The Delilahs Interview

Think of the girl bands charting nowadays and you’d be hard pressed to think past Girls Aloud, The Pussy Cat Dolls and the Sugababes.

Whilst in recent years they’ve been some strong front-women/solo artists- Brody Dalle, Juliette Lewis and Peaches to name a few, we’ve been lacking an all girl group who are the real deal.

Well, move aside the grungey memories of Hole and L7 – there’s a new band in town. Hailing from Switzerland THE DELILAHS are the perfect mix of raw talent, solid song writing and a huge dose of foxiness thrown in to boot. A whirlwind tour of the London left us hungry for more – and on their return to Switzerland they took a little time out to chat about being in a band, dealing with chauvinism in the music industry and the three types of men! that inspire their songs.

Right – down to business! How did you guys meet? Did you always want to be in a band? And who came up with the name?

We met at school in 2003. It was always a dream of ours to be in a band and make music. A good friend came up with the idea of The Delilahs and we really liked the sound of it, the story behind it, and the way it looks. Then we heard Tom Jones: “My, my my….” There’s 3 of us – perfect!

Were your parents supportive in your decision to be in a band rather than study?

Very supportive. We don’t think people are defined by their jobs, or what they study, and I don’t think our parents do either. It’s about the experiences that you have in life that make you a person, and we all think making music is a chance that few people get. They see how happy it makes us, and I suppose that’s what all parents want – to see their kids happy.

What bands did you listen to growing up? Who were your heroes?

The Jam, The Clash, The Ramones, B52’s, X-Ray Spex, The Pogues…. we don’t really have heroes, but there are a lot of people who have really impressed us or influenced u! s like The Pretenders, Blondie, The Cure. When we were on Radio 1s ‘Fresh Meat’ a few weeks ago, there was a really funny call from someone asking what Elastica were doing in that section. Soon after, we listened to Elastica’s first album for the first time. We can hear some comparisons with Justine Frischman on This Is It, but not on any of our other songs.

The world of rock music is dominated with guys – how do you get treated by them, do you think guys looks down on girl groups? Do you think you get a fair deal?

So far, so good. The Stereophonics were very respectful and treated us like a band, and certainly didn’t look down on us. They dedicated their first UK number 1 (Dakota) to us at the gig, and they were the first band to say publicly that we were good. It meant a lot to us. It was our fourth gig and since then we’ve just wanted to get better.

We’ve had a small number of comments in our guestbook like “you have no musical talent..put down those damn instruments…you’d probably make nice wives!”

Without the last part, this guy has an opinion. With the last part, it’s the opinion of a sexist twat. We don’t know if guys in general look down on girl groups – maybe those who do feel threatened in some way. Don’t know why – it’s about the music at the end of the day.

In recent years the only ‘girl groups’ have been in RnB and bad pop – before then the last great girls groups were L7 etc – why do you think rock’s lacking great all girl bands?

We think it’s got a lot to do with fashion. There’s been a lot of RnB in recent years and manufactured bad pop has been around for far too long. These are people’s role models and whether it’s the industry shutting other styles out, or people not seeing there’s something else they can do, it’s still part of a trend. Look at the past and there are lots of examples of other trends. We’re sure there are a lot of other girl bands out there, and it wouldn’t surprise us if there was a new wave of them coming through. We’re not trying to fill a hole. We’re just doing our thing.

You’ve been described as one of the sexiest bands out there – and there are certainly some guys back at Crossfire HQ who’ll be drooling after you! – how do you handle all the male attention?

Up to now we haven’t made any guys faint, but we’re working on it! Sexy’s a weird one. Personally, I [Muriel] find Paul Weller hugely sexy, but I don’t know how many other people my age do. It’s always aura and charisma for me, more than just physical beauty (sorry Paul!). We’ve had a lot of people comment on our looks, but there’s not much we can do about it. Sometimes it can be a disadvantage ‘cos people forget to focus on the music, but real music fans do know where to focus. We don’t think we belong to the ‘look good, sound shit!’ brigade.

Life on the road must be tough – how’ve you found touring? What are the best and worst parts of it? What do you do to pass the time?

It’s not tough at all ‘cos we’ve only done 17 gigs. Our last London ‘tour’ was “Hello Water Rats” on Jan 23, and “Goodbye Dublin Castle” 2 days later. With a lot more Swiss gigs and a planned 3 week UK tour in May, that will all change. We did get to ask Sons & Daughters the same question though – got lots of useful tips from Adele about how to keep your knickers clean on the road!

