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DELI PREMIERE: Good Deli finds the wisdom within on debut single "Before My Day"

DELI PREMIERE: Good Deli finds the wisdom within on debut single "Before My Day"

The other night I had the pleasure of chatting via cellular phone ‘round about midnight (night owls unite!) with Andrew "Deli" Dell Isola a.k.a. Good Deli which I guess makes me the “Bad Deli” in this equation, but I’m ok with it seeing as we live in the age of the anti-hero anyway so my Q score could conceivably be even higher than the good deli's, but hey we're here to build the man up not tear him down and besides when it’s 3 in the morning and you’re jonesing hard for a chopped cheese—or even just a simple chicken cutlet on a roll with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and honey mustard—the whole distinction between “good” and “bad” pretty much flies out the window which is why our new motto is Delis Unite and that’s exactly what we’re doing here…

…with a Bad Deli-exclusive premiere of Good Deli’s debut single “Before My Day” and it’s groovy music video too (see directly above!) so how ‘bout them apples (reader’s note: don’t buy apples at the deli unless you like bad apples plus delis rarely stock fresh produce anyway) and so it’s fitting that one of the key takeaways of “Before My Day” is that we should all stop trying to live up to some other person’s idea of what a good deli should be and instead look within rather than looking without, or to paraphrase George Harrison of Traveling Wilburys fame, just be the deli, and that’s how you get to be a “good deli” in the long run…

…and here we were just about to pledge not to use the word “deli” any more seeing as we've used it about ten times already but since this article is about Good Deli (eleven!) that’s gonna be difficult so you'll have to just bear with us and first things first you should know that Deli plays bass in a band called Deep Sea Peach Tree and has been for the past five years or so and they're quite good too in their own way even if the word "good" doesn't actually appear in their name (at least it's food-based tho') and fyi DSPT self-describe as “sleepy surf rock” and “aquatic sleep rock”…

…and then about 10 months ago Deli put out his first solo release under the Good Deli moniker, namely, a series of 18 short instrumentals played solo with overdubs, ranging from loose, laid-back jams to little psychedelic doodles so it’s kinda like his Wonderwall Music (minus the sitars) with a hint of Electronic Sound thrown in in it’s more ambient moments (see: “Moldy Loaf”)...

...but with the new single “Before My Day“ and the other 11 songs slated to make up his upcoming Delivision album (Spring 2023) we’re talking about proper songs, played by a full band no less, so it'll maybe be more like Good Deli's All Things Must Pass but slimmed down to a single LP (no pressure there!) and indeed the song under consideration today does indeed have a pretty strong early solo Beatles’ vibe to it imho and if you read on you’ll see that I’m not just pulling all these George Harrison comparisons out of thin air... (Jason Lee)

Deli's thoughts on good delis found in NYC/Brooklyn…

I actually just recently moved to a new neighborhood without too many delis. But my old deli was Nevada Subs [in Bushwick, Brooklyn]. That was my favorite cornerside deli. It’s a walkup place, just a storefront and a window, but with the best sandwiches. There were two guys I became good friends with there but they moved to another deli.

I’d also recommend the Firehouse Deli on DeKalb Ave. and Wilson [one block away from Nevada Subs]. It’s 9 bucks for a sandwich but it’s worth it. The chef there, the Deliman, is excellent. My go-to sandwich for any deli, the best way to test their stuff, is a chicken cutlet on a roll with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and honey mustard.

And it’s the honey mustard is really what I’m testing, that’s the true test. It has to be just the right balance—not too mayo-y, not too mustardy—the perfect honey mustard balance. The other thing if they have to have a good cutlet. You don’t want a foam patty, you want a real chicken breast.

On acquiring the name “Good Deli”…

There was a kid in 4th grade who called me “Deli Salami” based on my name. Then there were select people in my childhood who called me Deli. When I joined Deep Sea Peach Tree the drummer at the time was named Andrew. So I went by “Deli.” Then it kind of became this character of Deli, like an alter-ego, my public image. It became like a duality of personalities. I'm Andrew at home, but “Deli” in the band and in public.

On playing with Deep Sea Peach Tree…

They were a four-piece at the time I joined. I first auditioned for drums. The bass player at the time was a guitar player too and he wanted to play guitar for a minute. So I took the bass and played the Seinfeld theme. The lead singer [Kristof Denis] was like, “holy shit, you’re the bass player!” “Xanzibar” was my first contribution to the band. [a song based around Deli's funky slap bass part]

On his musical background…

My dad, growing up in his teens and early 20s, was in bands and a songwriter. He didn’t do anything “big” but played in local bands and always had a passion for music. Then he had kids and had to be a dad. And he was a wonderful father, the best. He inspired me, always had instruments all around the house, encouraging us to mess around and see what we like.

I started on piano, took lessons, played piano recitals, learned the black and white keys and the basics of music theory, understanding how music works. Once I got a little older I decided that the piano’s lame and wanted to play guitar and shred instead, to be a badass.

I started writing my own songs at about 11 or 12 and recording on GarageBand. I’d always been a big fan of the Beatles. They inspired me to be creative in how I recorded things—from blowing bubbles throughs straws, playing combs—but I’m glad I started with piano. It’s the building block of all instruments.

