-released 15 solo records. These records are monuments to the vitality of the 2000’s-era underground scene in Arkansas. Doug’s songs are effortlessly beautiful and deeply affecting, and would perfectly soundtrack a night by campfire with friends, or a long walk alone with headphones.
You may remember Doug’s shows at former Fayetteville venues JR’s Lightbulb Club, and The Third Rail, or at Little Rock’s former DIY staple The Belvedere. Lucero fans might know his name from the song “Tears Don’t Matter Much,” where Ben Nichols name-drops Deluca alongside Matt Bradley and Cory Branan.
I discovered Doug’s music when I found his album Long To Court at Clunk Records in 2002 or 2003. Long To Court changed the way I feel about music and writing. It followed me from my Sony Discman to CD player to mp3 to laptop, always reminding me that the most difficult writing is often just making a simple declaration. On his song “Arising Angel” (from Long To Court), Doug sings “I hate to live alone, I love to sing alone”, and I think that’s his mission statement – the conflicting nature of using songs to connect and express love to others, but needing to do it alone and behind closed doors. Simply put, Doug’s songs make you want to feel and create.
Doug will perform Wednesday, June 27 at Stage Eighteen, with Chris Byrne and Phillip Farris. I asked him some questions and here they go…
When did you write your first song and do you remember what is was about?
The first solo song written and recorded, was at the age of 15, fresh into high school. The song was inspired by an affection I had for an exchange student from Germany. I gave her the recording at school one day and she threw it back at me and said, “What do you think I am, a little girl?”
Can you give us a brief history of your music?
Who: Doug Deluca / Chris Byrne / Phillip Farris
When: Wednesday, June 27 at 9 p.m.
Where: Stage Eighteen, 18 E Center St
More: See the Facebook event
I used to make play guitars out of 2x4s, poster board, nails and rubber bands until the age of 8, when my mother and father gifted me an electric guitar. I didn’t really start getting into it until I was about 12, though. Coming into the indie music scene in Arkansas in the early ’90’s was very impressionable at that age. It was the Towncraft era of Arkansas. I toured in bands and my parents let my brother and I run wild for the most part. Mostly a by-product of divorce. As I matured I favored musical styles which express a lovesick, meditative, and nostalgic feeling. I have an interest in foreign instruments, namely the ones from India and the Middle East. There have been multiple periods where I only prefer Indian-styled music and play those instruments instead. It provides a refreshing break from the emotionally saturated music of the West.
How many records have you written? Can you give us a Deluca discography?
15+ albums is where it stands as of now and some of the albums and song titles are kinda awash. The + is there because of a couple side projects. I am currently trying to restructure the discography and make it all publicly available again, hopefully within the next few months.
You lived in Fayetteville on a few occasions, did you write and record records while you lived here?
I lived in Fayetteville on and off from 2001-2004. In Fayetteville, the albums Long to Court and Aerial Signs were completed.
You’ve been living in Hot Springs. What are your favorite spots?
Yes, I live in Hot Springs and have, for the most part since 1990. My favorite spots are the ones where you can catch a view from atop the little mountains surrounding downtown. Downtown is a nice place to meet people and play music for the passer by. Lake Ouachita is especially peaceful, though it takes more time to get there. I am grateful to be currently living below a mountain with a national park right in the backyard. Downtown is at the end of this road. There are trails behind the house and they are peaceful when the bugs are down. There is a secret view atop the mountain that is inspiring to me.
What have you been listening to lately?
An artist by the name of Mree, and I am pretty sure she is an angel. Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon), he has the voice of an angel also, although his new tunes are repulsive.
Any plans to release new music in the future?
A new album should be available by the end of this year. There are enough songs to put it out now, though I have a little bit of a hard time with art work, titles, and deciding which songs, then uploading/distribution/promotion. I need help on that end really.
You’re playing a show on June 27 after a long break from playing live. How are you deciding on a setlist with so many songs to choose from?
It is difficult for me to play live. Most of my songs are written while being recording and are not intended to be played live. I have never written a whole song off of the recorder, just the sketches. There is a preference to use available time recording new songs instead of rehearsing older ones. I chose the fairly short set I will be playing from the songs I could find that would work well enough without other accompaniment.
How do you stay creative?
I have had to relearn how to stay creative in the last six or so years. Something shifted when all the screens and smart phones took main stage popularity. Music has become something of a highly disposable “thing” to many, whether it is lack of attention, or just having too many options at the finger tips coupled with over stimulation. Needless to say, I let it discourage me from sharing it for many years… but I am over that now. In my opinion, creativity requires being open to receive and then express the feelings that can transfer most easily through the best suited instrument. Then of course, what helps most is just turning off the internet cast about the screens. I still use the older style multi-track recorders to avoid the screen distraction, and that really helps.
When did you write your latest song and what is it about?
Two songs songs just completed… titled “Rebel You” and “The Wheel.” Both pertain to your last question exactly. Being like a vessel to allow the inspiration to remain as pure as possible to pass through. It is usually a humbling process. The survival me’gotism gets in the way, so there is a sort-of mental filter that is specific… It basically rests on knowing precisely how you DON’T want to feel and sound, while being true in pure intention.