the manchestermusic & incendiary magazine interview
Words: Richard Foster / Cath Aubergine
Picture: Mac McDonnell
From a band's point of view the festival interview conveyor belt must be a strange beast. You're driven through the night to a Portakabin in some remote location and then paraded in front of a string of journalists, three quarters of whom will ask exactly the same questions. So on day two of Haldern Pop, North Rhine-Westphalia's premier indie fest, by the time Richard Foster from our continental cousins Incendiary Magazine gets his turn with Delphic the signs aren’t encouraging. At first. But luckily MM has been priming our guest writer with questions. Call it a joint venture or something, but it seems to work. Over to you Richard...
“An internet magazine you say? Not print? Oh… I don’t know, I mean the lads are tired…but come round let’s see”. I get more of this stonewalling later whilst I wait outside the Delphic tour bus in the gloaming; when a grizzled, grumpy driver/manager pops his head out of the driver’s window to deny all knowledge of any appointment. However it soon transpires that my Northern accent (and look of Diebels-fuelled cheerful optimism bordering on apparent idiocy) gets me the interview, and all doubts are banished by two Manc-related coincidences. Firstly I find that I know Delphic’s live drummer from a previous act: the late (we think) Manchester greats Calvin Party - and secondly, the band are happy that I also know Manchester Music’s (and Incendiary’s) Cath Aubergine, who had thoughtfully provided me with a couple of opening questions. Off we trooped to the communal backstage campfire, conveniently next to the vodka shot dispenser wigwam, (yes, that’s right, that’s what I wrote…) to eventually sit down with a clearly tired and maybe jet-lagged, but very chummy & chatty Richard Boardman.
RF: I’m going to ask you a question from Cath to start with. During your show with Orbital, did you ever feel like nicking their head-lights?
RB: (Laughs). We did discuss this, but we thought we just can’t that is of course their trademark, but we did steal a lot of other things which is pretty much all their synth ideas and settings, when we watched them. We got loads and loads of tips from them. But I don’t know… the visual thing is theirs; we’ve got our own thing going on.
RF: What struck me was your sense of timing; you don’t allow the audience of the leash too quickly, do you? That whole idea of release, which you get so often in dance music, is something you really hold back on.
RB: We take a lot from minimal electronic kinds of music, techno and so on, not that we listened to it all of the time but when we got with R&S records we ended up going to Berlin and recording something similar: that kind music is much more subtle than dance records or electro which is “boom, boom, boom”... We just like to take a slightly more sophisticated approach than the black and white of loud/quiet and that’s what informs the moments of release. It’s there, but it’s more a wave of euphoria that we try to build up. It comes over you gradually, sometimes we like to hit it hard, but no, a subtle wave. I’m making it sound like a subtle drug rush…
RF: You mentioned recording in Germany a minute ago. There are a lot of great German electronic labels, Staubgold, Karaoke Kalk, Monika, Contour... There’s a subliminal approach to dance and electro that you don’t really get in the UK You are one of the few bands who picks up on this.
RB: Yeah, definitely! We really like Kompakt stuff, that’s a huge thing for us, and they and R&S turned us on to a lot great stuff. And we’re looking more and more towards that for the second record. Not that we’re necessarily going to make a techno record, it won’t be, it will be more organic - but there will be definite key areas, key moments that are very much techno.
RF: Switching back to Cath, she asks why Marple has suddenly become this wellspring of good music.
RB: Funny, innit? I mean there’s always been a few people from Marple.. Johnny Marr and Morrissey wrote This Charming Man in a pub in Marple, Tony Wilson used to live in Marple. I don’t know, maybe one helps the other… We’re not really that close to anyone; we don’t really know Egyptian Hip Hop that well, we’re getting to know them a bit, but Dutch Uncles, we’ve always been friendly with them and we have kind of kept an eye on them. We’ve always liked the idea of putting on a gig on in Marple with bands from Marple. I think Dutch Uncles are doing this now, but we’re away.
RF: It’s strange how these small communities of Heads in towns on the periphery of Manchester organize things before they go into the town proper
RB: I guess in these towns it’s just easier. Manchester is still a great place to network and be around but Marple is much smaller. I have to say I’m the only one in the band actually from Marple; James is from Bath and moved up to Manchester. He stayed with me and my parents after University. And Matt’s from Chapel en le Frith. We used to rehearse at me mum and dads: they had a little garage where we used to practice in.
RF: You have a widescreen, broad-brush approach to presenting your musical ideas to people. And yet you originally formulated that idea in a garage…
RB: It’s weird and it’s actually a few years since we actually conceptualized the whole thing and now we’re in a totally different place. And now, looking back we’re like… I guess we’re two years older and we’ve grown up fast. On that first LP, there are still raw philosophical ideas put in a very simple way and that’s I suppose where we are now we can see that back then it just a case of being in this big lull and not knowing what anything was about, and wanting more from every part of our lives.
We were bored, and we felt that everything was stuck in a rut; art, music, us, Manchester all stuck in a rut. We used to be in another band, and a lot of what we put on the first LP stems from that as well, we were kinda plodding along and getting nowhere, but it was fine with friends, and then we somehow stepped out of this. We thought “this is shite” we need to do something that we all believed in. And that was the determining factor; we had a big creative rush, and within six months we had the core of the album sorted pretty much.
And now we’re in a completely different place, we’ve toured this album around the world and we’re kinda sick of our personalities being linked with all of the stuff and nonsense around this album. And we feel we’re in another kind of rut, another kind of lull, and we have another set of musical ideas we’re unhappy with so we’re desperate to get back into the studio, and we’re just beginning to go through the same embryonic creative process again. I mean so much has happened… we’ve pretty much broken up and re-formed over this last couple of years. I’ve also said to the lads, that I can’t and won’t write the same kind of album twice. In order to progress the band we’ve had to break up and start again. Learn how to write songs again. And I feel we’ve done this. Last year we were thinking, shit we just can’t write another song again, and in the last eight months everything is starting to slowly come together again creatively. It feels like we’re new.
RF: Caught between the Scylla of creation and Charybdis of business eh?
RB: The album came out in January so it’s seven or eight months but we’ve been gigging it for at least a year before that, so at the end of 2010 it’ll be two whole years. We have loads of offers to gig but we’ve just said, hang on; stop. I mean, we love gigging and touring’s okay and we’re very grateful and all that but we need to get out of a cycle. We all get on… but we’re desperate to get away and be creative. We want do an album that is so much better than the first album that people will look on the first album as total bollocks in comparison. It’s not necessarily pressure, but it’s on our minds. Every second of every day.
Lots to look forward to then - and there's one more chance to see the current Delphic live set in Manchester in 2010 when they headline The Warehouse Project on Saturday 30th October will a full supporting line-up including The Whip live and Now Wave DJs. Tickets are still available from Ticketline at the time of going to press.
(c) manchestermusic.co.uk & incendiarymag.com 2010