Deap Vally Interview: Hitting the Road One Last Time

There was a moment when Deap Vally took the stage at their farewell tour kickoff show when it really could have been any day in any year since they started playing together. Right from the start, the music was characteristically loud and fast, drummer Julie Edwards was in full-throttle mode and Lindsey Troy owned the stage as she thrashed away on guitar and belted out the lyrics to “End of the World.” It was a bittersweet way to begin the show, as it will be on their tour stops that follow, for this is the end of Deap Vally’s run—at least, it is for now.

The Los Angeles-based rock duo announced in September that the end is coming. In the 12 years of Deap Vally’s existence, they have released three full-length albums (2013’s debut Sistrionix, 2016’s Femejism and 2021’s Marriage), one collaboration album with The Flaming Lips under the name Deap Lips, and several singles. Deap Vally gained attention early on for their explosive set at Coachella in 2013 and toured frequently in the years that followed.

Troy told Blues Rock Review days before their farewell tour launch that the strain of touring is the “main reason” she and Edwards, who have two young children each, announced Deap Vally’s end.

“Touring right now for us isn’t practical anymore,” she said. The duo tried touring years ago with Edwards’ first child, Troy added, but it was “really hard” for the new mother. “She was getting hardly any sleep and it was a lot of work,” Troy said.

These days, tours require them both to choose between leaving their children for long periods of time or figuring out all the logistics required with taking young kids on the road. For this farewell tour, Troy said she’s getting some extra help from family. The “ideal situation” for a band like them would be touring with private jets, tour buses, nannies and other kinds of extra help, Troy said, “but we’re kind of like a DIY punk rock ‘n’ roll band, so we just have to be realistic about what we can do.”

“I think it’s easier for dads, like veteran bands. But I just think for moms it’s harder,” Troy said. “Logistically, we can’t really make it work anymore, unfortunately.”

Deap Vally started their final tour on November 10 with a sold-out show at The Casbah in San Diego, California. After an opening set by Death Valley Girls, Edwards and Troy jumped straight into their performance with “End of the World,” an early 2012 single and the opening track on 2013’s Sistrionix.

The duo is performing Sistrionix in its entirety on this tour, followed by an encore consisting of material from their other albums and singles. The decision to perform Sistrionix is fueled by their forthcoming release of Sistrionix 2.0, which is expected to drop on February 1, 2024, on the band’s own Deap Vally Records. In addition to B-sides and early demos, the double album will include rerecorded Sistrionix tracks that the duo will be releasing as “Deap Vally’s Version.”

This strategy reflects a growing trend that was popularized when popstar Taylor Swift sought to reclaim the masters she recorded years earlier as a young artist signed to a major record label. When her bid to purchase her masters from the label failed, Swift began to rerecord those early albums, releasing the newer records under her control with an addendum to their original titles: “Taylor’s Version.”

In Deap Vally’s case, Troy and Edwards were signed to Island Records early on but left after Sistrionix to pursue other partnerships. In contrast to the majors, some smaller labels allow artists to regain control of their masters after a set amount of time. While Troy said Deap Vally is starting to receive passive income from some of the material they released later through independent labels, this isn’t happening for them with Sistrionix. Troy said Edwards tried to negotiate with Island Records over ownership of the Sistrionix masters but was unsuccessful.

“Our masters, they own them in perpetuity, like so forever,” Troy said. “Like we’re never gonna get them back.”

It was Edwards’ idea to rerecord Sistrionix. Troy said the project “seemed really daunting” to her at first because “it just felt so long ago that we recorded that record.”

“We spent a lot of time, and it was a bigger budget record,” Troy said. “I was like, how could we ever top that record? I just felt so proud of it. My vocal takes—I just felt like it was perfect.”

But when Deap Vally started rerecording the material, Troy said they ended up taking a “different approach,” which she said included the addition of her on bass. “This time was more like quick and dirty style,” she said. “We spent so many years touring those songs that they’re just like—it was so much muscle memory of them.”

Despite her initial hesitation, Troy said she’s happy with how Sistrionix 2.0 turned out. “I think it sounds so good. It feels like it has so much dimension to it, and depth. It’s just so cool,” she said.

“Quick and dirty” is exactly how Deap Vally performed at their San Diego show, with help from a couple of backup singers. After performing all of Sistrionix, Edwards and Troy briefly left the stage but returned to play songs spanning the rest of their time together: “Look Away” (from Marriage), “American Cockroach” (off their 2021 EP American Cockroach), “Bring it On” (a 2018 single) and “Give Me a Sign” (also from Marriage). Deap Vally ended the show with three songs from Femejism: “Grunge Bond,” “Smile More” and “Royal Jelly.”

For their farewell song, Deap Vally called upon the audience to assist with the whistling melody heard throughout the recorded “Royal Jelly.” After running the crowd through a quick practice session, Edwards and Troy played the fan favorite with the full energy and enthusiasm of the rest of their performance. They closed out the show with help from their whistling audience.

The end may be near, but Deap Vally’s farewell tour is just beginning, with shows scheduled through April 2024. From there, Troy has a solo project she wants to finish, and she’d like to collaborate with other friends and bands on new music. “I’ve been doing music my whole life,” she said, adding that it is “kind of hard to picture doing anything else.”

Looking back on the Deap Vally experience, Troy said it has been “really special.”

“We got to have this crazy adventure: traveling around the world, playing music, living our passion, sharing that with the world and making these amazing friends along the way,” she said. A lot of their journey has been documented through photos and videos, which for Troy shows how much has changed in the years since the band started.

“For a few years there, I didn’t even have a home or anything; I just had all my stuff in storage, and I was a total road dog and a complete nomad. I’m really a homebody now—I cherish my home, because I didn’t have that. But we have all that proof that it happened,” Troy said. “It really feels like such a gift, because not a lot of people get to experience that in their lives, and it’s really cool that we did. And it’s cool that we got to do it together.”

Photo credit: James Dierx

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