The Maccabees Interview

The Brighton band on their great second album...

A lot has changed since The Maccabees last emerged with a clutch of sensitively charged spiky indie-pop songs on debut ‘Colour It In’.

Luckily for them, time spent holed-up in various locations crafting their new album has seen the band cut through the ‘difficult’ second album debacle with a collection that’s bolder, wiser, and ultimately – dare we say it? – better than their debut.

‘Wall Of Arms’ is what happens when you flee your hometown of Brighton for the French capital and enlist the talents of the man who helped cement Arcade Fire’s towering sonic bliss. The record’s a surprising listen, each piece exploring hitherto never reached depths, frontman Orlando Weeks exuding a sincerity that’s hard to not get caught up in. Read our review HERE.

ClashMusic caught up with singer Weeks for a little questioning and answering…

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The Maccabees – ‘Love You Better’

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How is life back on the road? Aren’t you playing the Eastbourne Festival tonight?
Yeah, we’re in Eastbourne today. We’ve picked a real day for it- it’s absolutely beautiful. Then we’re on to Camden Crawl tomorrow, and then the tour proper starts next week. We’ve got a new record now and we’re here to play it to people, so it’s nice, a culmination of a lot of hard work.

Said new album, ‘Wall Of Arms’ – wasn’t it made in various cities?
Yeah, we were dotted around a little bit! We were in Paris for a few weeks, a place near Reading, Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire – we were all over the place. We kind of had this thing where we wanted to get away, so first we went to Paris. After that, we knew there would be a really good drum sound at Chapel, so we kind of placed the rest of the recording around that. Recording in France was the best walk in to work I’ve ever had!

How did you find working with Markus Dravs, who’d previously worked on Arcade Fire’s ‘Neon Bible’?
All of the record was done with Markus. He was one of the people that we thought could really make it work. He’s got an amazing ability, and I kind of knew that, whatever happened, he would make the record sound beautiful. Beyond that it would just be relying on the songs to be good enough – which you never know they are – but we hoped they would be. His pedigree kind of speaks for itself.

Would you cite them as an influence on your new sound? It’s a lot more ambitious, compared to the debut…
Definitely. I think what they do better than almost anyone else is having a huge amount going on, but nothing needing to be the main attraction. Everyone’s working off each other and it’s all carried through with spirit. That was something that we strove for, and just really admiring that band.

What made you decide to use new instrumentation, such as horns, on the album?
We were gonna throw a lot more at it – like strings, keys, samples – but I think we had to maybe rein that in a bit and remember what kind of a band we are. Just to not lose what we had in the first place, but push it on. Now that I’m playing guitar it gives the guys more free reign to do some slightly less guitar-driven stuff. Writing-wise it took about 18 months, and recording took about three months.

Some have reviewed the album as being slightly darker than ‘Colour It In’…
Maybe. I hope that after one or two listens it moves away from that, and there’s a more hopeful message than perhaps there first seems to be. (Free download single) ‘No Kind Words’ put it into people’s heads that this might be a darker record, but it’s really not intended to be.

I know you have said you planned to do something different with this album – do you feel you achieved this?
I hope people can hear that we’ve moved on from ‘Colour It In’. We could have gone a lot further, but we didn’t wanna lose what was essentially Maccabees. But definitely I think we’d all get massively frustrated playing it for the rest of the year if we didn’t feel like we’d achieved that.

Other than work on your own album, you also recently appeared on The Filthy Dukes’ ‘Nonsense In The Dark’ record. How did this come about?
We did a gig with Filthy Dukes once, and they had done a remix for us (the band re-worked ‘X Ray’), so we kinda paired off from there. All they wanted was a vocal, so my part was pretty much done in an afternoon.

And the Mathew Horn appearance in the ‘No Kind Words’ video, how’d that happen?
We supported Interpol for a little bit, and Mathew was a big Interpol fan. He saw us playing with them and we met him after a gig, so we’ve been friends now for years.

Finally, the festivals are as good as on us – exciting times for the band?
It’s kind of like the best bit for me. You get to see the people you don’t normally see, because they’re also on tour. A lot of the friends we made making the first record will have records out in time for the festivals, so that’s gonna be nice.

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The Maccabees – ‘No Kind Words’

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‘Wall Of Arms’ is out now and reviewed HERE. A player for the album can be found below. Find The Maccabees on MySpace HERE and see them live as follows…

4 Bristol Thekla
5 London Pure Groove in-store
5 London Electric Ballroom
5 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
7 Norwich Soundclash in-store
7 Norwich Waterfront
9 Manchester Academy 2
10 Birmingham Academy 2
12 Cardiff University Solus
13 Southampton University
14 Brighton Corn Exchange (Great Escape)
15 Brighton Pavilion Theatre
25 Newcastle Evolution Festival
27 Dublin Academy
28 Belfast Spring & Airbrake

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