Faded Seaside Glamour (Rough Trade)
An interview with Greg Gilbert (guitar/vocals), Aaron Gilbert (keyboards), Colin Fox (bass), Rowly (drums)
by Tim Den
By the time you read this, a young band from the sunny port city of Southampton, UK will have traversed the entire U.S. with Franz Ferdinand and blown the headliners off the stage every night. With hearts of gold, spirits of a thousand warriors, rebellious creativity, and the intellectual maturity of a unit four generations older, it’s safe to say that Delays are going to be an important band for years to come. An absolutely marvelous group of chaps who rank among the smartest, warmest, and most sincere I’ve ever interviewed.
This is a pretty big tour to be on, eh?
Greg: There’s no better tour to be on right now. It’s getting us in front of a big American audience right away. But it’s also weird because we’re playing to people who you can’t assume are going to understand our music.
I was quite surprised when it was announced you’d be touring with Franz Ferdinand. You sound nothing alike! What does the opening band sound like?
Colin: The Futureheads are kinda like The Jam: Punky, dancey, they’re brilliant.
So they don’t sound like you either!
All: (chuckling) No, no.
Greg: We’re sandwiched between two quite angular bands. It’s been interesting to see how we fit in. I don’t think we’re like anybody. When we try to put together tours in England, we can’t really find the right bands to go with. Cuz everybody seems to have a sort of “description” or another, and we don’t.
Who’ve you toured with in the UK?
Colin: The Veils, who are now no more.
I thought they just released a new record?
Greg: They did. And then they split. The main guy’s getting a new band together.
I love them. That’s actually a pretty good fit!
Greg: Fantastic band. I think Jason is a great songwriter.
Colin: They’re very overlooked.
That album got perfect reviews in the States, yet it never quite caught on.
Greg: That last song on Cedars – “Trees in the City” – is so good. They’re one of those bands that don’t get the attention they deserve.
How has it been on this tour, as opposed to the smaller one you recently undertook alone?
Greg: These big shows have helped us polish the songs. I think we’re better live than the record. More powerful. The songs have come a long way since the record, which is quite old now in our minds. Plus, when we were recording the album, Aaron had only been in the band for a few months. Before he joined, we were under the impression that we were in the vein of The La’s, Manic Street Preachers, and The Byrds. I don’t know if you’ve got the b-sides, but those were the songs that we bumped when Aaron started writing more. If you listen to “Stay Where You Are” and “Wanderlust,” you can hear how his influence started to change us. To me, those two songs are the bridge between Faded Seaside Glamour and our new stuff.
If you had to describe the new stuff, how would you?
Colin: Louder, more rhythmic, heavier…
Heavier? Like guitar heavy or electronic beats heavy?
Greg: More electronic-y, but still pop music. My introduction to music was from the melodic side of things, so I’ll always love melodies regardless of if it’s “rock” or “electronic.” My contribution to the songs is always going to be the melodies, but because of Aaron, the music is becoming much heavier, punchier, harder.
Sounds like Doves.
Greg: Some of the stuff on the first album may be closer to Doves, but the new songs are much harder. Very ’80s.
Are you playing any of it live?
Colin: We’ve been playing three new ones.
Greg: Doves are, to me, almost more psychedelic. I’d say the new stuff’s like New Order.
Would you say the UK is pretty fixated on the whole Northern Soul/Manchester scene?
Greg: Not as much as they’re fixated on America and New York. (laughs)
Greg: Everybody’s “garage.” But, I mean, there are some good new bands. I like this band called The Open. They’ve got some cool tunes.
Every band has “The” in front of their name.
(enter Aaron and Rowly)
Greg: And here come The Aaron and The Rowly!
(To Rowly, who’s wearing a Roswell UFO mesh hat) I like your hat! How was going through the American Southwest for the first time?
Colin: Our bus’ generator broke down in the middle of it.
Greg: You know that scene in National Lampoon’s Vacation where they’re stranded in the desert? It was like that.
Aaron: I was culture shocked.
Greg: I wrote three songs going through the Southwest. They sounded like Paris, Texas. Lonely, twangy dust bowls…
Do you get to sightsee when you’re on tour?
Greg: We saw the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas… Rowly mistook the world’s largest meteor crater for the Grand Canyon. (laughs)
Must’ve been a really big crater!
Rowly: When I saw it, I obviously knew it wasn’t the Grand Canyon. Earlier, they were like “Hey, we’re gonna go,” and nobody told me that we were parked near this big crater. So I got off and went to it, and the person inside asked “How did you hear about us?” “Well, it’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World!” “Uuuhhh… (imitating writing on paper) ‘word of mouth.'”
Aaron, tell me about how you joined the band.
Aaron: I used to be really into techno – especially the Detroit scene – cuz there was always a sense of melody and not just a smashing 4/4 beat. Greg and I had bedrooms next to each other growing up, and I’d be in there making my own songs really loud cuz I wanted to know what people thought of it without asking. One day, I was playing the “Wanderlust” Caribbean loop and Greg started playing along with it. And that was it, really.
Any plans of recording soon?
Aaron: We’ve recorded two. We did Faded Seaside Glamour all at once in three months, and it drove us fucking crazy. That’s a lot of time to spend with people, even if they’re people you love.
Greg: We hadn’t even played a live gig before we recorded. We know what we’re doing now. We’re going to do things in stints: Record two, write more, play gigs, then record some more. We’ve got so many songs, we really need to finish the ones we’ve got. It’s just hard cuz you want to put all the details in. I just got Smile yesterday, and it can’t end up like that!
The album’s going to be a cross between Smile and Paris, Texas.
Greg: Yeah, that’d be sweeeet! (laughs all around) Smile, Paris, Texas, and Substance. It’s just a matter of finding the sound that is Delays. I think “Wanderlust” sounds like Delays. Like Nirvana and The Stone Roses, you know exactly who it is the moment you hear their songs. That’s where we want to get to.
Aaron, I was talking with the others earlier about how Delays don’t feel like they belong to any of UK’s scenes, care to elaborate?
Aaron: Sometimes I think we’re made to feel like we’re doing something “wrong” because we’re brave. Because we’re fucking honest. We’re not about posture, we’re not “hyped.”
Greg: We never sat down and talked about having a “sound.” We cut ourselves off from everything and just tried to please ourselves. I think if everybody was honest, nobody would sound like each other. I think bands are scared that their scene will abandon them, so they don’t mess with their formula. This is the only band any of us have ever been in. It’s that shared mentality of “us against the world.” It’s the biggest cliché you can think of, but it’s true! It does feel like it’s just us on some sort of adventure that’s gone from a garage in Southampton to all over America. We’re very focused about our shared ideals and goals. We’re not shaken by what’s fashionable. Are Delays so uncool that they’re cool? (laughs all around) We all dropped out of school to do this. We’ve left ourselves no other option. We haven’t given ourselves a back-up plan. We have to make it.