“Is this alright?” asked James Fitchford, as he ushered me into a changing room that was littered with guitars, amps and cymbal stands.”Sorry, it’s quite smelly”. He wasn’t wrong. Smelling of old socks, the changing room come backstage area come instrument store room was a strange place to have an interview, but it was dry and relatively warm so I wasn’t going to complain.
In a few hours, Delamere would headline the first Ashcombury Music Festival, a sold out event organised by guitarist Ashley Egerton as well as Mark Jones and Rich Goodwin, both members of the cricket club. But before that, I’d managed to get Fitchford talking about his greatest loves – his music and his band.
Have you done anything since launching your album last weekend?
We played in Hull on Tuesday and Banbury last night and then we’re in Birmingham tomorrow. It’s going really well. We’re shifting albums when we go which is always a good sign. Hull was a mad one at a place called called The Polar Bear. The thought of driving to hull on a Tuesday night made me think it was going to be rubbish, but for some reason Tuesday’s in Hull are like Friday’s. There was probably about 300 people there ready for a night out! I couldn’t get my head around it.
Banbury last night was probably the oddest but coolest venue we’ve ever played. It had all odd furniture that they’d made themselves, cut out of old baths and boats. There was a pommel horse out of gym that they’d turned into an arm chair! We’d just loaded in and they said “Your green room’s through there” and there was like a little 70’s wardrobe. I was like “Through where?” he said “There”. We opened the door and it was a big green room with sofas all the way around, a big TV, fridge and bottles of Vedette with our picture on the back. It said ‘Thanks for playing Also Known As’. So we took one of them home!
That’s pretty cool. Were you pleased with the launch last week?
Very pleased yeah. When you go to these big old buildings they have the bass bins on the floor and the tops hanging high, so the sound carries. I think next time, we’ve learnt from that, because unless you were right at the front, the sound didn’t particularly carry.
Yeah, it sort of hung in the front bit.
Yeah that was it. It basically hit the people which soaked it all up. Once it went through a wall of 400 people, it sort of just turned into this mush of nothing. But for everyone stood at the front having it, it was alright.
There was a lot of people there that night. A lot of friends and family?
Yeah there was a lot of friends and family but there was a lot of people there that I’d not seen before. Leek’s funny. A lot of the time when we’ve gone out or we’ve seen people, they’ve said “We’ve seen you’re doing really well. We’ll come and watch you”. On the last tour when we were in Stoke, we said “Come and see us in Stoke” and some people were sort of like “Ohhh”. There’s an old joke; a lot of people from Stoke say that people from Leek need a passport to leave, because they like staying very central, so there was a lot of people that hadn’t seen us before purely because that gig was on their doorstep. It was a really good night. I really enjoyed it. I thought it looked amazing with all the lights and the high alter.
The lights did a lot for the show.
Yeah it looked ace. We were only talking last night actually when we were in Banbury, that we’re going to do – exclusively – a Christmas party. A Delamere Christmas party at All Saints Church with a bigger PA and more booze *laughs*.
It was weird seeing drunk people in a church!
Yeah! We’ve done it with our label before, with Scruff (Of The Neck Records). They do a lot of gigs in churches and we’ve done some in Manchester and it’s always been a thing. They’ve put the bars in and they’ll do the drinks. I’ve never really thought about it but everyone said you know, we had messages on the Facebook page from people saying “What’s the deal with bevy’s? What do we do? What’s going on?”.
It definitely felt weird ordering a rum and coke in a church!
I know! The vicar was sound as well. At the end of the night, all we had left was three crates of IPA, so we gave him about 8 tins of IPA and he was buzzing off that. And an album and a t-shirt. He was chuffed with it! They were really good at the church so we’d definitely do that again.
It was a really nice venue. It must have been nice doing something different than playing at a normal venue?
That was the thing. We wanted to do something that was different. Because it was our album launch and it was our hometown, we didn’t want to do it at say – probably the only place in Leek where you could go is The Foxlowe or one of the pubs, but they always see bands and acts. We wanted somewhere on a larger scale where nothing like that had happened before. When we announced it, the reaction from everyone was what we wanted. Like “In a church? How? Why? What?” That was good. That was what we wanted to achieve and it was a good night. Memorable.
Have you sold a lot of albums since it’s release?
Yeah, we’ve sold quite a few on iTunes actually. In the grand scheme of things, for other bands it’s not massive, but for us – from Friday to Sunday – we sold 120 albums on iTunes. So that was cool. It was unexpected because it’s sort of in the back of your mind as you’re not shifting physical copies. We shifted a load of albums and t-shirts on the night. We’ve got a little merch table by the bar today actually. I’m really happy with it.
How many shows are there left on the tour now?
