Posted August 10, 2014 by Jeff in Tunes

Tim DeLaughter: The Polyphonic Spree reimagined

The Polyphonic Spree
The Polyphonic Spree

The Polyphonic Spree releases Psychphonic, a remix LP, on August 12. It takes songs from the band’s most recent album, Yes, It’s True, and reimagines them. We talked to frontman Tim DeLaughter, who called from his Austin home as the band was between legs of its summer tour, about the album and the band’s incredible 14-year history.

What inspired Psychphonic?
It was one of those things. You occasionally get remixes and you’ll do a couple of songs on your record if someone reaches out. A DJ said he wanted to remix one of our songs. We thought it was cool. He said he had DJ friends who would want to do the same thing. We said, “Shoot. Why don’t we do each one of them?” We got 10 different DJs from all over the country. We really liked them and wanted to put them out. Usually people do one or two songs, but they all came back so good. We wanted to go for it.

How much were you involved with the remix process?
We had zero input. That was the beauty of the thing. You let them go with it and re-imagine the record and you get something back that’s completely different. We just sent them the tracks and let them have a field day and do whatever they wanted to do. We got lucky.

The Set In Sand cover of “Let Them Be” adds some funky beats. What do you think of that one?
You can tell what each DJ’s expertise or flavor is. That guy is really beat oriented. It’s really good. Each [remix] is so different and it offers this world of something you didn’t expect. You get the flavor of individual DJs and their takes. I like the “Heart Talk” one a lot because it’s a really dance-y song. I picture Cher singing that one. It’s one of my faves on the record.

I love the remix of “Battlefield” that’s track number 5. It reminds me of Sigur Rós.
It’s me singing it backwards. They flipped the vocals and they bring it back at the end. That’s also one of my favorites. I really love that. I didn’t pull Sigur Rós from it, but I just thought how interesting. I didn’t care what the person was saying. It just fit and works.

When you formed the band in 2000, did you anticipate the group would last this long?
I had no idea. At the very beginning, it was never intended to be a band. It was just an experiment. I wanted to do something like that and I wanted to be a part of something like that and have options with all these different instruments. It was like a wish list. I decided to go for it and we booked a show to get me off my ass and make it happen. We put it together in a couple of weeks and played this show and had that record, which was a demo, and it was like, “Wait a minute. This could be a band. I think I could do this.” We booked another show but we had 28 people in the band. We were such a large group. It was difficult to get shows because promoters couldn’t get their head around it. I didn’t let anyone know I was in Tripping Daisy at the time because I wanted to let it stand on its own. Some friends and colleagues said it was a great idea but I could never take it on the road. I started thinking, “Bullshit. We can do it. It’s going to be hard but we can do it.” Here I am 14 years later and we toured all over the world and put our records and we’re a thriving bands.

Do you tour in a van?
We tried that and nearly killed each other. That was the only time this band almost collapsed. We got hip and we found a bus in the country that is a hockey bus that can sleep 27 people. We tour in a bus with a trailer and that makes all the difference in the world.

It seems like the band follows a 21st century model for recording artists.
By the grace of God, getting those licensing deals have helped out tremendously. Everything we get we put back into the band. It’s a labor of love. But I have a family. I have four kids. I make my living from this and I’ve been lucky to have those opportunities from the get go. We played a couple of shows out in Texas and hadn’t been a band maybe a year and did that iPod Apple commercial. It’s one of the first times you ever see a band’s name on the iPod. It was the Polyphonic Spree, “Light and Day.” That’s what started the whole thing. That was 2001, and it was not cool to do commercials. It was a big leap for me. I had turned that stuff down in my previous band, but I had a label at the time and I had support. With this band, I didn’t have a label. I had to justify this. I drive a Volkswagen and I used Apple products. Why not? I need the money or this band isn’t going to happen. I started looking at things like that from a financial stage of reality and it opened the door. At the time I did that, I had my friends in bands ask me if I felt weird about doing the commercial and I told them my rationale. You slowly but surely started seeing bands taking ads. They’re fighting to do that to survive. And then you still need money to make a record. Here comes along Kickstarter and that was difficult to get my head around. I was asking people for money. Once you break it down, you’re asking them for money but you’re trading and getting stuff in return. It gives you this access to your fan base that you would never have from a retail stance. It worked out great for us and let us make Yes, It’s True.

It’s weird, the things you have to do to continue with this band.

How has the music changed over the years?
It’s been this ebb and flow of feeling like how can we go here or there. This band can do anything it wants to do. We can do anything. We run the gamut. We can do any cover that’s out there. That’s why I do covers. I can play my favorite songs and nail them. It’s not all sampled loop stuff. It’s the real deal. I think we stepped out on this record into the electronic world that we only dabbled in before on The Fragile Army. I think we really embraced it on this record. That was one area where we hadn’t ventured. Now that we’ve done it, we feel we can go there. There is another side I want to do that’s a psychedelic journey record. I want to go into that world. It’s liberating to do anything you want and you’re not hammered into this one world.

You’ve started thinking about the next album?
I have. It’s heavy on my mind and that’s what starts happening. I started feeling like I want to go in this world. It’s coming around. It might throw people on their heads. It’s something we’ve never done before but I think I’m going to do it.

Upcoming 2014 Tour Dates 

Friday, August 15

Saturday, August 16

Sunday, August 17

Monday, August 18

Tuesday, August 19

Thursday, August 21

Friday, August 22

Saturday, August 23

Monday, August 25

Tuesday, August 26

Wednesday, August 27

Thursday, August 28

Friday, August 29

Saturday, August 30

Oklahoma City, OK – ACM Performance Lab

St Louis, MO – The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill

Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom

Minneapolis, MN – The Cedar Cultural Center

Evanston, IL – SPACE

Cincinnati, OH – Taft Theatre

Ferndale, MI – The Magic Bag

Cleveland, OH – Music Box Supper Club

Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall

Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl

Philadelphia, PA – Prince Music Theatre

Washington, DC – Black Cat

Carrboro, NC – The Arts Center

Atlanta, GA – The Loft at Center Stage


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].