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Martin Smith of Delirious?
By Steve Stockman

Stocki sends Martin Smith a few questions across cyberspace about the new Delirious? album World Service.

Stocki: When it comes to a sixth album, is there a fear of being in remote control and simply repeating yourself?

Martin: Yes, I suppose there could be, but that is the challenge of it all. We have been together for 11 years now, and it still feels very fresh when you listen to World Service. The key is to not stagnate in your friendships and your outlook on life. We've always been the sort of people to want to keep learning and finding new ways of doing things, its in our blood to keep pressing in.

Stocki: On the opposite end, when I read reviews these days I often wonder if there is too much pressure in the press to come up with something new all the time. Then Ryan Adams does and gets a roasting. We are a remote control flickaholic generation. Do you ever feel that pressure?

Martin: I used to. But at present I'm the most relaxed I've ever been about everything which I think shows in the new record. We have more confidence to be who we are and that is very freeing in fact.

Stocki: What has changed if anything since Audio Lessonover? in yourselves, the music, the mission?

Martin: We are three years older and hopefully a little wiser to what we should be putting our time to. We have invested so heavily in the mainstream music scene over the years because we felt that was the right thing. Now we are happy to walk through doors that God is opening rather than doing a whole lot of pushing. When you push too much, things start to get messy.

Stocki: What does World Service add to the Delirious? canon?

Martin: Hopefully more songs that touch people enough to make a positive difference.

Stocki: Does anything spark a new album, or is it just "lads we have 12 songs here, time to record."

Martin: We have never been able just to write on demand or come up with something that will keep the machine going. There does have to be a spark and this time it was a renewed perspective on the amazing grace of God.

Stocki: Are there things that fertilize the writing process? Books, CDs, time away.

Martin: Yes books, newspapers, conversations, church life, new life, death, the Bible in different translations

Stocki: I believe Stuart once was rightly annoyed with me by talking about Martin's gift with melody. Sorry big lad! How do you guys write together? Is it in a room bouncing words and melodies back in forth like early Lennon/McCartney or words to tunes like Taupin and Elton?

Martin: We will have ideas buzzing around throughout the year, and then we will block time out to collect all these ideas and form them into songs. It could be a lyric or a guitar riff that provokes a whole song. We will spend hours crafting them at a demo stage before the band hear them. It's still a strange experience after all these years to bring songs to each other and have them butchered! But we made extra effort this time to let it all go for the good.

Stocki: Where do songs start? A line? Subject? Melody that needs words that express the feel?

Martin: "Mountains High" was written the night a friend of ours died tragically at the age of 44. It was a specific incident that sparked a specific song. Others need more time to find out what they should be saying.

Stocki: So who wrote, "I built my house where the ocean meets the land/its time to live again/Pull my dreams out of the sand"? Fantastic!

Martin: Me.

Stocki: You guys are worship writers and rock writers. Glo is very different in focus than Audio Lessonover. How do you change mindsets when writing?

Martin: It's all about the songs that you are given at the time. You cant force it either way.

Stocki: This album has me confused and I think in a very positive way. I am asking is it a Glo or a Audio Lessonover. I am caught between the two. Some I hear sung in my student worship groups and others are simply songs to listen to. It has a feel for me of a merging of the two Delirious?s (is there a plural of Delirious?) coming together. Not that the two sit side by side, but the two have become one. It feels to me as the most complete and fulfilling work to date. Was that the aim or am I talking crap!?

Martin: I'm glad you think that. We didn't set out to make that statement but I am very happy with the seamlessness of the styles and yet lyrically its all kind of saying the same thing that we need God in our lives to make our lives work properly.

Stocki: Okay I am going to give you the chance to preach at me convert me brothers!! I am a massive fan of Mezzamorphis and have little interest in the worship stuff (even though "I Could Sing of Your Love" is a favorite hypocrite!). Where I struggle is the lyrics. I find a lot of repetition in lyrics. Lines that reappear in everybody's stuff, I might sing three songs with the lyrics seemingly shuffled and I am looking for fresh poetry of expression. This album has its fair share of reappearing lines. Is it just a mark of the genre that I need to sort out in my head?!

Martin: Fair comment. I will bear this in mind for the future. I think something does need to happen and I believe it will in time and from the right writers.

Stocki: The album is very personal in its expression of grace, spiritual fire and at times seeking for solace. "America" off Audio Lessonover? was a great tune to play post 9/11 even though written before. No temptation to write a song about the past two years world affairs?

Martin: Not in a hurry to, but you never know what will come next.

Stocki: You seem to have stopped trying to crack the charts. With the joke of Radio One playlists and the fickle meaningless of chart positions, is there something freeing about that artistically?

Martin: Absolutely! The mood in the camp is so different now. It's like putting on a pair of running shoes after trying to climb a mountain with ski boots on. It is very freeing to be able to make sensible decisions about your future that you can implement rather than waiting on a phone call from someone who doesn't care about you or your music anyway.

Stocki: You have been phenomenally successful when it comes to sales. Is there a danger that this album is judged on whether it sells as well rather than in what it is artistically?

Martin: If it sells well then I guess more people like it. The main thing is that we think its great and can't wait to play it live so we are excited at the next year.

Stocki: So what do you hope the listener gets from World Service?

Martin: A surprise! Just when you thought Delirious? had gone to sleep we have found something to say again to a backdrop of grown-up music.
 
 

Steve Stockman is the Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens University, Belfast, Ireland, where he lives in community with 88 students. He has just finished a book on U2, Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2, is the poetic half of Stevenson and Samuel who have just released their debut album Gracenotes, and he has a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Ulster (listen anytime of day or night @ www.bbc.co.uk/ni/religion/rhythmandsoul). He has his own web page--Rhythms of Redemption at http://stocki.ni.org. He also tries to spend some time with his wife Janice and daughters Caitlin and Jasmine.

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
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