The Making Of World Service, With Producer Julian Kindred (
Last modified: 15 Dec 2004

Author: Dave Wood
Date: 15 Dec 2004

Exactly one year ago today, on 15th December 2003, Delirious? released their sixth and arguably most highly anticipated album, 'World Service'. The band had spent the best part of a year working on the project, and expectations amongst fans and critics were sky high. The album proved to be an instant success, receiving some of the best reviews any Delirious? album had ever earnt. For many fans it came straight in at the top of their favourites list.

To find out more about the making of 'World Service', spoke to a man who was involved every step of the way. Speaking publicly about the album for the first time, Julian Kindred the producer for the 'World Service' album, told all about the process of recording the album, and just what went on behind closed studio doors.

"The only set idea I wanted to do with them was to make a very honest record" explains Julian. "We all wanted that. I just wanted it to sound like the listener believed everything they were doing per song. Some records sound very contrived. I'm all for records having amazing fidelity and precision but I just want them to sound spirited above all else. Delirious work best when they are presented in that way. Martin and I had these lofty conversations of making a hi-concept record, little vignettes and segues throughout, the works! But as we went along it became clear that we didn't have any concept, all we had were some really well written songs. It was a back to basics focus, but under the circumstances it was the right thing to focus on."

Julian is a native of Eastern Canada, and says he was "raised in a musical family. My Father is a musician and my Mother is a professional music fan, so there was a lot of encouragement to explore music from an early age. I started learning guitar, then keyboards, from my father. As I got older, I realised I was more interested in how records were made than in trying to be the best musical performer I could be. Despite continuing playing keyboard, I decided to study record making. When I was a kid, I was interested in what a Record Producer and Recording Engineer meant when I read it on an album sleeve, but there weren't a lot of people to explain it to me. I had to figure it out for myself."

In order to continue his interest, Julian had to move further afield. "After getting some experience in my home town, I ended going to the USA to try and get some connections going. Over time, it paid off because I met a lot of people who gave me studio opportunities which led to many chances to develop my skills and get my name around. I basically worked like a slave for a long time, with no money, and eventually people started using me on a regular basis. I really knew that I wanted to do this with my life. And to this day I can't think of anything I'd rather do."

Over the last few years, Julian has worked with a range of artists. "I've worked with many people, too many to say in a short period of time" he says. His CV reads like a "who's who" of Christian music. "To name a few there's Third Day, Rebecca St. James, Jars of Clay, The Newsboys, Toby McKeehan, Margaret Becker, Luna Halo, Common Children, Audio Adrenaline, Nicole Nordeman, The Choir. Lately I've worked with Cathy Burton and Matt Redman." When asked about his own taste in music, Julian admits to a diverse selection. "My own listening taste varies. The main things I like are British bands such as Radiohead, The Verve, Primal Scream, Travis and Manic Street Preachers. My favourite band in the world right now is Doves. I also like Jazz in the form of Miles Davis and Horace Silver. I listen to a lot of Debussy and Ravel for classical. Lots of live R&B, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire. The Police and The Smiths were very influential on me. My CD collection has people scratching their heads!" he laughs.

Julian first worked with Delirious? back in 1999 on their Mezzamorphis album. "I was an engineer with Martin for a three week period" he explains. "I recorded some lead vocals, a few drums, and added some weird bits with some of the guys in the band. Just another person to add his two cents worth on that one. That's when the guys and I first got to know each other." But it was to be four years later before his path next crossed with Delirious? "I had just finished producing 'Everyone' for Furious? Records and was in London taking some time off. Martin and Stu G called me up one day and asked if I'd like to hear some demos for the new record they were getting ready to do. They played me very rough versions of 'Grace like a River', 'Inside Outside' and 'God in Heaven'. Afterwards they asked me if I'd consider producing with them."

As the album's Producer, what was Julian's actual involvement in making the album? "What a producer does can be pretty vague and other times it's very specific. Sometimes it's a guy who is making phone calls and keeping people happy while other guys are doing everything. In the instance with this record, as with most stuff I do, I was pretty 'hands-on' but the band were the ones performing. The songs were well written in the beginning, but the band and I did spend a good amount of time making the arrangement's of the songs as concise or embellished as they needed to be. As a producer, I put a high priority on the pre-planning of the songs as possible. With the guys, we did all of this in the studio, instead of before hand. Approximately a day finessing the arrangements, then recording one take so we'd remember what in the world we did. We'd call it a day, come back in the morning and start recording 'takes'. Once we got a 'take' that felt great, we'd concentrate on the drums, finish those and move on to the bass and so on. After a while a lot of time was spent 'embellishing' with layers of parts. I challenged them a lot about treating the written material the best way we could as well as suggesting parts, harmonies, melodic bits, etc. Then you need to let them make some of their own decisions about what you're throwing at them."

