Back To The Future (CCM Magazine)
Last modified: 01 Mar 2001
Source: CCM Magazine
Author: John J. Thompson
Date: Mar 2001
"I totally understand where people are coming from when they say we've gone back to our roots on this record," explains Delirious guitarist and co-writer Stuart (Stu-G) Garrard, "but for us everything we do comes out of a worshipful heart."
To the delight of its fans, the British band that's helping to lead the new revolution in praise & worship music has released its fifth album, Glo (Sparrow). Although appreciative of fans' enthusiasm, Garrard wonders if the perception of a "return to form" is accurate. "Actually," he says in a phone interview from the band's Littlehampton, England, home office, "I don't think Glo is 'going back' at all because I think it's the best record we've made so far, a big step forward for us."
On the group's last outing, 1999's Mezzamorphis, Delirious incorporated more aggressive musical textures with lyrics that were more complex and less sing-along-friendly than its debut album, Cutting Edge, or its successor, King of Fools. With significant interest from the pop scene in its native England, the indie band made a concerted effort to reach the general pop music audience while still remaining connected to its fans and friends at Arun Community Church. That relationship led to the surprise breakout hit "Deeper," which charted in the Top 20 on BBC Radio, a feat brought about by Delirious' considerable fan base and appealing blend of alternative pop and arena rock. With a sound somewhere between U2 and Simple Minds, and an audience that was as accustomed to closing its eyes in worship as it was to screaming for its favorite band, Delirious represented a whole new way to imagine Christian music.
Now, the band has released its fifth and most fully realized effort to date. Glo has thrilled die-hard fans with its seeming return to praise & worship songs more reminiscent of early Cutting Edge material than anything from the technology-driven Mezzamorphis. Garrard elaborates on the transition: "We were going full steam ahead with what we would call a 'radio record,' and it was like God stopped us in our tracks and said, 'Don't forget the people who like to sing your songs in church.' So that's what we did-really out of obedience."
Musically, the band has done anything but retreat. Glo features the most diverse instrumentation and production of Delirious' career.
"It's the songs themselves that dictate the whole instrumental direction and mood the music takes when we record them," keyboardist Tim Jupp explains. "We wrote some songs with radio in mind, and I think that draws out of us the things that would fit better there. But all of us have led worship in churches, and we are all mindful of the way music can be used from an instrumental point of view to help draw people into the presence of God."
The shift from Mezzamorphis to Glo was birthed in the studio after band members cut some demos of songs from Mezzamorphis and played them live "the old-fashioned way," Garrard says. "We had a really good time with it."
The process was so good that it sparked some new ideas going into the next record. "We wanted to capture some of the things that happen live with us on stage, things we like to call an 'experience'" Garrard explains. Enter producers Tedd T. (Rebecca St. James, Margaret Becker) and Charles Zwicky.
"Those guys really helped us capture some things live in the studio. We really just went off on enjoying ourselves, worshipping God with our instruments."
Sparrow Records' Lynn Nichols says, "Because of where they come from, I feel like everything they do has a heart of worship. It comes out even in songs that are less obviously sing-along/church-type songs. While these guys just naturally gravitated to those types of songs on this record, they have continued creatively, sonically and musically on the path they traveled with Mezzamorphis."
The modern praise & worship music movement is now represented by a plethora of artists and projects that have poured out of the floodgates-a trend that has been questioned and scrutinized by churches and music industry professionals for the past several years. But Nichols believes that artists like Delirious will rise above the fray: "[The music] has grown into a bit of a fad because whenever God moves, people recognize it and want to be involved in it," he says. "There may be a glut of worship projects coming out right now, but somehow the ones that are good and real and right find their way."
Garrard adds, "One thing that is true about [the modern worship movement] is the passion behind it all. We all love church. We love worshipping God, and we love making music to the best of our ability. In the whole movement, as long as people are true to that passion, and it's a real thing for them as individuals and to the people they are playing to, then it's fantastic.
"Ten years ago, it wouldn't have been cool for kids to go to a worship evening, necessarily, but it is now. That's fantastic because it is worship that opens up the heart to God."
In January, Delirious returned to the studio with Zwicky to record new material that will be released in the UK first and in the States shortly thereafter.
The "Glo Experience," a whirlwind, three-week U.S. tour, begins next month. Since the group members have a policy that they are never on the road for more than two weeks without their families, all five musicians will hit the 18 cities with loved ones in tow. "The concerts are very much going to be about coming to worship," Garrard promises, "but I think we will have some tricks up our sleeve. The whole evening is going to be focused on getting sweaty for God, really."
Jupp-the keeper of the loops and ambience that help to replicate the album experience on tour-adds: "From a technical point of view, we'll spill in some of the loops and the odd noises like the monks on 'God, You Are My God.' We use those things as icing on the cake, but ultimately the power of what we do comes from the dynamic of five people playing together. Sometimes the songs might sound like the record, and other times they go off on a different tangent. You can never keep it in a box really."
While the band may be showing its roots on Glo, Delirious is obviously moving forward in its future goals.
"Our vision is to make the best music we possibly can, and I think we are doing that with each record we release," Garrard says. "We want to see people touched by the hand of God when we play, and a main focus for us is getting singles out and having an effect in the mainstream. That's important to us because we think that's where Jesus would be if He was playing rock 'n' roll. He'd be out there with the John Lennons and the Bob Dylans of this world making a difference. That's what we want to do."