The end of 2009 was a busy time for Mancunian indie-ravers Delphic. One minute they were playing tiny gigs to psyche themselves up for the release of their debut album Acolyte; the next, they were playing to millions on Later… With Jools Holland.
A few weeks later, they were announced as one of the 15 acts to make it onto the longlist of the BBC’s Sound Of 2010 poll.
The critics’ poll, now in its eighth year, is judged by 165 “industry insiders” (including musicOMH’s editor) and has a reputation for predicting acts on the verge of sales greatness. Past winners have included 50 Cent, Keane, Adele and, in 2009, Little Boots.
But Delphic’s guitarist Matt Cocksedge seems nonplussed. “It’s quite exciting I suppose,” he shrugs. “Everything Everything and Hurts are on the list so it’s good to have Manchester well represented. But to be honest I try not to read the music press. People say ‘oh you’re doing really well at the moment’ and I’m like, ‘Are we? I don’t know!’. I think that even if you read 10 reviews and just one was negative, that’s the one you’d remember when you were on stage.”
Not all aspects of imminent fame are dismissed as readily. “Jools Holland was great though,” he says. “It was probably the scariest thing we’ve ever done. It was terrifying! I had a guitar solo to do and I couldn’t sleep for about a week before. I kept waking up panicking.”
Formed from the ashes of the briefly hyped Snowfight In The City Centre, Delphic is a band on a mission. “Our motto is ‘the guitar is dead, long live the guitar’, although that’s obviously very tongue in cheek because I’m the guitarist,” he laughs.
“The guitar will never be dead but I think the whole indie guitar thing had just got so boring and has been for a long time. As soon as we said that, bands started getting more interesting though – bands like Everything Everything and Two Door Cinema Club are using guitars in an exciting way, making these twisted pop songs. Maybe Snow Patrol heard us too; instead of just chugging away, they’ve used synths on their new song. Same old Snow Patrol, but a bit more interesting, you know?”
Cocksedge and his band mates, singer James Cook, drummer Dan Theman and multi-instrumentalist Richard Boardman, grew up just outside Manchester. “The first bands we got into were The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, that sort of thing. Then we got into Radiohead and Doves – OK Computer and Lost Souls are really important to us. But we soon got bored of that kind of music – there was no interest or fun in it. And then we found interest and fun in minimal German techno, as unlikely as that sounds.”
But, while the band may be influenced by minimal sounds, it’s not necessarily reflected in their sound. “We’re about electro music with soul. What we try to do is get an organic feeling. We want to resolve that clash between euphoria and melancholy. Music is unique in that sense – you can get both feelings at the same time.”
Fresh from support slots with bands as varied as Kasabian and Orbital, Delphic recorded Acolyte in Berlin with electro legend Ewan Pearson. “Berlin’s amazing, there’s such an great culture there and a real atmosphere about the place,” he says. “The techno scene’s amazing. We were going backwards and forwards and it took quite a long time to record. We were quite picky! Originally we recorded a track with Tom from The Chemical Brothers, who’s a bit of a hero of ours. We thought it sounded fantastic but when were listening back to it it just wasn’t what we’d got in our heads. It was a really hard decision, but we decided to go and re-do it on our own. That sounds a bit pretentious, doesn’t it? It was such a hard choice, but we had to do it.”
Further help was at hand. “When we eventually started working with Ewan, it just clicked. He’d take things away, and I don’t know what he did to them, but they’d just sound loads better. Often he’d take things away, the little fiddly bits that we’d start slapping on when we were sat recording at home. We’d get self-indulgent and start adding all these synths and layers. He taught us that you don’t always need that, and that sometimes the song can do the work.”
Delphic take Acolyte on the road later this month. “We love playing live. Our live show is us but bigger and harder. On record we focus in on the delicacies of the songs but live it’s like a massive rave. We like to mix together live – it’s fun because it keeps everything fresh and we find new, interesting ways to play the songs. That, and it means we don’t have to talk on stage. We’re really bad at on stage banter!”
Delphic’s debut album Acolyte is released through Polydor on 11th January 2010. They’ll be playing a city near you very soon.