‘The one particular person I wish to share it with, I can’t’: Aaron Gilbert of Delays on life, loss and his brother’s dying want

Aaron Gilbert is displaying me the brand new vinyl reissue of his band’s 2004 debut album, Light Seaside Glamour, when he’s all of a sudden stopped in his tracks. Contained in the bundle is {a photograph} comprising all 4 Delays members: the keyboardist is in a single nook alongside bassist Colin Fox, drummer Rowly and Aaron’s older brother Greg, the band’s boyish lead singer and guitarist.

“Fucking hell,” he says. “Your complete life forward of you … children.”

Within the 20 years since that {photograph} was taken, Delays acquired to reside out their wildest indie rock goals: they toured the world, launched 4 albums and constructed a faithful fanbase round their hovering melodies. However it wasn’t all highs. In 2016, Greg was identified with stage 4 bowel most cancers and given six to eight months to reside. After the band’s followers rallied to assist fund remedy unavailable on the NHS, Greg’s prognosis improved. He spent 5 years in a artistic whirlwind, producing mesmerising artworks from his hospital mattress and writing poetry that confronted his mortality face on. However in 2021, on the age of 44, he died. Aaron places down the {photograph} and shakes his head. “Fuck, I adored him,” he says.

Right this moment, we’re sitting within the places of work of the band’s label, Tough Commerce. Aaron doesn’t look a lot older than he did in the course of the band’s heyday, though he’s bulked up – lifting weights, he says, has helped his psychological well being. His eyes sometimes effectively up when speaking about Greg, however he clearly cherishes being given the possibility to take action. “Cathartic,” he says, as we relive these early days.

Aaron Gilbert, Rowly, Greg Gilbert and Colin Fox in 2004.
Aaron Gilbert, Rowly, Greg Gilbert and Colin Fox in 2004. {Photograph}: Jo Hale/Getty Photographs

Greg, Colin and Rowly had been already within the band collectively when a teenage Aaron purchased himself a sequencer and began making music in his bed room. Sooner or later, when he nipped downstairs for a drink and left a synth line working on repeat, he returned to search out Greg strumming alongside to it in his room subsequent door. That track grew to become Wanderlust, the opening monitor on Light Seaside Glamour, and Aaron was instantly made a member of the band.

The brothers each suffered bouts of hysteria and melancholy – “we had been a prepare crash, man” – however discovered that writing uplifting songs with melancholy lyrics helped ease the burden. One time, an 18-year-old Aaron awoke from a dream a couple of creaking door and rushed off the bed to attempt to seize the sound of it. It was 3.30am when he woke Greg as much as inform him. “He was so fucking aggravated with me,” laughs Aaron. “However he began enjoying alongside to it till it was getting mild after which we acquired the boys spherical and simply performed it for six hours straight. Euphoric.”

What they didn’t foresee was how a lot their music would join with others. That track, Lengthy Time Coming, grew to become a High 20 hit and stays one of the vital endearing songs of the early-00s indie period. Watching their gigs promote out and their viewers develop got here as a shock. “We realised that different individuals had been struggling too, and that this album was holding their hand and pulling them by means of,” he says.

They recorded Light Seaside Glamour at Rockfield Studios in Wales, however by the point it was prepared for launch Aaron was affected by critical psychological well being issues. “I used to be suicidal,” he says. “That point on paper ought to have been unbelievable. And, retrospectively, it was. However I genuinely thought I used to be dropping my thoughts. One night time I couldn’t even get on stage, we needed to cancel the present. However I bear in mind Greg serving to me by means of that, saying that individuals that do lose their minds don’t fear about dropping their minds.”

Regardless of the turmoil, the band’s reputation grew. They carried out on High of the Pops and had individuals singing again their songs in Japan and Mexico. “That’s not regular,” says Aaron, who nonetheless appears to be consistently pinching himself to examine all of it truly occurred.

By the point of their ultimate tour, Delays had been enjoying a few of the most joyous reveals of their profession. However this time spherical it was Greg’s psychological well being that was flailing. He refused to tour in any respect except he shared a lodge room with Aaron; typically he was so anxious that he would violently throw up earlier than reveals. Aaron assumed that this anxiousness was behind the sudden flare up of Greg’s IBS signs, moderately than the fact: that most cancers was spreading by means of his physique.

