Delirious? at Manchester Apollo (Grip Magazine)
Last modified: 24 May 2002
Source: Grip Magazine
Author: Nick Hallworth
Date: 24 May 2002
Nick Hallworth writes for 'Grip', a Manchester based student magazine. Shortly before the Manchester gig of the UK Fire Tour 2002 Nick interviewed Martin Smith, Stu Garrard and Jon Thatcher of Delirious? for an article to be published in the September issue.
NH: How's the tour been going so far?
Martin Smith: It's been going great, actually. We've got 2 under our belt so far and we call this the Fire Tour, 'cos we're feeling like the heat's on and we're playing good and the visuals are fantastic - we've got a big video show - and tonight we're at the Manchester Apollo and its gonna be a great night.
NH: Is the visual element of the show important to you as a band?
Stu Garrard: It's all part of what we're trying to do - we're trying to push the barriers forward for us as a band, and to have something that brings an extra element to a lot of the songs is a good thing for us, and we've spent some money this year on getting that all together - we've got some great video stuff to really complement some of the songs so hopefully it's a big addition to the show.
NH: Is it hard preparing a set list these days?
Jon Thatcher: Yeah - we were in the rehearsal room last week and it was quite a discussion, 'cos we've got albums and albums worth of songs now, so were dropping some classics and putting some others in but I think its better that way than the other way.
NH: So, you're playing quite a mix of songs...
JT: Yeah -this set spans the entire spectrum - its got some of the older stuff and some brand new stuff and we're really pleased with how the set's been flowing. It seems that the crowd are really into the thing, with the old and the new and the visuals and we've been really pleased.
NH: You've just come off a big U.S. tour. How different is playing in the states to playing in the UK?
MS: Well, obviously playing here we can get home every night, which is nice - it's a bit difficult in America! No, we enjoy both countries a lot, actually. Obviously our home is here and people understand your gags in England, which is great. Well, it is for me anyway! But America is a great place to play music in, We always have big crowds there, but I'd say what we're doing in England at the moment is the furthest we've ever pushed the artistic element - the visuals and the videos - so it's really fulfilling.
NH: You take your families with you when you tour the states, don't you?
MS: Yeah, we've just come back from a big tour - 19 shows in the states, across a month. We took our families - twelve kids between the five of us, we had three big tour buses, and a total of thirty-three people on the road, so it was, er, (in American accent) Awesome!
NH: You did the Bon Jovi Tour in the summer. How did that come about?
JT: It initially came from our management - they saw an advert in the paper - that Bon Jovi were touring so they sent over all the relevant material, and Bon Jovi management were into it and Bon Jovi were into it so out on the road we went and it was an amazing experience for us. It was great to get out and play to those kind of bands and those kinds of venues and it was really good just to get us a wider audience, expand our fan base a little bit, 'cos we've got a really really great dedicated fan base, that have supported us for the last 10 years but, you sometimes get put in a little box and it's hard for us to reach beyond that box so that was a great experience for us.
NH: You've got a great live reputation. What makes the live show so special?
SG: Well hopefully it's great music and its something that we're passionate about. We do work hard on choosing the setlist, and we work hard at trying to hit the spot for each tour, and I think that we've got a great number of songs that we can choose from now and we can really put our favourite songs in, which is great, and I think that all comes across - we're really enjoying ourselves and I think that's what people notice when they see us play now - we're having a great time.
NH: You're last studio album, Audio Lessonover?, was probably the most stripped back record you've done as a band. What made you decide to do that?
MS: Yeah, we definitely went into the studio knowing that we were going to make a bit more of a, I dunno what you'd call it, a 'band record', stripped back... you can definitely tell that we played it 'on the floor' and the arrangements have come together from us being all set up in the studio floor area and knocking them out. It probably wasn't completely everything that we imagined the record to be, but the great thing is that there's some good songs. I think the production is brilliant in places and I think we touched something on there which we've not touched before, and I think we want to take that into the next record.
NH: What did you mean by 'it wasn't completely everything we imagined the record to be'?
MS: (long pause) I just think that there's a Delirious? sound, that clicks, when we all look at each other, all five of us, and know we're on it, and sometimes we didn't quite get that on that record. But I would say I'm still very very proud of it, and I think we'll look back, probably a little bit further ahead, and realise we made a great record.
NH: I think it's a fantastic album.
NH: The album was produced by Chuck Zwicky. How much influence did he have on the sound of the album?
SG: He had a big influence on it and, he made us really work hard at the tracking stage. He wanted to capture us playing live, and then embellish it from there, but not just go in and say, y'know, 'today we're just gonna get drums and bass' - he wanted to get the whole thing as a take, so we worked on each sound individually, really hard. Then we went and did the track, so he had a big influence on the sound.
NH: Audio Lessonover? is an anagram of 'Radio One Loves Us'. Whose ideas was that, and what was the thinking behind it?
JT: It was kind of my idea... it was a bit of a gag to start off with. I'm quite into anagrams, being, quite geeky, (laughs) but we were trying to get a name for this album, and that was one of the suggestions. It's obviously very tongue in cheek: 'Radio One loves us', because there's a bit of a history there with them playing our stuff or not playing our stuff, but, it wasn't anything against Radio One, it was just a bit of a cheeky nod to them, really, and I think our fans understand that and that kind of thing is what Delirious? is about: doing things in a little bit of a different way, and being a bit humorous about it, not taking it too seriously.
