INTERVIEW: Del Pelson discuss the formation of the band, their recent single “Oak”, their songwriting process, and what’s next for them

Del Pelson discuss the formation of the band, their recent single “Oak”, their songwriting process, and what’s next for them
Interview by Emily May
Florida-based indie-pop band Del Pelson has been garnering a buzz and an ever-growing fanbase with their live chemistry and a sound that is simultaneously laid back and energetic.  Formed in 2015, the band currently consists of Cal Nelson (vocals/guitar), Garrett Kealer (drums/vocals), Nathaniel Spiner (bass/vocals) and Patrick Montanari (keys/vocals/sax).  The band blends catchy indie rock melodies with powerful alternative beats with undercurrents of jazz, folk, blues, roots, reggae and surf rock.
Having released 2 EPs, the band has released a series of singles this year with plans to release more.  Fresh of the heels of the March 29th release of “Heather Lou” and the April 19th release of “Oak”, the band has just released their latest single “Traffic”.  The song tackles the subject of alcoholism and how easy it can be for some people to fall into a cycle of addiction.  The band has performed at the 2016 UndertowJam with Young The Giant and Bear Hands and have opened for other national acts such as Kurt Travis, Brent Walsh.  With plans to release more singles and play several shows this year, the band has plenty to keep them busy!  You can follow Del Pelson and stay up-to-date on all upcoming music and tour dates, as well as stream and purchase their music via the following links.  Check out their recent singles “Oak” and “Traffic” below.



Cal- You, Garrett and Nathaniel formed Del Pelson in 2015 after meeting at FAU.  What led you guys to form the band and what were those early days of the band like?  How did the addition of Patrick Montanari, whom you have described as your “secret weapon”, help you to grow your sound as a band?

Cal: I have always loved writing songs, so I basically had a catalogue of stuff I wanted to record. I had met Garrett through the school jazz quintet so I asked if he’d be willing to lay down some drums for “Spread Too Thin.” After hearing the song, he asked me to play some of my other songs – so it was actually his idea to form a fully fledged band and he introduced me to our bassist, Nat. The first year we were together consisted mainly of us practicing and putting together a full set list of original songs, as well as jamming some covers we liked – all while starting the recording process, which eventually warped into our first EP. Patrick has really helped us fill in the gaps with keyboards, guitar, and harmonies. We also hand him the spotlight in some songs and he dives into the crowd to rip it up with his saxophone.

You just released your new single “Oak”!  What can you tell me about the inspiration behind the song?  

Cal: The main inspiration for this song was a friend of mine who passed away in high school. He was sober as far as I know, but he was irresponsibly speeding through a neighborhood when he flipped his car and rolled into a tree. It was really tragic. Years later, I replaced some facts of the story while retaining my emotional response to that period of time.

You had a second guitarist at one point who has since departed the band.  What was it like for the band to go from 5 to 4 members?  Do you feel that altered your sound or dynamic in a significant way?

Garret, Cal & Pat: The biggest change was in the live performance – luckily Pat had already started learning guitar because now he covers some of the lead and rhythm guitar parts that Doug used to play. Losing a member definitely altered our sound, though. In the studio, there was another creative mind adding his personality and opinion to the arrangements.

Cal- As the main songwriter for the band, what is your songwriting process like and what inspires/influences your lyrics?  Do you ever collaborate with the other members when songwriting?

The hardest part to writing a song is always finding a starting point. Sometimes I first come up with a subject matter, but mostly I just kind of noodle around until I find a cool melody, rhythm, or chord progression and I just try to find what words, etc., want to fit with that. Nothing in particular really inspires my lyrics because everything does. It depends where I happen to be in that moment in time in my life – maybe I just spent the day on the beach with my fiancé, maybe I’ve been reading Murder On The Orient Express, maybe I’ve been feeling downtrodden… I find that my subconscious mind often reveals itself as a better lyricist than my conscious efforts. Whatever is happening at the time in my life often floats to the surface through my lyrics – although some times I do enjoy writing songs as an author of fiction, too. Only rarely do I collaborate lyrically with others, but the band often collaborates on the arrangements of the songs. Some of our songs have grown out of improvised jams and a couple others have been planted in my head as song titles, which I later fleshed out in private.

Did you all grow up in musical and creative households?  Was there a particular moment when you were kids that fueled your desire to pursue music as adults?

Cal, Garrett, Nat, and Pat: None of us grew up in very musical households, but all of our parents were very supportive of us learning and pursuing music. Garrett can point to a moment when he was practicing “Bulls On Parade” in middle school band when he decided he wanted to pursue music. Patrick was enamored with a beat-up old organ as a young child and never allowed himself to fully imagine himself on a different career path. Cal credits the Jack Black movie School of Rock for inspiring him to learn bass and then eventually guitar. Nat recalls listening to music for the first time on a pair of headphones and being mystified at how stereo sound worked. Since then, he has spent much of his life learning more about the production of music in stereo.

You have said that with the technical availability these days, more people have the capability to perform and/or record music and distribute it.  In what ways do you try to stand out as a band and get your name and music out there?  What is your approach to social media as a band and your thoughts on the connection between it and music currently.  

Cal and Garrett: We let our music speak for itself. Live performance is one of our strong suits and we are always gigging in the South Florida circuit. Social media is a necessity for promotion but it also gives us a chance to interact with fans as normal people, who we probably would have never met otherwise, or to just keep up with fans on a personal and friendly level. Some people are definitely better about posting than we are, but we try to show who we truly are and only post quality content.

You have said, with regards to your previous single “Heather Lou”, that you had been performing the song live since last summer, using crowd feedback to fine-tune it.  Do you take that approach with most of your music or just certain songs?


Cal and Garrett: We use the crowd to gauge interest in our new songs. At the end of the day, we write and perform what we want to hear and hopefully we reach people with similar tastes.

Patrick, Cal and Garrett- The three of you also perform in the Florida reggae rock band Fireside Prophets.  Is it challenging to split your time between the two bands?  Do you feel that Del Pelson helps to satisfy your other musical interests?

Cal: It can be challenging to split time between bands, especially when trying to book gigs. We have a system, though: what ever gig is booked first is the one that gets played. The two groups are pretty different in terms of genre, though, so it can be a fun change of pace. I also play bass in Fireside instead of guitar and Garrett is not an official member of Fireside but only a substitute drummer when needed.

You are planning to release a series of singles over the coming weeks.  What led to that decision?  With two EPs and 2 singles released (with more singles on the way), do you have plans to record another EP or a full-length album?

Cal: We got frustrated with how much time passed between releases, so we decided we would rather release less music more often. I think we will continue doing singles for the time being but maybe revert back to EP’s or LP’s if it strikes us.

What’s next for the band?

The next single, “Traffic”, is out May 10th! After that, we will take a short while to finish up our next few singles, and have a bunch of upcoming shows.

5/30 at Propaganda in Lake Worth, FL
6/1 at Bougainvilleas in Miami, FL

6/5 Bayside Marketplace – Miami, FL
7/6 Grandview Public Market – West Palm Beach, FL
8/7 Bayside Marketplace – Miami, FL

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