What do you prefer – touring or being in the studio? What inspires your lyrics?

We really like being in the studio, but we’re sure touring is going to be a lot of fun as well.
The lyrics thing is really interesting for me. Up to now, I’ve written mainly about 3 types of men: boring ex-lover, selfish womanizer and the one I haven’t met yet. Just about situations, not only from my own experiences, and about getting rid of things in your stomach. But I’ve also done a song which is just a bit of fun, and reminds me of how much I miss playing football!!!

Looking at great songs like The Coast is Always Changing (Maximo Park), Precious (The Pretenders), Fairytale of New York (The Pogues) also gives me inspiration. I’m not saying I can write like that but I’m trying. A couple of weeks ago I heard Army Dreamers (Kate Bush) for the first time and it really hit me. There’s a lot of things in this world that I don’t like, so I’ve started ‘I’m A Wrecker’, which is something political. I’d love to get the energy of Precious in there and make a point in the way that Army Dreamers does. Not sure if it will make the first album, but! I’m just going to see where we get with it.

How much input do you have in the mixing/production of your tracks?

The first album is going to be quite an honest representation of our sound. That’s our input. We have very little experience of recording so far but we’re really enjoying working with our producers. We’re learning a lot and we trust that they know what we’re about.

If you could tour with any 2 bands who would you tour with?

Maximo Park..[and] The Cure

So why should your average music fan come see you guys live? What do you have that no one else does? What should people leave your shows feeling?

It’s not often you’ve got the chance to see such an amount of oestrogen live on stage, playing loud and from the heart, instead of just shaking their asses. You also get to see my (Muriel) favourite red boots! People say we look like we enjoy it – can’t say we’ve ever had the chance to see it, but it feels good. People should leave in love, in tears or ready to throw up.

What does 2006 hold for you? Will you be returning to the UK? What are you hopes and dreams for the next year?

We’re right at the start of something that we’d love to be huge, but it’s only the start. We’re next in the UK on April 20 for the Camden Crawl. One step at a time – be great to see you guys from Crossfire at a gig – we’ll bring napkins for the drool!

Check out for more information on the girls, and even better – go check them out at the Camden Crawl – you won’t regret it!

Dee Massey


The Voom Blooms

By Dee Massey

Some of the greatest ideas and plans have come to people in their dreams. Great prophets have hit on their greatest visions in their slumber – even Nostradamus dreamt up some of his outlandish predictions in his sleep and most of us are still waiting for our ‘eureka!’ moment.

Thom Mackie from Loughborough upstarts ‘The Voom Blooms’ woke one morning with the band’s name inexplicably etched in his mind. Frontman George Guildford recalls ” One night at about 3am [Thom] texted me to say ‘We are called The Voom Blooms’ . And so the pair had a name for a band, now all they had to do was find the missing members to make the dream a reality.

Fast-forward a few years on – the venue, a kebab shop, and the night – New Years Eve 2004. A drunken old stranger mystically predicted that greatness in the music industry was the destiny for the guys. Only weeks earlier George and Thom had started hiring a rehearsal room, jamming for hours on end but with would-be guitarist Craig Monk living miles away in Leeds and would be-bassist Brett Young on the brink of moving to Japan for work forming a band seemed a far flung dream. But fate was having none of that and before long Craig moved back to Loughborough, and after witnessing the 3 piece rehearse Politics and Cigarettes (the debut single) Brett gave up the job in Japan and came aboard as bassist. And so having spent their childhoods walking to school together, bickering over who’d discovered the latest great new band – they suddenly were in a band themselves.

Some bands are just meant to be, and The Voom Blooms seem to slide into this category. From the opening chords it’s like a homecoming – after a few listens, every track has got under your skin. And that’s quite something for a band who despite growing up together, have only officially been together for all of nine months.

So how the hell did they get to where they are now? So many local bands spend years plugging away in back rooms, hoping for ‘that break’ which never comes. But The Voom Blooms boys had a plan.

“From the beginning we said we would spend a lot of time really working hard on putting together a dynamic set, that we would play no longer that 20/25 minute sets and that when we go out to gig we will move around a lot and try and get really good support slots rather than just playing local venues’ George explains.

