Interview: Delphic

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Manchester’s illustrious rave music history is writ large over alternative dance band Delphic’s music. Shortlisted for the BBC Sound of 2010, the quartet of James Cook (vocals), Matt Cocksedge (guitar), Richard Boardman (guitar) and drummer Dan Hadley’s debut album Acolyte, was released in January and quickly drew comparisons to New Order by way of Klaxons. A slick and complete package of silken gossamer synths, momentous scattershot rhythms and mind-inhabiting tunes, no bum notes between ’em, it was virtually inescapable. Even JUICE admits to having it play on repeat for far too long to mention. One of the highlights of Splendour In The Grass festival, which JUICE was jetted to by Air Asia X in August, JUICE chatted with Matt ahead of the band’s big gig and met a kindred musical spirit.

How are you guys doing?
We’re good! We had a really, really long plane ride over. We basically flew from Manchester to New York, New York to LA, LA to Brisbane. So we were on planes for like 35 hours. We’re all pretty knackered but I think we’ve all woken up today buzzing off being here.

Have you had your breakfast yet?
I got up a bit earlier than I would’ve liked. I went and got a Boost Juice. It’s great! In Australia Boost Juice is just everywhere. In the UK, there’s just one or two in Manchester and I just love the stuff. So I got up, got a Boost Juice, and got a nut bar for me breakfast.

There’s been heaps of praise piled on the band and Acolyte. Did you know at the time you were recording that the album was going to be massive?
Even you saying it now is a strange thing to get my head around. We just tried to make the best record we could, a record that we could be proud of. I think that was the main thing – it doesn’t matter what anyone says, the press or the people – as long as we’re happy with it. I don’t want to be looking back in 5 or 10 years and think, ‘I wish we’d done this, or I wish we’d done that.’ I’m quite happy with it and if you say that it’s gone massive then that’s brilliant.

Well, you have fans in Singapore and Malaysia!
This is a crazy thing, you know. It’s a mental thing! We write these songs in Manchester and record this album and now here we are in Australia, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. It’s very difficult to get your head around that.

In that respect has life changed much for you?
Only in the regard of as never being at home and traveling around, you know, being able to see all these amazing places. That’s great! But when we’re back at home we’re exactly the same … us in our flat in Manchester, dicking about on keyboards and guitars, kind of closing ourselves off from the world. It’s basically the same. Apart from the entourage we have now at home. I have a bodyguard that stands outside my door.

You serious?
Yeah, and I’ve got six little puppies each with their own trainer (laughs).

Haha, shut up! You had me going there! For a long while, the music scene has been lead by an indie rock sound. You guys are reviving the indie dance music scene. Is that a burden?

Oh no, for us, like I said, when we were making the album, we just wanted to make something we were proud of. For the indie dance scene, bands have done it before and bands will do it after and we just wanted to kind of do it in our own way. For us the pressure comes from ourselves wanting to do something different and original. We just wanted to breathe new life into it and do something we buzzed off … something that gave us that feeling of energy and life.

So where did the music come from?
We were kids of the 90s and dance music was at its peak then. We were all into the Prodigy and Chemical Brothers…. Then in our teenage years we got all miserable and listened to Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Godspeed, that post-rock kind of stuff. When we started this band we wanted to find a way of putting those two sides together – to make music that people can dance to and cry to at the same time.

You were part of that whole Manchester rave scene?
No, we were too young. I think the Hacienda closed when were like 10 or 11.

Sounds like you were good boys.
We were, we were! We just sat at home and listened to the Prodigy and got really angry but we didn’t go out and get into trouble. We’re clean man, we’re clean (laughs). I have no criminal convictions.

Who are some of your favorite bands right now?
We went on tour with Two Door Cinema Club and I think they’re great! Everything Everything – they’re brilliant! We played some gigs with them and they’re kind of Manchester based as well. They’re doing something new and interesting.

What about your record collection?
I’ve also been listening to a lot of the Beatles, Beach Boys…. I’ve never, ever been into Bob Dylan until about 3 days ago when I totally got into him. I just thought the time was right for me. I’ve always been worried about getting into Bob Dylan. He’s kind of like one of those classic guys, but I thought I would take the plunge.

Haha! So you’re a man now….
I’m growing into a fully musically developed being, yes! (Laughs) when I was younger, I was never into coffee or tea, and then one day I thought I might be ready for coffee, and I tried it and liked it. And ever since then, I’m into coffee. It’s just something that happens.

Is Delphic going to get back in the studio to record a second album anytime soon?
Yeah, we’re really, really excited. We’re in the process of collecting ideas. We’ve got hundreds and hundreds of little melodies and chord sequences and stuff like that. At the moment, we’re kind of filtering them. I think around November/December we’ll get back into the studio where we can go write.

One of the things that helped to propel some of your music into the spotlight was the music videos and having your music used to by advertisers for advertising campaigns. Do you think that’s the way forward for bands?
Well, nobody buys CDs and your main revenue now is about playing live. It’s okay for big bands like Radiohead to give away their music for free and not be on adverts because they’re already so established. But in the modern climate to be in adverts isn’t necessarily a bad thing anymore. I think people understand that. I mean we’re not living in huge mansions in Cheshire and stuff like that. We’re just barely scraping by and just want to make more music. I think for bands to survive in the modern climate it’s difficult to avoid that commercial aspect.

If that’s the case are there certain products that you wouldn’t align yourself with?
If it’s a phone or a perfume advert or anything like that, that’s kind of the bread and butter of advertising. But it’s difficult for bands, because they get offered ridiculous amounts of money to go play half an hour, and that kind of money would keep them going for months, so I can understand why bands do it. For us personally, there are certain things we definitely wouldn’t get involved in. At the end of the day, music is so personal, it means something. And we want to make music that resonates with people. You don’t want that to be devalued by its association with corporate identity. I think that’s really the line you have to draw.

So if UK’s Conservative Party wanted to use your music, what would you say?
I would not be up for that at all (laughs).
I was flown here by Air Asia X. If you were to jet anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
Wow, there are just so many places it’s impossible! I’d want to spend more time in Japan. The heritage and the culture of it really fascinates me but equally I would also love to go to Iceland and New Zealand and see the scenery there. I could go on. If you give me a ticket, I’d just go everywhere!

You’ve got a world ticket already….
That’s the thing. I’ve got a world ticket but I’ve only managed to stay in a country for one night. It’s a shame. But, if Air Asia X want to give us some tickets, we’ll come back and hang out.

We’ll put in a good word!

JUICE got to see musical heroes Delphic live at Splendour in The Grass in Woodford Australia. We were flown there by Air Asia X. Air Asia X flies to Gold Coast near Woodford daily. Book your flights there by clicking to www.airasia.com. Meanwhile listen to Delphic at http://delphic.cc and follow them at www.twitter.com/delphicmusic.