Interview The Maccabees: ‘The Songs Are As Strong As They’ve Ever Been’

Getting bigger by the album, there’s still no stopping The Maccabees from continuing their ascent.

Three records in, it’s hard to nail down exactly what The Maccabees will do next. They’ve come a long way from their raw and rough debut full-length, 2005’s ‘Colour It In’, growing their immediate and infectious quirky pop hooks into fully refined, stadium-sized anthems. There’s certainly a progression from each album to the next, but they’ve by no means jumped off a cliff into a lagoon of experimentation. ‘Colour It In’ demonstrated that they know how to write a song that gets stuck in your head instantaneously, and they’ve been working to perfect that formula ever since.

Thankfully, guitarist Hugo White believes that the band aren’t feeling the pressure. “The nice thing about [third album, ‘Given To The Wild’] is that we weren’t necessarily writing to please people,” he says. “We were sort of worried at the time that it wasn’t going to please our fans, and it turns out that it has. Now we’re feeling like we can take our own direction and see what happens… we don’t feel pressured to do anything.”

The band are currently playing a string of festival dates - including second-to-top billing at schedule highlight, Latitude - inbetween writing sessions, with Hugo expressing how nice it’s been to get out of the studio for a bit. Recording their fourth album in London’s Elephant & Castle, the as-yet-untitled record is hopefully out at the beginning of next year, with the band taking on full production duties this time around.

“We’re really getting somewhere with it now,” Hugo enthuses. “We’ve been writing it since the beginning of the year really. We’re waiting on two songs to be mixed, and I’d say we’re maybe just less than halfway through writing it. But we did a session recently just to try and, you know, make sure everything was working. Because we’re in our own studio it’s a different process. Two songs are done and the rest are waiting to be sorted out.”

On the band’s decision to self-produce, Hugo explains that it wasn’t something they necessarily wanted to do from the start. “I don’t think there’s particularly a reason for it, but I think when we started as a band we were quite naïve to [production] really. We were just writing music and in terms of how things sounded… it was never something that we really analysed – we were just writing songs.

“But, I think through the process of the first three records, it definitely came to the forefront. With ‘Given To The Wild’, it got to the point where we were writing music with the production in mind - everything comes with a sound and a place for it to sit, and every part only works because that is how it sits in the track.”

The decision also draws on experiences that the band went through while recording ‘Given To The Wild’, when they ran into difficulties with some of the people they were working with. “It wouldn’t be nice to say it messed it up, but it kind of did,” Hugo says with a hint of regret in his voice. “It didn’t go as planned. We went with some people and just thought, ‘this is far off from what we wanted’, you know? So we got all the files and went into our studio and were like… ‘we’ve got to make this record again in like a month!

“There’s an understanding and a bit of trust between everyone,” he explains, when asked if he feels the band is gelling together more than ever. “I think if you’re worried about not being totally in control of it - if we were, anyway - we would get a producer on board to pull us together. But I think the fact that we’re doing it like this shows that everyone is pretty confident that we kind of cover all bases.

‘I think [the songs are] as strong as they’ve ever been, and I think the thing about the timing with making the record is that it sort of just evolves over the time frame we’re in. Once we get round to [writing] we think ‘right, that’s what it’s going to involve,’ rather than setting out from the start and saying ‘this is going to be about this’. It just sort of gradually falls into place.”

The Maccabees will play Latitude’s Obelisk Arena on Friday 19th July.

Read the full interview in the new edition of DIY Weekly, available from iTunes now.

Tags: Features

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