Lady Luck played another card, and after Jimmy Jukebox, a well know promoter from Stockton-on-Tees, got hold of their demo the gigs started to roll in – the turning point being a show supporting London upstarts ‘The Paddington’s’. An incident involving a tin of corn beef and guitarist Craig’s fingers meant he went on stage with duck taped fingers hoping for the best. One chord later and blood was splattering out over him, the stage, the crowd and his white Strat guitar got a paint job too. But still he plugged away, and The Paddington’s manager “blown away” by both their talent and dedication – and soon after became their manager.

“As soon as that happened we got support slots with the Paddingtons, Babyshambles, Five o’clock Heroes, Boy Kill Boy and we got onto the bill at Manchester’s In The City. I guess in the end it all came down to the ‘Politics & Cigarettes/London heads” demo we made as that’s what originally started to get us attention from people.”

And one of those people was Radio 1 DJ Steve Lamacq, who’s started playing the bands London Head demo, and so whilst some bands wait years to here themselves on the radio, The Voom Blooms graced the airwaves only a few months after forming.

“I was sat in my lounge [when we were first played on the radio] I couldn’t believe it, it gave me the sudden urge to want to start jumping up and down for some reason. I now know how they feel in “That thing you do” when they all start running around switching all the radios on… (Did I just reference a Tom Hanks film? that’ll haunt me)”. [Yep!]

It’s the unadulterated enthusiasm and genuine excitement that’s one of the most appealing features of this band – yes they’ve only been plugging away for months rather than years, but this is the stuff dreams are made of.

Arm in arm with the airplay came the offer of more shows for the relatively novice performares. One of those gigs was the now infamous Babyshambles show in Leicester. Pete did a Pete No Show special and the crowd reacted.

“There was a bit of a riot, the police dogs turned ..When we heard the promoters were pulling the gig we ran onstage to grab our amps and stuff and the crowd thought we were Babyshambles so they started cheering, but when they saw us taking stuff off the stage they starting throwing bottles and stuff at us, we thought it best to do a runner!”

This was followed by playing to over 500 people at Loughborough University.

“I couldn’t believe it when I walked on stage; it was something I had never experienced.” Explains George, but not one to let his ego bloom he adds, “Funny thing was, the next gig we played there were like 50 people there and we got heckled! [laughs]”

But the question still stands, with the UK music scene being flooded with generic same same indie, can The Voom Blooms stand out? With the ‘indie’ scene enjoying yet another renaissance ( did it ever really go away?!), especially it seems with up and coming bands like The Holloway’s, Larrikin Love et al leading the charge, is that really something a band wants to be part of? It’s easy to get tarred with the same brush and be just another generic indie band.

“I think at the moment a lot of record labels have pigeon-holed us as just another indie band and we find that really funny because that couldn’t be further from the truth. At the moment the lack of money is keeping us from investing in loads of weird and wonderful instruments, so we’re just trying to get by with the tools we have. I would like to see our dynamics grow though over the next year, so I better run off to the local car-boot as soon as I’m done here to find some wonderful toy piano or something!”

Part of the bands strong sense of artistic direction is a reflection of their musical inspirations, which shoot out across the range – from Kanye West, Interpol, Hope of the States, Wacko Jacko, Jeff Buckley through to The Smiths, The Jam, The Cure, Bright Eyes, Mogwai, Brian Wilson.

“I can’t really narrow down my main influences as I feel I am influenced by so many. I think the albums that actually made me think, “how the hell did they do that, I want to do that” were, “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys, Interpol’s “Turn on the Bright Lights“, anything by Kanye West, “Up the Bracket” by The Libertines, “Off the Wall” by Jacko, “Kid A” by Radiohead and Bright Eyes’ “Lifted...” I do love Bloc Party’s sonics though and the way they structure their songs. I remember hearing “So here we are” for the first time, I was at work and it came on the warehouse stereo, I thought, “Wow! That’s brilliant!” the way they took the sound of Mogwai, sped up the guitars and put a fantastic melody over the top. That really inspired me to go home and get back to the drawing board.”

With everyone bringing their imagination to the table to write their own parts in tracks, all members get involved -in the studio they’re self confessed perfectionists, with engineer Adam Ellis (Deadline Studios) having his patience tested,

‘Its usually that me and Craig will sit there with an idea of how we want the sonics and dynamics of the song to be and we don’t leave the room until we’ve matched the sound in our head with what is coming out of the speakers. We‚re all perfectionists too which usually means we’re forever telling Adam to turn one up, turn one down, get this noise, get that noise, god knows how he puts up with us!”