NH: Do you ever feel that the 'Christian band' label holds you back in the mainstream?
SG: We don't actually know, to be honest, but we have a hunch, I think, at times that, as in any walk of life, if you say you're a Christian, people have reactions to that. They might think that its second rate, or a little bit weird, or whatever, or people might just think that you're just trying to preach at them all the time, so we don't really know. I mean at the end of the day, its gotta be down to the music, and whether that's good enough, and we're just gonna keep going on that one.
NH: One of the ways you've got around a lack of mainstream coverage is by releasing tracks to MP3 as a free download...
MS: Yeah, I think its exciting, all that kind of stuff. Sometimes I think you're caught between a rock and a hard place, because you're pushing the envelope a little bit with sticking singles out there, and in a way it doesn't mean much but in a way it means a lot, and maybe in 5 years time it will mean a lot more than now. What was great about that was that it meant that people all around the world could access that music, and it was the first time that we'd done it on a global level - we've only ever released singles in the UK, so that was great: we were getting people from Japan, downloading it, and America, and all around the world, so that's exciting. But we're happy boys, we're not so caught up in numbers, necessarily. I think we feel what were doing has got a lot of purpose, still, and we just keep on pushing it with every tour, so, were happy with that.
JT: One of the reasons that we make music is so that people can hear it, so to release something as a free download on MP3, we've had, I think it's about three quarters of a million people worldwide download that, so that just excites us, that we're making music 'cos people wanna hear it and that can't be a bad thing.
MS: It would be nice if we could sell that many singles!
NH: How would you describe your music to people who haven't heard any of your records?
SG: It's always hard to describe your own music, but its kind of a hard-edged pop/rock sound, I guess. Our influences are people like U2 and Radiohead, so if you're into that couple of bands, you'd probably like us.
NH: When can we expect the next album?
MS: I think we're aiming towards December/January to start recording. We haven't found a producer yet, but were looking into that, and we're excited. We've got six or seven ideas buzzing around, and who knows how it will turn out, but its all looking promising.
NH: Is it going to be more of an Audio Lessonover? or more of a Glo-type album?
MS: We don't actually know. I don't think we'll worry about the vision, we'll just get the songs happening, and then...
NH: One of things that Delirious? do differently is that you set up, and you run your own label. Whose idea was that?
MS: Well, it was a general feeling between us, years ago, when we started selling these tapes, at the event we were doing, called Cutting Edge, and sending them around the country in Jiffy bags, and stuff like that, and there was just a general feeling of, you know, 'hang on, we're kind of doing this ourselves, why do we need to give it to a label?'. There weren't any labels at the time we wanted to get to anyway, and so we thought we'd just carry on doing it, and it was more that it just came about through that rather than a decision to never do it with anyone else. It kind of built and built and built until we employed people to help us do that and we're still running it. We're actually distributed in about 92 countries around the world, all with licensed deals, and we've not signed to anyone, so that's quite an achievement, really.
NH: You've now signed another band to the label- 'Everyone'...
MS: Yeah, it's exciting. I think it's one of the things that we'll do more of in the future, but we're excited about signing Everyone to us because they write great songs, I think they're a great band. They're in the studio right now, actually, in Nashville, and I've just heard some stuff over the 'phone, a couple of days ago, and, its very exciting.
NH: How different do you think the last 10 years would have been if you'd signed to a major label?
MS: We'd get dropped!
JT: I think that's a good question and one that we'll never really know the answer to. We often ask ourselves that and, on one level, we could've signed to a big label that could've chucked in loads of money, and given us the profile and we could've sold millions of records. On another level, we could still have had a record label that did that, and not sold as many records, and we'd be dropped, or in a contract now that we were stuck in and, we often wonder... but I think were glad that we're where we are right now, and that's a gradual process; we're still pushing the envelope and we're still writing great music and we're still in a 'contract' that allows us to do that.
NH: It's ten years since the first Cutting Edge Event, when the band first started. How have you changed since then?
MS: Well, I think we're as passionate about what were doing. I think what has changed is that we've probably got better at what we do, than ten years ago, I think were a strong band now, and can go out in front of big crowds and do a great show and its taken years to get to that place. I don't know what else has changed, really.
SG: We've improved with age, matured a bit, worked really hard and it's paying off.
NH: How has your faith helped you through the last ten years?
SG: Our faith is everything to us, It's the core of what we do - it's the reason behind a lot of the things that we do, and its helped us through good times and bad times and its just at the very middle of everything we do, and everything we do comes out of that.
NH: What do you see for the band in the next ten years?
MS: Well, who can predict, but there's a feeling between us still that things are around the corner, a few surprises, we've not come this far to give up, and we really believe in what we're doing. I think more people are gonna hear it in the next five years than have heard it so far, so were really excited about that. There's lots of countries to play in that we've not played in, we want to explore the whole Asia market, and I think some more songs, and great gigs to come, and hopefully a lot of people touched by God through the music.
Special thanks to Nick Hallworth for providing this transcript of his interview.