The frontman for DELIRIOUS?, Martin Smith, talks about every song on the band's latest album 'The Mission Bell'.
This started life on my little dictaphone that I've got. Just purely that opening line, "We're getting stronger every day, we're getting braver in every way." And that was all it was. I gave that to Stu G who thought that the chords I put with it were a little bit too sad for the song. So he came up with a slightly different minor-y thing that's going on there. Then we took the song into the studio exactly like that. Stug had a chorus and we tracked it, but then about two months later I said, "I'm not sure we've really nailed it." So we actually rewrote a whole new chorus and edited it together and what you hear is the final version of course, but it went through a few stages. Lyrically the chorus is actually verging on a little bit trite. It's a bit rhymy and a bit sweet but it just felt like it fitted the mood of the song so we went with it.
Now Is The Time
"Now Is The Time" was one of my first songs written for 'The Mission Bell'. It was written for the people in our church. There's just a growing sense of - we've come so far as a church but now is the time to really start to think a bit bigger. The winds are blowing through again so we must keep following, keep pushing through. So that was all aimed at our home church and of course it's become what it is. It started life with a slightly different chorus and we got our friend in, Matt Redman. I said, "Look, I've run out of ideas. I know it needs something extra, can you come and help us?" First time we've ever done that with anybody. He came over for a cup o' tea, said, "Bit of this, bit of that. How about this lyric here?" And it's become what it is now. So that was a fantastic experience. Really good. We then recorded that version at 118 bmp to be precise and after living with it for a few months it just was too slow and a bit dirgy. Lyrically it's got so much urgency but it didn't feel like the song really supported what the lyric was saying. So the week before we mastered the record, the pre-releases had gone out, we'd actually mixed the whole record. I just thought, we need to go back in. We went down to Chapel Lane, down in Hereford, where we were mixing, and spent three days re-cutting that song from scratch. I'm so glad we did. It's just a whole new beast.
Stu G was messing about with this big powerful guitar lyre and his Dobro, his 1937 Dobro guitar. He recorded this loop into his computer and put these heavy guitars on. There were no lyrics, no tune, nothing. He said, "Look, all I've got is drums, Dobro and this guitar. I don't know what you can do with it." So I put it in my computer and honestly, this doesn't happen all the time, but within about an hour I'd written these words and this tune, and what you hear is what was written. A few more words were written. Then the section in the middle is actually the hymn taken out of Hymns Of Faith; hymn number 343 or something - "On Christ the solid rock I stand". We just lifted that whole thing out and TobyMac rapped it. So that's pretty cool! He didn't originally rap it though, I did the first version.you know, London style?! Or should I say Littlehampton style? It was good, it was okay, but I think that Toby has brought a little bit more pizzazz to it. He's better looking, you know?
All This Time
This came from a demo that Stu G had made. The title of the song was "Control Yourself". It was very different to what it is now but it had that pulsating kick drum thing all the way through it. There was something that really fascinated me about it. At the end of the song there was this little tag line, "All this time." and we thought, hang on, that's the chorus! So we took that and put it up about four keys to create a more anthemic chorus and then we got in a room, Jon, Stu G and myself, and wrote the lyrics for the verses. I just love the way I sing a verse, Stug takes over and it swaps. The chorus doesn't hit until about two minutes in. It's just slightly different. I'd had the words, "I'm a father and a son, I've been a lover with just one" for about two years in my book and didn't know where it fitted. We fitted it in there and it opens the song. Quite honest really. Some of it is autobiographical and some of it is just highlighting the issue - "we need to think about this stuff."
"Miracle Maker" is probably the most extraordinary moment in the studio we've ever had in our lives as a band. And that's not an exaggeration! We were, all five of us, in there. I think it was probably about 8 o'clock at night, we'd just had dinner. I had in my book a list of song titles and hardly any lyrics. I said, "I'd love us to write a song called 'Miracle Maker'. That's all I've got is the title." Stu says, "Oh, what about these chords we were working on ages ago?" We said, "Great! So let's jam on that for five minutes!" And I'm not exaggerating, within the hour I'd written all the words and the melody and the music was all crafted. Everyone chipped in a bit and within an hour the whole thing was recorded. I think we just were like looking at each other going, "What was that all about?!" It really was an amazing God moment. There are many moments in the studio which are hard graft and just work, work, work and you feel like God's got nothing to do with it all almost; because it's just pushing something uphill. But this was just amazing.
