The Delirious? Background Story (Hoganson Media Relations)
Last modified: 26 Sep 2002
Source: Hoganson Media Relations
Author: Rick Hoganson
Date: 26 Sep 2002
Delirious? seems to press the right buttons for music fans across the globe. The innovative British pop/rock band have mainstream hit albums and singles, gold records, concert tours worldwide, record distribution in 100 countries at last count and much critical acclaim. Their music videos are featured in the UK in regular rotation on MTV, MTV 2, VH-1, and The Box. Their singles are played on major UK radio broadcast networks, college and indie stations. BBC's Radio 1 declared them "pop's best kept secret." Last summer, they toured with Bon Jovi and matchbox twenty in the United Kingdom. In addition, Delirious? is regularly recognized as one of the top Christian bands in the world today, and as having single-handedly changed the face of worship music.
The band's roots extend back to the south coast of England in 1992, where vocalist Martin Smith, drummer Stewart Smith and keyboard player Tim Jupp were the band for monthly youth events in Littlehampton called "Cutting Edge." Martin wrote music for their gatherings, and word began to spread that they were doing something quite new and different with worship music. They recorded a six-song demo, because as Tim explains, " We just wanted to give the kids something to take home with them." Within a year and a half, the events were drawing over 1300 people. Guitarist Stu Garrard and bass player Jon Thatcher joined in 1995, making the line-up complete. It wasn't expected that things would extend beyond the local scenario, but invitations to play further and further away from home came in. Increasing demand for new music led to additional recordings, which together later became the first American release, Cutting Edge.
The tension between full time careers and a whole load of travel with the band reached a climax in the summer of 1995 when singer Martin Smith and bassist Jon Thatcher were caught up in a near-fatal car accident late at night. Hospital meant time for reflection, and gave the band a fresh outlook and focus on making the most of the opportunity they'd been given. Within months the rest of the band had given up their day jobs too, the first full-length studio album was underway and Delirious? was officially born. The band started their own record label as well: Furious? Records, where Stew handled graphic design, Jon worked the stockroom, Stu G pulled together the overseas gigs, Tim managed the business and Martin produced and engineered the tracks.
Their first studio album, King of Fools, brought the first taste of chart success: their radio-friendly pop anthem "Deeper" entered the UK charts at Number 20, as did the bittersweet power-surge of "Promise." Both secured significant national media exposure, helped by the album's entry into the charts at Number 13. What followed were extensive tours of the UK and their first sustained introduction to an American audience, and on both sides of the Atlantic the buzz was out: this was one underground group whose ascent to the surface was well underway. Delirious? also signed with Sparrow Records in the US, and at the end of 1997, Sparrow released the two-disc pop/worship album, Cutting Edge, to strong reviews and incredible audience response.
Critics and fans began regularly comparing the band to U2, Radiohead, Manic Street Preachers and Oasis, and seemed intrigued by the lyrical content of the songs. Stu G confesses, "As we've developed, we wanted to write about our faith in a way that worked on a musical level for non-Christians, and for the Christian listener will work on both a musical and spiritual level. We've had people tell us 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 impact we've longed to have."
The band settled down to recording a new album at the start of 1998, but found themselves inundated with offers to perform in America. Over the course of the next twelve months, they played to over 500,000 people and sold huge numbers of their back catalogue. During this time, Sparrow released King of Fools in America. It spent 18 weeks on the Billboard Heatseekers' Chart and sold 200,000 copies from March - December. The single "Deeper" was at Number 1 for six weeks on the Christian CHR charts. Meanwhile, Virgin Records took an interest in the band and signed Delirious? to handle their mainstream releases in North America. Their sophomore studio album, Mezzamorphis (Furious, Sparrow and Virgin Records) was released to widespread critical acclaim, including rave reviews from Q, Melody Maker, Rock Sound, The Guardian and Maxim. It reached Number 5 on the Billboard Heatseekers' Chart and remained on the chart for 16 weeks. The album went to Number 25 on the UK Top 100 Charts and Number 2 on the indie charts. The single "See the Star" peaked at Number 16 on the UK Top 40 Chart and went to Number 2 on the indie charts. Mezzamorphis went to Number 1 on the Contemporary Christian Music Album Chart.
In 1999, the Delirious? story went global. VH-1 used the single "Deeper '99" as the soundtrack for the VH-1 Fashion Awards, and Fox TV used another single, "It's OK," on the show Get Real. The band headlined tours in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, playing to sold-out crowds in many instances. Throughout 1999 and well into 2000, the band set up shop in a bewildering array of new territories, spreading the d:vibe and ending up amazed at just how far things had reached ahead of them.
As the band spent an increasing amount of time meeting fans that were into the early underground material, thoughts turned once more to the studio. Over the months they pieced together something special. What started out as a low-budget EP gradually became a fully-fledged, impeccably produced album entitled Glo, which combined the band's pop/rock sensibility with worshipful lyrics. The result was lauded by many critics as their best work to date, and was named the Number 1 "Christian/Gospel Album of the Year 2000" by Amazon.com, as well as being nominated for a Dove Award for "Praise and Worship Album of the Year".
2001 was filled with more recording, releases and tours. Delirious? was the opening band for Bon Jovi and matchbox twenty's tour of the United Kingdom in June. Many of the dates were sold out, including the show at RDS Stadium in Ireland, drawing a crowd of 40,000 and registering in music industry magazine Pollstar as having the third highest attendance internationally during that reporting period.
The band's first release, Cutting Edge, was RIAA Certified Gold in August, following it's Gold certification in Canada, February, 2001. October saw the birth of "deeper - the d:finitive worship experience" - a two-disc sampling of some of the band's best-known worship music. The collection features a new version of "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever," a song that hit on the UK Top 40 Charts, and has become a signature song in churches around the world, as well as remixes (such as "Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble"), previously unreleased versions, new numbers ("Not Forgotten") and old favourites (including "Obsession", "History Maker" and "Follow").
Increasing media attention has lead to questions about Delirious?'s seemingly dual identities as both a rock band and Christians, a more widely accepted combination with the massive popularity and commercial success of bands like Creed, Lifehouse, P.O.D. and U2. Tim Jupp says, "We just see ourselves as a band out there trying to write great music and we just happen to be Christians. I think often you get tagged with this label of 'Christian band,' which is a little strange for us because if you're a Christian and a fireman you don't get labeled a Christian fireman. A lot of our songs have that kind of focus because that's who we are. We're a rock band, and we're Christians. We see no conflict or compromise in that." Jon Thatcher continues, "In England, there's not really a Christian music scene. The Christian industry is really non-existent. It's good to be in there - good that all the music is put together. When people hear the Christian tag, they automatically think it's second-rate. They think you're going to preach to them. We try to fix it by being ourselves in our environment. They can see we're not out to tell them they're sinners or to repent; we're all just people trying to do our best." Adds Stew Smith, "We've found that once we meet people and they realize we're just a bunch of normal guys, everything is cool." The band have long had a saying which encompasses their view of Christians and non-Christians alike enjoying Delirious?'s music, "You don't have to believe to belong."