Peter Timmis reports on the "bonkers" success of the DELIRIOUS? single "History Maker" and the d:boys' 'Farewell Show' CD/DVD
Nothing is certain in the world of pop music and no one could have predicted that Delirious? - who played their last ever gig on the 29th November last year - should subsequently reach number four in the British singles chart with an oldie originally recorded in 1997 or that the band's sign off CD/DVD is potentially going to be their most successful album ever. As all Cross Rhythms readers will now know, the unexpected chart success of the "History Maker" download single was the result of a successful Facebook campaign urging believers to download the single the week beginning 29th March. What is particularly intriguing is that the Christian Music Topping The UK Charts campaign was organised, not by the group themselves, not by Kingsway Music (Kingsway/Fierce were brought into the proceedings at a rather late date) and not by a fanatical clique of d:boy enthusiasts. The Facebook thrust was courtesy of a Methodist minister from Nottingham, the Rev Alistair Kent.
The good reverend spoke on the Cross Rhythms Rimmerama programme about the vision behind the campaign. "Christian music and Christian bands are not as widely promoted in this country as they are overseas. You go Stateside and it's almost in synopsis with the mainstream, but here in the UK it just seems a struggle for bands like Delirous? to break into the mainstream market. Who knows what will come of this, will it be a one off? It could be the start of something massive. The aim is really to help Christian bands and, more so, to get a Christian message out across the airwaves. I called the Facebook group Christian Music Topping The UK Charts so that I could leave it open. Who knows what could be topping the charts next Christmas?"
But why start the campaign with a band who have split up? "I think as an initial campaign having Delirious? was the best choice because of the whole closure of a band who after all was the most popular in UK Christian music. But this is bigger than just Delirous?, this is bigger than the song 'History Maker', this is bigger than the fans. It's about the message. Having said that I think this was a great opportunity for Delirious? fans to give a great thank you for the band's 17 years service. I think the way forward for the future though will be to get behind some new up-and-coming Christian bands."
A few weeks into the campaign Delirious? announced they would be giving the royalties from the downloads to CompassionArt, a charity that the band's singer Martin Smith co-founded. "It's obviously a massive bonus to be able to help those people in need. A great added bonus to the whole campaign," commented Alistair.
So what did the song's creator make of all this? Early in the campaign Mike Rimmer caught up with Martin Smith to get his view. "I think it's mad, crazy, bonkers, the sort of thing God would do! I've had nothing to do with it and I think it's all a bit mad but wonderful at the same time. The crazy thing is that I've always wanted that song to be a single ever since I wrote it. Isn't that a strange thing, you end the band and someone decides it's going to be a single after all!"
Mike asked Martin why when the band were choosing a second single from the band's 1997 'King Of Fools' album they chose "Promise" over "History Maker". "Yeah, isn't that interesting?" replied Smith. "After a few years we stopped playing 'Promise' live but we've never stopped doing 'History Maker'. It may have been the right decision at the time but in the bigger scheme of things you look back and think, 'We never put that song out, I can't believe it!', and there you go, three months after the band ends and someone decides to campaign for it!"
On 19th April Delirious? release their final album 'Farewell Show'. Recorded in front of a sell out crowd of 5000 fans at the Hammersmith Apollo it is a great document of the groundbreaking band's last ever concert. As well as a live CD album it will also be available as a DVD and Blu-Ray with plenty of extra material including interviews and a documentary.
Mike Rimmer asked Martin if it was a little strange talking about the band's last ever concert. "Yeah, it is weird isn't it?" the singer replied. "It was a mixture of emotions. One half of me was sad and grieving for something that I had to walk away from that was so fantastic. But on the other hand I felt, no this is good, the season's come to end, I've completed the assignment and I can walk into something else. It felt like it was a really good end, and a right end, and God was pleased with what we'd done."
What does Martin remember from the big night? "When I looked out into the crowd there were lots of familiar faces that have been with us for years, they all sort of just came out of the woodwork. It couldn't have gone better to be honest. It was just an amazing night. We played loads of old Cutting Edge songs too. The wife and kids were there, it was a real good family occasion. It was a fantastic celebration!"
So, is 'Farewell Show' the last Delirious? album, or have the band got anything hidden in the vaults? "Good question", said Martin. "There's not a lot in the vaults, we weren't Michael Jackson! I think pretty much what came out is what we created. There's live stuff that has never seen the light of day, maybe there's a good reason for that. So no, there isn't stacks of stuff lying around. It's time for a new thing isn't it?"
Have you been writing new material? Mike enquired. "Yes I have," replied Smith. "I've been writing with Tim Hughes and Nick Herbert from St Mary's and Jonas Myrin, who has been signed to Sony. Different things, you know; I've been writing on my own, just getting my thoughts out on paper. It's kind of a full circle really. I've got a bit more space and I'm thinking what do I really wanna say? God, what are you saying? And I'm trying to put some tunes to it."
So is it likely we'll have a Martin Smith solo album this time next year? "I don't know. I'm pretty intentional about this year having no framework, no boxes, no records to release, no projects to aim for, certainly for myself anyway. But I'll keep letting the songs out, keep writing and at the end of the year maybe sit down and look at what's there and go, 'okay, maybe I should stick this out there'. But at the moment I'm not thinking that way. It's just far too early."
As well as writing new material Martin's family life is keeping him busy. "I've got six kids, they're a good age and we're having lots of fun," he explained. "I've had many years on the road, coming and going, so we've had a bit of peace in the house for the first time in a long time. It's been great! I've got the space to do a bit more socialising. I've had the chance to work with Gareth of the Rend Collective Experiment, we spent a couple of days together. That for me is breathing new life, it's bringing me alive and hopefully other people too. I think it's all part of the next season."
Mike suggested to Smith that he would always be known as "Martin Smith formerly of Delirious?" and that questions of a reunion were never going to be far away. "I hadn't thought about that really," sighed Martin. "It depends if I ever put a project out and how much impact it has. It depends if it impacts on another generation. We'll see. . ."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.