Interview: Delirious? on World Service and The Future (Delirious.org.uk)
Last modified: 13 Oct 2004
Author: Dave Wood
Date: 13 Oct 2004
It's the middle of October 2004 and Delirious? are mid way through their 'World Service UK Tour', one of the most exciting and well attended tours the band have ever undertaken. Actually, it's been a very exciting and extremely busy year for the band. 2004 sees them performing more concerts than ever before, travelling to more countries than ever before, and arguably performing better than ever before.
In their modest, yet comfortable dressing room backstage at London's Shepherds Bush Empire, the band relaxed on a sofa as Delirious.org.uk put a range of questions to them, shortly before they went on stage.
"We feel like we're in a good place and are pretty relaxed about the whole thing", says Martin as he describes the current tour. "We're enjoying it and it just feels like the songs are really strong. We're coming out and playing all 12 songs from the new album" he explains. In the pre-tour hype, the band had spoken about how "Recent gigs felt like being at church without a preacher up front". When pressed on this, Stew explains what they meant. "I suppose we were trying to convey the sentiment of what we're about really, of everyone gathered in one place, praising and worshiping and being on that journey together. And it definitely feels like that is where we're at as a band. Allowing God to speak to people. It's not just about emotional feeling it's about God speaking to people through music, through lyrics, through the hit of a drum, a guitar chord or whatever it is. That's what we live and breathe for, not just to play music but to be far deeper than that really".
The current UK Tour spans three weeks and 14 concerts, with the band performing up to five nights in a row at times. Despite that, the band claim to never tire of going on stage. "We don't find it hard going on every night because we're really into it this tour, as much as any tour before if not more", says Stu G. "We're really thrilled with the set, the way the production is, the fact that we're doing the whole new album and getting good crowds along. It's just exciting. You get tired when like this week we've got five on the trot, so you have to take care of your voice and all that kind of stuff. But it's not boring and it's still exciting to go on every night." As Martin explains, the 'World Service Tour' also sees Delirious? supported by a top-notch band. "We've loved having Rock And Roll Worship Circus on this tour maybe the most out of any support band we've had. There's definitely a connection between us as personalities. They're very very talented guys"
With six studio albums under their belts, Delirious? have a hefty back catalogue of songs to choose from when they go on tour. Martin describes how the band put together the set list for a concert. "We have about five days rehearsals before we come into the tour. Everything is pretty well thrashed out and quite well thought out. Normally we'll change it every night or it could take a week to get it to a place where it's really comfortable. But amazingly we hit it right first night, and it feels like we've settled on it. We're just enjoying the way the set progresses." When asked which songs they enjoy performing most, Tim immediately has an answer, "I love doing Inside Outside" he says. For Stew, the highlight is the acoustic part of the night, where the band all sit together in the middle of the stage, "I've been enjoying the acoustic set. It's been great to get a little bit closer [to the fans] and see the whites of the eyes" he says with a grin. "It feels very intimate and it feels very friendly. A lot of what we do is very intense so that is a little bit more fun and light hearted and you can see people singing and laughing."
It's nearly a year since the band's latest album 'World Service' was first released, so do the band think it's their best album to date? "It's definitely up there yeah" says StuG after considering it for a few moments. "What's interesting is that coming into the tour, you tend to listen back to some of the old stuff and really enjoy that again. You know albums like Mezzamorphis, Audio Lessonover and Glo. I think it's the best that we can do at any given time. A new album is always your best album. I think that the way that World Service has connected with people gives it an added dimension as well. So yeah, I guess it is the best that we've done" he concludes. Jon explains that the album was not so much a new direction for the band, but more like a continuation of the Delirious? story. "I would see it [World Service] as progression. If you look at the history of Delirious? you can see that it does make sense, it's not detached by any means, but I think following Audio Lessonover or Touch it was back to the classic Delirious? sound and themes"
Out of all of the songs on 'World Service' probably the highlight of the tour has been the emotional 'Mountains High'. "It's quite poignant, but we've got to the stage now where we're enjoying singing it and it's become a song we do that it's only when you talk to people afterwards that come along and experience the song for themselves and you think, wow it's really quite moving" explains Martin. "We're just over the moon really about how that song turned out. We've got a great video that we had made for it too and that adds a lot of power to it as well".
With the tour going so well, and the impressive visuals and lighting effects, it would seem an ideal time to shoot a live DVD. "That's a discussion we have often had and we would love to do that" admits Tim. "We have talked about doing it this tour but at the end of the day it is an extremely expensive venture to undertake. We'd love to be able to do everything but it's not always possible. One of these days it may happen. Sales of DVDs are increasing and that will only help us to be able to do that sort of thing". In the mean time fans can console themselves with a project Delirious? worked on jointly with Australia's Hillsong "We've got the Hillsong DVD, that's got Rain Down on it, Majesty and some of the other songs that are great live, so people should check that out" continues Tim.
