Manchester trio Delphic are back with their second album, Collections, and a full UK tour. Andy Welch talks to Richard, Matt and James about recording the album in Atlanta, touring and more.
By Andy Welch
When Delphic emerged towards the end of 2009, they were one of the most hyped bands in the country.
Their first wave of reviews were based on little more than a few recordings and the reputation of their live shows. But anyone doubting Delphic were worthy of the high praise, was quickly proved wrong when Acolyte was released.
A sophisticated album, which flawlessly fused electronic instruments and guitars, garnering many a comparison to New Order, was an undeniably impressive debut.
Three years on - most of which was spent touring the world - the Manchester trio started recording their follow-up album. Collections was released at the end of January, and immediately marked a change in direction for Matt Cocksedge, James Cook and Rick Boardman. (Drummer Dan Hadley 'joined' sometime after recording Acolyte, although he's not an official member.) The trio, spurred on by their love of the production found in modern hip hop, decided to decamp to the genre's spiritual home in Atlanta to work with producer Ben Allen.
"We didn't go there just because it's where a lot of hip hop comes from," says the band's guitarist Cocksedge. "We wanted to work with Ben, because he's a master of these big fat beats that we wanted on the album - and he wouldn't come to England!"
That said, by the sounds of it Delphic got a lot out of the trip, managing to find time to act out their MTV fantasies, too.
"We were driving around in a big 4x4, more of a giant truck, with every station playing hip hop. It was hard not to get into it, roll down the windows and bounce a bit," says vocalist and bass player Cook. "We definitely soaked up all we could in Atlanta."
The band were initially only meant to be there for two weeks, but that quickly turned into two months. Before heading over, they'd spent "ages and ages and ages" in a freezing barn in Warrington, writing, arranging and recording demos of the songs that make up Collections.
They say 80% of the album was ready to be recorded before they flew out, plus there were already some sessions in the bag with Tim Goldsworthy, co-founder of hugely influential DFA Records with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy.
"Lots of people think bands are completely influenced by a producer, and we are to a degree," says Boardman, "but we had a complete idea of what it should be like before we went into the studio.
"We always knew what we wanted to sound like, we've been building the ideas for ages."
The change in direction also partly came about due to other guitar bands going down the same synth-heavy road as Delphic's debut.
"As well as that, pop music went dance, and suddenly that sound was everywhere," explains Boardman. "Rihanna started making dance music, David Guetta and Calvin Harris happened, so we thought we couldn't do anything like that anymore."
Cook adds: "We turn our noses up about guitar bands just putting synths on things.
"It always just sounds like a pre-set, whereas we've got one of the biggest collections of vintage analogue synthesizers I've seen, so we take it really seriously. That might sound snobbish, but we have definitely got a purist view of these things."
In fairness, the trio have a strong opinion on most things. They take their work very seriously, although they manage to fall some way short of being po-faced about it. They simply have a vision for their music, and are single-minded in pursuing it.
Having said that, though, Collections was finished by mid 2012, but they sat on it for a good few months afterwards. Only recently did they start handing out the finished album to friends and family, seeking their opinions.
"If there's a bit of doubt in our mind we might ask someone what they think, and if they pick up on the same thing, then we would listen to them," explains Cocksedge. "If we were confident of the thing they highlighted, then we'd just ignore them and stick to our instinct."
From their Atlanta tales, it seems they clashed a fair amount with Allen - there was even some sulking - but they got there in the end.
"It was enjoyable for five or 10% of the time," says Cocksedge. "And for that small amount of time you feel absolutely ecstatic. The rest of the time is hard work and arguments.
"What's difficult is so much can be lost in translation and you can end up with something so different from your original vision.
"When you have that idea, seeing it through is the most difficult thing. It's easy to veer off. You have all these different people giving you input, and you have to just keep true to the idea you had in the first place."
With the hardest work out of the way, the band are now excited for their tour and, having played the songs from Acolyte for a year prior to the album's release and two years after, they're very glad of having some new material.
"We've been cooped up for so long just by ourselves, we just want to see where it takes us," says Cook, suggesting there'll be another year or two of live dates and festivals all over the world. "We did a little tour last year and it was just nice people came. We'd been away for so long, we were worried no one was going to come."
Boardman adds: "I think our fans respect that we've done something very different with our second album, too.
"If they've bought into the idea of us as a band, the idea that we want to try new things and develop, then they will understand what we've done on Collections."
Extra time - Delphic :: Delphic are Matt Cocksedge, James Cook and Rick Boardman. Dan Hadley drums on all their recordings and at live shows.
:: The band formed in 2009. Before that, the trio had been in hotly-tipped Manchester band Snowfight In The City Centre.
:: They came third in the BBC's Sound Of 2010 poll, losing out to winner Ellie Goulding and runner-up Marina And The Diamonds.
:: They released their first single, Counterpoint, in 2009, with debut album Acolyte following in January 2010.
:: They wrote and recorded one of five special songs for the London 2012 Olympics. The other four were by Muse, Dizzee Rascal, Elton John vs Pnau and Chemical Brothers.