Driven by their faith to rock 'n' roll (The Honolulu Advertiser)
Last modified: 06 Jul 2001
Source: The Honolulu Advertiser
Author: Derek Paiva
Date: 06 Jul 2001
Call them Christians, yes. Just don't label the spiritually-motivated British pop/rock quintet Delirious? as "Christian rockers."
"Immediately, the alarm bells start ringing, telling people, 'Steer clear of that stuff!'" laughs bassist Jon Thatcher. "I mean, we're not ashamed of our faith and who we are. But we don't like to put that preconception out before us."
So how does one describe a group of guys who first met nine years ago at church, formed a part-time band that wrote and played scripture-influenced rock for parish teenagers, and recently opened a British Isles stadium tour for Bon Jovi and matchbox twenty with its ever-more-mainstram-sounding tunes?
"We're a Christian band, and we're also a band of Christians," says Thatcher. "We have a faith that we want to share because we're passionate about it and it's real to us. But at the end of the day, we just want to make great music."
In a chatty half-hour evening phone interview from his backyard garden in Littlehampton - his southern England hometown where "any further south and I'd be in the sea" - the jovial Thatcher talks about everything from band history and unusually hot British weather to a recent Beck concert he attended and a love of all things "Hawaii Five-O."
But first, a question about how it felt to open for a group of blue-collar New Jersey rockers and the guy who wrote and sang "Smooth."
"That was an incredible experience," says Thatcher about the Bon Jovi/matchbox twenty tour. "We were bottom of the bill, but we played to about 40,000 people each night." Not the largest audience Delirious? has played to - its Sunday Waikki Shell concert is bookended by stadium headlining gigs in Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia, and the band has played for crowds of 80,000 - but certainly its largest secular audience.
Delirious? - which besides Thatcher, includes lead vocalist/guitarist Martin Smith, drummer/percussionist Stewart Smith, keyboardist/organist/accordionist Tim Jupp, and guitarist/vocalist Stuart Garrard - chose its name in 1996 just before making a group decision to finally take its musical dreams full time. That was, by the way, just after every member quit a job, sold a business or left school to pursue success beyond a growing fan base in Littlehampton.
"We opened the dictionary and read the meaning of 'delirious' as 'wildly ecstatic, or enthused,'" remembers Thatcher. "Leaving everything we were doing was quite a gamble at the time, as well. But we decided that we wanted to invest our lives in the band. And that's what we've done."
And that oh-so-hip question mark? "Well, to be honest with you, the question mark kind of haunts us," says Thatcher, cracking up. "We thought it would be quite amusing at the time and add a bit of intrigue. Now it's stuck and become part of the copyright... so we're one of those bands with a question mark at the end. Which everyone hates."
Thatcher says Delirious? has cautiously retooled its music over the course of four albums, curbing usage of overtly religious lyrics to attract mainstream audiences while still keeping the faithful happy.
But enough about the music. Thatcher wants to talk about a few of his favourite things.
"Do you know where Jack Lord is buried?" he asks, politely. "I'm a big 'Hawaii Five-O' fan."
Thatcher goes on to prove it by reeling off enough "Five-O" trivia to make Zoulou's head spin.
"Are there any 'Hawaii Five-O' tours that go around the island?"