Snowstorm, flipped cars littering the highway, middle of tour, canceled show, apathetic promoter, frustrated band.
This is a common scenario for any touring act, but here we are talking about De Lux, the critically acclaimed post-disco duo from the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, comprising guitarist/vocalist Sean Guerin and bassist Issac Franco. It's their first national cycle behind their debut record, Voyage, as well as their landmark release for the lauded indie label Innovative Leisure, where De Lux can claim acts like Hanni El Khatib, Tijuana Panthers, and Allah-Lahs as labelmates. It's heavy company to keep, but De Lux have been on nothing short of a roll lately in terms of national press and attention, and rightfully so. When Guerin jumps on the phone, he sounds as focused as ever, exuberant and ready to talk about what he has learned thus far on tour.
"It's almost interesting to see people and their dedication," Guerin says. "Like in Minneapolis, for example, that was our first show and there were probably only like 15 people in the crowd, but they all bought merch, and that was like the most merch we've ever sold on this tour. The best show was in New York at this place called Pianos, and it was packed, and like nobody bought any merch."
Though they're only two weeks into this run, with a cancelled show in Dallas counting as a lowlight, the typical wear and tear of the road has been foiled by some standout moments -- notably, New York fans screaming lyrics back at Guerin and Dev Hynes of Blood Orange playing in a band opening for De Lux.
"I didn't even know it was him," Guerin says, laughing. "I knew this guy looked familiar that was playing in a band on the bill two bands before us, and they were doing some really cool experimental funk shit, playing some crazy guitars. I went up to him and said 'Hi, I'm Sean, what's your name?' He just says 'Oh, I'm Dev,' and I'm just like 'Cool, cool.' It wasn't until after the set that I realized that holy shit, that was Dev Hynes [laughs]."
For all the new experiences that Franco and Guerin are garnering from bringing their snapping, syncopated funk on tour, they're still accomplished songwriters that can put together exceptionally danceable songs that are complimented by biting wit and observation. Take note of their video for "Better at Making Time," in which Franco and Guerin haunt some poor soul in his home, driving him to insanity with their catchy-as-hell single. Whereas Voyage may have had a more introspective, personal bent to it, their follow-up, which Guerin says is almost completely written, seeks some perspective outside the fishbowl.
"The concept is very much about our generation, and that might possibly be the album title, actually," Guerin says. "It's a lot of personal experiences like the first album, but more in the vein of somebody else's perspective. Our frustrations were laid out in the first record, but this is our perspective on our friends' frustrations."
While there have been bold, yet accurate, comparisons to The Talking Heads and even LCD Soundsystem (which Guerin quickly dismisses, though there's definitely similar elements of James Murphy's genius vocals on "Better at Making Time"), Guerin is sure that this next offering will move slightly away from the hip-shaking disco approach De Lux has employed and into substantial territory that forces the listener to note the lyrics just as much as they shake their ass. With such acclaim in their back pockets and the ability to write an earworm of a hook, it won't be long before De Lux rolls out something as infectious -- and informing -- as ever.
"The one thing I was kind of frustrated on was we get comparisons to Talking Heads yet all the lyrics, I'm not David Byrne," Guerin says. "I'm talking about different things. One of our new songs that we do at the end of our set called 'Oh Man, The Future,' it's very sporadic, like I'm talk-rapping. It's like a response to the non-attention we get [because] nobody focuses on our lyrics enough, I feel like. I wrote a fuckload of lyrics, and I was like 'I'm going to write a song where you have to pay attention to the lyrics [laughs].'"
Note: This story originally published with an incorrect byline. The headline has also been changed.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.