Twelve years in the making, the sequel to Deltron 3030 has attained mythical stature in many underground hip hop circles. The original -- a turn-of-the-millenium sci-fi concept record that sprang from the collaboration of Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan The Automator and Kid Koala -- balanced a dark, post-apocalyptic technological allegory with the levity of comedic interludes doing justice to the standard set by Prince Paul and De La Soul. But after more than a decade, doubts had set in whether a follow-up would ever see the light of day.
That all changed when the sequel, Deltron Event II, was announced earlier this year and scheduled for a fall release. In honor of the new record, the super-group got together for a limited number of shows, marking the first time they'd all toured together. Backed by a live band, the trio makes a stop in the Mile High City this weekend. In advance of Saturday's show at Cervantes', we spoke with Del about the new record, the fans' expectations and where he found sci-fi inspiration to set the mood for the second installment of Deltron.
Westword: When the Deltron 3030 record came out, did you, Automator and Koala all go out tour together? Or is this the first time?
Del: I don't think Koala was in the first one. A lot of it is a blur to me, plus it was ten years ago or something. This is the first time we've had it to this level. This is big. We're going for it this time.
Do you guys have a good live chemistry?
Part of the reason why Dan thought this might be feasible is because we worked so well together. The fan's response has been ridiculous. Not even just fans, people who don't know about us but are checking it out are like, "Oh, God, this is phenomenal."
Are you happy with how the new record turned out?
I'm very happy with how it turned out. The expectations of fans isn't really an issue. I don't think they even know what they want. They don't know what they want until they get it. They want that Deltron feeling that they got from the first Deltron album, which they're not gonna get. Period. That's like smoking some crack and then hoping the next hit is going to be as strong as the first one. No it ain't. They're chasing the dragon.
I've told fans, "When you get the album, you're gonna be like, 'The first one's better.'" If you go into it like it's a new experience, and don't go in trying to get the same experience you had, then you'll be able to appreciate it for that experience. You might even like that experience more than the other experience.
I put a lot more thought into the lyrics. I heard a few people mumbling about the lyrics [on the first record] weren't all that, that it was all just freestyling and not as substance-filled as a lot of people were trying to make you think. I heard some people mumbling about that, so this time I put more substance into it... I had some time to focus, to think about it a lot more. That's partially the reason why it took so long.
Was there ever a doubt in your mind that there would be a follow-up record? Has this always been in the works?
There's always been one in the works, but not from the beginning. I really started thinking about it once I started to see that a lot of my newer fans were Deltron fans. A lot of people who are younger don't know anything about Del The Funky Homosapien. If I wanted to stay relevant, I better come out with another Deltron album. A lot of it was that.
But I didn't want it to just be for the sake of that. I wanted to be into it, to have something to say. It took some time for it to manifest. Plus, the lyrics are not easy to write. It takes a while to write some lyrics. You gotta research and all this other shit. It's like writing a novel, basically. It took awhile. We'd been debating even performing it at all. It's not written to be performed.
When you go in to research a project like this, what are checking out so far as movies, books and comics to get into Deltron mode?
Most of the imagery that I'm trying to pull from is dystopian. That's the type of sci-fi I'm drawing from. Mad Max, that was in my brain, but I wasn't watching it trying to pull from it. No law and lots of criminals. Fist of the North Star was another, not directly, but it was in my mind. Some of the technical aspects, I was looking at science fiction encyclopedias and stuff like that. I was really looking how to write science fiction. I was really doing some research.
Is part of the reason why the first record still has such a following because the subject matter seems so timely now? All this lawlessness and massive corporate evil that's layered into it?
To me, if you rap about real things, real emotions, stuff that people go through -- if you go through it, then someone else is going through it too, because we're all human. But if you draw your inspiration from the truth, then it's gonna be timely. If you're concentrated on fads or whatever's cool, then that's gonna play out. That's what it is in a nutshell. You can take that truth and put it in any situation you want to, but you're still drawing from the essence...
One of the things about Deltron and what makes it so difficult, I wouldn't choose to do that all the time, because it's a lot of work. People like it, but it's kind of an acquired taste. Songs aren't really made to be like that. It's writing for a book. A song needs to be more conversational. Say what you gotta say and get on with it. That's what makes it memorable. To meld those two ideas together is ambitious.
Deltron 3030 featuring Del the Funky Homosapien, Kid Koala, Dan The Automator and full live band, with Paul Basic, Air Dubai, the ReMINDers and more, 9 p.m. Saturday, September 15, Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, 2635 Welton St., $20-35, 303-297-1772, 16+
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