The Englishman Next Door (Grassroots Music)
Last modified: 01 Apr 2001

Source: Grassroots Music
Author: Kierstin Berry
Date: Apr 2001

I'm probably one of the few people on the planet who didn't know much about Delirious before this interview, beyond that they were this English band with a mysterious question mark at the end of their name. So needless to say, I had a lot to ask their bass player, Jon Thatcher, when he phoned me from the band's office located in the countryside, a tiny place called Littlehampton, on the southern coast of England. There, it was 'half past two' on a mild blue-sky afternoon, a welcomed break from the snowy March weather of the day before. Much to my amusement, Jon was a very humorous, down-to-earth guy, who had plenty to reveal about his own musical tastes, his relationship with the fans, and the journey that brought Delirious from being a small local worship band in the UK, to a worldwide phenomenon in Christian music. Okay, so I'm always the last to know.

Kierstin: Let's just start from the beginning. How did the band meet and become Delirious?

Jon: The band met about eight years ago through a local youth event in our church and we started off by playing to about 70 people. As the numbers grew, the band's style and intensity grew. The event was called Cutting Edge, and the last gig we ever did there was for 10,000 people. So it was a very organic kind of process. We never really planned to be in a big rock and roll band. It just started off with very humble roots but God had further plans for us.

Kierstin: I have to admit, I was somewhat relieved to be interviewing you specifically because from photos, you appear to be the least intimidating of the group.

Jon: [Laughs] Oh, that's good. I'll take that as a big compliment.

Kierstin: So is it true?

Jon: Yes, it's very true. I'm the least rock and roll probably...the guy next door.

Kierstin: I suppose every member of the band has a unique role beyond the instrument you each play. What is something that helps you to personally relate to your audience?

Jon: Well, we actually run an independent record label in England and I oversee the website, so I am the Webmaster. It's been a bit of a learning curve because I was studying graphic design in college and those two things kind of go a little bit hand in hand. I really enjoy it because it gives me a chance to be creative and also it's a great opportunity to meet the whole community of people out there who are online. I really enjoy just being a part of that.

Kierstin: Your guitarist Stu G. is quoted as saying, "It was never our intention to revolutionize anything, it was simply our intention to be true to what we felt God telling us to do." So what exactly was that calling in the beginning and how have you seen it evolve over time?

Jon: Wow, did he really say that? That's a great quote. Can you read that to me again?

Kierstin: [Re-reads quote]

Jon: Are you sure he said that? [Pauses] No, I'm just joking.

As I said, we've never really set out to be a massive band. The roots of it were just playing praise and worship for a local youth group. Our aspiration was just to be creative and to lead people into the presence of God. So you know, record sales and selling out tours and venues is all fantastic, but that's not why we're in the industry.

Kierstin: So you feel like even with all the success you've had, you've been able to stay pretty grounded.

Jon: Yeah, but I think it's hard not to change. You sometimes end up believing your own press. But we're very focused on what we set out to do and don't want to be sidetracked.

Kierstin: Let's talk a little bit about your latest album, Glo. It seems like this is a bit of a departure from your recent pop-oriented projects. So would you say this album goes back to the worship roots of the band, or is it completely different from your very first independent projects?

Jon: Um, I think with a band we've never really wanted to contain ourselves in any box and I think people, especially in the industry, like to say that you're a praise and worship band; you're a rock band; you're a contemporary band. But we've never really liked to commit to any of those kinds of groups. So I think it is a fair comment that Glo is very different from say, Mezzamorphis, but to us the underlying roots of it all would be the same. And that would be pointing people toward God and just giving people a positive message and great music.

Kierstin: So what inspired the band to make a more worship-based record at this point?

Jon: Well, I think it was basically because we'd been writing a lot of songs for more of the radio market, but we were also aware that we were writing a lot of songs that didn't fit into that marketplace and we wanted to invest back into the church that we'd come out of.

Kierstin: It seems to have become something of a trend to create worship records. What do you say to those who criticize artists like you for making what some might deem as commercialized worship music?

Jon: That's a good question. I think that the whole 'worship music suddenly becoming popular' is actually quite tragic. Because I think worship is what we, as Christians, are created to do. And I think that worship music becoming a style and a fad is quite sad because I think it should be something that flows through our veins each day. But at the same time I do think it's a very positive thing that people are actually enjoying worship music and that it's getting more profile.

Kierstin: So what does this project offer that maybe other worship albums don't?

Jon: Hard to answer that really. It's Delirious and it's worship and those two things go hand in hand. And no other band can offer a Delirious worship experience! [Laughs]

Kierstin: Do you have a favorite song on the album?

Jon: of my favorites would be "My Glorious" and another would "Intimate Stranger." I think "My Glorious" is a great track in its own right. And I think that's one of the things that have confused people because it's great musically - if I can say that without sounding arrogant - but it's also got a very positive and real message about Jesus in it. And I think those two things...people often don't see them as mixing. If you sing a nice praise and worship song about Jesus then it's got to be a little bit slow; it's got to be low-key; it's got to be very inward looking. To have a 'rock-y' Jesus song doesn't quite work sometimes, but I think this is an example of that really working.

Kierstin: You're about to begin a tour in the United States. Where will the tour take you?

Jon: We start the tour in Canada - in Edmonton, I think - and then we're going to work our way down through Washington and California and we're going to end the tour in Texas.

