We like Prince and Daft Punk and ABBA”
We like Prince and Daft Punk and ABBA”
I got the lovely opportunity to have a sit down with Greg Gilbert (vocals/guitar) and Collin Fox (bass) of the Delays on an extremely cold Wednesday afternoon at the cafe/bar of the NH Tropen Hotel overlooking Oosterpark. True, I would have much rather gone straight home after work and crawled directly into bed, but I really truly enjoyed meeting these fine Southampton lads. Their second album You See Colours is out in early March. This is what they had to say about it, recording at Peter Gabriel’s studio, David Lynch, movies, books and shaking hands with the devil.
GG: …This one interviewer threw the record at me, sat down and immediately said, so do you like it?
IN: Do YOU like it?!?
GG: Yeah, so do YOU like it? And you immediately think, well we wouldn’t put it out if we didn’t. And then you start getting a little bit defensive.
IN: That is an interesting approach to an interview.
GG: Yeah, then half way through the interview, he goes; yeah I think it’s a great album. So, he was actually just testing us. The thing that’s most struck us, because we were in Berlin yesterday, here today and we go to Brussels tomorrow is the contrast in opinions on the record. Obviously, to an individual, it is an authoritative take on it. One person said this album is not as guitar driven as the last album and somebody came over and said this album is more guitar driven then than the last, literal contradictions! That is quite enlightening because you suddenly realize that you cannot get caught up in it, otherwise you might start second guessing yourself.
IN: What do you think? Is it more guitar driven or less?
GG: I think its more guitar driven; I think it’s harder. Another guy said, oh this is a disco album. There is only one disco track on it (Valentine) but because it’s the single it kind of creates the lens that people view the record through. People said that the first albums had an awful lot of keyboards on it, because Hey Girl was the single for it. Well it was not, right the way across the boards.
IN: This is the first time you are hearing other peoples perspective on it and getting your first rounds of feedback.
GG: Wow, We’ve got some of the reviews back in England and I am pretty happy. (Smiles and blushes as he chuckles)
IN: You See Colours, comes out March 6th,
the first single is Valentine correct?
GG: Yes, in England it is, not sure how Europe works.
IN: Have you shot a Valentine video?
GG: Oh yeah. It is quite ahhh… how would you describe the video for Valentine Collin?
CF: It’s quite kaleidoscopic.
GG: IT IS quite kaleidoscopic; it’s an assault on the senses. We film against a green screen, I felt like Ewan McGregor (laughs).
CF: There are a lot of different images. It kind of bombards you with a lot of images.
GG: It is almost like a rave video.
IN: Did you work with a specific artists/videoographer?
CF: Yeah, a guy called Simon Henwood and he did work with Roisin Murphy and Badly Drawn Boy as well. He’s quite famous for doing lot of computer-generated stuff.
GG: It’s a strange thing, I can’t watch the videos, I hate seeing myself bopping about. It’s just strange. It’s like when you hear yourself on record for the first time, it’s like standing there naked. It’s a horrible feeling, really.
IN: The tour starts when?
GG: The English tour starts on the 20th of February, which is the day Valentine comes out. So that’s going to be our first tour for 18 weeks in Brittan. We’ll be doing club dates. The weird thing is, it’s selling better than any of the other tours we’ve done. I think it’s gonna be pretty much sold out. I think the album’s been growing and growing whilst we’ve been away. And right now I think we are our best ever live.
IN: Worst and Favorite places to play?
GG: We just played Midem (world music conference), in France a couple of weeks ago with all the record executives. That was a hard gig and of course people are not going to jump about while they watch you, and then afterwards they’re coming up, complimenting you. Strange… I think my favorite place to play is probably Glasgow. I love Scotland, but Glasgow audiences are the most unencumbered people anywhere. But our favorite tour ever was the first American one. That was magic, on the best concerts I ever had. I mean to go to another country and everyone knows your songs, it is quite an eye opener.
We had one guy at one of the gigs, he did the best thing ever, half way through the set, he just shouted out, he goes, “I LOVE MUSIC!” yeah, like that, an all encompassing statement. “I LOVE MUSIC!” (Laughs)
Yeah, then you get to the Troubadour in LA and it’s sold out. I never want to take those things for granted; I always want to be that surprised. I hate to be jaded.
IN: Good, keeps that in mind as the Arena show booking start rolling in.
GG: I will never get bored of playing Arenas! How can you?
IN: Less intimate? I don’t know. (I never go to arenas shows for that reason!)
GG: that’s bullocks!
CF: Then you’ve got even a bigger wealth of emotions coming at you. I know people say that they miss the small venues, but I think you get something different but equally sort of satisfying as seeing like 20,000 people singing your songs back at you.
