After 17 years, Delirious? is ending their run at as one of modern worship's biggest bands, with the release of My Soul Sings CD/DVD. NRT's senior editor Angel spoke with Martin Smith to reflect on the past and where the members are headed.
At first, it was different; Delirious? didn’t exist on paper, but the five guys selling tapes out of the back of a rusting car were carrying the genes for what would grow into one of the most remarkable stories in Christian music. They might well have dreamt it, but nobody took anything other than small, simple steps forward. Life was simply a matter of writing songs that made sense and playing live with the main aim of making the strongest connections possible.
Today, things are different, with recent years’ touring stats regularly seeing them playing in over 20 countries, and to more than 1,000,000 people a year as their albums, live DVDs and compilations are distributed as far as Singapore, the Philippines and beyond. They’ve been top 10 in the U.K. album charts, as well as in Billboard, and have supported Bryan Adams in Hyde Park and Bon Jovi all over the U.K. It has been an astounding ride, and Delirious? have become used to the sheer numbers packed in to hear them play; crowds of 12,000 in Bogotá, Colombia, are far less daunting when you’ve just played to 250,000 in Mumbai, India.
And now it is coming to an end.
NRT's Senior Editor, Angel, recently spoke with lead singer, Martin Smith, about the band's incredible history, his recent work with CompassionArt, and what the guys are planning next.
Hi, Martin. Thank you for joining us at NewReleaseTuesday.com. I understand that at the end of 2009 Delirious? will be taking a break from recording and playing as a band. What’s next on the horizon for all of you?
It’s been a 17-year-long season for Delirious? and we’re very proud of that fact. Even though we’re all still good friends and love what we do, we feel this season has come to an end, and so it’s time to move on to other things. We’re going to finish with a live show at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, on November 29, 2009.
There’s a lot of creativity inside all of us. I think we’ll be going on a journey of discovery as we write with other people and produce records. Maybe in the future we’ll get back together, but for now, we feel this is the right time to stop.
Your latest project, My Soul Sings, is a live CD/DVD recorded in September 2008 among the people who are part of the G12 church in Bogota, Columbia. Please tell us how that project came about.
We met these amazing people in Bogota, Columbia, who run a huge church with approximately 200 thousand members. It’s a very big movement they have going on. They invited Delirious? to play there on several occasions, and since we really loved playing at those events, we decided to record our DVD, My Soul Sings, with them. The crowd was fantastic! Approximately 10 thousand people showed up who were extraordinarily loud throughout our performance. It was an incredible night!
The idea behind "Kingdom of Comfort" came from the story of Solomon and how he had forgotten the mandates God had called him and his father, David, to obey. Solomon forgot a few of God’s promises along the way and decided to intermarry. It says he chose a kingdom of comfort instead of the kingdom of heaven, and that's the whole theme of our record. This is a brilliant song. The lyrics talk about materialism and how we can become indifferent to the struggles of others, especially the poor. Even as we prepared for our latest studio project, Kingdom of Comfort, we had to ask ourselves: "What are we doing? Are we building a kingdom of comfort? Or, are we building the kingdom of heaven?"
Continuing with the theme of helping the needy and afflicted on My Soul Sings, you mention the following Scripture during the song, "History Maker":
"This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, and cancel debts. What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad . . . Do this and the lights will turn on."
What Scripture was that passage taken from?
That Scripture is actually a very famous passage taken from Isaiah 58:6-9, The Message translation. It was paraphrased in our DVD, but it’s very powerful!
What message did you want to convey through the song, "History Maker"?
This is a song that everyone can sing. We want everyone to know they are here on this planet for a reason—to make someone's life better, to live for a higher reason than just existing. We long to see a generation of people know that we can do extraordinary things with God.
Delirious? certainly has accomplished extraordinary things with God. Just to name a few of them, you currently have 14 songs on the CCLI charts including my favorite, "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever," and you also shared the stage with Bon Jovi (2001). What was it like to sing worship songs in front of 80,000 people while on tour with them?
The song, "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever" has opened up so many doors for us, and we’re very grateful for it. I can’t remember if we did that song or not, but we did songs like "History Maker" and "My Glorious," and a lot of our other worship songs. I think we needed to "rock it up" a little bit on the Bon Jovi tour! [Both laugh.] While we were on tour with Bon Jovi, we had the opportunity to meet the band, and they were very kind. We did 5 stadium shows across the U.K. with them, and it was such an amazing experience. We loved it!
While you were touring internationally and staying at 5-star hotels, you often stepped outside of your comfort zone to reach out to people living in the most poverty-stricken areas of the world. Would you share with us some of what you experienced as you journeyed through these countries?
