Outsider A-Side: The Deslondes Return with Eclectic Third Album ‘Ways & Means’

by Clayton Edwards
outsider-a-side-the-deslondes-return-eclectic-third-album-ways-means

The Delondes is a New Orleans-based band with a sound that’s hard to nail down. They lie somewhere between country music, folk, R&B, and rock with subtle hints of bluegrass and other roots music. Put simply, their sound is a mixture of the many threads that make up the American musical tapestry. They’re a band you should check out.

“Dunes”

Sam Doores (vocals/guitar), Riley Downing (vocals/guitar), Dan Cutler (vocals/bass), Cameron Snyder (percussion/synths), and John James Tourville (fiddle/steel guitar) came together to form The Deslondes in 2013. Two years later, they released their self-titled debut album to critical acclaim. Then, they released Hurry Home in 2017 to more of the same. Shortly after releasing their sophomore record, the band went on a hiatus that lasted nearly five years.

Today, The Deslondes released their third album Ways & Means. It is at the same time their most ambitious and most experimental project to date. Before the record dropped, Outsider sat down with Sam Doores to talk about this album, coming together after the long break, and more.

Making Ways & Means Was Like a Family Reunion for The Deslondes

The Deslondes: I didn’t realize it had been five years. It’s been such a strange period of time. It feels really good so far. There are some of the same dynamics but it’s very much a different experience. We’re no longer completely relying upon one another for our entire creative output and also for our living. We each had opportunities to pursue other projects or release our own albums. Now, it just feels kind of like a family reunion. Those guys are my brothers and we just played so much music together, it always feels natural. We just fell back into it.

Some of the things that were tricky are always going to be there. But, as we get older and know ourselves better, it just kind of all smooths out and we get better at dealing with it and just appreciating each other. We’re focusing more on just being glad to be doing it again than any of the pressures of trying to make it.

The other aspect that I would say has been really exciting is watching how everyone has grown in the last five years. Everyone has a lot of new musical influences to bring. I really feel like this album explores some new territory for us, And, if we hadn’t been able to take a break and go in our own directions we wouldn’t have come up with the same songs and the same ideas.

Dipping Their Toes In at the Tigermen Den

The Deslondes: We got together at the Tigermen Den and shared all of our new songs and started working on arrangements. We kind of did that before we decided if we’d make a record or not, just to see what we had and where we were at. Everyone was excited and happy with the demos, so we showed them to the label and they were excited about it. So, they gave us the funding to go into a real studio and we went back with Andrija [Tokic] and started working on the album.

The Steel Player Saves the Day

The  Deslondes: John James, my pedal steel player – he also plays lead guitar and fiddle – reached out during the pandemic. I think it was in the fall of 2020, I was out in Kansas and I got a call from John James. I was just hanging around with my parents, wondering what the next step in life was. John called and asked if I’d be interested in making another Deslondes record and it seems like the perfect time to do it. There was no guarantee that we’d immediately have to hit the road or anything. We all had some free time for the first time in a long time.

He just called us all individually – kind of cold-called us – and miraculously, we were all into the idea. John has been the glue and the fire behind making this all happen.

The Deslondes and Margo Price Go Way Back

The Deslondes: Working with Margo was a dream. She’s an old friend of ours. It’s just a nice feeling when your friends get international success and you realize that they keep becoming more and more themselves instead of less themselves. Working with Margo is always like seeing an old friend – or a family member. For years, we all slept on Margo’s floor every time we came to Nashville and traded songs around the fire. It still feels like that.

She had 12 hours between her tour with Willie Nelson and her recording session and she has her kids at home and had no reason to rush over to the studio with us. But, she did it as a friend and it was really good to see her. She came in and nailed it and hung out for a while.

The Sound of Ways & Means Came Naturally

The Deslondes: I think it just happened organically. We had some sketch ideas and production notes going into it. For example, we knew this time we wanted to play with a full drum set. Cam and I would switch back and forth between playing drums and playing keys on stuff. And, Cam has been exploring drum machines and synthesizers more. He busted his saxophone out. I think we just felt like we had nothing to lose, so we might as well be as experimental as we wanted. But, really, we just tried to pay attention to what each song needed to feel live. Andrija also pushed us in that direction. He’s always co-produced with us.

We never set out with the intention of having one sound or being a quote-unquote country band. We’ve always liked a lot of different music and just brought it together.  

Outsider.com