Delirious? TV Documentary - 'The Frame' (ITV1 Meridian)
Last modified: 09 May 2003
Source: ITV1 (Meridian)
Date: 09 May 2003
This sleepy town in Southern England is not the sort of place you'd expect to find international rock stars walking the streets, however:
Martin: Hi there my name's Martin Smith and I'm in my home town. You probably don't know me but in a couple of days time the band I'm in are going to be playing in front of 15 thousand people in America, a place where we out sell Robbie Williams by two to one.
Delirious? are a bit different from other British rock bands. They're more famous abroad than here at home. They think nothing of making a 24 hour trip to California just to play one gig. Also all five members of the band are Christians who are not afraid to explore their faith in their music.
The band's first mainstream success came in 1997. Their song Deeper came from nowhere to enter the chart at number 20.
Martin: We were all round at Tim's house. There was about 45 of us all crammed into this little front room with a radio on. I remember Spice Girls were at number 21 and then our song came on at 20. You're trying not to be excited and everyone around you is freaking out.
Stu: It was like scoring the winning goal.
Martin: We were all running around saying I love you man, I love you! And that lasted for a week. All of a sudden you're the biggest band in the world. A week later you realise, its dropping out and you've got a lot of work to do.
Their next song Promise also broke the top 20. Delirious? sold out gigs from Brighton to Belfast and played some of the biggest stadiums in the UK on tour with BonJovi. At one Wembley concert 80 thousand people came to see them at a Christian festival.
The other unusual thing about Delirious? is that from the very start they've released all their records themselves under their own label, Furious?, based at Arundel. Six years and seven albums later, what was a cottage industry has become a global business.
Tony: Hi I'm Tony Potato the manager of Delirious? and the boss of Furious Records. Come on inside and let me give you a tour. This is the record label and press department [shows camera around Furious offices] where we handle all of our distribution contracts and press, from Australia to Ukraine, and new signings to America and UK. Here's our royalty area and accounting department, manufacturing and our merchandising which is a big earner for us. Here's the design area. Dan and Mark deal with all the design of the record sleeves, leaflets, posters, CD-roms and videos. Let me take you downstairs.
This is the distribution area, we have 144 different [product] lines. Cds, t-shirts, songbooks. Dealing to 450 stores around the UK and over 90 countries around the world. This is the area where we store all the bands gear, where we have all the recording capabilities to record albums. Plus all the gear for us to tour around the world; guitars and amplifiers. Not bad for a band starting out in a little school hall down the road.
Stew: We formed about ten years ago now. We're all local Littlehampton boys.
Martin: We started playing together in a small school hall, it was actually a church event we were running called Cutting Edge.
Stew: The first night 75 kids turned up.
Word of mouth meant that band's audiences doubled every time they played. Soon they moved from the drama room to the school hall, then onto the sports centre and then they needed an even bigger arena.
Tim: Here we are down at the Littlehampton seafront. Back in the early days we used to meet here and do free gigs on the seafront. I can remember the first time we did it we had 2000 people come and we were selling our tapes at the back of the estate. The second time we had 4000 people and the third time we had a big dome covered stage with 10,000 people turn up, filled up this whole grassy area. That was about the time we were thinking we should go for this thing full time.
The band hopes their latest album will widen their British audience. Back in '97 Radio 1 dubbed Delirious? Pops Best Kept Secret. Ironically Radio 1 has helped keep it that way with a reluctance to play the band's records. But despite the lack of air play Delirious? have had 7 singles in the top 40. Its Ok went to number 16.
They get good reviews in the music press. So why with their appeal growing around the world, is it such hard going in the UK? Maybe this country has problems seeing the words Christian and rock in the same sentence.
Tony: I think Christian music probably does have a stigma attached to it because there's a lot of association with Songs of Praise or those kinds of images. The old image would be very much of an acoustic guitar, socks and sandals and a rainbow strap. Thats what people think!
Martin: Six years ago when we released Deeper, I think there was a lot of hostility and a lot of "I love the music but just don't give me that Christian thing, it's freaking me out. I can't play it on radio or I loose my job". People would say "If only you'd write about girls you'd be massive". We've done a little bit of that.
So what about Sex, Drugs and Rock n' Roll?
Martin: What does that mean? Drugs: there's no bigger high than playing on stage in a band and seeing 10 thousand people sing along to your song. Sex? Well that's fine, there's enough for me at home.
Stew: We went on tour with quite a large world act and we were told by our Tour Manager that one of their initiations was to take the support bands out to a strip club. There was a few discussions about that but it never came to anything, it was a hoax.
Tim: I went, didn't you go?
Martin: The old rock and roll bit yeah? Well we're doing that everyday. we are rock and roll, look at us!
Jon: We turn up at venues and the runner introduces themselves and say "I can get you anything" and someone says yeah I'd love a bottle of water, and he's like "yeah, I can get you ANYTHING". He almost has to spell it out to us "ANY-THING". No, we're fine thanks!
