Often for bands the most difficult part in attaining success is
actually getting their initial music released, but The Delgados
overcame this barrier to become one of Europe’s most
innovative groups. At the same time, they created the Chemikal
Underground label to address the problem that at the time of the
band’s inception “there were loads of Scottish bands
and no labels” in hometown Glasgow.

Music Reviews
Behold the wild Delgados as they emerge from their woodland home. (Courtesy of Chemikal Underground)

The Delgados (named after Spanish cyclist Pedro Delgado) were
formed by friends Alun Woodward (guitar/vocals), Paul Savage
(drums) and Stewart Henderson (bass) in 1994. Woodward describes
their formation as “an act of vengeance” toward the
band they “were chocked out of because the wanted to pursue a
different musical direction.” After a few practice sessions
with friend and new member Pollock, the indie pop/rock group was
completed.

The band experienced the usual problems in their first few years
with one exception. Woodward explained, “I was at university
in England and would come back on vacation and weekends in order to
practice.” A few publishing deals gave the group the
financial security to continue full-time, and they eventually
released their first full-length effort, Domestiques, in 1997 and
then their second, Peloton. Although both releases garnered local
praise for their noise-pop sound, The Delgados’ true
coming-out album was The Great Eastern — a nominee for the
Mercury Music Prize, the British equivalent of Best Album Grammy.
Their follow-up, Hate, was equally impressive with its melodies
featuring vast, sweeping instrumentation.

The band has taken its music in a different direction for this
year’s Universal Audio. Gone are the orchestral tracks
featuring additional studio musicians and choirs; instead the new
sound relies upon simpler harmonies and Pollock’s beautiful
voice. Somber themes, although not completely absent, are featured
less in their new music. “Emma and I can write very tuneful
songs and it can be quite up, but collectively we always darken
those songs … We decided if something was up and happy then we
weren’t gonna make it sad,” Woodward says. “We
kept the music happy and it turned out good.”

As for Chemikal Underground, Woodward still recalls the hectic
days when they managed both the band and the label. “A few
years ago it was getting ridiculous. We’d be preparing to go
on stage and somebody would be phoning from America asking about
something and we just didn’t want to deal with it.”

Overburdened, they eventually hired office managers and staff.
The Delgados still hold creative control and recruit new talent,
including the recently signed Mothers and the Addicts. The band
spurned major labels to sign with Chemikal Underground, which has
been successful in discovering new talent like Interpol. The label
released Interpol’s first EP, but was unable to continue
working with the band. Woodward regretfully explains that “we
wanted to release an album (with Interpol). We’re not a tiny,
tiny label, but we don’t have that much money and working
with an American band that hasn’t sold that many records is
really, really difficult and we simply didn’t have the funds
to do it.”

Touring will keep The Delgados busy for the next few months as
they cross the United States before heading back to Europe and
eventually Japan. They’re releasing another single in January
and a possible EP early next year.

The Delgados will perform at the Blind Pig on Sunday at 8 p.m.
with Crooked Fingers.

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