Since 2011, Deap Vally have been one of Los Angeles’ most intriguing hard-rock duos, slamming together blues and grunge riffs with occasional hints of punk on their two albums, Sistrionix (2013) and Femejism (2016). But singer-guitarist Lindsey Troy and drummer-singer Julie Edwards have been so busy that they haven’t played in their hometown in a long time, which makes their pre-Halloween show at the Echoplex on Tuesday, Oct. 30, a relatively rare local appearance.
“It’s our first headlining show in L.A. in several years,” Troy explains by phone from a Target parking lot in a conference call with Edwards. “We’ve done so many support tours for other bands” in the past few years, including national and international travels opening for Wolfmother, Blondie, Garbage and other groups.
“One of the things about us is that we’ve always gotten these amazing tours opening for other bands,” agrees Edwards by phone from Mount Washington.
“We’re also working on our new album right now,” Troy says. “It’s still a work in progress.”
Edwards and Troy have been recording their as-yet-untitled third album while dealing with an existential crisis about where they want to go as a band and as individuals.
“It’s hard in a duo,” muses Edwards, recalling a quote she read by The White Stripes’ Jack White about the personal and musical difficulties that can occur while working in a two-person band. “It’s an intimate relationship that can be really challenging. … We had to go to couples counseling. We needed a mediator to move everything forward. Lindsey and I have always known that Deap Vally is bigger than either of us as individuals. There’s alchemy, and it’s very mysterious even to us.”
That alchemy changed as they began working on the new record. “It’s actually not going to be a typical Deap Vally album,” Edwards says. “We’re relinquishing control, which allows us to be greater than the parts. More instruments are at play; there are a lot of different modes that are going to be on the new record.”
Part of the process of giving up control involved getting out of the duo mindset and incorporating sounds and ideas from other musicians. “We’re really open to renewing the spirit of collaborating and making it democratic,” Edwards says. The new record includes contributions from guest stars Peaches, KT Tunstall, Mini Mansions bassist Zach Dawes, Savages bassist Ayse Hassan, The Kills’ Jamie Hince, French singer Soko, Warpaint bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg, Eagles of Death Metal’s Jennie Vee and members of The Flaming Lips.
Some tracks were recorded with producer-engineer Josiah Mazzaschi at the Cave Studio in Los Angeles, while others were laid down at The Flaming Lips’ studio in Oklahoma. “It’s fun to studio hop,” Edwards says. “It’s a really mixed bag, but that’s how it was on Femejism.
“When you get in a room with a new person, the hierarchy is reworked,” Edwards continues. “People fall into different positions in the writing process. It was good for Lindsey and I to shake up our writing process. We’re in our seven-year-itch phase.”
One unusual collaboration involved Deap Vally working with both Peaches and KT Tunstall on the same song. “We introduced them,” Troy says, explaining that she and Edwards were already recording with Scottish singer Tunstall when they realized they needed a rap part, so they called their old tourmate Peaches. “We’ve been wanting to do something with Peaches for ages.”
Hince, meanwhile, played guitar, added vocals and produced several songs with the duo. “He’s awesome,” Edwards says. “He has immeasurable taste when it comes to tone and guitar parts. Working with him was a dream. … We’ve been Kills fans forever. At a Queens of the Stone Age concert at the Forum, we were leaving at the same time as Jamie Hince. He needed help using Lyft, so we helped him get a car. … We exchanged info, and he just happened to have time off.”
Speaking generally about Deap Vally’s songwriting process, Edwards says, “A lot of it is jam-based, and a lot of [the album’s guests] weren’t used to writing songs that way. It’s fun, and it’s stupid,” she adds about the duo’s conscious decision to be open to spontaneous ideas. “We’re going to let it happen and not be judge-y.”
Although Deap Vally haven’t played Los Angeles in a long time, they did appear earlier this month in Lake Perris at Desert Daze, a festival founded seven years ago by Edwards and her husband, Phil Pirrone. Despite difficulties with traffic and a lightning storm that cut short headliner Tame Impala’s set on the first night, the festival was still a largely positive experience for Troy and Edwards.
“I had such a fun, magical time,” Troy says. “It was a mystifying electrical storm. It was wild to see the lightning sitting on the lake, even though our tent was flooding.”
Just how spectacular was the lightning show? “It depends on which drugs you took,” Edwards says, noting that the sudden, violent storm was a frightening experience for some people. “It was a real grown-up challenge. We spent all year preparing for this one weekend.”
The Halloween concert at the Echoplex likely will occur in a more controlled environment. “We want to make it a costume party,” Troy says. “It can be anything goofy or stupid.”
“Halloween annoys me because I’m a really busy person,” Edwards says, mentioning how hard it can be to find a good costume on short notice.
“You’ve just got to do what my dad does and wear the same costume every year. He’s Austin Powers every year,” Troy suggests. “Maybe we could dress as another band — dress like DIIV.”
“They wear really, really bagging clothing,” Edwards points out.
“Just go to the thrift store and put on whatever,” Troy jokes. “We could be grannies.”
Whatever Troy and Edwards end up wearing onstage, their Halloween set is likely to be electrifying. Perhaps the duo will surprise with a cover song. In the past, they’ve put their own unique Deap Vally spin on such varied tunes as Beyoncé’s “All Night,” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You,” Prince’s “Kiss,” John Lennon’s “Cold Turkey,” Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield,” The Rolling Stones’ “Ventilator Blues” and “Play With Fire” and Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” as well “as some random Joe Walsh song from a million years ago,” Troy recalls.
In early November, Deap Vally hit the road again on a headlining tour up the West Coast.
Deap Vally appear with The Paranoyds and The Entire Universe at the Echoplex, 1154 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park, Tue., Oct. 30, 8 p.m.; $18. (213) 413-8200.