So did Delirious? make all the decisions themselves? "The guys and I decided in the beginning that we would make all the decisions together so we all had a lot of say I guess. Although, if there was a disagreement on how to pursue something, they would often depend on me to sort it out and decide which direction we were going to go. Basically I was there to record them well, make them sound as good as they should, but also to 'coach' I guess you could say, the best performances out of them. Encouraging them about what they were doing well and challenge them about what they could do better. There's a strange aspect to producing where you're being paid by these people, yet your job is tell them if they're not giving their very best. Some producers find that awkward, but you have to let the artist you're working with know that you'll challenge them when they need it. Most times when they ask for your opinion they want you to be as truthful as you can. Most times!"

Despite working hard on the album, Julian insists that it was important for them to take regular breaks. "Starting about 9:30 in the morning, there would follow about 58 tea breaks a day. You know, just to keep us at our best. We'd talk a lot on breaks about things we were hoping to do with the songs and then discuss how we might go about them. Then back to work and more attention to detail."

"There are a lot of parts I'm proud of," says Julian, as he describes how it feels to listen to the finished album. "I think 'Grace like a River' was the best choice to open up with. We talked about that the day Martin and Stu G played me demos, a whole month before we recorded. I think 'Inside Outside' was done very well, everyone did their very best on that, a true collaboration! That's one of my favourites. Martin really allowed himself to get in a new head space to sing some of the stuff on this record. Particularly the stuff in the bridge of 'God in Heaven'. I thought he could do that sort of thing and he proved me right. 'Inside Outside' and 'I Was Blind' are also favourite vocal performances of mine. I'm proud of how well thought out Jon's bass parts are, I think it's obvious how developed that guy has become. Stew Smith's drumming was a mindblower on the record as well as his enthusiasm each day. It was contagious. He told me it was the best recording experience he's ever had and his wife, Sara, asked me what I'd done to make him so excited when he came home each day! Not many things in my life have made me more proud than hearing things like that."

When Julian listens to the album, does he hear his own influence on the band? "When I listen to the record, there are places where I hear my influence on the band, but more so I'm reminded of how well we got on and I hear all of us on there. World Service really was one of my best musically collaborative experiences ever. There are many bits which were specific suggestions from me. But I'm most excited that those suggestions were things which meant something to the guys and were a help in them giving the best performances they could. Rather than thinking, 'Oh, I came up with that bit', I tend to think about how well we contributed together. It really was an exciting environment."

Several tracks on the album feature a string section, as Julian explains. "We decided to add texture to some songs and hired some players to come in and recorded them in Martin's living room, which sounded very good. A nice big wooden room. We did the four or so songs with the string players in an afternoon. One of the guys was from Jersey. He came over, did the gig, and then got in his car and drove to Bournemouth to take the ferry to go right back home. A good Rock n Roll story!" Julian also provided some loops for the album himself. "I made some of my own drum loops on the record such as the one in 'Majesty', 'Mountains High' etc. It has to be said Stu G did some as well, like in 'God in Heaven'!"

Julian's involvement on 'World Service' didn't stop when the last song had been recorded, "I was involved in the record from the very beginning right to the bitter end" he explains. "After it was done being mixed, we all went to Abbey Road studios to a guy named Chris Blair, who has mastered so many great records, and worked with him to explain what we wanted that process to do for it. It's a pretty dull process, but it does have a lot to do with the end result and is not to be confused with the mixing, which is where we blend all the recorded elements. After all that, Furious? Records sent it off to be manufactured and I went on holiday to Spain and Morocco. Ahhh yeah!"

How do Delirious? compare to the numerous other singer and groups Julian has worked with over the years? "In many ways they contrast a lot of the other artists that I've worked with. They're very independent about trying to be different than a lot of their contemporaries in Christian music. In many ways I think they succeed but in other ways I don't find them different at all. They have an interest in sounding different than the bands that they're around and I think they often manage to get there. I think it's possible we could see a kind of originality that we haven't even seen from them yet. Their personal lives are run very different than a lot of people I've worked with and I think that's very good. They're very family oriented and they have lovely families. Finishing at 5:30 at night was something I enjoyed about the record, although that changed for me as the record went on" he laughs.

