LSD, Jesus, and the Shaping of a Songwriter:
An Interview with Matthew Logan Vasquez

Words by Audra Tracy

When it comes to life’s big moments, Matthew Logan Vasquez has always been willing to “jump in with both feet.” In 2015, the Delta Spirit frontman took a break from his band to work on some solo material — churning out the Austin EP, then a full-length album, Solicitor Returns, which was recently released on February 9. Not only did he write all the music and play (almost) all of the instruments on Solicitor Returns, Vasquez also wholeheartedly embraced the DIY approach to marketing it.

The day before he left for a European tour, Vasquez got candid with us about his solo career, and how his experiences with LSD and religion have helped to shape him into the songwriter he is today.

“It’s been such a season of DIY for me”, Vasquez says of his recent album release. “I recorded everything and I mixed everything, and then I had it pressed, I did all the artwork, I stuffed the vinyl, I bought my own ad space, hired my own PR … I really appreciate what managers do now,” he says.

Recorded in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Solicitor Returns has a fuzzier, edgier feel to it, especially compared to the breezy California vibes of Delta Spirit’s catalog. One listen to Vasquez’s booming single “Everything I Do Is Out,” and it’s clear you’ve entered new sonic territory.

“It’s one of those things where you made it because you love it, and you want people to hear it,” he says of the album. “I’m really happy with everything I’ve done with Delta Spirit, but you know, I’ve got my tastes too … ” he laughs.

The songwriter began shaping his various tastes while growing up in Austin, Texas — a city he lovingly refers to as “a blue dot in a very red state.”

“Austin in the nineties was a very crazy place to grow up, especially those years,” he recalls. “Dazed and Confused the movie was out, grunge was still a thing … to my friends, we were really into all that stuff. We loved Pink Floyd and LSD, that’s for sure,” he admits.

“LSD can be like watching cartoons for eight hours,” he goes on, “or it can be like the ayahuasca
experience where you look inward, you look at the mirror, and it tells you something about yourself. We like to destroy ourselves, and understanding that nature — and the root of that nature — is something that you won’t forget. I’m glad I did it, when I did it, and how I did it, because I like myself,” he laughs.

During this time, the young Vasquez was dealing with his parents’ divorce, and such a rebellious lifestyle led to a pretty serious turning point in his life.

“I dropped acid in high school one day, and went completely bananas and was chased around by the school police, the paramedics, the whole nine,” he describes. “Two days later I went straight to California, and at that point I was pretty depressed and suicidal and sad and crazy, and full of guilt and shame. And that’s when I met Jesus.”

For the next few years, Vasquez says he and Jesus shared “a pretty radical relationship,” which had a significant influence on him, both spiritually and creatively. Now an agnostic with four full-length Delta Spirit albums, and two solo releases under his belt, Vasquez knows that those tumultuous teenage years – from LSD to Jesus and beyond – have undoubtedly impacted the man he is today.

“I believe in God because I choose to”, he explains. “And if God isn’t there, I’m soooo okay with that,” he jokes. “I think life and death and time and space and all things are beautiful. With or without God, it’s still beautiful. That’s the person that’s writes these songs,” he concludes. “I still strive to just be, and love, and see the magic.”

Catch Matthew Logan Vasquez on the road through May. See all dates here | Austin