Record Overplayed
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Delays interview | York Fibbers | 24/02/08

"We haven’t even scraped the surface of what we’re aiming to achieve"

Interview and Photos by Dawn

It's been a while since Record Overplayed last interrogated Delays, but the Southampton foursome are back with a new album (Everything’s the Rush) and a new label (Fiction) and so now seems the perfect time for a catch-up. Bassist Colin and frontman Greg duly oblige and we take to the warmth of the tour bus before their York Fibbers gig to ask how things are going. 
  
'The tour bus crashed, the heating broke and we lost a wing mirror. It’s been a catalogue of errors,' says Greg ruefully. 'We were having to heat the bus up to sweltering proportions then let it die so that we could go to bed at a reasonable temperature.'

Thankfully as far as the gigs are concerned everything has been much more positive:
'It’s great to get back on the road because we haven't really done it for over a year so it's quite refreshing,' says Colin. 'We’ve done about five gigs so far and the best has been Aberdeen, the last one we did. There was just a real good atmosphere in the room, the crowd were quite young, there were a lot of people were actually moving to the stuff which is always good to see and I think we play off that as well. Edinburgh was good as well, Scotland’s always good to us.'

Most of the new album was written at the same time, as Colin explains: 'There was one song called Pieces that was written a few years ago, in the early days of Delays, which is actually one of the best songs on the album. I think it could well be a single, but the others were fairly recent really, they were kinda written in a batch, most was written to order.'

In past recording sessions certain band members have been notorious for their perfectionist tendencies, but this time around it was much easier:



'This one was probably the best experience I've had in the studio because of the way we did it, doing one track every day and not spending too much time over-analysing the overdubs. The overdubs were done really sort of off the cuff as well, so there was a lot less analysis and a lot more spontaneity and I think that you will hear that in the record. I think everybody let go a bit more so there wasn’t too much hypercriticism.

‘If it had to be like either of our previous albums it would probably be You See Colours, but I think it's like a step on from either really. Faded Seaside Glamour is quite delicate as a record and I think although it’s a harder record, You See Colours is quite processed. This is kind of a different beast altogether – it's a lot more live sounding, which I think is a great thing because we’re great live, we've always had that, but it's still got a real epic edge to it, a real epic quality.'

'The interesting thing from my point of view,' says Greg, 'is that you have an idea of what your favourite songs are before the album comes out, and then you see which ones actually get picked up. Some songs grow outside of any kind of record label push.'
'There's a track called The Earth Gave Me You which we're going to do tonight actually,' says Colin. 'We've only really played it twice, but people have already responded positively to it; you can see them getting it as you're playing it, so that I think will be a live favourite.'

'I'm fascinated to sit back and see which songs from this album are gonna be like Nearer Than Heaven and Valentine,' says Greg.

Judging by 2007's Love Made Visible EP, keyboard wizard Aaron's vocals are slowly coming more to the forefront of tracks. Was this a deliberate thing?

'Aaron's a forceful personality,' states Greg with a grin.

'We didn’t have any choice!' smiles Colin.

Greg continues: 'Aaron's been writing loads and loads and loads anyway, and I tried singing them but I haven't got the same diction. It just didn't flow the same. I think all our favourite bands have got more than one singer anyway.' He grins mischievously. 'We're looking for all four of us on the fourth album. It's gonna be a double album with a side each.'

I wonder how drumming maestro Rowly feels about this.

'He's practising as we speak,' smirks Colin.

EP track Panic Attacks has the noticeable feature of Aaron adding a conversational 'Ah?' at random intervals, something which first strikes you as odd and then becomes endearingly catchy.

'A lot of those little things are off the cuff – he likes that stuff,' explains Greg before smiling: 'We've had to edit loads of that shit off the record.'

'Yeah, if you'd heard it in its original form...' jokes Colin.

'None of it was as it was actually sung,' continues Greg with that mischievous glint in his eye once again. 'We literally pieced together the sounds Aaron made – "uh-eh-oh-eh-ah"…'

There's an old online interview in which Greg talks about wanting to make an album that would stand up beside Love's Forever Changes. Does he think Delays have achieved that aim yet?

