A good friend with an excellent ear when it comes to new music, happened across a new young band at Oxjam 2012 in Antwerp Mansions Manchester, quickly e-mailing a link pointing in the direction of The Delaplains and their debut EP “Gypsy Blood. ”
Our attention immediately drawn by their complex and melodically sophisticated indie pop sound, a world away from much of the lad rock the city has produced over many years. Always keen to support exceptional local talent and fuelled further upon discovering an additional track included on the "Bands for Barnados 2012 EP" alongside fellow Mancunians, Jessie Rose, Danny Mahon and The Quangos, Mudkiss quickly cornered the lads, firing a few introductory questions in their general direction.
ANDY: Can you give me a brief..ish history of the band, who’s involved, how long have you been together and where, how did you all meet?
PHIDEL: Me and James were in a band together a couple of years ago and hadn’t really played any music since that band broke up. We met Jason in a shared taxi on the way to a house party last Christmas, and he seemed to be reading from the same hymn sheet when he talked about what he wanted to do musically.
A couple of months after that we’d had a few jams with him and decided we all wanted to go for it. In May we got Oliver in on bass and we’ve been rehearsing and preparing to record the EP since then. We all hang around together away from the band too and we get on well which is important when your spending so much time together.
ANDY: And what about the name, how did you come to choose “The Delaplains?”
JASON: We were all trying to come up with names and were looking at locomotive engines and old deserted rail towns in the old mining parts of America and found a name we liked.
PHIDEL: Delaplain is a place… or it was. It’s a little railroad town in Nevada that used to be a stop off on the Las Vegas line. It’s a ghost town now with literally nothing but some old run down buildings.
JASON: I certainly have a mad obsession with trains as does Phidel I think.
JAMES: I don’t think a new band should dwell too much on a name. Some great bands have had some terrible names but they help set the band apart from others, that’s all that matters really.
PHIDEL: ‘The Delaplains’ brings up no other results when you search for it on Google as well. Which we thought was handy for a new band.
ANDY: Your sound is melodic, tight and intricate, not your average indie band from Manchester. Do you have similar influences, or is there quite a melting pot of different tastes being brought together?
PHIDEL: We’ve all got fairly varied tastes in music but we all agreed we just wanted to make some great pop songs first and foremost. Pop music is in a poor state at the moment I think.
JASON: We’re primarily a pop band which is something bands are pretty afraid to associate themselves with since Cowell and his cronies took over the world.
PHIDEL: I listen to quite a lot of 60’s pop, blues and folky stuff. Jason’s into post punk bands like the Chameleons. Then we all love bands like the Coral and the La’s and as cliché as it may sound the Beatles. When it comes to pop music they invented it for me.
OLIVER: I think us all having pretty similar tastes helps when we’re putting our ideas in but the little differences in our tastes helps give us the overall sound we’ve got.
ANDY: How does the song writing work? Is it a democratic band process, or more an individual bringing lyrics and ideas which are then expanded on?
PHIDEL: The songs come together the same way every time really. I usually write the shell of it on an acoustic guitar at home, with a couple of verses and a chorus, then record it rough on my phone and send it to the others. Then when we get in the rehearsal room we all throw our ideas in. Sometimes we have an idea right away of how it’s going to sound, sometimes it develops over time.
ANDY: What have you been up to on the gig front and what do you have planned for the near future?
PHIDEL: We’ve done a few little gigs whilst recording and mixing the EP just to keep ourselves fresh but we’ve spent most of the last couple of months in the studio and the rehearsal room.
We didn’t want to just go out there and start gigging with no plan. So rather than playing gigs to people who might like us, then have nothing for them to listen to at home, we’ve recorded a strong EP - Now people who discover us playing live and like what they hear can go home and listen to the tunes again. Then hopefully they’ll grow to like us more and come and see us again, we're in the process of booking gigs for 2013 in the next couple of week
ANDY: Your track “That Doll (You got for Christmas)” has been included on the Bands 4 Barnados 2012 EP. How did that come about?
PHIDEL: We’d wanted to record that song and put it out as a charity single for a while. My mum and auntie both worked for Barnardo’s leaving care service in Manchester for years, so it was the first charity I thought of as I know a bit about what they do and I think they provide a really important service for young people.
The idea developed after a few emails and meetings with Barnardo’s fund-raising staff, The 4 bands involved were all really keen to get on board and that’s how the Bands4Barnardos name came about - 4 songs - from 4 bands or artists - for Barnardos. Hopefully it’ll become an annual thing with 4 different bands every Christmas contributing songs to an EP like that one.
ANDY: I noticed from your Facebook page, you’ve been working on a video for “Gypsy Blood” the title track of your self- released debut EP. When will it be available to view?
PHIDEL: Half of the video has been filmed and the rest of it should be wrapped up just after Christmas so it should be done by the end of January for everyone to see.
JASON: It looks top so far.
ANDY: Is the video produced and filmed by yourselves, or have you brought anyone in to help on that side?
PHIDEL: We’ve had the help of our mates on this one.
JAMES: We want to have our friends help out with things as much as possible. We’re quite lucky that a couple of friends of ours are experienced in production so we asked if they could help with the video. Ben Rix who filmed a lot of the video also took the photo which we used for our EP cover.
ANDY: Is “Gypsy Blood” a particularly apt title, is there a wanderlust about the band and you’ll soon want to be taking The Delaplains outside the confines of Manchester?
PHIDEL: It’s about being able to feel like you can be where you want and do what you want, which is something I’ve always envied about travellers. It must be quite liberating to know that if you don’t like where you are or what you’re doing you can just pack up and move on.
It’s not to be taken too literally though really. The song itself is about a certain person making you feel a certain way, like they can take you away from where you are, on whatever level, even for a few seconds. Hopefully the song does that to the listener as well. We want to play our music to whoever wants to hear it so hopefully in the new year we’ll get plenty of gigs out of town too.
JASON: But first things first we want the people of Manchester to get to ours gigs
ANDY: Where would you hope to see yourselves in another twelve months? Do you feel you have something a bit special going on here, and you’re not just another run of the mill indie band?
JASON: With ’That Doll’ at Christmas number one hopefully!
We definitely feel like we’re onto something special, we can write songs and choruses. We’d never claim to be the most technically brilliant musicians but we love our music and we love making it as well.
JAMES: There’s a lot of bands about at the moment who seem intent on looking and sounding a certain way before they’ve even written a tune; Then there’s bands who can talk a good game but have absolutely no substance to back it up.
We think our tunes and our choruses are better than most of what’s about at the moment - I hope in a years time that people will agree with us.
PHIDEL: I’d like to think we’ll have a bit of a following and have done some great gigs by this time next year. We just want to get the songs out there to people and hopefully they’ll like them and come and see us live and keep listening. I’d like to think we’ll have at least 1 or 2 more EP’s done by then too.
OLIVER: The pyramid stage at Glastonbury. That’d be nice.
Lack of ambition not an issue within The Delaplains masterplan, and why should it, although their association with Barnados and Oxjam suggests a band with a heart, not just an ego. While not the finished article as you'd expect in such early stages of development, this quartet already creating finely crafted, intelligently constructed compositions and expectation's are high in these quarters.
Keep a very close eye on The Delaplains, 2013 could be a very Happy and prosperous New Year for the band, and fans of true pop music with an edge.
Interview by Andy Barnes
Photos from Oxjam Manchester 2012 by Russ Learmont