Wednesday, April 15

Words with... Orlando Weeks, The Maccabees.

. Wednesday, April 15

For Gigwise

"Darth Vader on the drums, someone as Princess Leia coming on to the Star Wars theme tune". That's the elaborate stunt Orlando Weeks fears his label may suggest as promotion for his band The Maccabees new album 'Wall Of Arms' due out on May 4th (be with you). "It'd be the end of our career but at least we'd be remembered." In reality the band could come on stage dressed as Jar Jar Binks and 'Wall Of Arms would still go down as one of the finest albums of 2009.

Following their self-declared “Rubbish.” final shows in support of ‘Colour It In’ at last Summers Offset festival, of which Orland says “We only really agreed to play it because Gang Of Four were headlining- we should have just bought a ticket. I’m sure we could have afforded it.” The Maccabees went away and started over again. “We thought we had a lot of songs written and that we were going to be able to go away and at least do a big EP but then we realised they were all shit so we decided to begin again. Entering the studio with the album fully written (but for some “jiggery” left to do on ‘William Powers’ and ‘One Hand Holding’) The Maccabees began recording with Markus Dravs, a key influence on the album and a man who has previously worked with Arcade Fire and Bjork. “The first record was done so sporadically that we wanted to do this one on a block so we recorded in Liverpool and Reading then moved onto Paris. This record was written to be recorded then played live whereas the first one was done the other way around. Markus came in when we had about 90% of the songs written, we met him in London and we just knew he was the right person to do it in every respect. Plus, he’s a German Scouser which is something to mull over.” We move on with a thousand stereotypes jostling for position.

Speaking of influences, “We listened to a lot of The National and a lot of Arcade Fire when we were writing and recording the album. The National are such a special band, ‘Boxer’ is an amazing album. At one point the song-writing process became sort of destructive and we found going in the studio 6 days a week was proving really non-productive so we spent some time away from each other and the stuff we were listening to changed immensely. All Felix (White, Guitar) listened to was Public Enemy and Rage Against The Machine, real angry music. Hugo (White, Guitar) was into Orange Juice and all the Postcard Record stuff and I was going back to Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective and that’s when the new stuff started to come together because we were all bringing new ideas in and we had to sort of cross-pollinate.” With relatively left field influences at play how has this informed the new album? “I’m not sure, I think someone like Animal Collective works on a separate level. It doesn’t mean we sound like them now but it readdresses how you approach music. Unless I’m out for a drink, when I listen to music I want it to challenge me. You listen to someone like Grizzly Bear and you have to dissect it. That’s why I think Foals are interesting and Mystery Jets too- you listen to them once then go back and hear something totally different every time. Hopefully that’s what we’ve got into this record, the opportunity to take it at face value and then revisit it and find more. “

The most surprising element of The Maccabees return is not necessarily how much they have grown nor how accomplished ‘Wall Of Arms’ sounds but that people were not expecting it. Initial reactions to both ‘No Kind Words’ and the new single ‘Love You Better’ have been positive but from taken aback, does this mean The Maccabees have been underestimated in the past? “I think a lot of it was to do with the singles we released from the last record really. I’m proud of that album and I’m proud that we made a record in itself but the singles didn’t represent the album as best it could and I think things like ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ coming out when it did (Following a TV commercial) meant people forgot the songs were on the same album as say ‘Latchmere’. I don’t think people underestimated us as such it’s just we got grouped in with the whole indie thing or whatever moniker you want to put on it and people assume that you’re new music will sound the same as the last. I hope it doesn’t, it’s nice to surprise people.”

As talk turns to the new Horrors album (“He’s a tricky fish is Faris but he’s lovely and they’ve all got such a good grounding in music that they could only ever make a great record”) and The National curated Dark Was The Night compilation it becomes clear that The Maccabees are a band in love with music, both making it and listening to it. It’s with great symmetry then that they have written an honest and beautiful record in ‘Wall Of Arms’ that both elevates their stature and reputation whilst remaining true to the bands roots, a record that an army of fans can fall deeply into and unlock a myriad of wonderful treats.

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Sillers said...

A fine piece.

Looking forward to hearing 'Wall of Arms' and seeing them live on the new tour.

Scott Goodacre said...

Pretty good - interviewed Felix post-Colour It In and he seemed pretty decent. Good bunch of lads.

The five or six tracks from Wall Of Arms that I've heard sound good - if it's half as good as Colour It In it'll be one of the best of the year.

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