It’s the strong sense of artistic direction that’s given the band a sound that does stand out in the crowd and whilst visually the guys could be Babyshambles’s kid brothers (crack habits notwithstanding) – to the ears they’re a heady mix of Bloc Party, Jeff Buckley and Interpol with a hefty dose of heavier rock embraced by solid melodies and hooks.

It was the demo recorded with Adam Ellis that lead to the band getting their deal with Fiction, home of The Cure, Humanzi and Ian Brown. Alex Close from the label heard debut single Politics and Cigarettes and wanted to bring the band onside. And so, only months into their career, The Voom Blooms found themselves with a deal, and heading down to London for their debut show. Having just played at the spangly new club NME in Sheffield a few nights before, the less-that-salubrious surroundings of The Dublin Castle were a bit of a come down.

“When we turned up at the Dublin castle and played in pretty much the back room of a pub on a tiny stage it was a bit of a contrast. It was the first time we’d ever played at a venue like that. I liked the intimacy of it though, it was a pretty cool venue, like a quintessential old fashioned gig.”

As their 13th gig were they anticipating bad luck?

“We were always waiting for the day when one of us broke a string in the middle of the song and it was typical that at our first London show in the middle of the first song that it would happen, Craig frantically fumbling around looking for the back-up guitar. But nonetheless we had a lot of fun playing that gig!”

The Voom Blooms are the kind of band you really want to succeed. Their quiet confidence and endearing modesty coupled with some truly inspired writing and a well honed live set and bucket loads of talent mean they can’t go wrong. They’re the guys next door living the dream.

“We would hope that people would leave our shows feeling the same way we have when we’ve gone [a band]. I remember seeing Hope of the States…I’d never heard of them but I remember that it made me want to go out and write music like them, it was so uplifting. The thing that struck me was you could see this huge imagination and ambition coming out of all of them, they delivered everything with so much energy and passion. I would hope that we come across that way.”

Noble sentiments from a guy who not so long ago had to chose between making music or selling it in a store. When all’s said and done, I think they can be assured that their place in on stage, not behind the counter at Virgin.. after all – drunken prophets in kebabs shops can’t be wrong.

For further info check out


The Crimea

by Dee Massey

There are few bands out there so close to their fanbase that they’d actually raffle off a member of the band, but then The Crimea aren’t your run of the mill holier than thou rock stars, however more of that later..

Rising from the ashes of successful band ‘The Crocketts‘, Davey McManus and Owen Hopkins formed ‘The Crimea‘ alongside Andy Norton, keyboardist Andrew Stafford and bassist Joseph Udwin, reinventing themselves and endlessly grafting over the last three years whilst they recorded a series of demos at their East London house, whilst constantly gigging and forging a secure solid fan base both in UK and US.

But hard work has its payback, and after a showcase at SXSW 2004, they signed to Warner (a US deal which has been reciprocated by UK Warner) and this week sees the release of their debut album ‘Tragedy Rocks‘ things are definitely looking up.

Sitting down in a pizza joint in Chalk Farm on the eve of their UK tour drummer Owen Hopkins and keyboardist Andy Strafford seem relaxed before their Enterprise show to celebrate John Peel Day – (the DJ was incidentally was a huge supporter of The Crimea, describing ‘Lottery Winners on Acid’ as “one of the best songs I’ve heard in years“).

With the album just released they’re setting off on a 25 date tour of the UK taking in all the main cities, “places like Tunbridge Wells and Harlow.” Andy adds wryly. It’s their first tour since getting signed to US based Warner’s, which seems at first an unlikely choice of labels after releases on indie labels.

“Well, we were always trying to sign simply with the right label, we wanted to go with someone who was prepared to put some money behind the band, to really push the band, to really try and break us – and I know there’s a lot of independent labels that are capable of that now, we ended up going with Warner’s because they seemed really really keen.” Andy counters. Their big break happened at SXSW, having spent their last funds on getting over to Texas; they played a set in an Irish pub at 1am in the morning which was, as Owen puts it .. “fucking disastrous!” Andy had hired the wrong keyboard, “pedals were going wrong, the drum kit was going flying, but it was passionate on top of that and it really turned heads and we ended up getting a deal…” he shrugs.

