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Stuart Garrard and Jonathan Thatcher of Delirious?
By Jessica Heikoop
In support of their most recent CD release deeper the d:finitive worship experience, the infamous British boys Delirious? are back on the road with their North American ‘Deeper Tour.’
In the grand sanctuary of Queensway Cathedral, Toronto, Ontario, guitarist/vocalist Stuart Garrard (also known as Stu G.) and bassist Jonathan Thatcher sat down with me in a pew to talk.
Garrard described the current tour as being “ongoing.” He says, “It’s an ongoing tour because we’ve got, including the spring, about 50-odd dates over this year. We went back home from the tour (in the US) in Easter, and then we were on the road in the UK, then we came back.” Thatcher then mentioned their stops in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, while Garrard concludes, “We’ve been pretty busy. It hasn’t stopped really, we’re not seeing them as separate tours... it’s like one big thing.”
Their previous tour, in which they opened for Bon Jovi and Matchbox 20 in the United Kingdom, brought exciting opportunities for the band as they played many sold out shows, including a show at RDS Stadium in Ireland, drawing a crowd of 40,000 and registered in music industry magazine Pollstar as having the third highest attendance internationally during that reporting period.
Comparing that to their current headlining tour, Garrard says, “I think there’s good things about both. It’s great when you can do what you actually do. You have your full set you can bring your lights, you can bring your video, you can really represent yourselves well. But it’s also great to go out on tour with a band like Bon Jovi because you get such great exposure to people who wouldn’t normally turn up to your gigs. We did have a great time, but, personally speaking, you really feel fulfilled when you get to do an hour and a half of your own music and the crowd are really getting into it and you feel like you’re giving to them. That’s where it’s at for me.”
In August of 2001 the band released the innovative Audio Lessonover? in the UK. Garrard clarifies the process and basis for the album. With more experimental songs and not any categorized ‘worship’ songs, it quite different to what Delirious? fans had grown accustomed:
“We started working on Audio Lessonover? before we recorded Glo. We were put on with trying to concentrate on releasing songs on pop radio so we had a bunch of songs ready to go for that. But then we felt God stopped us in our tracks and the next album was [to be] a worship record. So then we wrote Glo. We had a few songs already. It’s kind of like those two albums, Glo and Audio Lessonover?, for me, go hand-in-hand because it encompasses everything we do. We recorded Audio Lessonover? with producer Chuck Zwicky. The focus of that album was to reach people outside of the church. But that didn’t fit what our record label in America, Sparrow, wanted to release. We knew we had to re-address the album for the States. They suggested we put out a compilation record, and we were into it because it’s kind of like a celebration of 10 years of Delirious? being together.”
One of the most notable factors that came from Audio Lessonover? was the influence of other bands. Songs like “Alien” and “Rollercoaster” took on a definite experimental twist. Garrard explains, “Everything you listen to that you like does comes out at some point. The thing with us is that the five of us listen to different things, and in some way it all comes out into one. The bands we all like are Radiohead and U2 and stuff like that.” He continues, “With “Alien,” the theme of it being we’re in this world but not of it. That’s the feeling you get sometimes and same with “Rollercoaster.” Life is so up and down, there’s so much going on it can be chaos. That’s a song that describes the chaos and in the midst of it all you’re saying, ‘speak to me God, and tell me the things I want to hear.’”
But with Delirious? being one of the most recognized Christian worship bands, there comes controversy. The battle of Secular vs. Christian music comes into play. Secular influences are generally thought to be unhealthy for Christian audiences. So how does Delirious? maintain that stronghold to their music? Thatcher says cautiously, “We don’t want to tell people that listening to ‘x-band’ is ok, because to some people that won’t be healthy for them. But to us I think we’ve got integrity in what we listen to. We love music, we love creative music, and so we won’t just listen to one thing or just Christian music because I think there’s great music that is anointed by God that isn’t actually made by Christians. Maybe that’s a bit controversial to say, but I’ve been to gigs and I’ve just felt this thing hit me and you think ‘where am I?’ Then you realize that you’re not at church, you’re not in a church environment. You’re at a gig seeing your favourite band. So then you think ‘wow, this is a God that I love!’ and he wants to be a part of every part of your life. That really excites me. You know when you’re over stepping the mark, you know when you’re out of your comfort zone, you know when your conscience tells you so.”
