Delirious? Biography (Crosswalk.com)
Last modified: 01 Aug 1999
Date: Aug 1999
Here in America, time has a way of condensing. Last year alone, there were retro fashion revivals for every decade since the 30's, and the pace of change only seems to quicken. If that's true in general, it's far more a reality for the English band Delirious, which has had the creative product of its seven years deposited on American soil in less than 24 months.
At the end of '97, Sparrow Records released the massive two-disc pop/worship album, Cutting Edge, to both strong reviews and an incredible audience response in the States. Some of the songs on that album had been recorded over four years earlier, and the collection had been released throughout the U.K. and Europe on the band's own Furious? Records label. Then in mid-'98, Sparrow released the band's pop/rock follow-up, King of Fools, which at that time was already a year old in the U.K., where the band has a successful mainstream single with "Deeper." Now, shifting into high gear, Delirious is releasing Mezzamorphis, an album documenting the growth and change in the band as they travel their faith-journey and expand musical horizons.
What has been a gradual growth process for the band-spiritually, musically and career-wise-has felt far more rapid to fans, especially in the condensed North American setting. For band leader and singer Martin Smith, the changes as Delirious has stepped up to the challenge of taking its music from the safe confines of youth worship in the church to evangelizing the world have felt very natural. "I think we're still that little worship band that we were six years ago," he says. "When we're in private we're still talking about those very same things that motivated us back then. I think there will always be a vertical thing going on with the records and when people come out to see us play live. There always has been, and I think there always will. I think if we've lost that, we've lost the whole plot. What we're about is the challenge to communicate in a way that does truly communicate to folk outside of the church. To get is across in a way that isn't just limited to language. I think we're getting there."
Still, Martin acknowledges that there has been recognizable change. Musically, Mezzamorphis is a more aggressive, modern rock album, embracing the current sounds and seeking to make their own unique mark. Some of the change, he says, is just part of the quintet growing up, maturing both spiritually and as people. "Generally, what people mean when they say, this is totally different, is that this is not a worship album. But for us, it doesn't feel like we went in to make a different record, to us it has a lot of the same elements. It's just older, bigger and a bit more manly. It just came out this way, and it reflects where we are at this point in time. We've always written about what we see, and I think that hasn't changed. We're still writing about what we see, we've just seeing more of the world."
Mezzamorphis does rock with more intentionality, says guitarist/songwriter Stuart Garrard. But, he's quick to point out that it's been two and a half years since King of Fools was recorded, and pop music has changed and the band has grown musically. "This has been a totally natural progression for us musically," assures Stu. "We don't feel that it's been massively different. One difference is that we had Jack Joseph Puig mix it (Eric Clapton, Semisonic, Tonic), and that took it to another league."
For those who were living in a cave and may have missed the story the first round, Stu G. offers this brief history. Delirious for Dummies: "We started off doing the Cutting Edge monthly events for local kids in Littlehampton, on the south coast of England. Those events grew quite quickly to around 1300 people in a year and a half. The songs Martin was writing seemed to hit a nerve with youngsters. There's an honesty and naivete about them that connected. We started to do events around England, and began to believe that one say people would hear our songs on the radio. We released these six song cassettes, which the kids wanted do they could take the songs home. Those recordings (later) became the first American release, =Cutting Edge. In late '95, Martin had a car accident, and it got him thinking about what we were going to do as a band, and with the rest of our lives. So, we became a full-time band."
When the song "Deeper" became a chart-topping single on BBC radio, drawing comparisons to bands like U2 and Oasis, Delirious began to feel that they were going where God wanted them. "As we've developed," explains Stu G., "we wanted to write about our faith in music that worked on a musical level for non-Christians, and for the Christian listener will work on both a musical and spiritual level. In the Cutting Edge events and the songs we were sharing, we were telling kids not to hold their faith inside the four walls of the church, but to take it outside and share it with the world. It would be hypocritical for us not to do the same thing. We've had people tell us that there's an inspiration in our music, similar to what they've heard in U2's music, and they want to know what it is. That's the exact impact we've longed to have."