Kierstin: I read that the band has committed to not being away from your families for more than two weeks at a time. So what will you do since this tour lasts a little longer?

Jon: We're taking them all with us! We've got three or four buses on this tour and I think there's about twelve children between us all.

Kierstin: Are any of them yours?

Jon: I've only got one. So I'm not a major part of that equation.

Kierstin: You also have monks chanting in the background on one of your songs ["God You Are My God."] So will the monks travel along with you too?

Jon: Unfortunately not. They'll be too busy doing their monk things [laughs].

That was a real great opportunity actually. In Europe, they're very famous in their arena for their singing. And we approached them not ever expecting them to say yes. But they were like, "Yeah, yeah, we'll do it. That's no problem." We went up there and they recorded it; it was a really spiritual time actually.

Kierstin: Where was it recorded?

Jon: At Ampleforth Abbey, which is in Yorkshire, up north.

Kierstin: You also included a large group of fans on one of your songs ["God's Romance."] I bet that was interesting getting all of those people into the studio.

Jon: Yeah, that was a great night, actually. We had put out an invitation through our website and it was basically the first 150 people who emailed us got invited to our studio. We were inundated with emails so there was a great vibe. Again, it was the whole worship community thing working, which was really exciting. They all came into the studio and we had a great evening was very hot, very sweaty, but they did us proud and they're there on the album.

Kierstin: That's unique for a band to include their fans, especially that many, on a record.

Jon: I think in England the whole Delirious know, Delirious is bigger than a band almost. We've got a massive following in England that are really dedicated. And it feels to us like it's all one big movement, which is really exciting to be part of. You know it's not just about five guys on stage. It's much more than that.

Kierstin: You have fans not only throughout England, but all over the US as well. At what point did you all realize that your fan base was spanning two continents?

Jon: Probably when we first stood on a stage in America. It's always an amazing thing to travel half way across the world and then you start playing the songs and you look out and you suddenly think, 'Wait a minute, we're not in England. You're singing these songs. How did you know these songs?' We actually had an experience like that in New Zealand about two years ago. We played "History Maker" and they sang it like they had written it themselves. It was like, "We've never been here before, how do you know our songs!?" And we came off stage and they were still singing it. It blew us away.

Kierstin: Are there any other countries that you'd personally like to gain a following in?

Jon: Yes, I've always had a thing in my heart for Tokyo but we've never quite made it over there yet.

Kierstin: I'm sure for the fans, they feel connected by your music no matter where they are living, but what about for you guys? Is it ever a struggle to maintain a sense of community when you're traveling all over and pouring out so much of yourselves every night on stage?

Jon: Yeah, I think it is hard but it's something we're aware of and we try to cover our backs on it. We're very much part of our local church here in England. They support us in prayer and we are part of the community. So when we're away, we know that they're back here supporting us and we also try and support each other. We also often take a pastor on the road with us.

Kierstin: Could you describe a little bit about your church in England?

Jon: My father is actually the pastor of our church.

Kierstin: Oh, so that's why you're the boy next have no choice.

Jon: Yeah, that keeps things interesting. You can't get too rock and roll with your dad being the pastor of the church. You know he won't approve if you dye your hair a funny color or start wearing really crazy clothes.

Our church, I guess it would be classed as a Free Evangelical House Church, whatever that really means. But we meet in a school hall, and there's about 400 of us. And God's really shown up at the minute and is doing some amazing things.

Kierstin: Do you anticipate that this tour will differ from others since the songs are less about performance and more about community?

Jon: Yeah, I think that the whole Delirious experience is to expect the unexpected and when we get on stage, we ourselves never quite know what's going to happen, although we often have quite a good idea. You know, I think especially because these songs are so worship-oriented, the unpredictability goes up a couple of notches as well.

Kierstin: You've often been compared with U2. What do you think of their latest record [All That You Can't Leave Behind]?

Jon: I know amongst the band, we've had mixed reactions on that. I think it's a great record, although musically it doesn't really satisfy me. I like music a little more quirky than that. And I was a big U2 fan in the War and the October days. So I think I would rather listen to those records than this record.

Kierstin: What music are you listening to now that you do enjoy?

Jon: That's always a hard question. I listen to bands like Bjork, PJ Harvey, The Makeup, a band called DMC.

Kierstin: Really, Run DMC?

Jon: I am going to go see them over the weekend actually. They're playing a gig in London. You know, you just can't pass up a Run DMC gig [laughs].

Kierstin: I didn't even know they were still together.

Jon: Well, apparently Run now runs a church in America.

Kierstin: So where will you go after the tour is over---back into the studio or will you take some time off?

Jon: We've actually been in the studio for the last four months working on a new project, which is just about finished. But after the US tour, we're going on tour with Bon Jovi in the UK.

Kierstin: Wow, how long will that tour be?

Jon: I think it's five or six dates in total because England is so small and they're arena stadium dates.

Kierstin: So are you a big fan?

Jon: Um, I was in about 1985 [laughs]. But I haven't kept up to date with their stuff, so I really should go out and buy some records so I can have a decent conversation with them. I don't think the line, "I really liked your record in 1985," would be a very good opener.

Kierstin: I'm sure you'll come up with something.

Related Pages:
Albums: Glo