Touching Lives with Music that Matters (Christianity Today)
Last modified: 27 Jan 2003

Source: Christianity Today
Authors: Andy Argyrakis, Michael Herman, and Russ Breimeier
Date: 27 Jan 2003

Most Americans familiar with contemporary Christian music are well aware of the impact Delirious has made upon the modern worship movement. What many don't fully realize, however, is the impact the British band has made worldwide, especially in the United Kingdom. In this special interview with lead vocalist Martin Smith, lead guitarist Stuart Garrard, and bassist Jon Thatcher, the band members explain how they reach out to all people through their music and their concerts.

Let's talk about your double disc compilation, Deeper: The d:finitive Worship Experience, which you released in the States in 2001, and how you feel about the band's career so far.

Jon: We're very proud of the journey we've been on. There's so much great content in that collection. It's a bit odd, though, that I'm 25, in a band, and already have a greatest hits album. We have so much further to go. It doesn't feel like we've even scratched the surface of where we want to go. We're not really sentimental guys, and we don't want to build idols to our past, but it's nice to just look back and thank God for what he's done.

Why did the U.S. market get a different version of your recent Audio Lessonover album under the name Touch?

Stu G: Audio Lessonover was aimed purely at the pop market in the U.K. We weren't getting a good response from the record label execs in the U.S., so we wanted to try and improve it. I think we've done that by remixing a number of the songs and adding the new title track called "Touch."

We were able to live with the original album for a while, but the extra work we put into it for the U.S. release gave us the chance to put a little more of the Delirious feel that previously wasn't there.

What musical influences and experiments did you take into the studio this time?

Martin: We tried for more of an all-out guitar rock record, with a Smashing Pumpkins influence. We've still got our own sound, though. We want to write great songs that have incredible sing-a-long melodies. There aren't many people doing that, and we're focused on writing songs that people will remember.

Stu G: We experimented a little with stripping things back in order to get a more "live" expression of the songs in the studio. That process didn't sound as epic or anthemic as the "old" Delirious sound - not so much like "History Maker," for example. It made the sound both very interesting and very intimate. I think it really works.

Should fans expect the record to be more worship focused or generally themed?

Martin: Well, there again, Audio Lessonover was originally aimed more at the mainstream market. We'd just been on tour with Bon Jovi and Matchbox Twenty in England, and had been playing a lot of those songs with a great reception from the audiences.

We never really like to pigeonhole our albums as "worship" or "non-worship" because we say "all is worship." I'd probably best describe Touch as worship music for mainstream radio. We had a great opportunity to see that in action during the stadium tours, and that was amazing - a bit of a dream come true. You can sing all these God songs and preach to the converted, but if you can sing those kinds of songs and they stand out on the merit of the music, people will connect to the lyrics whether they understand them fully or not.

Your current U.K. release, Access:D, is a live album that shows the changes you've made musically over time. How has your audience expressed their response to you beyond album and ticket sales?

Stu G: When we released Mezzamorphis in 1999, we received a lot of comments and questions about why we had changed this or that from the sound of Cutting Edge and King of Fools. Really, we've just been growing and evolving as a band. The whole worship thing just runs through our veins in whatever we're doing.

Describe what it was like playing on that Bon Jovi tour a couple of years ago.

Martin: Fantastic! We opened for them and had the challenge of playing in front of 80,000 people who'd never heard any of our music before. It was great - we scored! We got everyone to sing along and jump up and down. "History Maker" was really exciting. It was just an incredible scene to stand on the stage and have 80,000 people who didn't really know what they were singing, screaming "I want to be a history maker." To hear them singing positive lyrics like that and more blatant tracks like "My Glorious," was breathtaking.

Do you sometimes tailor your set list to be more accessible to those types of fans?

Martin: A lot of our music is universal, but we do use different songs depending on whether we're playing at an arena or a church. For example, we didn't do "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?" at the Bon Jovi concerts because the imagery and lyrics may be a little more unfamiliar. In a church, we can let our guard down a bit more spiritually and know that people will be up for that, which they wouldn't be in a club. Although, God shows up anyway, regardless of what or where we play. When we're playing a more rock-oriented set, God will move through that just as well as the quieter sets.

From your perspective on stage and experience over the years, what are some of the differences you see between the U.S. and U.K. crowds?

Stu G: I never know how to answer that question. The differences were more obvious in the beginning, because the U.K. audience was with us on our journey from the start and the American audience was trying to catch up. They didn't know the words to the songs as well as the U.K. audiences did, which is a big thing when you're doing live gigs. But now that's not really the case any longer. There are pockets in America where the response is fantastic.

What's Delirious' take on the current state of American worship? Do you think everybody is jumping on the bandwagon?

Martin: Music that stands the test of time is music that has integrity and is good. I think that's all we hope to do. We're not really a part of that scene. We sell records into the marketplace, but we don't feel married to it. The next five years are going to be fascinating. As the kids grow up, they won't want to listen to AC radio anymore. Music will be about what touches people again, rather than all this [tripe].

Jon: I think it's great that Nashville has made worship music fashionable, but I think worship music is much bigger than fashion.

Stu G, you've had years of various experiences with the band. What lesson have you learned that sticks out to you?

Stu G: That's tough because there really have been so many experiences. I think because we've been going for about ten years now, one big thing would be about sticking to your dreams. It's not always an easy ride, but if God's called you to something, you need to have a "stickability." That's what stands out to me the most.

Can you describe what you think the vision is for the future of Delirious?

Stu G: I think we're really trying to do what we feel we're called to do - to make music that touches people, touches God, turns the light on in people who don't know him, and blesses those who do. There's so much still to do in that respect, and I think the release of Touch and Access:D will help us to continue to accomplish that.

Martin: I don't think we've made our best record yet. Let's make a record that's extraordinary! That's what we're gonna do the next time. We're very excited about that. We feel like we're in a good place now, and that we don't need to worry about making a record that fits in anywhere. We're gonna make a record that we're still proud of ten years later.

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