Having talked about the current album, the conversation turns to what Delirious? might do next. Martin confirms that they have started thinking about the next album, but they're not going to be rushed into anything. "We'd like to think that next year we could start recording it" he says, "We're not quite sure how much pressure to put on ourselves yet. It depends what comes along between now and Christmas time. We're quite relaxed about it really. The thing that's caught us out is that World Service is so strong that it feels like all the countries we need to go to are still wanting us to play it, and that is going to take all of next year to do that. So there's no hurry in some respects but we do realise that our English fans want another record soon!" Tim expands further by saying "On the strength of this record there are some places we want to go to, like Canada, South Africa and more places in Europe where we'd like more of a presence with this record."
Some of Delirious' earlier albums, such as 'Audio Lessonover' and 'Mezzamorphis', saw the band releasing singles and making progress in the mainstream arena. Yet with 'World Service' this trend seems to have stopped. "We definitely haven't given up on the mainstream" promises Stew, "that's an integral part of who we are. At the beginning of this year we felt like we wanted to concentrate on the Christian thing and do a lot more UK events, particularly over the summer to do some of the Christian festivals and make friends with people again, get out there and rub shoulders with some of those people. We played at those events four or five years ago and that's been a great thing for us to get out and do that again. It was interesting at the beginning of the year when we decided we didn't really have the money to invest into singles, which costs an awful lot of money. So we sort of put that on the back burner a little bit and said to God, just see what happens, no plans."
But whilst Delirious? haven't released any singles in the UK this year, in Germany it's a different story explains Stew. "The whole German thing picked up with Inside Outside, and now Every Little Thing has been released as a second single so that's been a great surprise for us. So although there's no mainstream single action in the UK it's more than ever in Europe: Germany and Switzerland. It's been great, we've been out there three or four times now, doing some big radio festivals and mainstream things. We're excited about that and it's nice for us to go to mainland Europe. We hop on a bus and arrive there the next morning where the culture is so different. It's been refreshing to not have to get on a plane and travel for 12 hours. We're all really confident that God's going to do something extraordinary with the songs that are on that album, we'll just have to wait and see, but there's a little bit of life left in the old dog yet."
"The other thing to mention on the singles front is the whole MP3 technology stuff" adds Jon. "We released Rain Down and Majesty through that. I think the whole singles market has changed a lot since we first started and we're very much looking to embrace that technology and give music to people by that means rather than in a record store, although that's obviously still a big part of it". So in the future, could we see Delirious? rising up the MP3 charts instead of the Radio1 charts? "Its looking as though that could be the future, and that's global so you can get music to a lot more people rather than just 13 to 18 year olds on Radio1. Get the right MP3 chart position and you could really affect the world. I think they kind of compliment each other, but who knows how it's going to turn out."
With so much going on for the band in Germany at the moment, will the success help Delirious? in the UK? "Yah! It's good Yah?!" jokes Stew in a German accent. "There's definitely going to be a knock-on effect" he says more seriously. "I don't know how much British people are interested in what's happening outside of England to be honest. But it's a story and people hear that and that does raise people's expectations of what we're doing and allows people to see us a little more globally rather than just a UK band."
Back in the summer the band witnessed shocking scenes whilst performing at the UK's Grapevine Festival. Martin describes what happened: "We were on stage at the time and a bloke ran up to the stage and said 'stop, stop, stop', so we stopped playing and suddenly realised that a whole section of seating had collapsed." For the band it must have been a sickening moment, and their thoughts instantly turned to those involved. Martin continues, "We were in deep shock. The next minute there were fire engines and ambulances and we were just praying that there was nobody dead, and thankfully nobody did die". Amazingly, within days of the accident occurring, the casualties were released from hospital with nothing more serious than a few broken bones, but the moment has clearly stayed with the band. "It was probably the most horrendous thing we've been a part of as a band together. In a musical capacity one minute it was extreme jubilation and then to go to the opposite of that emotion was quite frightening really."
On a happier note, Delirious? like millions of others around the world witnessed the Olympic Games during the summer. But unlike most of us, the band didn't have to make do with watching it on TV, they actually visited Greece in person. "It was fantastic" says Stu, "We were invited by an organisation that was doing a lot of evangelism on the streets with people coming from all around the world. They put on a cultural concert with the backing of the Olympic committee in Athens and we were invited to go out there and play and we thought it was a fantastic opportunity. Just flying into the airport and seeing all the athletes was quite a phenomenal experience. We managed to get an hour in between sound checking and playing to go and see the Acropolis and some of the tourist bits and pieces there. It was quite amazing really."
In November, one story will dominate world news more than any other: The American Presidential Election. With this in mind, fans would be forgiven for wondering if Martin Smith himself would be interested in the job, after all he did pen a song titled 'American President' for the b-side of the 2001 single 'I Could Sing', where he sings about wanting to be the President. "You have to be American don't you Jon?" inquires Martin. "Yeah" replies Jon patiently. So, if he doesn't really want to be President, what is that puzzling song all about? "It's just a bit of fun but I like the words" laughs Martin. "What does it mean? What do I know! Its a story about a kid in England growing up and dreaming that one day he's going to be President, which of course isn't possible! It goes into a story about how he wants to be on the cover of a magazine and marry someone and live in a white house. So that's what it's about, a lot of fun to be honest."