Aaron Gilbert is not a superstitious man - but, he admits, recent events have left him perplexed.

Since hitting the road on Valentine's Day for an epic UK tour, they have been involved in three major crashes.

"We've been absolutely jinxed!" he says - only half in jest.

Aaron, frontman with melodic indie-rock band Delays, is relaxing on his battered tour bus at Oxfordshire's Cherwell Valley Services, while his bandmates load up with crusty loaves at Marks & Spencer, before hitting the M40 again.

"Last time we were passing through Oxfordshire, we had to crash out in sleeping bags on the hard shoulder because we'd broken down," he laughs, audibly flinching at the memory.

"It's been a catalogue of disaster. The gigs, however, have been amazing!"

Problems started with mechanical failure and, he explains, got steadily worse.

"First the fan belt went, then we lost the electricity - so we had to sleep in the cold. And it was down to about -10C!

"Then we ploughed into the back of a tanker at 4am one morning and smashed the bus to bits. We couldn't go anywhere.

"We got a new bus, but that didn't have electricity either, so we had to huddle up in the cold. The last week, we were up in Edinburgh and our driver lost control and ploughed into a Mercedes.

"I have to admit, the car came off a lot worse. The driver was very posh and just looked at us and said 'You've wrecked my car!' If she was a fan, she isn't now!

"Then today a HGV drove into us on the M1."

So has he considered changing his driver? "I'm wondering," he sighs. "His name's Tom, but we're calling him Dr Death. I don't think he's a stable character!"

Vehicle-related shenanigans aside, Delays are doing well.

The Southampton band have completed their third album Everything's The Rush, which was recorded in a Spanish castle, in the snow-capped Sierra Nevada near Granada.

"We were really high up," he says. "It was a really opulent place, but there was nothing else up there - just a couple of shops and people selling baked food. Every day we put our orders in for 'pain au chocolat' and stuff like that. It was lovely.

"We worked on a track a day. It was really off-the-cuff and fluid. We are going to do it again."

And the new songs, with their big choruses, are going down well with fans - many of who are utterly devoted.

"The shows are awesome," says Aaron. "These are some of the best gigs we have ever done.

"In Aberdeen, they were singing the musical parts, from the moment we got on. It was brilliant!

"I felt about 10ft tall. It's indescribable and leaves you feeling totally alive. And that's what it's all about.

"You can never get bored of people singing your songs back at you. And if you do, you are soulless!"

As ever, the key to Delays' appeal seems to be the strong melodies running through their work. Aaron agrees: "It's 100 per cent about the melody," he says.

"I want to be moved when I listen to music and moved when I make music. It's got to resonate."

Delays have always had a reputation for hard work. Their punishing tour schedules are legendary - as is the energy they throw into their sets.

But that can take its toll. A previous tour saw Aaron falling ill with nervous exhaustion, narrowly avoiding hospitalisation.

"They wanted to put me in The Priory," he sighs. "I didn't want to go. I thought I was going insane!"

But their dedication engenders respect. "We believe passionately in what we are doing," he adds.

"We only believe in music, and every ounce of sweat goes into it.

"We have a hard core of fans who follow us around. The front row is the same every night. It's amazing!"

So does he know them all personally? "Well, I don't want to get too familiar with them," he jokes. "But I do say 'hello'!"

"We always wanted to be the biggest band on the planet and this is part of that.

"We are not there yet, but are on our way. This is only the start of it!"

Delays play the Carling Academy on March 11. Tickets are £10 in advance. Everything's The Rush is out on Fiction on April 28.