The Del-Chronics: dealing with mental health issues by playing in a punk band

The Del-Chronics brand of catchy, raw and fast punk was instantly appealing. Their story is one that deserves a wider audience.

The Del-Chronics came to our attention from the gold mine that is Coventry’s Alternative Sounds label series of compilations.

Their raw, edgy no nonsense punk blast happily from P3dro’s speakers. It’s not complicated, but it grabs and has a proper DIY sound. They don’t really take any prisoners, preferring a full on assault instead.

We met up with Nigel (bass), Mike (drums) and Dominic (vocals) on Zoom to find out more about the project.

P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?

Nigel: I’m currently sitting in my wife’s office, she works from home all the time with all this isolation going on. Hence the mess is her fault! And that’s about all I’m doing, apart from this week, I’ve actually published a novel [called Too Big a Bite].

Mike: I’ll get a paper copy, Nige, when it’s available. I’m not doing a great deal. I’m just at home in the small bedroom, not working, reading, listening to music.

Dom: I’m OK, in my flat, watching the news [Biden inauguration].

P3dro: Tell us a bit about the band. How long have you been going?

Dom: Adam and I started in about 2008, just me and him in his front room. Then we had a few members join.

Mike: I’d been working with Darren [bass] and he invited me to join. He said, we need a drummer, so I decided to give it a go, that was in summer 2012.

Nigel: I think one of the unique things about The Del-Chronics is why they were formed in the first place.

Dom: We all knew each other through mental health [issues], we were all into punk rock, so it just seemed like a good idea. We didn’t think it was going to go very far. We [initially] thought we’d be a covers band, playing in pubs. So, we didn’t take it that seriously at first.

Mike: We funded the first two CDs from Direct Payments because members of the band were eligible to claim because they were on benefits. It’s quite a good scheme, although not that well known. I’ve also used it in a different context for a mental health football team that I ran for a long time. Initially it was set up and funded by Direct Payments and we played in a local league. It’s a really good thing, if you know how to apply.

If you’re on benefits and had [a project] that could be assessed as a valuable, meaningful activity, that you could not otherwise do, then there was Government money available to be used productively, so that’s what we did with the band and with the football team.

Nigel: There’s also a fifth member of the band – John Wilson [guitar] – he runs the One Nation Studios in Warwick and we use his studio for practice, when we can.

Dom: We met John in about 2010 and he helped us record a demo CD – it wasn’t very good, it was just a trial. He’s helped us play gigs and stuff and we’ve kept him ever since! He’s really great for the band.

Mike: Then we recorded [the first two] CDs in his studio, so he set all of that up for us.

P3dro: Originally, you were called The Chronics.

Nigel: Yeah, until I joined! I saw a note in a local guitar shop which said “Mature, punk rock bass player wanted”, so I thought, well, I fit the bill on all those counts. So, I spoke to Dominic on the phone and he said the band is called The Chronics.

I thought: “I know that band”. So, I searched on the net and I found 23 different bands called The Chronics. So I didn’t really want to be in a band where there are 23 others [with the same name].

Adam was a little bit reluctant at first, at my suggestion. We went through all sorts of different names, but Adam actually came up with The Del-Chronics and that’s unique. It’s stuck and, indeed, people seem to have embraced it and over the last couple of years we’ve become well known on the local scene. So, it was worth it.

P3dro: What kind of venues do you play? What kind of gigs do you do?

Mike: It’s been over a year since we did a gig. It was between Christmas and New Year 2019 in Coventry, in The Maudslay Hotel. There’s a function room with a stage that we took over with a couple of other bands.

Nigel: That was the first gig they’d put on for something like 10 years and they were going to use this one as a launch pad to put more gigs on. Sadly, the world changed.

It’s mainly pubs we’ve played. But, the venues are few and far between. Who knows what will be left when we come out of this. There are some great local venues – there’s The Arches in Coventry, The Tin Angel, The Empire, The 2-Tone Village.

But we don’t really know where we are and when we come out of this, it will be a case of: “Where can we actually play?” I’m all up for finding a room and doing almost guerrilla gigs. We have a social club with a great function room lined up, along with three other bands to play with us, but that’s been cancelled a few times.

I think we may just end up making our own noise and see where we go from there.

Mike: We’ve played in a church as well, in Leamington. I think there should be more of that – they have the facilities to do that.

P3dro: We wonder whether those smaller venues, such as pubs and social clubs may fare a bit better once this is all over? It would be easier to control the audience.

Nigel: Absolutely. We played a great pub in Leamington called The Railway in a room at the back, away from the bar. It was easy enough to control, save that any time anybody wanted to go to the loo, I had to move my bass amp for them to get past!

But, that’s the sort of place that bands will fill. Cracking pub, great space.

Mike: I can’t think of many places now in Warwick or Leamington where we could play, now.

Nigel: We’ll find places. It’s the whole punk, DIY thing. We’ll put gigs on.

P3dro: You managed to release an EP during lockdown.

Nigel: Yeah, that was during the first lockdown. I came up with four bass lines and sent them to Dominic. He wrote the words and went into the studio with John. And the result was the EP. We’re pleased with it. It’s gone down really well.

Although, we don’t actually know how John managed to pull it all together.

Dominic: We’re working on new stuff now. We have a new song called ‘Leaning on You’, we’ve recorded the bass line and the guitars and I need to put the vocals to it. So, you should be hearing more from us soon.

Nigel: We had actually been in the studio [pre-lockdown] as the whole band and recorded a 16 track album, but we haven’t mixed or released it, apart from the one track, ‘Wrecking It up’, which is on Alternative Sounds 4. So, there are another 15 yet to see the light of day.

P3dro: Is there any kind of timescale for the album release?

Mike: Easter?

Dominic: With the lockdown, we don’t really have a timescale.

Nigel: It’s about the promotion, really. For a band like us the main source of income is selling merch is at gigs. If you put on a good show, then people will want to take a bit home. Yeah, social media is great, but it’s also limiting in what you can do. There’s no income for a band like us from streaming. We can use BandCamp to sell, but, really, why would you buy unless you know the band?

Mike: Until we’re ready to do gigs, or allowed to do gigs, we’re not that fussed about having the album ready. We’d want to do an album launch and have a gig to do that, playing the album songs live.

We’re not in a big rush, although we don’t want to wait that long, either.

P3dro: Recommend a band or an album you think we should be listening to right now.

Nigel: I’m quite a fan of The Old No 7 Band. They’re a great live band. They’re probably one of my favourite Coventry bands.

Mike: I like IDLES‘ ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’. That’s worth listening to.

Dominic: Mine would be Slaves, I think they’re quality.

Nigel: There’s also The Meffs. They’re a cracking band. And my nickname over the years has always been ‘Meff’

2 thoughts on “The Del-Chronics: dealing with mental health issues by playing in a punk band

  1. Thank you for this wonderful interview.it is refreshing that you would take the time to speak to these lads.as Dominic’s brother I understand the difficult journey they’ve all been on to get to this point.with the kind help of John theyve managed to play some gigs and make some great cd’s.the message through all this should be no matter how difficult life becomes,even severe mental health,you CAN overcome it.as these loads proved with their unique and original music.thank-you Mark.

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