Greg was so riddled with well being anxiousness that for a very long time he refused to hunt any type of medical assist. When his household lastly persuaded him to go to a hospital he was informed that he had most cancers and that it was terminal. “In that second, my thoughts did a bunch of unusual issues,” Greg told me in a 2019 interview. His anxieties light away and, all of a sudden, he noticed the world clearly.

Greg Gilbert with Delays at the Isle of Wight festival in 2014.
Greg Gilbert with Delays on the Isle of Wight competition in 2014. {Photograph}: Mark Holloway/Redferns/Getty Photographs

“He discovered himself fully current for the primary time in 10 years,” says Aaron. “He’d at all times drawn and written poetry – however this was the primary time it might be his focus. And he ended up making probably the most great artwork he’d ever created.” His paintings would ultimately be proven at Southampton City Art Gallery alongside works by Leonardo da Vinci; Carol Ann Duffy revealed his poems in her annual laureate’s alternative publications.

When Greg was wholesome, he and Aaron used to argue like typical brothers. However as soon as he was sick, the pair of them … nonetheless argued like typical brothers. Aaron remembers the time he’d been struck down with Covid and Greg hadn’t known as to examine in on him. “I used to be like: ‘I’ve had 4 fucking years of your shit!’” he says, laughing. “However the arguments had been at all times fuelled with love. We’d make up, like, you wanna cup of tea, yeah? Or I’d purchase him a bunch of flowers. He cherished his flowers.”

They loved loads of darkish humour collectively. Aaron says he favored to drag the bedsheets over Greg’s head and whisper: “Goodnight candy prince.” He swears blind that Greg would fake to gasp his ultimate breath at instances simply to freak him out. However they couldn’t joke across the actuality for ever. Aaron remembers visiting the hospice in the direction of the tip of Greg’s life and his brother puncturing their awkward small discuss.

“He stopped and stated: ‘Have you learnt how proud I’m of you?’ After which we each simply misplaced it, like fully burst into tears. We needed to have that dialog. There’d been this rigidity constructing as a result of we each knew. And I bear in mind pondering, Jesus, you’re sitting there, you understand you’re gonna die. That’s probably the most surreal, looking-in-on-yourself dialog you would ever have.”

Greg died on 30 September 2021 in his brother’s arms. “You understand how individuals say that they look forward to whoever they wish to be there with them? Greg did that. It was me and him. And what an honour. We’re not non secular individuals, however there’s something so magical about somebody wanting you there, so that you can be the one, and he did that. And that was … completely life-changing.”

It was at all times considered one of Greg’s needs, Aaron says, to have their debut album out on vinyl. Throughout his ultimate weeks Aaron promised him he would work on it. “And it’s taking place,” he says. “It’s simply the one individual that I wish to share it with, I can’t.”

Included within the deluxe model of the reissue is a print of Greg’s paintings – all swirls of color as dreamlike because the band’s music – and the phrases Aaron wrote to learn out at Greg’s funeral: “I’ll be singing with him in each blink and each hole and thru each teardrop,” it says, “and I’d love you to do the identical, as a result of his life was a refrain and the half-life of music is infinite.”

There’s additionally a fifth Delays album on the market someplace. Their producer is at the moment going by means of the fabric they recorded earlier than Greg’s dying and pulling issues collectively. “It’s about three-quarters completed,” says Aaron.

It’s been good for Aaron to have initiatives like this on the go. He says he nonetheless has his justifiable share of adverse days, however that there are additionally life-affirming ones too, such because the day he spent studying by means of messages from followers, telling him how a lot the music he made along with his brother meant to them. He’s gained a brand new outlook on life, one which appreciates being within the second a bit of bit extra.

“I don’t have to be skydiving to have a great time,” he says. “I can have a look at a tree with a gust of wind and the leaves blowing and be wowed by it. So I believe I’ve to search out magnificence in all of this, or there’s no level in any other case. And there’s magnificence. It’s all over the place.”

Light Seaside Glamour is launched on vinyl on 27 January.

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