Having already recorded ‘Tragedy Rocks‘ on their own 16 track, the band went into the studio in the deep South, Mississippi (surrounded by “country music..we listened to artists like Blake Sheldon, Gretchen Wilson and Toby Keith.”). It was time to hand the reins over to someone else, which is never an easy thing to do – but was it as hard as they’d thought? Owen concedes ” an observer..absolutely” Giving creative control to an outsider after three years “grafting morning noon and night, Davey specifically… to hand over the reins to a “producer”.. with his own creative agenda, it didn’t quite work. The songs were fully formed already, we didn’t need someone to put their oar in, and there was a little bit of friction did arise, and that’s probably why it was so miserable” Owen explains diplomatically.

But their savior came in the form of Chris Shaw, known for engineering Weezer and Wilco specifically, who was assisting in Mississippi, and the band and Shaw relocated to NY to finish the album.” We got on really well with Chris, we knew he could do the job and it just seemed like the natural decision to use him to mix the album..”.

With the album in the can, they quintet took to the road in US with Ash and then Billy Corgan. Having supported a wide range of acts both here and over the pond (including The Get Up Kids, Dashboard Confessional and Kings of Leon) the band secured a support slot on the Billy Corgan tour through a friend of a friend. “The Billy Corgan tour was excellent, we managed to get an album to Billy and he heard it, liked it, and decided to take us on tour. We were there giving it some, turning the amps up ..and rocking out..and Billy’s there giving it his Depeche Mode impression, so I think people reacted well to our gnarly rock!”.

The US audiences were quick to accept The Crimea (the countless messages of support from American fans on the bands my space page lays testament to their success over the pond).”The American crowds are a little less jaded than we are in the UK because I think fans in the UK are so used to scenes coming and going within five on ten minutes, they’re just a little bit blasé about it.[In America], they’ll be with you for years and years, [the] crowds aren’t really waiting for you to impress them, they’ll take you on face value and if they like your music they’ll come again, whereas a UK audience can be a little know..with their arms folded ‘impress me’ type of thing ..” Owen explains.

Touring the states was a rite of passage for the guys, “we’d sometimes do 6 or 700 miles in a day, stuck in this RV, this summer we were touring with Billy Corgan in over 100 degrees heat with no air conditioning, seven blokes, in a fucking RV, 12000 miles in 7 weeks, believe me it gets a little steamy!” Andy smiles, “we have our fair share of arguments!” Whislt Davey writes inspired, winding blogs on MySpace, Owen spent the last tour learning French ” there this course…Michel Thomas…you don’t need a book and you don’t need to write anything down, you just need a CD player, I’ve stuck it on my ipod and you just talk along to it.”. Back home he’s well know for his freelance writing for various magazine, including NME, Kerrang and The Fly, whilst on the road the band keep in constant contact with their fanbase through their often hilarious group emails. Hopkins’ emails throughout the last years give fans a sense of belonging, as one fan described them when asked ” you feel like you’re part of the family – you’re really 100% behind the band because they make you feel like you’re part of it.”

The summer was neatly tied up with appearances at Leeds Reading Carling Weekend and Bestival. “I fucking love festivals” Owen grins when recounting his Reading experience. “I love particular I really love Reading , because I’ve been there since I was like 15 or 16, so to play Reading, having always had such a laugh there over the years was special, I’d played there with The Crockett’s and that was amazing, and now I’ve played there with The Crimea, it was amazing, I mean it never disappoints.”

When asked about Leeds he grins. “I hate to sound snotty but we played Leeds on the Friday and Leeds was just a bit of an obstacle before we got to Reading. We were like ‘fuck this’ let’s just get down to reading and act like twats backstage! To play it and be there..was just amazing!” Their enthusiasm is contagious, and anyone who caught their slot at Reading would agree, Davey’s vocal gymnastics drew in the crowds and made it a highlight of the last day.

And so having finished a pre gig pizza the guys wander back for the John Peel Day set, fans new and old pile upstairs in The Enterprise, a homecoming for The Crimea. And what of that raffle – Owen was raffled off on their Myspace site, but through a random twist of fate his sister won him. So not romance there? ” No!..But a lot of beer and drunken dancing like a freak!”

Tragedy Rocks‘ (Warners) is available in the shops now.

Catch The Crimea on tour, for further info check out

Dee Massey