IN: Listening to your music, I kind of immediately thought actually of Sigur Ros and Mum and Icelandic bands? Are these contemporaries acts that you respect. Any others?
GG: I love Mew. They’re great. Sigur Ros is fantastic.
CF: I am a big fan of Sigur Ros.
GG: The thing is we have this unavoidable strain of pop music that runs through us. We are not what you would call, not really sure how you would term what Sigur Ros do? I don’t see us going down the same avenue. Soundscapes?
CF: Sigur Ros is almost more cinematic, kind of atmospheric.
GG: We like Prince and Daft Punk and ABBA as much as those sorts of things. We can’t really escape that. The new album is really is much more direct than the first album. The first album, when I come back to it, I’m really proud of it, it kind of rolls, there is a lot of rolling. When I listen to the new one, it’s like (smack) it’s got choruses, like really big choruses. Not sure the first album really had that.
IN: Who produced this album?
GG: Graham Sutton, who mixed and produced some of the first album: we worked with him again and I just think we are more confident, I think that’s basically it. The first album came after a long period of being unemployed and being an unsigned band, then you get in the studio to make your first record, okay, we are having to deliver on all those years of thinking and dreaming. The new album is much more confident.
IN: Do you think you guys would ever like to score a film, or do a soundtrack?
CF: The idea of film and music has always been something that has interested us.
GG: We are pretty big film buffs to be honest. I probably buy more DVDs than CDs. In fact I know I do to be honest.
IN: I read that you guys are big fans of Twin Peeks?
CF: Yeah, Lynch in general.
GG: I watched it when it is first on as a kid, and my friends and me use to go into school with notes and… I reckon it’s the petrol pump attendant and well I reckon it’s the guy who runs the hotel. Having seen it again recently, it is so tongue and cheek, it is so funny, I didn’t get that at all. I use to be terrified of Bob.
IN: Bob use to totally freak me out. I see him sometimes at the end of my bed, coming up. That image is one of the scariest ever.
GG: I agree with you. It’s proper, primal terror. On the whole it’s funnier than I remembered. I love the community, even though it is a fucked up community, I always kind of want to be in there. Even in The Prisoner, he’s kept in the village, and I’m like, why you trying to escape? It’s timeless. Have you seen it again recently? I just got the box set. It’s great; they go back and interview the cast. The second series, you get into the Black Lodge and messages from outer space.
IN: Yeah, towards the end of the second series I think Lynch was writing them on the spot, the cast would turn up for work and Lynch was all, okay we’re going to do a scene with chess pieces and… ACTION!
GG: Don’t get me started on Twin Peeks!
IN: Audrey, Donna or Shelly? Or maybe even… (Norma)
GG: Shelly, well yeah…Norma at the time to be honest. (Giggles)
GG: Why you little fox you!
CF: Absolutely. (Laughs – Collin Fox, get it?!)
GG: Graham, our producer went to Paris to see Blue Bomb, David Lynch’s band. He got to talk to him after the gig. Gram doesn’t really get overwhelmed. When we were reordering and testing the speakers in the studio he was playing the Blue Velvet soundtrack. We are all pretty big Lynch fans.
IN: How are you finding the recent trend of the gap narrowing between music and commercials and TV and film?
GG: I remember reading Iggy Pop say, Passenger was used for an advert, and what he said was that it wasn’t conceived for an advert so he doesn’t see what the problem is. He didn’t make it with an advert in mind. I kind of see, I mean, everybody’s doing it now. There was a point; like 10-15 years ago was it was sacrilegious. Not any more. I think it’s a sign of the times.
IN: Is there any products that you would refuse to endorse?
CF: The obvious, MacDonald’s, Coca Cola. Those are the ones which are a little bit too gratuitous. It is really an extension to the whole promotion thing, isn’t it? In this day and age, interviews and press, it is almost like another extension of the whole media thing. Once you’ve decided to become part of the music business, then you have already saying you are willing to do a certain amount.
GG: Shaking hands with the devil. It’s hard to understand how that happened. It just suddenly crept up on everybody; all of a sudden it is an excepted part of being in a band. I just remember that it was absolutely the devil, man.
CF: Because if you don’t, in my mind, you don’t get into the business. Make music in your own time, but once you’ve signed a contract, you are going to become part of the business. Sometimes it feels a bit hypocritical, people will do days of days of interviews talking about how great their new album is, but they wouldn’t give one of their songs to a commercial. I think, in principal, I’m not against it.
GG: It annoys me when people change the lyrics of their songs to suit the product. Beyonce did some Mac ad. I am really disappointed with that shit.
IN: Oh yeah!!! Your burger is Bootylicious Baby. (Laughs)
GG: See, that is not right! That’s just my opinion.