Another contributing element found in Audio Lessonover? was the producer Chuck Zwicky. “He definitely took on the producers role,” begins Garrard. “From our beginning we’ve really had a hands-on approach to the production and we asked him to take that on. He made a difference to the way we recorded the stuff to get a strip-down, more live performance. He pushed us really hard and that was really good to be pushed that way.” He continues, “I learned so much from him in terms of guitar sounds and times and how to get those kinds of sounds on the record. There were times where there was a bit of tension about because we were all so strong in what we wanted to do but at the end of the day, you had a producer to have a final say. It was a good experience.”
Thatcher adds, “He was one of those genius type characters that got what he wanted. He was very focused. I got on with him really well, but he knew what direction he was going to push in. There was a lot of friction in the studio, which you can hear on a track like “Alien.” You can hear that it’s not the harmonic, anthemic Delirious? sound. That was an intentional thing just to try to push the boundaries a bit more, to try and find a sound that was a little bit outside of our sound, and he got that. Looking back, we are proud of what we have created.”
Concludes Garrard, “God bless Chuck Zwicky.”
Delirious? is generally considered ‘one of the top Christian bands in the world’ and ‘pioneers in the field of worship music,’ thanks to their world-wide recognition in distribution, videos, radio play and tours; and their renowned reputation for developing a new standard of worship music that lead to what is now defined as the modern worship movement in Christian and mainstream fields. But Garrard declares in the most non-egotistical manner about their reputation, “It’s interesting actually because I don’t think we really think about it. When you do think about it it’s quite flattering that they put you up there with the dcTalks and Newsboys of the world. But there’s no way we’ve sold as many records as they have for start so we’re sort of underdogs as well. We’ve come a long way, but we feel we’re still seeing how far we have to go. That keeps us striving for more, rather than thinking ‘wow, we’re one of the biggest Christian bands in the world, we must be fantastic!’ That kind of thinking doesn’t come to our minds. We’re always trying to get better, trying to write better songs, trying to have a better live show and obviously trying to get more of the God factor into it all.”
Thatcher continues, saying, “That’s where we really appreciate the Canadian audience because you guys here seem to understand us a little bit more, have your finger on what we’re doing a bit more and don’t mind us doing a pop record or a worship record.” He concludes sincerely, “We really appreciate that.”
On the topic of recognition came the further topic of the media. While many bands feel numbers and positions to be the important factor of the business, Thatcher thinks otherwise, as he humorously claims they don’t take the charts too seriously. “I personally think it’s quite funny. If we release a single I’ll check the charts, see where we are, see who else is in the charts for maybe four weeks of the year. The rest of the time I will not care who is in the charts or who’s not in the charts. But when we’re in it you’re thinking ‘oh wow, we’re above them! ’ or ‘they’re just beating us!’ It’s an interesting game to play. That isn’t the be-all end-all for us. The charts are a nice game to play now and then.”
Even with all the impressive descriptive labels given them, their incredible success, and their admirable recognition, the band is fully grounded. Garrard acknowledges, “We’ve got a good clean dynamic to what we do. The five of us are pretty grounded.” He says they keep grounded thanks to, “The team we’ve got around us. It’s worth mentioning Paul Berton our sound engineer because he keeps us on the ground. We’re all accountable to people in our church at home. We’ve got a good base there.” Thatcher further recognizes the importance of the situation and says, “We also really do believe in what we do. We are often over-protective about who we let in and who we don’t, and where we go and where we don’t go. We treat it very preciously.”
From being an ordinary worship
band in 1992 playing local gigs and gatherings, to starting and managing
their own record label (Furious? Records), to the present, 10 very successful
years later, Delirious? has made their mark in music around the world,
inspiring countless people around the world through their encouraging hearts
for God. Thatcher reflects appreciatively, “We dreamed about it, but now
it’s actually reality. It’s very different. It’s amazing. We look back
in amazement really.”