Stu G... In My Own Words (Facebook.com)
Last modified: 26 Aug 2009
Author: Jamie Hailstone
Date: 26 Aug 2009
What first made you want to pick up a guitar?
I had always been into music, even from when I was a kid. I always thought I wanted to be a drummer. When I was 12 or 13 my mum and dad bought me a drum kit and I had lessons. I loved that for a while, but when I was 16 I was a huge Queen fan, and I got Queen's 'Live Killers' and from the opening track - the fast version of 'We Will Rock You' - I just wanted to be Brian May. Some people can express themselves on the drums, but I wanted to do that guitar thing. That was the moment. I was brought up in a little Baptist church and had totally rebelled against that. A lot of my mates were in a Christian rock band and they needed a guitar player. This was a couple of years after the Queen incident! I just faked it and got in this band. I had probably spent two years annoying everyone in my street. I was there in my bedroom, learning every Queen song, and every Rush song that I could find.
When did you start taking your faith more seriously?
Well at this time, I had discovered a guitarist called Phil Keaggy and was a huge fan of his. I went to see him at an event in London. I went with Karen, who was then my fiance and is now my wife! There was someone preaching and we both, at the same time, became convinced there was something worth following. From then on, we became friends with a church in London and would go there every week. They gave me chance to get involved with the worship and it led to them offering me a role there. We sold up in Ipswich and left our jobs, and we moved to London to live with the pastor and his wife. We were with them for about six or seven years. We spent some time in Belgium and then I decided that I wanted to form a band, so we moved back to London. We did the rock scene in London. The band was called the Stuart David Band and it was a three-piece rock band. We did venues like the Mean Fiddler and the Borderline. They were really good times. It was all learning the craft. That band evolved into another group called The Treasure Park. We got a singer in and a keyboard player in. It was going pretty well. We had a guy called Andy Piercy, from the band After The Fire, who was producing us.
How did you get involved with what-was-then the Cutting Edge Band?
It was through Andy Piercy. Treasure Park finished in 1990. Our last gig was at Greenbelt on the main stage. After that, I was a guitarist for hire! I played with Kevin Prosch and Ben Okafor in his reggae band, which to this day was one of the most enjoyable musical experiences I've ever had! I also played with Noel Richards. Andy told me about what was happening in Littlehampton with Cutting Edge and it had literally just started. A few months later, he asked me if could come down and play guitar on the first Cutting Edge recording. I wasn't available, so I couldn't do it, but it wasn't long after that Tim, Martin and I met at a musician's forum. They invited me down for some session work and the occasional monthly Cutting Edge.
What did you think about some of the early Cutting Edge shows?
Having worked with Kevin Prosch, who was such an influence on Cutting Edge, and other events like Soul Survivor, it was very open-ended. You would play one song for 20 minutes. It was pretty chaotic, but it was exciting because something fresh was happening. We were in at the deep end and there were lots of things we had to learn For me, it was all about not keeping this music or these songs just for the church. We had to break out.
When did it hit you guys that God know was really moving in it?
I think I felt right from the start there was a connection happening, which was bigger than the five of us. Once the songs started going out and we were getting invites, I always felt that there was something happening. To move down here, I had to go back to being an electrician. It was always working towards the fact that this band would be it.
What have been the real highlights?
Going to America for the first time! It didn't all go to plan, but it was amazing. Releasing the singles was a complete highlight because we were putting our money where our mouth was. In recent years, I wrote the song 'Majesty' and I'm proud of that, because it came out of experience. The only way I could express that was through a song. I'm proud of songs like 'Investigate' and 'Kingdom Of Comfort'. I guess the songs I'm proudest of are the songs that connect me with the reason why I'm doing this. So live for me, the song 'Investigate' has the lyrics that are vulnerable and the big guitar solo at the end, which is where I really speak. I'm proud of the songs we released as singles like 'Deeper' and 'Gravity'. They were really exciting times. There was a real sense that this was what we were supposed to be doing.
How did the journeys to India and other developing countries affect you?
Over the last three or four years, we started travelling to a lot more countries like India and Cambodia, where there is extreme poverty. It was the first time I had ever seen anything like that. At the same time I was really connecting with the writing and teaching of Rob Bell. It all happened at the same time. Here was someone teaching about justice and we were experiencing these things first hand. It left me with a lot of questions about my life, responsibility, and what could I do. It had a big influence on me. We made 'World Service'. Then we made 'Mission Bell' and then 'Kingdom Of Comfort'. I've always seen them as a bit of a trilogy. 'World Service' was a grace album to me. 'Mission Bell' had a sense of what are we going to do with this and then 'Kingdom Of Comfort' was about are we building an empire for ourselves, or are we building a kingdom for God? It's interesting talking about this, because I don't like talking in religious language, but it's been a very real journey for me. I like the questions and I like the chaos. I like identifying with the mess. I'd had a glimpse of how God can see me. (laughs)
How did the band breaking up affect you?