CF: It elongated the Dandy Warhol’s career. It was massive in the UK. They might have not have made another record, certainly not on the label they were on had that record not done so well because of the commercial. I don’t criticize people for things like that. If you’re in that position, where you might not be able to make another record, then I would certainly consider it.
GG: As Bill Hicks said, “Suck Satan’s Cock”.
IN: Do you have any book recommendations? Do you read books?
GG: Oh yes, I do read books! (Laughs). My favorite book is a book called Little Big, that’s by John Crowley and that’s my favorite book. I am reading a lot of books at the moment, that’s all I got for Christmas; books. I am kind of a geek with books. And I’m reading a book now called Glastonbury Romance by a guy called John Cooper Powers, very strange, mystical things, set in the 30’s, England. (Argh! Not him! – ed). I’ve got like 10 books that I’ve started at the moment. They are probably pretty predictable things, but I wish everybody in the world would read Little Big, that’s my favorite book.
CF: It’s not a novel, it’s a book called (laughs) The Fabric of The Cosmos, by a guy, and he’s like a physicist. It’s to do with the whole string theory and bringing together the theories of Einstein and quantum, the theory of everything, the theory they’ve been trying to find for years, that explains all the forces of nature…
GG: But he does it in a way can understand…
CF: There was a series on TV in the UK last year where he explained things that happened, but on sub atomic levels. It’s really interesting because it is just trying to find out exactly how everything came about.
GG: It teaches you how to build a time machine as well.
CF: Yeah, It brings in the question of times arrow and times, the sort of thing that I’ve always found fascinating because it makes you realize that everything isn’t quite how you think it is. You think something’s solid, but it’s not. You think, skin is different to metal or wood, and it’s not. It’s fundamentally related and makes you think a lot.
GG: Makes you treat wood more cuddly. (Laughs)
GG: I needed an airplane book when we did Midem and I picked up a book called Will Store VS The Supernatural. Will Store is a journalist in England and what he did was he was to write this humorist article about going around with this American demonologist and you got different programmes – do you know this guy in England named Louie Theroux? He would go to places, and go out to America and go and meet eccentric people and do a documentary on it and people would laugh – so that was the angle. So, Will Store was going to go around with this demonologist and it actually scared the shit out of him, so this whole book was about him investigating, but more psychically inclined. He actually goes to the Vatican and meets one of their exorcists. It was a really good book.
IN: DVD recommendations?
CF: Machinists. It’s a great film. I’m getting, I’ve got it ordered, Hayao Miyazaki’s Tonari no Totoro. One of his early films, the Japanese animator who did Spirited Away, its’ called My Neighbor Totoro in English. A brilliant film, I just saw it by chance on TV a couple of years ago. One of his best, all of the characters in all of his films are brilliant.
GG: His imagination defies logic.
CF: Yeah, just the way he does, the little nuances of characters, he’s just brilliant.
GG: Twin Peeks box set, The Prisoner box set, ahhhhhhmmmm, The Red Shoes, Powell and Pressburger they made some genius films, I don’t know why everybody doesn’t know them. Everybody should know them. Matter Of Life And Death is my favorite Powell and Pressburger film. Get us started on films and we’ll just go, go, go. And then there are British comedies like Phoenix Nights and The Office. In terms of mainstream, I still like Oceans 11.
IN: Other than DVD, do you guys collect anything? They say people who collect live longer, they have the will to stick around longer, even if it just to dust their statuettes.
GG: Do we want to live longer?
IN: Yeah… okay… that’s another question. (Laughs)
GG: Books. That’s were all my money goes, is books.
IN: Do you have a library, or do you pass them on?
GG: No, I am a bit anal with my books, stay away from my books! (Laughs) I know exactly the condition they go out and come back in. When we were signed to Rough Trade, as a kind of treat they gave us 500 pounds each, we were skimped, because the dole and I blew all my money on a book of photos of Syd Barrett that was actually signed by Syd Barrett. It was a brand new book and there were 1,000 of them printed. I am really glad I got it. I’m dedicated to old books.
CF: Well I want to collect. I’ve started; I never really had that much money so far. I’ve started trying to collect vintage instruments and stuff. It is what I do anyway, so there is already an inbuilt passion but I kind of appreciate them as things anyways, so I could have them on the wall. I’ve just bought a banjo and I want to get a Ukulele and a Mandolin, I just like all the different types of things you can get. I’ve always wanted to learn how to play more than one instrument, so if I can get really nice versions of all these things, hopefully I’ll be able to play them all.
GG: I’d like to collect houses as well.
