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Interview: Aaron from the Delays - on anxiety, depression, talking and bouncing back

Delays arrived on the scene in 2003, with the frankly illegally catchy, Nearer Than Heaven. This was quickly followed by debut album, Faded Seaside Glamour and support slots with Franz Ferdinand and the Manic Street Preachers. Their fourth album, Star Tiger, Star Ariel was released in 2010. I went to see them on this tour and quickly made it my mission to become their bestest friends. A year later, they lifted the injunction, and finally agreed to talk to me.

I met up with synth wizard Aaron Gilbert, and we talked about his experiences of panic attacks and depression. I think we may have bonded.

Hello Aaron. You said in 2008 you thought Delays should be bigger.

I'm still saying in 2012 that Delays should be bigger. We write, and lose ourselves together

in the kaleidoscopes of sound in the studio every single day. I can't think of anything more beautiful to do with your best friends, or time. We grew up together, we believe in what
we do more than science. We want everybody to hear our music. We're not interested in being an obscure underground band. The fact that our music gets to soundtrack anybody's day blows me away every single time. That multiplied by millions might make me do a back flip.

Do you like the X Factor?

No I do not. Only because it's very shit though.

A lot seemed to happen to you after your second album, from changing labels to a tour fraught with difficulty –how did you stay sane?

That was the toughest time of my life. It should've been the most glorious too. I nearly didn't stay 'sane'. Not in a 'crazy' student way either, but in a tour induced nervous breakdown way. I was rushed home to a health clinic after losing touch with reality in a blurry, detached way...I actually thought I needed sectioning. They wanted to put me in The Priory. This wasn't drug and alcohol induced either. This was through exhaustion and over thinking things that were and weren't ever going to happen... a sure fire clichéd mix to send you cyclone dizzy and lost if ever there was one. Luckily, two years later I found myself.

Are things calmer now than they were?

Infinitely. I know myself now. I read a book that changed the way I think and react to stressful and depressing onslaughts... It's by Dr Claire Weekes and it's called 'Essential Help For Your Nerves'. I think it might've saved my life (seriously). It should be available on the NHS. It did more for me than any counsellor ever did, it was the real turning point for me. It talks about things that others apparently deemed too sensitive. It explained everything inside out and gave me a mental crutch to lean on when I needed it most. I've bought and given out about 15 copies since then.

Do you have any regrets, or do you subscribe to the ‘you are the sum of your experiences’ ethos?

I have lots of regrets. It always pisses me off when people say they have no regrets. How are you supposed to learn anything if you don't have regrets. Luckily, I have made a million memories that outweigh them all emphatically. That's a balance I intend to keep in always.

Do you and your brother secretly get on? Were the arguments a cynical marketing ploy to be like the Gallagher’s?

Ugh. We do get on, but we do sometimes want to rip each other apart, and do. We didn't speak for two months when we started writing the last album and it was ridiculous for a while. I was totally in the right though, obviously.

What gets you up in the morning?

Everything I've never done.

Do you ever think “Wait! Everybody else knows what they’re doing! Shit!”

Never. No one really has a fucking clue what they're doing. They're just pretending and some people pretend better than others... I've got an idea about what I want to do, always... I try and point myself in that general direction and hope the unknown bits in-between are nothing but summer lake calm and polar adventures.

What makes you anxious?

Having one of the strings on my hoody slightly longer than the other.

When I get depressed, I always forget how all encompassing it is, and when I get panic attacks, I forget how utterly disabling they are.

When I get depressed, it consumes every single one of my molecules. It tastes metallic, numb and like it'll never end. Somehow, from nowhere it always does though. The most stunning thing, is that apparently it always will too.

Did you ever feel under pressure to get a “normal” job?

Never. My mum and Dad are the most liberal, unconditionally beautiful people I've ever known. If I told them I was going to be an astronaut they'd be on my side. This will happen by the way.

Were you ever under any pressure to follow a certain scene or slot into a media friendly bandwagon?

We've had people want us to slip into an easily digestible pigeon hole before. Luckily we've been left to our own devices creatively for the most part (for the most part).

Do you want a number one single/album? Being the top of the charts doesn’t seem to mean as much as it once did.

Yes, I want both. It would mean as much to me as it always has. I could buy a fucking big yacht and judge people without ever really getting to know them too. People with money know everything probably. Seriously though. I'd love that. A yacht I mean. Jokes. I mean judging people. A number one album would be a dream come true.

Has your mum forgiven you for making her eat hash cakes?

You're saying that like I forced her to. Are you insinuating that I spiked my mum's cake? That I'm a feeder perhaps? (I think she has, bless her. She hallucinated for 3 days, bless her. Love you mum)

At CALM, we say that being silent is not being strong. Do you find talking easy or hard?

I couldn't agree more. I find it cathartic and easy to talk about the thoughts and things that keep me awake and make me dizzy. You're never the only one who's wondered and thought those things... You know, those vivid incessant thoughts that play like a record in your head... I hate the idea of mental health being a taboo subject. I hate the idea of someone suffering un-necessarily.

Do you sleep well? I have difficulty but it's often non specific anxiety, some unspecified impending doom. But of course, the doom never comes.

I sleep well when I eventually see my lids... I can't force myself to go to sleep though. Ever. Every single night I'm awake until I physically can't keep my eyes open anymore. I love the stillness at 3 and 4 am. It's thunderously quiet and I make plans to do things and break them all the very next day. I just don't want to miss out on anything ever. Sometimes I can hardly wait to wake up in the morning. Sometimes I'd rather not.

Where’s the place you are happiest?

Just feeling okay makes me happy. I don't need to be skydiving or train surfing (metaphors) to be having a good time anymore... Just okay is absolutely glorious to me.

What is left to achieve? Do you want to play Wembley?

We've played Wembley as a support act. I think I floated that night. I want to headline there so much. There are a million memories to be made yet.

Have you ever been tempted to move to London?

We lived in London for a while when we were recording our first album. When I was a kid going to London was the best thing ever. By not living there it has retained its wide eyed wonder.

Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to the guys reading this? Impart some wisdom.

I had a panic attack about half an hour ago. It came from nowhere and struck like lightning. You wouldn't know this unless I'd just said so. They don't bother me anymore, I know them inside out... I find this quite liberating. They never last. In terms of anxiety and depression and wreckless thinking, I can't actually be shocked by my own thoughts. Knives still freak me out in the dead of night, train tracks sometimes still send electric through me if I stand too close with a head full of what ifs during the day... It's ok to think everything, always.

Thank you Aaron, this has been fun.

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