Here I Am Send Me
Again, this came out of a Stu G demo and then we just tweaked it a little bit. But lyrically, again, fascinating. Taking four stories in the Bible. One guy in a German interview remarks on this song as "rock theology" or something; "Bible rock songs." He said it just reminded him of all these incidents in the Bible. The idea that God has got a searchlight roaming the earth like in Deuteronomy; searching the earth for a faithful man to put his trust in. Just saying, "God, there's nothing really that I've got to offer. There's nothing in my hands but here I am, send me." So it's going to be great live, that song.
This started off life as an up-tempo song. Maybe it should have ended like that! It starts with a really anticipatory drum thing. It actually was inspired by watching the Lord Of The Rings movie - the third one, where they start to light all those beacons on the mountains and it spreads and spreads around that part of the world. It was a call to the armies to come and congregate wasn't it? So "All around the world the fires burn, they burn for you for what is true" was totally inspired by that. And again our friend Matt Redman, I played him that song and it had a very different chorus. He said, "Oh you know, there're no songs written about Jesus coming back." And so that chorus went in that direction. "Born to take us home." In fact there aren't many songs about at the moment that talk about Jesus coming back and yet it's actually fundamental to our faith. So I'm quite excited about that. I love the new version of it and I love the mood of it.
Our God Reigns
The song started life as a pretty little chorus, kind of taking the original '70s chorus, "Our God Reigns". It's a great line, great thing for people to sing. I had the chorus for over a year. I thought, awwh great! Excellent! Another little sing-along church song! It's a pretty little chorus. All I've got to do is to write some killer verses; little bit soft-rockish - suit the mould - and it'll become a great church song. Here we go! You know? And I could not write any verses for it. I couldn't get any inspiration. It was just a bit cheesy and I was thinking, oh what's going on here?! Never really got round to writing any verses and then these kind of heavy lyrics came.
We had the Redmans round for dinner and he was talking to me about the whole abortion issue. They were buzzing on some facts, saying it's almost being talked about as a modern-day genocide. In 30 years' time are we going to look back like we did on the Holocaust and say, how on earth did we let those things happen?! How on earth did we let hundreds of millions of babies get killed in that manner? Now I'm not judging any one of those situations. The song is not a song of judgment. It's just saying that there's this situation, there's the HIV thing, there's a growing obsession with self - in the West especially - which is creeping into the Christian world.which is a bit worrying! I'm just saying, look, throw it on the table, what are we going to do? How do we respond to all these things as a Church, as the Bride of Christ, who are supposed to be the ones that are going to change the world? There's just that incredible paradox of, actually yes, we have lost control if we're honest. We've allowed some of these things as Christians to permeate culture when we should have been stronger at the policy-making stage.
The chorus is the fact that Scripture tells us that actually, God reigns. He is the ruler of Heaven and earth. Sometimes you can't put the two together and yet you have to believe that that's true. So the chorus doesn't go with the verses at all, but it kind of does. It's a huge paradox hitting head on and saying, okay we screwed up but we still have to believe that God's in control. I can remember it, being in the kitchen and just scribbling out the first verse - "40 million babies lost to God's great orphanage," and realising that at that stage there was something heavy going on. So those three verses materialised and I'm really proud of that song lyrically. It's a big step forward. Jon said it's the greatest lyric that I've written so far that he knows about, which I'm proud about. It was a big thing to write. Musically we wanted to create a background of confusion because the song is talking about confusing things; tension. We wanted it to sound quite tense and the verses don't sound like they've got a lot of structure to them and the voice is distorted. The first time you listen to it it's like, this has got no shape to it. Jon's playing this sub-bass keyboard thing that's all over the place. It's like, what is going on here?! So yeah, it's fascinating. We had a lot of fun doing it. But the moment we were actually in the studio together it was a pretty heavy moment."