I met a little girl whose mother was working as a prostitute in one of the red-light districts in Mumbai, India. The people who are living in these communities are oppressed and kept in slavery. You know, these things rile you to the point where a holy anger rises up on the inside of you and compels you to do something. So part of what Delirious? has done is to help finance a medical center in the village where this little girl and her mum, and other families who are caught up in Mumbai’s sex trade, reside. This facility will provide proper medical treatment for those people and an opportunity for a better life.
I know that India has a huge problem with human trafficking. On My Soul Sings, you even mention that there are children sold for as little as the price of a cappuccino. At what age, in Mumbai, do they normally become the victims of these atrocities?
The children who are trafficked are mainly females between the ages of 8 and 16. In fact, all that goes on in Mumbai on a daily basis; however, the people we’re assisting [at the medical clinic] are only involved in the commercial sex trade. Unfortunately, I’ve seen horrendous things happen! The children living in these communities are exposed to all of that, so we’ve tried to rescue some of those families and pull them out. We need to do something, don’t we? We have to play our part. I’ve got a microphone, and I can use that to speak out.
One of the ways you are speaking out against social injustice is through the album, CompassionArt: Creating Freedom from Poverty, which features your collaborative efforts with Michael W. Smith, Israel Houghton, Steven Curtis Chapman, Chris Tomlin, Stu G, Amy Grant, Kirk Franklin and more. Please tell us about this project.
Yeah, it's been a miracle how that project has come together. All of these artists have united to raise awareness about these issues. We put a lot of microphones together, and we need to be a voice. All of the proceeds raised from CompassionArt will go directly to various charities that are helping the poorest of the poor.
Family Christian Stores recently announced CompassionArt: Creating Freedom from Poverty as their first-ever Album of The Year. Congratulations! Can you tell us about this announcement and how partnering with Family Christian Stores will help restore hope to the orphaned children of Watoto whose lives have been devastated by war and disease?
This is an amazing thing that’s happened. To have this chain of bookstores make the record number one for the year is fantastic. They have promised to give one dollar from each purchase to help build Watoto’s Creative Arts Centre in Uganda. This is groundbreaking. First the artists gave, then the publishers, the record companies, CCLI and now the trade!
And the media got involved, as well! CompassionArt has garnered major media attention from outlets such as CNN, the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, MTVonline, USA Today, Reuters, Forbes and hundreds of others. Did you have any idea that this project would generate such a buzz?
No, I didn’t, but I have faith in God that He can do anything! It’s just a miracle that CompassionArt has been generating this sort of attention. It’s so exciting to sit back and watch it unfold.
From your perspective, as founder of the award-winning CompassionArt charity, can you shed some light on the issue of global poverty?
Sure! We need to recognize that the people who are living in extreme poverty are our brothers and sisters—-they’re our neighbors, and Jesus said to "love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 19:19) Now that we live in a global economy—-where people across the continent are our neighbors—-it’s time for us to be responsible and take care of them. As a result, we’ll reflect the heart of God. Even in the Scriptures, God clearly advises us to take care of the poor, the oppressed and the broken. It’s our job to help lift people out of poverty. Luke 12:48 says, "To whom much has been given, much is expected," and that's why it’s so important that we talk about it.
Out of all the songs you’ve penned, what are your absolute favorites?
Wow! That's a great question. I think "Obsession" is one of my favorite songs. I love that song—-it’s a little bit quirky. Another favorite of mine is "Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble?" As for that song, it has come to represent a movement of young people around the world who burst open the doors of church and say, "Here we are! Church is exciting and God is alive!" Then they sing praises to God and let their worship spill out into the streets. There is a new generation of people who have risen up, and they’re saying, "Everything is possible with God-—and we’re going to be history makers!" I’m very pleased that song is still being sung.
What has been the most rewarding accomplishment for you individually, and as a group, over the last 17 years?
Individually, one of the most rewarding things was helping the medical clinic in Mumbai, India get off the ground, and that’s something we're very proud of. As a group, we’ve always tried to push the boundaries to pioneer and create music that touches people’s lives. It’s been a great journey for us.
Do you have a final message for your fans as you bid farewell as a group?
It’s been an extraordinary season for us, and we’ve felt incredible support from people all over the world! We’re amazed by all of the people who have bought our music and have loved it after all these years. What’s even more amazing is that our music has become part of their lives, and we’re very honored to have played that part for so many years.
Angel, a concert photographer and writer, frequently conducts artist interviews for NRT. She loves Christian music and currently lives in FL with her husband.
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