Delirious about Christian rock (Ipswich Evening Star)
Last modified: 25 Jun 2005

Source: Ipswich Evening Star
Author: Jo MacDonald
Date: 25 Jun 2005

AFTER more than ten years in the business Delirious are established as one of the world's leading Christian rock bands. On Sunday night they bring a weekend of Christian events to a close at Portman Road, in Ipswich. Entertainment editor JO MACDONALD interrupted the band's studio time to chat to Ipswich-born guitarist Stu G ahead of his return home.

ROCK is stereotypically a world of "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll".

Meanwhile the mention of Christian music can conjure up thoughts of hands-aloft gospel choruses or happy clappy congregations.

The idea that the two could ever be combined successfully is therefore one that might be hard for many to grasp.

Well think again.

For more than ten years five men have been proving that rock and religion are comfortable bedfellows that when skilfully combined with talent, conviction and stellar musicianship can lead to success on an international scale.

Those men are Martin Smith, Tim Jupp, Stew Smith, Jon Thatcher and Stu G and collectively they are known as Delirious, one of the world's leading Christian rock bands.

They have achieved chart successes across the globe, supported legendary acts including Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams and produced seven studio albums of first class music.

Earlier this year, they played sell out venues up and down the country on a UK tour to support the last of those albums, World Service, and on Sunday they will perform at Portman Road, in Ipswich, as they bring a weekend of Christian events at the football ground to an end.

For guitarist Stu G it promises be an extra special performance.

"It's going to be good," he said, as he took a break from recording Delirious' eighth studio album earlier this week.

"After all it's my home town and we've never performed in Ipswich before."

Stu - or Stuart Garrard as he may be better known among his friends and family here - was born and bred in Ipswich.

Though he left the town in his early 20s to pursue his music career in London and is now settled with his wife, Karen, and two daughters in West Sussex, where Delirious are based, he holds on to fond memories of his Suffolk childhood.

"I was there for 23 years, from the day I was born to the day I left," Stu said. "And I've got great memories of Ipswich.

"I had a great family life and a good time at Westbourne High School, doing lots of fishing with my friends and being in the Boys Brigade.

"When I left school I worked for the electricity board as an electrician and it was great working there."

It was also in Ipswich where the seeds of his future musical success were first sown, where he learned to play guitar and where he enjoyed his first live performances with his first band.

Stu recalled: "I started playing drums when I was 13 but then I discovered Queen and wanted to be Brian May from that day on. I didn't start playing guitar until I was 16 though and bought my first one from Whitmores, in Norwich Road.

"I had guitar lessons and gradually my confidence built until I joined my first band 33 Across playing in pubs and places round town."

It was musical ambition that subsequently led Stu to leave Ipswich, when an opportunity came to light through his church to become a full time musician in London.

However, it was not until 1992 when a producer friend invited him to join a group of musicians who had previously been playing under the name Cutting Edge, some of who he was already acquainted with through a musician's forum, that Delirious and Stu's role in the band were cemented.

The only way has been up ever since as Delirious has evolved into a band with its own record label and distribution company, a band in charge of its own affairs and its own future.

"In the early days we were doing lots of local dates in Sussex and made about 250 tapes of six songs that sold out.

"That paid for the next lot and it's carried on, each step paying for the next one on the way. It wasn't worth getting a company involved when we could do it ourselves.

"Each step took the band a bit further and it eventually evolved into our own distribution and record label.

"We're now distributing to over 90 locations in the world and are also now in a position to take on other acts and help them in the same way," Stu said, highlighting Enya's sister Moya Brennan as one of the most exciting artists to have been taken on by the band's Furious Records label.

Like Delirious, most of the artists being taken under the Furious umbrella are Christian acts. It is a sign that throughout the band's development two things have remained constant - a love of music and Christian faith.

As a band they are the first to admit that the label "Christian rock band" may be off-putting to some but they are proud to be known as such and stand by their beliefs and the music it produces.

Stu said: "You go into places known as a Christian band and often people think you've got an agenda and want to get God into people's lives and speak about your faith all the time.

"Faith is really important to us and we all go to church but it's also about making great music and combining the two.

"Being Christian gives us a good outlook on live and the positive things we write about. It's not always about 'God is god'.

"I think we've got the balance between rock and religion right. We've been around over ten years and there's credibility there now.

People appreciate that we make great music, sing about something we really believe in and are as passionate as Green Day or U2."

Stu believes this commitment to their chosen genre of music, whatever its message, has been instrumental in helping them succeed where other Christian bands have failed.

It also helps them stand out among the rock crowd.

He added: "Every step along the way we've tried to make music that stands up alongside other rock music.

"We're inspired by U2, Radiohead, the Manic Street Preachers and lots of different bands and they're our bench mark musically. We want to make music that will stand up alongside that.

"We're also fortunate enough to be in charge of in terms of the record company. Because we're not giving 20 or 30 per cent to someone else, it's helped us afford to put money into new albums.

"And I guess God's blessed it."

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