Salt Lake, Mormons And Heavy Metal – An Interview With The Ditch and the Delta
It was a hot day at Austin Terrorfest when I bumped into The Ditch and the Delta. They had just rolled into town all the way from their native Salt Lake and were getting ready to perform one of the most capitivating sets of the weekend. A band who I had never thought I would get a chance to see, much less interview, I was absolutely thrilled when I found them to be as open and friendly as they were. In an in depth interview we discussed the strange nature of their hometown and the impact it has on their music.
How the hell are you guys doing?
Elliot (E): Doing fantastic!
Kory (K): Good. We’re on a short little tour out to Austin Terrorfest here. There’s been a lot of traffic.
E: Endless traffic! We actually had to get a hotel out of town because we couldn’t find anything.
K: We’re out in San Marcos.
E: It’s nice down there.
Have y’all played in Texas before?
K: It’s the first time for all of us!
E: We’ve only had West coast tours so far.
K: And Denver.
How has being from Salt Lake impacted your music?
E: Well Kory and I were raised Mormon and we are not Mormon. All laws are dominated by the Mormon church. We have some songs about the landscape and living under a Mormon dominated culture and being part of the counterculture as well. I blame religion for my mom going insane. It’s all religious insanity.
How did your mom go insane?
E: There’s a thing when you’re Mormon when you’re a kid and they give you a patriarchal blessing. You sit down with an elder and it’s like fortune telling, he tells you what to look out for and what to listen to. He told my mom to listen to her dreams and that they meant something. Whatever sparked her mental illness and that came to the forefront. Every dream meant everything so she would act on wild fantasies. For a few years she thought I was Jesus – she cooled down on that. We have a song about that. It’s one of our faster and more pissed off songs.
How did Mormonism affect you Kory?
K: Almost the same thing. My mom is crazy. I was raised super LDS. Anytime you have an extreme you are going to get the opposite. That’s what happened with us seeing all the hypocrisy and judgment. It was bullshit. I don’t want an afterlife, I want to die.
Tell me about the hypocrisy…
K: We have all the socially acceptable drug addicts, like moms on pain pills but if you smoke weed you go to jail. The Mormon church preaches against caffeine but they have stock in Coke and stuff.
E: They fancy themselves small government people but everything is on lock. Even liquor stores are owned by the government.
K: We have an outdoor retailer that comes twice a year and the governor would rather use fracking for income than the outdoor industries.
Why stay there?
K: That’s the question!
E: Friends make anywhere bearable. But leaving is on anyone’s radar. There is a strong weird gravity. People move there expecting to stay for a season and stay for their lives.
K: Downtown Salt Lake is very different too, that’s where we live.
What is it like growing up with your mom thinking you are Jesus?
E: It’s super uncomfortable. She would start shouting about it in restaurants or the movie theater. I couldn’t go with her anywhere after a certain point. There’s a history of this to some degree, there’s the Lafferty brothers who thought God was speaking to them so they killed their families. When you tell people they have a personal relationship with God weirdos will run with that. I knew from a young age that I wasn’t into it and later my dad said he wished he could take it back.
What alienated you?
K: I dropped acid when I was 15 and it blew my mind. I realized Mormonism was not true. Look at the world, there is no way that’s real!
I would like to let the record show, Kory is currently wearing a hat that says “Fuck Life, I’m High On Drugs”
There’s a ton of great bands from Salt Lake though… why is that?
E: It’s a reaction too the dominant culture. For an action like that there will be just as extreme a reaction. Gentry from Eagle Twin set a really high bar in the 80s with Ice Burn.
Talk about your engineer, Andy Patterson of Subrosa
E: Every band I have ever been in was produced or engineered by him.
K: Same. He’s done five or six bands for me. That’s what’s cool about Ditch is that we have all known each other for years.
E: Kory and I never really played together before this though which was cool. Gentry actually came in and guested on our record. He came in on his lunch break from working at a prison library and ripped some amazing solos.
What do you love much about music?
E: Everything. I’m about to finish a degree in jazz composition. I like to get as dorky as I can get.
K: I think if I didn’t do it… what’s the point. I have to. You need to have that release. It’s what wakes me up and what I go to bed with.
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