The Delirians Go From Backing Band to Front and Center

The Delirians (Credit:Madeleine Marine.)

Guitarist/vocalist Angel Salgado began playing music when he was still in high school. His classmate Alan Pineda asked him to be in punk band called the Drunk Skunks during their math class. Salgado decided to join, despite the fact he didn’t really know how to play an instrument. The Drunk Skunks practiced in Salgado’s House in what was something between a dirt basement and the foundation where they would breath in dust and play punk rock.

Salgado has come a long way from his dusty basement days, now focusing on reggae and rocksteady with The Delirians. Salgado and fellow Delirian keyboard player Anthony Medina — who played trumpet with Salgado in the Drunk Skunks during high school —  are the principle songwriters for the group. However, all of the Delirians add their unique style of instrumentation into the Spanish infused music that’s a hodgepodge of reggae, rocksteady, ska, and soul.

The Delirians have had a long journey of reinvention. They began as Ultima Caida and would play skacore — a mixture of punk and ska — and sing mainly in Spanish. Matamoska, Viernes 13, and La Resistencia were all huge DIY ska acts from the bustling backyard scene in East L.A who Salgado drew his inspiration from.

Eventually, the group grew into a bigger lineup even though a lot of musicians would go in and out of the band. They pulled musicians from places like Craigslist — some of those craigslist finds would eventually cement their current lineup.  After their first self-titled album, the Delirians began to shift past skacore into rocksteady and reggae territory. “We started getting into the history of what ska is with the Wailers and the Skatalites. We started getting into it when we were 17 years old and to us it was like gold,” Salgado says.

Digging into the history of ska and reggae is essentially what molded the Delirians into what they are today. “One of our friends gave us a stack of CD’s and it had like Derek Morgan, Monte Morris, Stranger Cole, The Pioneers, The Jamaicans, a bunch of old 50’s bands from Jamaica,” Salgado says. The Delirians ended up as the backing band for most of those Jamaican artists who they first heard in that CD stack when they were young up-and-comers. “…it was kind of destiny,” laughs Salgado. “The same guy who named us gave us that stack of CD’s.”

Most recently, the Delirians backed famous reggae toaster U-Roy in London. For those who don’t know, toasting is an early form of hip-hop where the DJ sings in-beat typically over reggae records and often saying jokes. However, the Delirians have shifted away from that backing band role since then. Salgado claims that politics has caused the band to receive less opportunities. Instead of focusing on that lack of work as a bad thing though, Salgado sees it as an opportunity for the Delirians to grow as a band and create their own unique niche focusing on a plethora of genres. “We want to create a platform for ourselves and not just as a backing band,” says Salgado.

The group have definitely been busy making a name for themselves this past year. They got to play out in the windy desert of Coachella this past April. “It’s a whole different crowd,” says Salgado about the Coachella Arts and Music Festival. “It’s different from what they’re used to. A lot of people are there for the radio bands that they know.” They’ve also played at the EDM centered festival, Lightning in a Bottle in OC.

Although it’s a struggle to hack out a living in music, Salgado and the rest of the group do it for the love of the music.“Growing up with Latin music in Mexican-Salvadorian families, there is a rhythm to latin music,” says Salgado. Salgado says he finds similarities in both reggae and latin music, noting that they both have good rhythm and heart. Legendary producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, who’s famous for producing Bob Marley and has influenced everyone from the Clash, to Paul McCartney, and the Beastie Boys, has a similar anecdote: the rhythm of reggae is the rhythm of the heartbeat.

If you want to check out The Delirians, they are going to perform at Harvelle’s in downtown Long Beach on Saturday to fundraise for cancer research. “My girlfriends cousin is coming from out of the country to organize that,” say Salgado. “A lot of us have family members who have been through that. We are just trying to help out where we can.”

The Delirians perform at The Global Impact Concert at Harvelle’s Long Beach, Saturday May 12th 11am – 6pm. For tickets click here.