On the “Before My Day” music video…

Samantha Ruby Blieden directed the video. She played a very strong part working out my ideas into a video, plus she shot and edited the whole thing. The concept was inspired in part by the movie Wonderwall [best known today for its George Harrison soundtrack, and for lending it's name to the Oasis song] about a guy who spies on a woman through the peephole of his apartment door.

[Plot synopsis: Absent-minded professor Oscar Collins (Jack MacGowran), studying in his charmless apartment, is bothered by loud music from the flat next door. Peeking through a tiny crack in the wall, he discovers a gorgeous young model, Penny Lane (Jane Birkin), and becomes obsessed with her and her swinging hippie lifestyle. In surreal fantasy sequences, he imagines doing battle with Penny's gauche photographer boyfriend (Iain Quarrier) for her hand.]

But in our version it's about me watching my life go by as this creepy entity taking pictures of myself through the door.

On the vinyl LPs that make cameos in the music video:

Ah the beginning of the video “interior man” puts George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music on the turntable. All Things Must Pass is probably one of my favorite albums. Another one of my biggest influences is Jonathan Richman [The Modern Lovers’ 1976 debut album appears in the video]. The other LPs you see are ones by J.W. Francis and by Yankee Power who are some Boston-based friends of mine. The album is Zoo Traffic. Its album cover was awarded “worst album cover of the year” in 2010 by some Boston publication.

On symbolism in the music video and in the lyrics…

In the video the “interior man” is me, that is, the man inside the apartment is “Andrew” which isn’t revealed until the end. The exterior man is the other me, “Deli," or all the different versions of the public me. [Andrew/Deli plays all the parts in the video, including the cavalcade of flamboyant characters who pass by outside the interior man’s door.] All the outfits I wear in the video were things I wore at certain times in my life and in certain bands I played in. There’s references to significant events and people, easter eggs for anyone who knows me or knew me in the past, like an homage.

“Before My Day” is sort of a love song to myself. “My prescription read, more of you.” It like taking on the role of my own therapist who says “get back to yourself. Don’t forget who you are.” It’s a person waiting for their old self to come back, seeing if they can make it back, buried under the ways you present yourself to the world, all the masks you wear.

On Good Deli’s debut album, Rob Rockley and the Vegetables Present: I Found My Love In A Lunchbox…

Ninety percent of the songs on the album were written pre-Deep Sea Peach Tree as demos on a cassette machine. When I joined Deep Sea I joined gung-ho and kind of dropped everything else to be a part of this band, and let my own songs and own career slip for a bit. But this past 2021-22 a lot of significant events happened in my life. Plus I’m getting older, 26, getting balder [we don’t see this but take his word for it!] I need to do my stuff before I’m old and fiddy. So I whipped myself together and whipped up the songs.

It took listening through 10 hours of cassette tapes to put it together. The album is all the things I found in between “the songs” proper on these tapes. I’d find something and think “that’s cool, let me rip that off and throw it into the mix.” The idea was to release something first [before Delivision] and build up a little steam. The album’s all the stuff between the “good stuff."

On making the upcoming Delivision album…

For this album, once I got the songs all together, I reached out to friends at Hot Take Recording Co. in Brighton, Mass [a neighborhood in Boston; Deli lived in Boston before moving to NYC]. My whole recording career I’ve always done everything myself, but never been totally happy with the result, and never put anything out.

I wanted to have a soul band and to get back to my musical roots, play live in the studio then throw overdubs over it. Aaron Brown played bass and Ryan Katz drums [the two founders of Hot Take]. I went in and said, “here’s the demos, now do your own thing with it.” The drum and bass parts are for the most part their creations, morphed off my own ideas.

On musical collaboration…

Working this way gives the feel of have different brains involved. When you’re doing a whole multi-instrumental, overdubbing thing on your own, all the instruments have one brain with the same person doing it all. Now, I've got multiple perspectives, a dialogue instead of a monologue. Sam Paek plays saxophone on several tracks. He lived in the house where we recorded the album. It’s mixed and mastered by Ryan and Aaron, and turned out exactly as I wanted it. They did an amazing job.

The Hot Take studio is in a 10 or 12 bedroom house in Brighton with this big giant basement that’s split in two. One side is a full-on legit recording studio and the other side is a live venue, Pasta Planet. Once we finished the album, we had a show with all the people who played on the record. In five years, I was the first person to incorporate pasta into their set. I had a plant stationed in the audience who threw wet spaghetti at me during the last song.

On how Deli describes his music when people ask him to describe Good Deli's music…

I call it “sponge rock.” It’s saturated rock ’n ‘roll. I like to describe it as something like if Jonathan Richman and the Kinks ate mushrooms and watched an episode of SpongeBob together and wrote a song based on the background music in the episode. It’s also very clown-themed. The whole Delivision album has a clown theme running through it, including the album cover. Some of the lyrics are clown-themed too. Even the music video has a couple clown references. The album as a whole is very concept-y. More generally, when it comes to clowns, it’s all about the theme of the double personality, of hiding behind this character of the clown.



Published: February 09, 2023 |

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