Stu: People call us squeaky clean, but we still like the odd half a pint of lager.
Martin: Maybe with a bit of lemonade in.
Stew: We've pretty much worked out now that it's best to be yourself we've probably made some mistakes along the way and tried to camouflage things a little bit and tone things down just to appease people. But at the end of the day it doesn't really work because we are who we are and we're proud of who we are and what we believe.
Stu: We'd like to have a good affect on people to make them ask questions about it. We're not saying that we're the ones to do the preaching but we try to be non confrontational but true to ourselves at the same time.
Jon: We want to sing about things that make sense to everyone at the same time we don't want to water that down and pretend that we're something we're not.
Martin: What's coming out of us is what God has put into us. And that might seem a grandiose comment but that is how we feel.
Tony: Great musicians and great bands just have to be themselves. If you look back at the great rock and roll bands of the various times they've all stood for something different. They've believed in something or they did something that made them different. Could that be our calling card? maybe.
The band are off to Sacramento California to headline a Christian youth event for 15 thousand people. But it's no holiday. The band leaves Heathrow Friday lunch time to come back Sunday night. A 58 hour round trip, 40 hours in transit and 18 hours spent in Sacramento. But it's nothing compared to some of their previous journeys.
Martin: The worst long haul travel experience was when we went to New Zealand for a day. I don't recommend anyone doing it. It's 2 days to get there and 2 days to get back.
Tony: It was my idea to go to New Zealand for one day, for one concert.
Jon: It was what we said to him when we got back that was the interesting thing!
Stew: Tony normally comes with us, but he wasn't on that trip!
Martin: All five of us are married now, we have about twelve children between us. It's a real balancing act you know, if you're away too much your children don't know your name when you walk in the door. We've got a few little rules that we try and keep to about the length of the trips we do. But it does make it mad. We're going to America for one gig.
Stew: Unfortunately you can't play to 20 thousand Americans in your home town every weekend.
Martin: We will literally fly into Australia, do 5 shows and come home again. We won't stay for a day off.
[At the airport]
Tim: I've been up for about 23 hours so far.
Stew: It's half past eight here but it's 4 in the morning back home.
Delirious? finally arrive at their hotel badly needing sleep. But they'll need to rouse themselves tomorrow to perform for thousands of people.
Delirious? from West Sussex are more famous around the world than in Britain. They've jetted into California to play another huge gig. And they're going to fly straight home again afterwards. They've only had a few hours sleep but get up at the crack of dawn to squeeze in a bit of rock and roll action.
Friend: I'm here playing golf with Delirious? today. Jon Thatcher is a good friend of mine. I sent him an e-mail saying how about some golf? and he e-mailed me back and said absolutely.
Stew: It's good for us to be able to get out otherwise you don't really see anything. You're just in a plane, in a van or you're sound checking, or doing press or playing which is fantastic but its nice to mess around for a bit.
Martin: I lost 7 [golf] balls today. Lucky it's not my job!
Martin: That's my eight ball.
Martin: There's a vulture over there, it's got my tenth golf ball. "The hills are alive with the sound of music"
Stu: Perfect day. Golf in California in the morning. Gig in California in the afternoon.
And so it's off to work. 15 thousand American fans are waiting expectantly to see their British idols.
Martin: We're just about to go on [stage] in two minutes. It's a little bit different from Littlehampton. Jet lag is setting in now. It's quarter to one in the morning at home so we're just a bit mellow now.
[footage from the concert]
Martin: It was very good, lots of people, and it was great to come out all the way for that. We're now going to jump in the show, get on an aeroplane and go home again. We're done.
Fans at the gig: Delirious? were really good, awesome. I've never seen anyone like them. They're a really good band and I love the music.
Tim: It was short and sweet. A very long way to come for a few little numbers! All in a days work.
[At the airport] The band's post gig euphoria is starting to fade as they face a long journey home.
Tim: I hate airports. You've seen one, you've seen them all.
Being known as a clean living band doesn't help you get through customs any quicker.
Tim: He [Ian the tour manager] is currently bribing the whole staff with free CDs, hoping that they won't weigh our luggage. Now they want us to sign all the bribes.
Stew: It's actually quite rare now to find a CD that hasn't been signed. They're worth more than the signed ones now!
The boys have arrived in Washington after a night flight from San Francisco. Blizzard conditions have grounded the onward flight to London. They'll be stranded for hours.
Tim: We've lost all track of time, and are just waiting to get home.
They eventually board their flight back to Britain where they'll slip into the country almost unnoticed. It's sometimes easier to be Delirious? abroad than it is at home.
Tim: In America you'll find there's less cynicism if you've got that Christian label. Something like half the population of America go to church on Sunday.
Martin: They've got less hang ups about where it's come from, whether it's Christian or whatever. If it's a good tune then they'll be into it. We've tried everything, cosmetic surgery, yoga... I've had this trimmed down a bit! [points to his nose] I think we're ready now.
Tony: Being big in your own country has got to be your dream. To be big in England is something we'd all love to see.