To hear singer, guitarist and engineer Brian Garth explain it, Black Camaro’s 16th LP, Daydream Delphi, was “loosely” conceived as a soap opera.
Back in 2016, the longtime Las Vegas indie band—comprising Garth and Tom Miller (vocals, guitar and keyboards)—was preparing for a four-day mini-residency inside the Bunkhouse. The pair wrote and recorded a theme song and hatched a “grandiose plan” for a soap opera concept, Garth says, but that vision wasn’t truly realized. “We rarely play live, and when we do, we spend so much of our headspace rehearsing,” he says. The concept was shelved
It stayed with Black Camaro, however. “We had this very Dallas-esque theme song laying around,” Garth says, plus “a bunch of leftovers” from the sessions that produced 2019 release Protocol of Dreams. Garth began assembling them into a B-sides collection when he had a realization. “I started thinking, ‘There’s a lot of great sh*t on here’,” Garth says. “‘What if this album is the soap opera?’”
Once he cut the fat from those old tracks, Garth was left with eight shiny new songs. “Nobody had heard them,” he says. “On a B-sides album, we would have just [released it as is], but once we decided this was cool as an album, we started long-distance working on them and adding new lyrics.”
Telling the tale of “the last summer ever recorded in modern history,” Daydream Delphi encompasses “desolation, power, greed and war,” not to mention “hope, reconciliation and redemption,” according to its Bandcamp description. Sonically, the album—released digitally on July 4—harkens back to Black Camaro projects like 2008’s Pistachio Moustachio and 2009’s Radio Capricorn.
Back when Black Camaro intended its Bunkhouse shows to include acting and dialogue, the band had written scripts for each “episode” and made flyers with an episode “synopsis” to accompany each performance. Those back-burnered scripts became the foundations of Daydream Delphi.
And the cast? “We couldn’t have a lot of people hanging out,” Garth says of recording during quarantine. “I couldn’t just call over an entire cast of characters.” So Garth and Miller enlisted a few close friends to record the old dialogue, turning the snippets of audio into four different “acts.”
Featured on the album are the voices of local musician Ted Rader —
“he was along for the whole thing and was like, ‘You guys are weird’,”—Garth says. “But he did two of my favorite voices.” Vegas guitarist Kevin Kilfeather is also featured.
How does it all come together? Strangely. It’s not exactly clear what’s happening on first listen … or a second. Garth likens the experience to channel surfing during the 1990s. “You’re flipping through the channels, and every time you hit one of these acts, it’s like you came back around to that channel,” he says.
How did Miller feel about it? “He might deny this, but I basically forced this on him,” he laughs.
“I didn’t put up too much resistance,” Miller insists. “I composed the segues and closing theme, and that was a blast. I dig all the soap opera stuff.”
Garth created an animated intro to accompany the album, viewable at youtu.be/C2UfPuzDslE. “I was going to animate the whole thing, but making that little intro was so time-consuming,” he says.
Plus, he adds, it felt disingenuous promoting a new album during a global pandemic and growing civil rights movement. “We were supposed to drop this in the beginning of June … but self-promotion was just out of the question at that point. There were people getting tear-gassed, and they still are today.”
Garth and Miller agreed to donate all profits from the album to two organizations: Fair Fight, a voting rights group founded by former Georgia Representative Stacey Abrams, and the West Las Vegas Arts Center, a local community art center Garth says “has been hit hard by budget shortfalls.”
“We’re not asking [people] to buy a digital release. We’re asking them to donate to two causes,” he says. “[Daydream Delphi] is just the consolation prize. You get a TV show on an album from a band that you like ... albeit a really weird one.”