Volume 94, Issue 53

Friday, December 1, 2000


Cycling with the Delgados

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Cycling with the Delgados

Photo by Eva Vermandel
THIS IS OUR ROOM - GET YOUR OWN! Scottish band The Delgados are a little territorial when it comes to finding a place to sleep.

By Aaron Wherry
Gazette Staff

Stewart Henderson, bassist for Scottish sensation The Delgados, is a man of many passions.

Passion for grand soundscapes, passion for cycling and passion-filled hatred for comparisons to whimsical Scottish bands.

This first passion is one which almost cost the world The Delgados. Faced with lukewarm success after two brilliant albums, the band was at the end of its rope. Its third release, 2000's The Great Eastern would determine the future of the band.

If this didn't impress the masses, nothing would – and the band would have to do some serious soul-searching. It's a stroke of fate which made The Great Eastern the critically-acclaimed, masterpiece it became. The Delgados were saved.

"It's a sense of vindication. The Great Eastern was a last roll of the dice. We never had any money and things weren't going great with the band," Henderson explains. "We decided we'd throw everything into this record. I don't think we could have invested the sheer amount of time and effort just to have people say 'it's quite good.' It's more of a relief than anything else that people have finally come around and said this a great record."

This nearly tragic tale seems strangely fitting for a band named for Pedro Delgado, a hero of European cycling who was later tarnished by a doping scandal.

This brings us to Henderson and company's second love – the very-European passion for cycling. It inspired the band name, the first two album titles, but was supposed to be absent from The Great Eastern.

"When it came time to name our first album [Domestique], for lack of a better idea, we decided we would base the album's art and everything around cycling," he says. "Then when it came to the second album, again we couldn't think of a title. There's a cycling term, Peloton, and for want of a better idea, we decided to call it that. When we got around to doing this album, we just thought 'no fucking way, we just can't mention cycling anymore.'"

But how does he explain the video for The Great Eastern single "American Trilogy" – one based completely on cycling? "I know, I know, I guess I've just proved myself wrong. But the video for 'No Danger' has line-dancing nuns, which has nothing to do with cycling."

As The Delgados attempt to distance themselves from cycling, they try even harder to distance themselves from misguided reviews and explanations from American pundits. While Henderson concedes each album is open to interpretation, there are just some comparisons you don't make. For instance, never, under any circumstance, mention the name Belle & Sebastian.

"One thing that really fucks me off – what really gets me angry, are the constantly tiresome comparisons of us to Belle & Sebastian. It was shocking for Peloton, every single American album review I read mentioned Belle & Sebastian," he explains.

"It was like, Belle & Sebastian have strings, The Delgados have strings, The Delgados sound like Belle & Sebastian – oh, fuck off."

Consider the lesson learned.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000