Delays - Interview and 'Love Made Visible' EP
With Autumn gearing up to make the daily grind as monochrome and grim as possible, those artists we know and trust take on greater responsibility. The new Delays EP, ‘Love Made Visible’, smirks at the challenge and burns through the grey. The Southampton four piece, whose two albums to date (2004’s ‘Faded Seaside Glamour’ and 2006’s ‘You See Colours’) have shown lithe mastery of electric, eclectic indie pop, give every indication that their forthcoming third offering (‘Here Comes the Rush’) will be an early contender for 2008’s album of the year. This stop-gap EP, adorned as it is with, one remix aside, four new songs, sings with tremulous endeavour; it's a more than effective trailer. More than any other gang of blokes with guitars right now, Delays are worth championing. The new album, produced by Youth, and the band’s first release on new label Fiction/Polydor, is set to wow us early next year. In the meantime, this will do, with ease. Opener ‘Love Made Visible’ swirls in on a robotic vocoder-ish riff before giving way to a chorus that glues itself to your senses. ‘Panic Attacks’ and ‘You See Colours’ are in-character takes on driving guitar pop but the highlight here is the swirling ‘Slow Burn’ with traces, to these ears, of Suede’s ‘The Drowners’ and a storming, fractured guitar solo. I say ‘solo’, I mean ‘howling, overdriven, ****ed-up wailing mess'. (In a good way.)
Currently on a five date tour of, frankly, ridiculously tiny venues, singer Greg Gilbert takes time out to talk. Your music shows a love for pop that’s a world apart from our current obsession with blokey ASDA rock. Ever feel like you're the ones who got it wrong?! “Of course not, it’s all about relevance. The thing is that we’re not the only people who think and feel the way we do about pop music. It’d be criminal for us to change our way. We’re bloody blokes anyway ! There does seem to be a lot of chancers around at the moment; there seems to be this check list for acceptance and credibility in music in 2007 – dangerous nights out ? Check. Laidback onstage manner? Check. Post-punky? Check. The Strokes were the best thing to happen to modern music but people have taken the template and pretty much ruined it.” In my year-long campaign to get you to burn the infidels of NME-bankrolled shoddy incompetence, our man sums it up in a single sentence. Memorise it now.
I love it when it's difficult to pin down a band's influences. Some days I see you as a British Crowded House (songcraft), other days I can see you on, say, 4AD (noise.) Who the hell are The Delays? “A law unto themselves. It’s an unconscious thing. It’s almost like the one touchstone for music that we all have is psychedelia; The Flaming Lips, The Beatles. It’s a sound that takes you somewhere else. I personally can’t define us. Someone once said that we were “a fusion of My Bloody Valentine and The Byrds”. That is a big-time thumbs-up. People get lazy when pinning down our influences and say The Stone Rose, The Las etc. But there’s never a conscious effort made – it’s all about feeling.”
Sonically and lyrically, you come across as dynamic, engaged, alive, full of positivity. It's easier - and probably more fashionable - to be resigned, cynical, downbeat, angry. Your thoughts? “I agree. It’s more fashionable as people like to be associated with the band they champion. Dangerous, nihilistic bands add danger to their fans’ personalities. But you couldn’t meet a more neurotic, ****ed-up group of people than us, but the music we make brings us out of that. Lyrically we do address everything we are going through but it seems to come out sounding ridiculously positive. Our next new single called ‘Hurrah’ is about OCD for example. I found myself picking up litter outside my house in boxer shorts at 2am. The song addresses this. We do talk about the everyday.” Fair enough. It’s the everyday that’s the challenge; enlivening it to the degree that it takes on shape and form that’s not so everyday. The Smiths, Joyce, Kieslowski. The everyday as glittering art.
What have you heard of late that's excited you all? Which acts do you see as like-minded or peers, say ? “Sigur Ros are just beyond the normal. Kings Of Leon are an amazing band. Aaron (Gilbert, keys and brother) finds loads of obscure Scottish singer-songwriters that are really melancholic. Brian Jonestown Massacre are fantastic, especially the album ‘Tomorrows Heroes Today'. Roly played me some BJM tunes, then I saw Dig, but to be honest I don’t think it did the music much justice. In Southampton it’s the best the music scene has been for years. You should check out Dead! Dead! Dead!, Thomas Tantrum, Scarlet Soho and Xavier Floyd Firebird.” (Because I’m a suspicious bastard, I Google a couple of those, just to be sure. You can never be too sure. My good lady's 'difficult' friend asked me a couple of years ago what music I was into "this week." Just like that. "Arcade Fire", I told her ever so nicely and she zoomed in on me like Torquemada - "Are you making that up ?" I jest not. Later in the evening, a bottle of wine later, to be precise, I referred to her recent wedding as her "funeral" - a social faux pas that works on so many levels it bamboozles me to this day. But hey. Enough of me.)
And what can we expect from the third album? “Listening to it yesterday I kind of feel that it’s more of the first album’s atmosphere. This album is much more joyous and colorful than last album. We recorded one track a day – the other albums were much more laboured over. It makes it a much more enjoyable and inspiring experience. It’s the best atmosphere we’ve ever worked in. It’s weird, but doing it that way means there’s not much pressure – it’s almost like people are seeing you go through the process everyday. ‘Everything’s The Rush’ – is the album’s title.” Mmm. Yeah, not excited by that at all …
A cheap one to end on. Last time I tried this one, Brighton singer-songwriter Paul Steel simply asked me what I thought. Come on, Greg, don’t disappoint. Who would be Nancy Sinatra to The Delays' Lee Hazlewood? “Oh that’s interesting.” (Phew …) “I’ve been thinking about this recently. Beth Gibbons.“ And who could argue with that ? Delays – showing dizzying disdain for the mundane.