We’ve got.. oh.. let me count. *pauses* So Birmingham tomorrow, Leeds, London, Bournemouth, Dundee, Edinburgh, Manchester, Ramsbottom Festival and then another one in Leeds. The Leeds one we’re doing this week is a Sofar Sounds session so it doesn’t really count as a full gig. And then we’ll go back up – we’re playing with Glass Caves on the 17th September back up there… I think. We’re quite busy!
And then what’s the plan afterwards?
Writing. We’ve been told we can officially take a little break and write by our manager. We brought the album release forward, because we were going to release it in October, but we decided to bring it forward because we felt that it was a bit summery. The vibe of everything, it just wouldn’t have suited to have brought it out in October. We made a conscious decision to bring everything forward, so that made him work a hell of a lot harder! We had to get the dates in around that to promote it. Just pushing everything out. Once we’d got everything mastered and ready to go, we turned everything around in the space of a couple of weeks. It was frantic but definitely needed. It hasn’t really been that long ago since we toured ‘Kill It’, the last single we did and now we’re on this tour. Obviously to keep the dream alive, we all work full-time as well.
Ah yes. It’s a pain isn’t it?
Oh massively. You know, you drive back from London and get in at four in the morning and then go to work and then that night you go and do another gig somewhere. So that’s why we need a short break. Then I think, instead of having a really busy schedule, we’ll play big good gigs but predominately we’ll be writing to release an EP next year. I think we’ll release another single off the album and there’ll probably be just a few dates around that – nothing as big as this – and then an EP next year.
You definitely need the time to write and to gain experiences to write about!
Yeah that’s the thing. We’re not a band that sort of organically writes in a room together. It’s mainly myself and Will the drummer. He’s got a little studio set up, as have I. He’ll come up with something and then I’ll put something to it and I’ll send it back and we’ll send it back and forth. Sometimes we’ll have the bones of a song and we’ll take it to a practice room and do it that way. That’s pretty much how it will go for us. I’m looking forward to having the time to do that, because with the album and singles and everything we’ve done, it’s come from jamming ideas in a soundcheck. It always turns out that if we’re practicing, we’re running through the set a couple of times because we’ve got a couple of big shows coming up. So I’m really looking forward to that. Seeing what new noises we can make. Ash has got a mad crazy delay pedal – a Dr. No pedal. He’s dying to get that into a song so watch this space! It’s mental!
Would it sound good in the church?
He wasn’t allowed to use it! Literally, it sounds like a beast. As soon as you touch it, it’s unpredictable! He got it when we went to London last. We went down Denmark Street where all of the guitar shops are. There’s only like 200 of them made and he managed to find one of these. He had a play and he had to buy it. He’s dying to put it in a song! It’s wild. He’s got to find a place to put it in. No doubt, the next song will have this delay pedal in – MotherBrain by Dr. No.
I can’t wait to hear that!
So Delamere are doing really well. You’re probably one of the biggest local bands going at the moment.
Thank you. A lot of work has gone into it. People say that, but we don’t take anything for granted. We keep trying to push. The main ethos in the band is that as long as it keeps going up– I mean all of us will still make music but it’s dependant on how far we can push it or see what we can do with it. This year has been mad for us with playing Ibiza and getting booked for Great Escape, Dot to Dot and Live At Leeds and things like that. Obviously the album coming out as well and good reviews keep coming in so that makes it all worth while. Once it starts to plateau or starts to go the opposite way, then we wouldn’t put so much time into it.
We love playing your stuff on Moorlands Radio. We’d love to get you back in for a session, if you’re not too big for it!
Thanks! No definitely not too big! We’ll do anything. We’re easy going. I don’t know if people have different views of us, but we’re not arrogant or anything like that.
That’s something I’ve noticed. Not that I expected you to be massively bigheaded, but what struck me last weekend was how modest you are.
Thank you. We’ve had it all the way down. You’ll get bands where you see it all the time and it’s just embarrassing. We cringe ourselves when we see it. You’re all there to do the same thing and play. When you see something like an attitude or a comment like “We’re not doing this” or “We’re better than them” it’s counter productive. They dig their own grave so to speak. Leave them to it!
I’m glad everything is going well for you. Delamere are definitely going to keep going for now?
Definitely. Oh yeah. Definitely. As I said, even if things start going down, we’ll still write music because we enjoy it. It’s just whether we’re prepared to give up seven nights a week for something that’s going downhill. We’d still release stuff. We enjoy it and that’s why we do it. If we were doing it for money or for fame I’d have quit a long time ago! When we tour, everything is added up. So if we go on this tour we’ll get paid x-amount. Some bands don’t do that. They’ll just go per gig. But literally, we’ve gone as far as Brighton for £50 and beers and it’s like your van hire alone is £100. It’s stuff like that. We put into it. We’ll do whatever we can for it because we enjoy it. We love what we do and we’ll keep doing it.