It was in the back of my mind that one day it would end. Something had to give somewhere, because we had a pretty hard schedule. It came as a surprise last summer when Martin sat us down and said he wanted to leave, because we had already had that conversation after Stew (Smith) left. We said [at the time] do we stop now? We can stop now or keep going. I personally didn't think we had finished and nor did anyone else at the time. So we decided to keep going. For whatever reasons Martin had, he felt like it was done for him. For me, it's been hard to get my head around. It's not been easy. You can't just pull the keys out of a truck, which is trundling along and expect it to stop. It takes a while to wind things down. There are lots of things, which involve accountants and lawyers. But I'm excited about what has come out of it - a real fresh vision for wanting to have a career in music, and having to make that happen. I set off pretty quickly into networking with people who have asked me to do stuff before. Tony Patoto, our old manager, helped me with the first few trips I did to Nashville, and introduced me to a guy called Dave Steunebrink, who has a management company called Showdown Management. One thing led to another and he's now my manager! So I'm out in Nashville quite a bit, writing with people and loving it. There are opportunities to play on other people's stuff. I've been getting in environments, which are really stretching! Knowing whether you are going to come up with the goods on any given day is a real buzz.
Tell me about this new project that you and Jon Thatcher have been working on?
It came about from trips to Nashville. When I first started to go over there, one of the names which cropped up was Jason Ingram, who is a songwriter/producer and very good at what he does. He wanted to meet up and Jon was with me on one trip. We met up in a Starbucks, as most people do in Nashville! He expressed a desire to do something together, even if it was just writing. To cut a long story short, Jon and I have been working with Jason and a guy called Paul Mabury, who is an amazing drummer. We've been writing songs specifically aimed at the church. A band has developed with the four of us. It's something I really believe in. We're still not entirely sure how it's going to work. There are no dates or schedule, but we are making an album. It's very exciting and it's something, which I'm really passionate about.
What do you think Delirious fans will make of it?
I think they'll love it! With having Jon and I involved, of course, there are elements, which are going to sound like Delirious. Hopefully, we are still pushing things on, creatively. The great thing is that Jason has a great voice and Paul's a great drummer. Everyone brings something a little bit different. The main thing, for me is that the vision carries on, which will happen for all of us in Delirious in separate ways, in terms of making great music, which will inspire people. I think Delirious fans will love the new songs.
Who are your top three guitarists?
Top three guitar players? (pause) My current top three probably would be Jack White, Billy Corgan and Phil Keaggy. If I had a top five, I would say Johnny Greenwood and James Dean Bradfield too.
What was the last gig you went to?
Take That at Wembley Stadium! I was pleasantly blown away by the spectacle. It was an amazing show. I said to (my wife) Karen afterwards, it's not like going to see your favourite band, but the show side of it was fantastic.
What's the one song you wish you had written?
(Long Pause) There are so many! I really like the U2 song 'Stay', which is on Zooropa. I really love Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day' as well, and 'The Everlasting' by the Manic Street Preachers. A few years ago, I read Nick Hornby's book 'High Fidelity' where everything is in top five lists and I get that! I could never say a definitive one.
What was your favourite Delirious gig?
There have been many, but I remember one, which was in an open-air theatre in Los Angeles. I can't remember if it was the Greek Theatre gig, but I remember playing 'Investigate' under the stars and I think that was one of my favourite gigs.
Have you got any tips for musicians on how to survive life on the tour bus?
The tour bus is actually my favourite part of touring, apart from the music! Getting on a bus after a gig, when you are still pretty pumped up, with all your mates is the best feeling in the world. You talk about the gig, listen to music and it's like hanging with your friends every night.
Have you ever forgotten your toothbrush?
Yes I have! There has been an occasion where the luggage hasn't arrived. I would rather lose my wash bag for a day or two than my guitars, which has happened as well. We did a gig in Denmark where the gear never showed up! We had to do it all on borrowed gear.
What do you think the legacy of Delirious will be?
I hope the music lasts and that people appreciate our songs for many years to come, because that's what being in a band is all about. We pioneered and never settled. We pioneered in the worship genre, if there's such a thing, and blurred the lines a bit by taking it out into rock venues.