Interview The Maccabees talk festivals: “We feel proud to be on top of the Latitude line-up”

Guitarist Felix White reflects on the band’s journey to the top spot at Latitude.

Later this month, The Maccabees will take to the main stage at Latitude 2016, closing out the Friday night with a slot that’s sure to be a defining moment in ushering through a new breed of festival headliners. Deservedly taking the top spot at the Suffolk fest after the runaway, number one success of their latest album ‘Marks To Prove It’, it’s the perfect crowning glory on a twelve months that’s seen The Maccabees prove themselves to be one of the most special groups on the planet.

Below, guitarist Felix White talks us through their climb as they warm up for Latitude 2016.

So, you released the latest album back in August last year, and all seems to have gone quite well so far…

I think… It’s difficult to say it any other way but it’s probably gone as well as it possibly could have. I mean, it could’ve been a disaster. It seems like Latitude, especially, is gonna be the culmination of not just this year, but almost the entire fourteen years of our band. Not to put too much pressure on that particular moment, but it does kinda feel like, like I say, like a conclusion up to this point for us. It feels kinda fantastic to be honest! I don’t really know how else to put it.

Does it feel like a natural progression, rising to the ranks of being a headliner?

It’s kind of interesting; because we’ve been playing for so long and we’ve incrementally gone up festival bills, every time we’ve done them. We’ve literally been the first on at the new bands tent at things like Reading and T In The Park ten years ago, so we’ve gotten to a point - to be honest - where I think we actually feel comfortable with doing it, whereas two or three years ago, we might not have done. I can imagine how bands might’ve felt when this sort of thing happened with their first or second album, but I think, in our heart of hearts, we’re kind of ready to do it and we know how to do it, and it’s about time we did. I don’t think we feel overawed by the idea of it, but like I said, it’s gonna be a very special night.

"I always think when you look at the bill for Latitude, it’s a real music lover's bill."

Latitude also really feels to be a bill that’ll suit you as a band.

I think it does suit us, and I always think when you look at the bill for Latitude, it’s a real music lover’s bill. You’ve got Beirut, Father John Misty, British Sea Power, Roots Manuva and Kurt Vile and god knows who else! Even seeing our name next to The National on the posters… It just feels really proper and for people who are into a specific kind of music, they’ll real appreciate most of the things on it. We feel proud to be on top of that line-up for sure.

And for the stage show, will you be pulling out all the stops?

No… I mean, I didn’t imagine I’d be saying this but probably not! The first time we did big shows was at Alexandra Palace about three or four years ago and I was super adamant that we needed to throw out all of the stops. We spent the entire budget on these lasers that went fucking mental just for one song, for three minutes. I even remember, as it was going on, thinking ‘That was unnecessary!’ Live and learn, so we won’t have lasers. Plus, especially with the last tour, we started to realise how we make our band work in that situation, and that’s trying to engage people in an honest way, by making simple things really bold. We’ll be trying to make it, at times, exciting and at times, emotive but in a way that’s just between us. It’s just about watching five people playing in a band together, rather than all of the stadium rock antics that suit other bands.

That’s actually something that feels to be really reflected in the new album, too.

Yeah, right. I think that was the nice thing about how this record’s gone. It’s not like it’s a really brave record or anything like that, but we did go out and want to make it feel exposed and vulnerable. When it was almost our instinct to cover all of that stuff up, we really tried to let it be vulnerable and expose it. We kinda realised our band is just what our band is and as long as we have the sense of personality that we give it, that’s what makes it special.

‘Something Like Happiness’

At the moment there’s a lot of talk around bands making that leap to becoming headliners: does it feel like a good time to be taking that step up and proving that you don’t have to be a dinosaur to top a bill anymore?

Firstly, seeing Foals do it and do it so well, and take so comfortably to it, was pretty reassuring really - not just for us but for the British music industry in general. There’s also quite a cool sense of sentimentality to watching bands like Foals play, because you remember when you first heard songs from their first record, and when you saw them play to 70 people ten years ago. There’s a different sort of affinity and meaning to bands like that, as opposed to big stadium acts that just get wheeled around. And because bands don’t sell as many records now, I can imagine it’s easy for people to say ‘Well, they haven’t sold ten million records so they’re not a big band.’ Yet, if you come and watch these shows, there’s a real sense of good will for a lot of groups and it just takes that leap of faith, to put bands right up there, and the whole industry will probably get a lot back from it. There’s a really cool story with bands like Foals and us because people have grown up alongside us.

The Maccabees will play Latitude (14th - 17th July), where DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit diymag.com/presents for more information.

Taken from the Festival Guide 2016, out now. Subscribe to DIY below.

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Tags: The Maccabees, Latitude, Festivals, Features

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