Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas contains equal parts grunge rock and Motown soul. The band has been on tour since releasing their debut album, “Secret Evil,” last July.This Thursday, the band will open for J. Roddy Walston and the Business at The Jefferson Theater on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall.
In preview of her performance, Arts & Entertainment sat down with Hernandez to talk about her musical style and her band’s future.
Arts & Entertainment: You didn’t learn how to play guitar until after college. Did you have any musical experience before this? Why did you decide to pick up guitar?
Jessica Hernandez: I was always singing, and I sang in a lot of bands in high school and in college. I was always around instruments because all of my friends were super musical. I was picking them up and I felt like I could, naturally. If there was a piano in the room and my friends were playing, I could hop on and figure out the keys by listening. I felt like I always had the ability but I figured I was just intimidated. The older I got, the more I kept saying I was too old to start learning, and when I was 19, [I asked myself], “Why am I waiting until I’m 40 to start doing all the things I want to do? I should just do it now.” That’s when I dropped out of college, and I bought a guitar, bought a keyboard, and taught myself how to play both.
A&E: How has the musical scene in Detroit shaped your style of music?
JH: I think it was a big influence just because Detroit is, in my opinion, one of the most musical towns that’s turned out a lot of really big names ... throughout the past 60, 70 years that have paved the way for a lot of genres of music … When my grandparents were in high school, all the motown bands used to play at their high school dances ... and my then dad [was] ... obsessed with Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop and the Stooges and all those Detroit bands. It’s kind of a blending of what I was surrounded by growing up and [the city] just subconsciously made its way into the style that I write in.
A&E: You’re currently on tour with J. Roddy Walston and the Business and are going to play alongside Social Distortion in April. What is it like being able to play shows with these bands?
JH: It’s awesome. We’ve only played one show with both of them so far … We played Riot Fest with [Social Distortion] over the summer in Chicago. I look up to them a lot, and so its going to be cool to tour with them, especially since their sound is so much different from ours … their crowd gives you a pretty good reception to the kind of stuff that we’re doing. [It’s the] same thing with J. Roddy Walston. I’m curious to see how the shows go because we have only played one show with them. That show went really well, which allowed us to do more shows together.
AE: After the long process of creating your debut album, how does it feel to have finally released “Secret Evil”?
JH: It feels awesome! It takes so long, and because we’ve been touring so much, it’s nice to just have something that people can take home instead of just playing a show for them. I feel like the band is finally able to grow and expand because now it’s not just people seeing us but people seeing us, taking a CD, sharing it with their friends, and then making them come to the next show. [We’ve] exponentially been able to grow since the album has come out. Now we’re just kind of excited to get the next one out. We’re actually almost done writing the second album.
AE: When do you expect your second album to be released?
JH: It’ll be out within the next year — next April probably.
AE: What are you most excited for in the future?
JH: I’m excited to see how far the band can grow and how our musical style changes throughout the next five to ten years. Me and the guys — they’re like my best friends from home. It’s cool to be able to do this together and be on the road together and keep growing and getting our first television spots and getting all these things. We’ve been doing it for so long that finally seeing these small things start to pop up makes it really fulfilling and exciting for us. I’m just curious to see where our music goes and where the next year and the next album … takes us.
Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas will be performing live at The Jefferson Theater March 19 at 9 p.m.