When Delirious? approached him to produce the album for them, they came equipped with plenty of ideas explains Julian. "They definitely didn't come to me as blank canvases. There were a bunch of things that they already wanted to 'flesh-out'. I brought up some ideas that they hadn't thought of and got them thinking about some of their existing ideas differently. Some of the things that you hear on the record were events that took shape during the record, but they did have a bunch of things that they knew they wanted to try before hand. They were very open to suggestion however and we really collaborated during the whole process. One thing I tried to do a lot was get them to warm up and then I would tend to something technical and trick them into thinking that I wasn't paying attention. You'd be surprised at the ideas and riffs that came out of that because I would suddenly say, 'What you're playing right now is fantastic, let's run with that!' Half the time they weren't paying attention themselves but they'd suddenly realise that it was a great riff or sequence of chords or drum pattern and they'd say, 'OK, let's go with it!' I was constantly doing everything I could to make sure I was getting the best of what was already in them. That was one way to insure that. 'Feel It Coming On' came from a jam of them playing for about 20 minutes and I just happened to record the whole thing as I was setting up something else. About 15 minutes in we all looked at each other and knew we had something to work from. It's an exciting way to work!"

Some bands are notorious for big 'bust-ups' while recording an album. When asked if there were ever any disagreements between band and producer, Julian explains that it is an essential part of the recording process. "We had disagreements and opinion differences regularly! If we didn't, the band would've done it themselves. Martin and I had many differences about ways to do some things, but it brought about good creative situations. It made us honest about how we felt, what to do and how to proceed. That's what a band needs in a producer, someone to build them up, but who'll also be direct. You're there to help them meet their objectives but to challenge them as to the best way of doing it. I would challenge them and state how I felt, but it was always with their interests in mind. You're not there to insist that your ways of working are the only way the project can proceed. Some producers want to leave their stamp on everything. I prefer not to. I'll contribute in any way that I see as beneficial, but I want the project to feel and sound like the artist I'm working with, not me. World Service is the sound of Delirious, not Julian Kindred. If You're a producer and you're spending your time trying to put your stamp on things then you're not doing your job. If you feel you have to do that then you need to make your own record. Maybe I will one day! As for now, as long as people want me to produce them, I want to help them accomplish their goals."

So are there things on the album Julian wishes they'd done differently? "There are a few minor things I would change about the record, but they are small bits. I would never say what they are because I think that would be unfair to the band. What I'd like to change may be something that they really love! There's always something I'd like to change on just about every record I work on. That's just the constant desire to better yourself creatively, which I always feel. But I feel very confident of most things I've worked on. Overall, I stand by the record a hundred percent."

World Service was recorded over quite a long period of time, with regular interruptions when the band had touring commitments in the USA. Julian admits that this prolonged the recording process. "It probably helped and hindered" he says. "We didn't finish the record as fast as we thought we might. We were aiming at July, but our last day was the first of October. The travelling and commitments of the band had a lot to do with that. However, it did provide the band and I the opportunity to scan what we had already completed, and assess what was left. As well, it provided me with the chance to work on the tracks while they were gone. We were able to use their time away and in studio to our advantage."

Going into the recording of the album, the band were aware that their previous album, Audio Lessonover, had not been received well by some critics, and was not considered their best work. Despite this, Julian says there was no additional pressure on the band because of their previous album. "We were all aware of the reception of the prior record, but I think it is fair to say that the only pressure the band and I felt was to make the best record we were all capable of, and the best one that any of us had ever done. That is the only benchmark you can aspire to whenever you step foot into a studio. I wasn't a fan of the last one but there are some great moments on it. I really like 'Take me Away'. I personally feel that we made one of their better records, without any discredit to their previous work. We all definitely felt at the time that it was a special statement, and in my opinion, that's all you can ask for, to believe in what you're doing at the time 100%. There was a rush and a buzz amongst us as it was coming together and we felt confident about the ground we were covering as it was happening. It was more of a challenge than pressure, a challenge to make it everything we believed it could be."

A year on and Julian has stayed in contact with Delirious?, confirming that their friendship is not just confined to the studio. "I am in touch with them, although, nowhere near as much as when we were making the record. I went to see their Milton Keynes gig earlier this Fall and it was great to see them do such a great job at recreating the record." Will he be working with Delirious? again in the future? "Whether I work with them again, it depends on what they would like to do. The songs were really great for World Service so I was keen to be involved. The other thing is, they need to have the freedom to do whatever they would like next. As a producer, you need to give the artist you work with the room to try whatever they want. Maybe they'd want to do something with me again, but that's the reason I'd consider it again." Asked for his opinion on what direction the band should follow next, he has this to say: "I'd like to see them develop their songcraft even more, which is the centrepiece of World Service to me, while trying to make the music even more progressive and layered than we did. I think there are a lot of interesting possibilities for them to pursue."

Julian expresses his pleasure with the way the album had been taken on board by the Delirious? fans. "The main thing to tell the fans is that I'm thankful that they have all responded to the record as well as they have. The band and I did give it everything we had and, in many ways, we could have kept on going because there were a lot of great ideas flying around. But you have to stop at some point." How would he describe his time working with Delirious?, "it was pure chaos from the beginning!" he laughs.

Related Pages:
Albums: World Service