x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Delphic's fusion attraction

The guitarist Matt Cocksedge speaks about the dance-rock band's quick rise to success and what the future might hold.

"I know we tried to make something new and contemporary because there's no point in just plagiarising the past or ripping off New Order," says Matt Cocksedge, the guitarist for the rising dance-rock luminaries Delphic. "And if we wrote a record that just sounded like a rip-off of New Order then we wouldn't want to release it because there's no merit in doing that. I don't even like New Order that much."

Such is the amiability of Cocksedge - a winning mixture of northern levelheadedness and soft-spoken charm - that it takes several seconds for his words to sink in. Hang on... Delphic aren't fans of New Order? That beggars belief. Even if geographic lineage is taken out of the equation (both bands hail from Manchester), there's so much else in common. From the shimmering charm of their debut album, Acolyte, to their austere grey-shirted uniforms, all the signs suggest that they owe a huge debt of gratitude to their iconic 1980s forefathers. Delphic seem as if they could have been assembled from the rubble of the now demolished Hacienda nightclub. Was he joking, or are they really not fans? 

Cocksedge laughs. "It was half true. I mean, some of their songs are my favourite songs. But people would listen to our tracks and say: 'This sounds exactly like this New Order song,' and I'd think: 'Really?' It's obviously flattering, though, because New Order are a terrific band. And you know Oasis made a living out of ripping off The Beatles, and I don't think we're anywhere near that level, so it's OK."

Many bands quickly wilt under the pressure of enormous hype, but Delphic have seemingly taken it in their stride. The rumblings of hysteria started after they released their debut single, Counterpoint, last April, a pulsating six-minute opus that combined twisting guitar rock with acid-house euphoria and caused even the most cynical of musical critics to salivate. Their successful fusion of guitar and dance music was enough to earn them the title of Band to Watch in 2010 from innumerable publications, with Acolyte receiving rave reviews. 

Not that Cocksedge is getting carried away. "It's? quite nice," he squirms when asked how he's finding the plaudits being thrown his way. "It's slightly strange. I had a moment the other day when I was walking down the street and I saw a huge stack of our albums on the rack in HMV. And I just thought: 'Is this really happening to us?' It's very weird." He's quick to point out that it hasn't all been plain sailing, though - he didn't see anyone actually buying a copy.

"It left me feeling quite depressed for the rest of the day," he laughs. He's eager to stress, too, that Delphic are ready to face the potential backlash that often follows such exalted beginnings. Rather than desperately try to cling on to their position as critical darlings, they're prepared to accept that things might not always go so swimmingly. "It's part two of the hype process, you know?" he says. "First you get the hype, and then after a while it turns and you get people looking to knock you down. So we're prepared for it."

Perhaps it helps that the band share such a close bond; Cocksedge certainly speaks warmly of the other band members. He and the multi-instrumentalist Richard Boardman were both part of the band Snowfight in the City Centre before forming their current troupe, and he and the rest of the group now live in a flat together.  "That's either a lovely thing or a horrible thing depending on which day you talk to us," he says. "You go on tour together and spend all your time with the same people, and when it gets near the end you think to yourself: 'Finally, it will be great to have a bit of time to myself.' But then you get home and everyone's still there. And you go down to the kitchen and everyone else is there... waiting for you."

Surely they don't need separate tour buses yet? He laughs. "No, not yet. Unless? I mean, if someone wants to offer them to us we might take them." While this down-to-earth attitude might help Delphic cope in the limelight, it's certainly not what brought them the attention to begin with. Put simply, they succeeded where so many bands before them have failed: in successfully fusing guitar and dance music. Normally, rock bands turn to the dance genre as a way of trying to spark some life into a creatively exhausted act, and the resulting mess sounds like an afterthought. Delphic, on the other hand, treat the two contrasting styles with equal attention. 

"I think we always wanted to have dance music at the centre of the record," Cocksedge says. "We tried to make it as organic as possible rather than writing a load of guitar tracks and then just sticking synths over the top of it, which is what a lot of bands sometimes do.  "I mean, we grew up in the 1990s when there was a lot of dance music coming out, so we were all massively into that when we were kids. But then we became moody teenagers and got into guitar bands like Radiohead. And then, as we got older, we got into techno and things like that. So with Acolyte, I guess we came full circle."

There is a slight sense of hesitancy, though, when he's asked to comment on how pleased he is with the album. "We were all pretty happy with how it turned out," he says after a long pause. "If we had more time then I think we could have done more but it's good to have a cut-off point. You need to have a time where you draw the line under it. Otherwise we'd probably never finish it. "You can tell it's our first record, which is how I think it should be. There's a lot of optimism, a lot of euphoria, almost open-eyed wonder. You don't want to lose that by working on it too much."

You could forgive Cocksedge for being full of excitement for the year that Delphic have ahead - or, at the very least, a little smug of their nascent success. But his composure and relaxed tone only slip for a brief moment. And rather than a recollection of a life-changing moment or an encounter with a musical idol, it's sharing a stage with the American comedian Steve Martin while he was playing the banjo on a British television programme that causes Cocksedge the most excitement. 

"Yeah, we did play the same show!" he exclaims. "I didn't meet him, but I stood quite close to him. That was really strange. When we were announced for the show I saw the name Steve Martin and thought: 'I only know one Steve Martin, but it can't be him.' And then I saw it in the newspaper and I was like: 'It is him!'" Sometimes, it really is the strangest things that make us most happy.