Current influences, Stu says include: "Radiohead; Manic Street Preachers, a band from Whales; obviously U2's still in it for us. John, our bass player's really into some of the hip-hop, remix-y kinds of things: DJ Shadow, The Beastie Boys. I'm a massive reggae fan for instance, and all these things manage to influence you in some way, even if it's not always readily apparent on the surface. In "Heaven" there are these bridge sections where the kick drums kicking four on the floor, which is basically a ska pattern. That comes out of my reggae background, although no one's going to mistake the song for ska or reggae. We're all finding ways of getting into the music now, in the past we might not have had the craft to do that.
"When we write," Stu continues, "we never really et out to write a particular thing. We constantly talk and analyze our music and the world around us, but when it's time to write, we have to express what's going on inside of us. We started to write more, and songs like 'Deeper' began to pop out. To us, they're no different, it's just a bit of progression."
Martin acknowledges that in the last seven years the members of Delirious have in fact become grown-ups. "Even though we haven't changed a lot, we're still the same blokes we were when we started out, but in another way, I guess we have changed. We were boys when we started out and we're men now, and we've got our own kids. Our opinions have certainly changed about a lot of things, our language has changed, and our whole approach to the kind of quick fix solution to everything in life has probably changed, too. We're all trying to walk the walk, the Christian life. The best we know how, as passionately as we know how, with as much integrity as we know how."
As the title suggests, Delirious is in process; a band with a past, and a vision for the future. In the meantime, they're on a journey, and Mezzamorphis describes the place they're at on the way to what they will some day be. "We haven't made our definitive album," states Stu, "at least not yet. We're still pushing, we haven't finished yet. Which is another reason for the album title, the whole "Mezzanine Floor" thing; were not quite there yet. We're in the whole process of being changed so it's about the effect that it has on us, our music and our relationships."
Martin agrees, the progression visible in Mezzamorphis is a good thing. "We're very excited about this record, and we can't wait for our fans to hear it. Anyone who's really into music, we think will like it. We've reached the stage, where we've had to face the reality that we can't please everyone. We take each step as it comes. We're going to see what happens, and try to be obedient. We don't have an axe to grind, we're just going to do what we've always done."
Stewart Smith - drums and percussion
Stew ran a successful graphic design company for many years, as well as laying beats for 'Cutting Edge'. He continues with the design though, as he art directs all of the packaging and merchandise (secretly relishing the odd times he gets to sit down and push the mouse around for himself). Drum-wise, Stew adds a creative twist to his role - effortlessly combining groove and power.
Martin Smith - vocals and guitars
Before Deliriou5? Martin was a producer. Working mainly with UK artists around the Christian scene, he churned out plenty of successes. Part of the original three that was the backbone to 'Cutting Edge' (the previous incarnation of Deliriou5?), Martin has a natural feel when it comes to fronting the band. Loving the chances to play live, he puts on the role of the enigma with obvious relish.
Jon Thatcher - bass
The youngest of the group, Jon quit art college to go full time with the band in 1996. Influenced by trance and dub more than funk and jazz, Jon's bass remains solid, tuneful and essentially fat. Taking a hands on approach to image and merchandise Jon lovingly describes part of his mission as 'keeping in touch with the kids'.
Tim Jupp - Hammond and keyboards
Tim previously owned the studios out of which Martin worked. From the first days of 'Cutting Edge' Tim has backed up the sound with fat & textured pads, tender piano and plenty of vibey Hammond playing. In the days before having a manager, Tim supplied the band with a sound head for figures and tough decisions.
Stuart Garrard - guitars and vocals
Previously dividing his time between being an electrician and a session musician, Stu feels like he has waited all his life for Deliriou5?. Stu's work includes sessions for Ruby Turner and a full rewire for Jim and Vie Hart of Moor Lane, Stoke Newington. Musically he brings the surface power, size and inspiration that top off the Deliriou5? sound. Lately Stu has been taking a more active role - alongside Martin - in writing material, showing a natural flair for all things pop.