Greg Gilbert is the frontman of Southampton indie band Delays and a very talented visual artist whose work has featured in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition amongst other places. But surely his proudest achievement must be becoming our first ever guest on Thinky Thinky Make Make.
If you’re new to Greg’s work and want a quick primer before listening to the podcast, may I suggest listening to Delays’ beautifully sunny debut album Faded Seaside Glamour, and popping over to Greg’s artist website.
Sadie and I took the train down to sunny Winchester to meet Greg back in October. It was our first trip to our nation’s former capital (Winchester fact), and we were very excited. On the way down we got chatting to a man who worked in a theatre about arty stuff, which seemed like a good sign. He also complimented me on my socks, which gave me a confidence boost that lasted well into the afternoon.
After wandering around Winchester to find somewhere for Sadie to do a wee, we went along to the Jewry Street gallery to see Greg’s art exhibition Verses, part of Winchester Poetry Festival, before meeting the man himself and finding a quiet(ish) corner of The Royal Oak pub, which claims to be England’s oldest boozer. Greg ordered a soft drink, Sadie and I had beer, I witnessed a man glass himself in the face, and we sat down to record the historic, inaugural Thinky Thinky Make Make.
Greg is one of those people that makes me feel like I’m becoming more intelligent the longer I speak to him, and recording the podcast was an utter joy. We spoke in depth about his art and how he creates it, what inspires him, and how he achieves such detail in such minute pieces of art. We also learnt about his favourite biro, the Pilot BPS Fine, useful if you fancy trying your hand at biro art yourself.
We discussed Delays’ music and how they create it, and looked for links between creating music and visual art. We looked back at the recording of Faded Seaside Glamour and talked about what it was like to record an album on Rough Trade at such an exciting time for the label. And at one point I blurted out that my favourite Beach Boys song was Kokomo and never has the intelligence gulf between two men been greater.
Greg’s passion for music, literature and cinema is infectious. His cultural references and recommendations have led me to new places since we recorded: watching Robert Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac, reading David Foster Wallace, and sipping gin on the sofa while the music of Stars Of The Lid washes over me. I’ve felt richer for all of them.
After the interview we all went to WH Smith to help Greg buy a sketchbook, then retired to a pub where again Greg drank soft drinks and Hasler and I got merry on G&Ts. We chatted for another few hours, said our goodbyes, and hopped on our train home.
It was a great day that left me excited, both for the podcast adventure that Sadie and I were embarking on, but also to see what art Greg would produce in the future, and for that fifth Delays album I’d been eagerly awaiting.
And that’s the end.
Except it isn’t.
Because life can be pretty fucking shit at times.
A few days after the interview Greg was admitted to A&E with severe abdominal pain and vomiting. After an x-ray, he was told that they had a found a cancerous blockage in his bowel.
After further investigation, he was told the devastating news that the bowel cancer has also spread to his lungs and because of the extent of these tumours, they would only be able to offer him a 12 week course of chemotherapy as he is currently not a candidate for surgery to remove the primary tumour in his bowel.
The sad facts of the matter are that the NHS is limited by finances in what it can do for Greg. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy, but the drugs he needs to get better aren’t available on the NHS and need to be funded privately.
If you have enjoyed this podcast, or Greg’s art or music, or just want to help, you can do so by donating to Give4Greg, the campaign to raise money for his treatment.
Or join me on the evening of Friday 17th February in Southampton at Cavalry, a benefit concert organised by Greg’s friends featuring Band of Skulls, Mystery Jets, Sam Duckworth, Delays, and other special guests yet to be announced. Tickets are £30.
Thanks for reading and listening.