Big black deltas are a class of UFO characterized by their dark triangular appearance, hypothesized to be the craft of road-weary extraterrestrials or a top-secret military project.
Mulder and Scully would be surprised that a Google search for “Big Black Delta” returns information on a new lo-fi, electro-rock band.
“I love ufology,” Jonathan Bates of the one-man outfit said. “So when I was putting this thing together, I figured I’d name it after something I like, so it was either that or apple pie and spaghetti.”
Big Black Delta fits nicely given the ethereal moodiness that serves as a backdrop for the percussive focus of Bate’s new self-titled release.
Bates was the bassist and frontman for the L.A. rock trio Mellowdrone, but after a decade of the grind, he began to seek other musical routes, messing around with a newfound laptop.
“I’d never used any real technology before, it was just me being simple and having a good time tinkering in a room,” Bates said. “It was like if you gave a twelve-year-old GarageBand on Christmas morning, what would he have two days later?”
In Bates’ case, the result is a dark, emotional reflection of fear, anxiety and how to move forward.
In the case of “Put the Gun On the Floor” that means a throbbing, primal track with a whip-like snare. But it can also manifest as “Huggin & Kissin,” an ’80s synth-inspired song with a brooding “You’re the best I can do” chorus.
“Being in the middle really bums me out—being good enough to just be good enough, being smart enough to know you’re stupid,” Bates said. “It’s painful when you can see how great everything is above you, I don’t know, it really scares me. I want to do something cool.”
To be cool, Bates realized being on stage with a laptop wasn’t going to cut it. To augment his live performance and do justice to the propulsive percussion that makes the album so damn great, Bates added dueling drummers and a light array.
“I feel like the core of any good song, or at least my favorites, are the kick, snare and bass line—that’s the holy trinity,” Bates said. “Some people think of it as just the backbeat to a song, but I wanted to make the backbeat and the bass line the [expletive] song.”
Normally a quiet guy, Bates will cut loose on stage; shimmying like a man possessed. No surprise given his admission that he’s “been watching a “[expletive]-load of Fred Astaire videos recently.”
“I like to think, if I’m going to a show, what do I want to see?” Bates said.
What: Big Black Delta
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: 7th Street Entry, 701 N. First Ave., Minneapolis