Love Is A Miracle
This is sort of like the sunshine in the record. We weren't sure actually whether to put it on at the last minute but the wives got their way. It was like, "Where's the only song we like?! Give us a pop song! Something we can have on in the kitchen without making us cry!" So that song made it in the end. It's got a great choir sound. It's got Faye Simpson singing BVs on it as well. Faye was in Nu Colours and has got the most incredible voice. So it sort of reverts back to "Message Of The Cross" - "Thank you for saving me", that scat thing that we used to do, having guests on records. I think it's fantastic, it's great.
Paint The Town Red
"Paint The Town Red" is Velvet Underground meets Delirious? meets Wesley. Revival lyrics, "Oh here we come, it's time for the Church to be who we are/We've got this leather-backed book and a freedom cry/We're the army of God who are ready to die." I really love the lyrics. I love them! It's just kind of Jesus Army stuff, you know? Just brash and stuff that probably we wouldn't have written three years ago when we were trying to be all cool and get on Radio 1! But who gives a monkeys? These songs come out and we're proud of them. I think it's two minutes and two seconds. I think it might even be the shortest thing we've ever recorded, so it's great!
Take Off My Shoes
I would say that this is actually my personal favourite on the whole record. Again it's an intimate moment. It's soul laid bare again. A bit of an "Obsession"-type moment where it feels like me and the microphone, being able to just say where we're at. It came about through reading that whole stuff in the Old Testament, where the priest would go into the Holy of Holies and they'd tie a rope round his ankles just in case he died in there, and they'd pull him out. I was thinking, well how does that really apply to us living in the year 2005, wanting to know God? In New Testament theology, we are the priests. But there's something that I love about the essence of that. Getting into a holy place where God is and it being life-changing and incredibly intimate. The more I began to think about it I was saying, "Well actually, I don't want to leave this place. Leave the rope! In fact, leave me in here. If I live or die in here I'm in a much better place than I'm in now anyway." I guess in the end for us all that's Heaven ultimately. We leave our worldly pathetic little life and evolve into greatness and spend eternity with Jesus. It's very autobiographical in terms of the journey. Still after all these years - God I hope my hands are clean in this race that we're running, "Hold me, blow all the pride from my bones." There's still a lot of the old man in there!
The ending to me is possibly one of the most extraordinary things we've captured on tape because that song was recorded live in the studio together and we hardly changed anything. It is what you hear. The overdub was that I sang my vocal again because the words were still forming at that point. We added the strings but apart from that it is as it was. It was an amazing moment. I'm singing all this stuff about, "I hear you singing, stand up and be strong." Again I don't understand what that means right now but you've got to finish, you've got to finish. Maybe one day I'll understand what that means but I know it touches something very deep. We'll see."
I'll See You
"I'll See You" is a very personal song. It's about losing someone and imagining that one day you're going to meet that person in Heaven, and they're going to meet you at the Gates. You can paint this picture of when they meet you and they go, "Great to see you!" And that being incredible in itself; to meet this person that you knew when you were alive. And then a more exciting thing than that is that they say, "I know where Jesus lives. Come, let's go and see him." Imagining the scenario of you and this person that you lost at one stage singing to Jesus and this whole picture of imagining it. "I see you when the wind blows" is me stepping out of that moment and still being here imagining that situation.
It's written in a way that for anybody it could mean anyone. For us it was about losing a baby. So imagining one day meeting that person we never met. So that song almost didn't make it. I was sort of saying to the lads, "It's a sweet little song but we don't have to put it on. It's kind of out of context." And they were saying, "No, I think we should stick it on." So it's kind of an afterthought to the record. But I think it will be one of those things that people will cherish. I've already sung it at someone's funeral two weeks ago actually. Someone rang up and said, "Oh that song, can you sing at our funeral?" I think it will be one of those songs that's sung at many people's moments in life like that.