Friday, September 21, 2012

persistently reshaping the hugs with danny delegato

The Hugs that recorded Dirty Gems; Danny Delegato at right.
Photo by Destiny Lane.
Young as they might be in age, The Hugs have seen some ups and downs in their days. Led by the only constant, Danny Delegato, since 2007, the Portland-based garage pop rock band has seen members come and go over the years. Their early days saw them signed to Columbia UK/1965 Records in London and touring Europe, England and the States, opening for bands like The Kooks, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Dandy Warhols, The Walkmen, and The Cribs—many of which the group has been compared to.

Releasing records in 2007 and 2009, Delegato says those "first two LPs were heavy, power-pop type songs—wearing our age on our sleeve. Time changes things and I think I've learned a lot."

The original band quit after the label dropped the band. Delegato stuck with it, just like he always has since forming The Hugs as a 17 year old in high school.

"It's been a long ride so far," Delegato says. "I decided to do this band no matter what happens. Most people would have just given up. But why would I end or break up The Hugs?"

The latest album, Dirty Gems, came out this past summer, featuring a new lineup—Delegato (lead vocals, guitar), Patrick Wilcox (guitar, vocals), Mitch Wilson (drums), Davey Appaloosa (bass)—and sound.

"Musically, we have gotten more edgier and rock 'n' roll on Dirty Gems," Delegato describes, yet the content of the songs seems to highlight a carefree immaturity with breezy songs about love and girls and drinking as well as "Sunshine And Cigarettes." The second single, "American Lie," has a roaring Dandys vibe while the poppy, catchy call outs on opener "Reykjavik" and "Dot Dot" recall a Brit-rock sound that was undoubtedly influential during Delegato's early years with The Hugs.

"We made Dirty Gems as sorta a dual songwriting album—with me and Patrick doing most of the writing. We basically collaborated to make Dirty Gems and helped each other finish songs one by one until we had a great album worth of songs," Delegato explains.

Now, the band's lineup has once again changed since the release of its third full-length. All 22 to 23 years old, Delegato and Appaloosa (guitar) remain, currently alongside Skylar Weaver (drums) and Michael Sterling (bass). Wilson and Wilcox left to focus on other projects but Dirty Gems remains as a "carefully crafted" album "and we are very proud of it. It was just time to move on," Delegato says.

"I'm all about making albums and playing shows for the people," Delegato says. "It's all about the music The Hugs leave behind in my opinion."

And as Delegato has moved on with a new configuration of The Hugs, he's also revealed a more intimate side of his songwriting on nine SE Portland basement-recorded tracks, self released under the name Lovesick. OMN caught up with an active Delegato about his two latest releases.

Dirty Gems was your third album but your first since 2009. What happened in the years between those records?

We did an album in London at the end of 2008 for Columbia Records UK/1965, and following the delivery of the album, the label's funding was taken and that little indie in London (1965 Records) folded completely in January 2009. We decided not to release the album we did with Liam Watson (The White Stripes) in London for the recording company, and we went back to Portland and did our second LP, titled Again & Again, and self released.

Also, three members left the group: Kelly McKenzie, Nicholas LoCascio and Brendan Welch. I reformed the band to make the album Dirty Gems and I wrote the songs in 2010-11 with Davey Appaloosa and Patrick Wilcox. We've been touring a lot on the West Coast and building our fan base one fan at a time. It was a gap between records, but we didn't want to just throw something out there that we didn't work super hard towards. It's a polished album and we wanted it to sound like that. So, that takes time. We really delved into structures, lyrics, song delivery, riffs, etc. We focused on the small things. I think we grew up in the years between those old records.

Read the rest on OMN.

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