IN: Yeah, if you wanted to be really cheeky, you could’ve said girlfriends…
GG: Oscars, Grammies. (Laughs) I really love old photos, and old family films.
IN: In the new film You Me And Everyone We Know, the lead character is a video artist who makes up stories up from other people photos; she acts out dialogues even. It is lovely. It’s fantastic. A photos-collage video would be really cool.
CF: I just while I remembered I saw this film called The Saddest Music in the World, about four weeks ago; it’s an Isabella Rossellini film. I’d never really heard about it, my girlfriend introduced me too it. It’s wicked. It’s really hard to explain, but it is funny and strangely shot, if you could find it anywhere, I’d recommend that you watch it. It was only made a couple of years ago.
GG: There is a film that’s just come out in England called The Company of Wolves, a Neal Jordan film from the 80’s and it’s like adult version of Little Red Ridding Hood. I don’t mean adult as in like porn. (Laughs)
It’s kind of sinister version, you can imagine Tim Burton doing it. Nobody knows about that. Ohhh, and also City Of Lost Children.
IN: Do you have video backdrops whilst you’re playing live?
CF: We concentrated on the show, but I think it is certainly something we could get into.
GG: I think some bands do it as compensation. I think used in the right spots… yeah. I don’t like everything that they’ve done, but I went and saw U2, that was pretty good man (laughs), as much as I hate to say it. I mean when we first started the band they were the anti-Christ.
IN: Really?! Because isn’t The Edge the quintessential delay user?
GG: Yeah, I guess… We started off more with the Stone Roses, they were the band that made us aware that guitars could be played by young people and in a way it was like The Beatles, even though they never had that big thing, it started everyone back into guitars and then from then you had Oasis and… you can trace it back. The attitude then was things like U2 suck. That was the attitude. Seeing them at Earl’s Court, they came on, all the lights were on, they came on and played the first half of Elevation with the lights on and then half way through they turned the lights off that were a rush. We can always learn stuff, and Bono is a great front man.
IN: This is a little antidote for you guys to take away. Your new album is entitled You See Colours, which made me think right away about my cousin, who is color blind. He had a B&W TV in his bedroom growing up and he told me that when he watched it, he saw colours and I honestly believed him until like 4 years ago. He makes fun of me still endlessly about it. (Laughs) Anyone colour blind in the band?
GG: What is was about is like a town like Southampton, quintessential English town, very normal, but to us it’s got absolutely magic and romance because obviously we are aware of all our family dramas and everything that going on, and it’s about seeing qualities in people and places that other people just can’t see. It’s like you think something is beautiful that no one else thinks is beautiful. That’s what You See Colours is about. In the context of the album it is telling people to put their own energy on it. It is a clarion call.
IN: On Southampton heroes, I did find out that Benny Hill was from Southampton.
GG: Good old Benny, I am always surprised that people know who Benny Hill is.
CF: He was big in America right?
IN: He was huge in America, I mean, we use to run home after school to watch Benny Hill ’cause there the chance of seeing boobs – it was so racy.
CF: It was weird to hear thing like Coolio talking about how much he liked Benny Hill.
GG: To us it was a little bit of an embarrassment. When we filmed You See Colours… right… (laughs), filmed? No, no, when we were making it, eh eh eh, we were filming in the studio and Aaron played the Benny Hill theme over the speakers and I started sprinting off around the studio, (sings theme) ditty-ditty-deee-deee. And our producer had his dog with him, and then the dog started chasing me. Good bit of comedy.
IN: Is that for a DVD, or is it an advanced CD?
CF: Just for prosperity really.
GG: We’ve got hours and hours of footage. It will come out one day. Not whilst we can still get sued.
IN: When the 4th album comes out, you’ll release a DVD, greatest hits….
GG: Well our producer smashed one of Peter Gabriel’s Indian headdresses. (Laughs)
GG: Yeah, he’s got them all over the walls. He threw his dog’s bone over his shoulder and it was like, smash. I can’t make it sound as funny as it was. You can imagine, I’m in one room and all I hear is laughter, so I run in and Gram is like, “oh no what have I done!” He wet himself laughing… (Laughs)
GG: I mean he was there every morning at breakfast in the studio. It was kind of weird.
CF: A very state of the art, plush studio. It had a massive control-room – it is not like a normal studio. It’s Peter Gabriel’s studio.
GG: It’s in Bath. Peter Gabriel, Yeah, I mean to have breakfast with him, even if you’re not a fan, well you expect the eye thing, (raises and lowers his eye brows in a sort of Groucho Marx way) BIGTIME (eyebrows), BIGTIME (eyebrows), Peter. Even when you ring the doorbell at the studio… di-di-dida-di-da (sings opening bars to Sledgehammer).
Interview : Zoe Gottehrer