Delirious?: Back with the long awaited new album 'Mezzamorphis'

Thursday 1st April 1999

Seemingly the whole Christian music world has been anxiously awaiting the protracted birth of the new DELIRIOUS? album 'Mezzamorphis'. Mike Rimmer has watched its slow but sure emergence.

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Even the title of the album itself seems to sum up the band's current place in the scheme of things. Stu G elaborates, "It's a made-up word but there's two songs on the album that it comes from. One's called the 'Mezzanine Floor' and there's a song called 'Metamorphis'. The song 'Heaven' already touches on the theme of Heaven being our final goal but there's a couple of other things running through the album, one is the whole mezzanine floor idea. Any architects will know that it's the place that's not the first floor or the ground floor but it's the level in between. We feel that we're in that place. We're on this journey and we've left A but we're not quite at B. We're somewhere in the middle!"

Later I talk to Martin about an incident that happened earlier in the band's journey and Craig Borlase describes in his book about the band, Purepop. A woman was dramatically healed. Martin confesses, "I will always remember that for the rest of my life. It was at Southampton Guildhall at one of the early Cutting Edge meetings. I had a daydream and God gave me a word that there'll be someone coming that night in a wheel chair and I didn't know anymore than that. The evening went on and I completely forgot about it and then something jarred my memory. I remember saying, 'Is there anybody here that's come in a wheel chair?' Someone shouted out and to cut a long story short she ran into her dad's arms at the end of the evening without her chair. I can remember there were a lot of tears and it was very emotional."

The moment has left a lasting impression on Martin and the band. "I think those sort of incidents are actually what we still talk a lot about." He confides, "We're in faith for that even now and I think that what will happen is that it feels like sometimes there's a ceiling of anointing because we're playing always to Christians. Generally there's a ceiling you hit and you can't go any further but I know we all have got a lot of faith for when it opens out into mixed crowds and half the people are coming because they heard it on the radio. All that stuff's gonna start happening again."

Martin continues to explain, "I suppose it's just what Jesus did really and I don't know whether that's actually going to happen during gigs or whatever. I trust God that he'll do it when he wants to do it but it's nothing to do with us. As a band we have not put a lid on ourselves at all, we still feel as child-like in the whole thing as we always have done. Anything could happen at any time. I think we are just getting more into the whole show thing and presenting what we do in that sort of way and I have no problems about that but at any time anything could happen."

The Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool comes alive to the strains of the theme from the old sports programme Grandstand. The crowd sing along, the lights come up and the boys break into a furious song which is quickly establishing itself as a live favourite, "Bliss". Earlier, Stu describes how the song came about. "We were into recording the album and were writing a lot of medium tempo songs which I think are very cool but really felt like we needed some more up tempo numbers. I just happened to ask Martin if he had any lyrics, just lyrics, no music. I took them away and it was my intention to lock myself away in my bedroom until we had a fast song! 'Bliss' came out of that room in a weekend! Lyrically it's just saying I'm not backing down, we're going for this wholeheartedly but I'm not backing down in my faith and what we believe in."

Another highlight on the album is "Heaven", the song was originally inspired by a trip to Belfast. Stu remembers, "We were actually travelling down the Falls Road and with all the emotions and feelings that that conjures up when you're actually there. We were actually having a conversation about the omnipresence of God and how the Devil isn't omnipresent. I actually said, 'It really feels like we've been down a road where the Devil's been,' not in a judgmental way but just the kind of feelings that were there. That started a whole conversation about Heaven being our home and how the stuff that we have to put up with here is only temporary. The sound of that song is quite aggressive and quite emotional in its attack."

At the other extreme, "It's Okay" is a bit of a musical departure for the band. Stu says, "It starts with just the acoustic guitar and Martin's voice and that'll really hook it into some of the older stuff that we've done but then we've got this colliery band sound," Stu jokes, "without Terry Woman. We did some recording for the song in Regent Hall, Oxford Street in the Salvation Army place. We recorded some strings there and also some horns for the track and we actually had some Salvation Army players on that so that was a lot of fun." Lyrically, Martin describes the song, "It could be about several people but it's really talking about someone that's really going through it, almost suicidal that I was sitting with and trying to help them through a few things. And you know the only phrase that you could use sometimes is, 'It's okay, we'll live to fight another day.' There's some strong poetic language in there and we're pleased with it. It's really a song of hope."

Back in the dressing room at the gig, everybody is crowded into one room. Opening act Cathy Burton prepares to go on stage and checks with the road manager that everything is set. Stew Smith has just been given a crew cut. I say my goodbyes and get ready to watch the gig. Tim Jump suggests I let the band give me a crew cut to "get rid of my Sue Rinaldi hair!" I politely decline.

This is an exciting period for Delirious? An album with the potential to impact the international marketplace, live dates and even a bit of Richard Branson money to promote the band. Majlin is enthusiastic, "We're very happy with this album. I think we've done extremely well and it's the best that we could possibly have done. We've come out of the studio being totally happy with everything and that's a new experience for all five of us you know. Stu G adds, "One of the greatest compliments I've been paid in recent months is when I was playing some of these songs to a guy who's not a Christian and he said 'Wow, these are like anthems.' As it went on he said, This is like modern day hymns,' and he was saying, 'There's an inspiration in the music, it's kind of the same sort of inspiration you hear in the music of U2.' I thought that maybe we're starting to see some of our dreams come about now. It's like we always want to create an environment where it's comfortable for people but where we can talk about truth and talk about great positive things."

The prospect of mainstream success is something that the band have thought deeply about. Martin explains, "I think that in our heads we're always further on than where we actually are. I think that's part of who we are as people. I think that's just in our make up. We're on Top Of The Pops in our heads and whether it will ever happen, we're talking about what it's going to be like when we do that or what it's like when we're in the papers. I think we do always want to push the envelope but at the same time be faithful to where we're at now."

Martin is under no illusions about the price of any fame that might come his way. "I imagine it's a blessing and a curse. You have more demands on you as a person but I think that at the same time, having that exposure and platform also gives us room to do what we want to do and say what we want to say. Unfortunately you can't have one without the other and to a measure we understand that a little bit now. I think we're up for it. We want to keep going."

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.
About Mike Rimmer
Mike RimmerMike Rimmer is a broadcaster and journalist based in Birmingham.

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