He looks thoughtful. 'Yeah, I think this one... I still don’t think it's our masterpiece, but I think it's the best one we’ve done. It's about achieving what you’ve set out for, do you know what I mean? So we've set out to make the most blistering three minutes of punchy pop, it wasn't like a concept album, and on our terms we've succeeded beyond what we could hope for, do you know what I mean? Which is good because when you feel like that nobody can tell you you've failed.'

The new album will be the band's first release on the Fiction label and it sounds as though they have no complaints so far:

'It’s going very well,' says Colin. 'It’s like moving into a sparkly new house.'

'It's like one of those Carlsberg adverts – if Carlsberg did record labels,' smiles Greg. 'We signed with them because they were fans of the band really, fans of what had happened before. If you look at things in hindsight it's probably the best thing that could possibly have happened. I think we'd gone as far as we could with Rough Trade.'

'They've got big plans for us,' says Colin. 'We don't really get too involved in the whole strategy of it all – that's other people's jobs and I'm sure they’ll do it very well. We're just happy that we're at a place where we think that the music's going to get the sort of audience it deserves.'

'It's like all the metaphors you can think of going from black and white to colour,' says Greg. 'At the end of the day, Rough Trade are an indie label and there's great beauty and worth in so much of what goes on and in a lot of ways they were really up against it, but then again I suppose that if you've made the record you wanna make you want opportunity for people to check it out.'

With three albums' worth of material now to choose from, the boys find it hard to decide on the song which best sums up the band.

'See, that’s difficult,' mulls Greg. 'The problem we've had, which has worked against us, is that we've never sat down and given ourselves a manifesto and gone "well this is what we're about, this is our template, this is our thing"; we've kind of been pretty flighty, just pleasing ourselves.'

It is, however, easier for them to pick their favourite tracks: 'I think Valentine you can play anywhere in the world and everybody dances,' says Greg. 'There's a couple of songs on the new album that are already my favourites - Touchdown and Pieces, which is an older song we've been sitting on for ages. And I really love You and Me as well - from a songwriter’s point of view it's very complete, there's something about it.'

'Yeah, I mean You and Me is one of my favourites and has been for a long, long time,' says Colin. 'And I think live as well it's got something a little bit extra – an extra shot in the arm. On the new record there's a song which I think is probably at the most extreme end of our sound so far anyway, called Your Friends are False which has the potential to be as much of a club anthem as Valentine although its harder edge than Valentine – the sound of the record is real I don't know...'

'Imagine a crashing bomber with the crew all screaming,' suggests Greg.

'It's quite dirty and it's got a real great groove to it,' adds Colin, making the whole thing sound terribly confusing.

'When you hear it, it'll all make sense,' promises Colin.

'It’s got an Abba quality,' offers Greg, not really making things any clearer.

'The chorus is kind of like Abba but after the break-up.'

'You’ll see,' nods Greg.

'It's part of the plan,' says Colin.

Still on the subject of new songs, EP release Love Made Visible was accompanied by a rather intriguing video involving alien invasions and a truckload of Dulux's brightest colours.

 

Greg explains: 'The whole Love Made Visible EP was just a little, low-key thing to re-engage with the fans – it was a eighteen months since anything else had been out. We just gave it to a couple of video directors and the weird thing was one video was an animated one of two monsters beating the shit out of each other for the whole song, gradually getting more and more violent-'

'That almost got it,' Colin interjects.

'That almost got the vote. That was my favourite actually, but being a democracy... it ended up being a video about aliens kidnapping people and painting them and we were like "Are we missing something here?" -if you think about where the song's coming from.'

'I think it works really well though,' says Colin. 'The most hilarious thing for me was that someone posted after seeing it that they found it repulsive which I think is the funniest thing I've ever heard!'

'I love it when imagery and sound come together – they almost contradict each other,' says Greg thoughtfully.

'If people hear the song, they wouldn’t necessarily assume those images with it. I think It gives it an added sort of dimension really,' says Greg.

So, in closing, what's next for Delays?

'We haven't even scraped the surface of what we're aiming to achieve,' says Greg. 'I'm really, really proud of the two records we've done and I would hold them up next to anybody's, I really would, but it's nowhere near achieving what we want to achieve. I don’t think any of us ever want to feel like we have. ‘Cause the day you feel like ok, you’ve done it, you slap yourself on the back and go back to bed.'

With thanks to Colin and Greg, Marshy and Mike, Aaron and Rowly. Visit www.theDelays.co.uk for more info.

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