Friday, 12 February 2010

Interview with Hugo, The Maccabees

The Maccabees are a band that will woo you. Everything from their jangling guitars and demanding bass lines, to the romantics that lace their lyrics, delicately tug at all the heartstrings you possess until you find yourself fully intoxicated by the Brighton-hailing five-piece. Resistance is wholly futile. So The Maccabees kick-starting 2010 by headlining the NME Awards Tour seems a fitting tribute to a band that has softly seduced fans across the country since their 2005 debut.

And what a journey it has been. From the band’s debut album, the progression of The Maccabees is as clear in their physical evolution from fresh-faced boys to experienced musicians, as it was apparent from the change in tempo when ‘Walls of Arms’ was release in May last year. Two years since the hormone ridden ‘Colour It In’, the eleven track follow up left no uncertainty about just how far The Maccabees had come. Tales of Chlorine, Colgate and Lego had been replaced with a believable despondency and a new found maturity that somehow still brimmed with all the trademark Maccabees charm.

This collective development is not something that the band is oblivious to. Instead, catching up with guitarist Hugo White ahead of the Glasgow leg of their 14 night prestigious tour slot, he cant quite seem to believe it:

“We went to see some of these shows on the NME Tour with The Killers and The Futureheads and Bloc Party. That was years ago when we were standing in the crowds watching the bands and we didn’t expect that we’d be headlining it a couple years down the line. So we’re in a good position and we’re pretty happy about that."

Touring with the likes of The Big Pink, Bombay Bicycle Club and The Drums, it’s only a day in and Hugo is already suffering from burning the proverbial rock candle at both ends:

“We did the first show last night in Newcastle and it was great. I’ve already got a headache and feel a bit dazed, but it’s alright! The other bands are really cool and it’s nice to play with good bands really.

“I was quite interested to see the Drums, I’d heard a lot about them but hadn’t really listened to much. You know one of those bands where you hear a lot of hype about them and then you want to see if they’re living up to it, but they were great last night. I really enjoyed it. So yeah, I wasn’t disappointed by that. And then The Big Pink are great, it’s all cool. It’s gonna be fun.”

In of all the media hype that has built like a resilient hurricane around these indie pinups over the past year following their powerful festival performances, The Maccabees have yet to let their feet leave the floor. Instead, the band remain humble and being pitched against the likes of Oasis and Arctic Monkeys for Best Video at the NME Awards later this month is something the band aren't taking too seriously:

“Yeah, its a good video that one. But it’s not really anything to do with us, that whole nomination thing. It’s nice to be nominated. It’ll be good if we win because we’ll get it for the kid in the video, he’s pretty amazing. The award can go to him.”

The 'kid' Hugo is referring to is seventeen year old, Thomas Allan, and the music video for ‘Can You Give It?’ follows his success at the 2009 cheese-rolling championships. The end result is something that each band member agreed on. An occurrence, which Hugo admits, is something of a rarity:

“I think it was Orlando’s idea and we got talking about this cheese-rolling event and filming it in a documentary style and trying to capture it like that. The guy that went to film it all and the director just kind of hit the nail on the head. It was one of those videos where you sort of watch it and for the first time, everyone agrees on it being great. That doesn’t usually happen with us so everyone was happy.”

It's been a crazy year and a half for The Maccabees and with plans to now start work on a new album, things aren’t likely to slow down anytime soon. But with the transition from ‘Colour It In’ to the so-called difficult second album so recognisably poignant, how will the band dig even deeper to produce another record that is equally, if not more, mesmerising? Hugo recognises just how difficult it will be:

“We’ve decided to write this one in a different way. With the last one, a lot of it was just sort of battled out in rehearsals or whatever and I think we’ve just sort of decided to take a bit more time before we go and battle it out. I think we’re going to write a bit more individually and then bring the pieces together a bit later on.

“It feels like a pretty huge task because the other record doesn’t seem like that long ago and we really pushed it to be the best it could possibly be and now to sort of up that is going to be challenge, you know.”

And Hugo is right. The Maccabees have got a seemingly unsalable task ahead of them, with reinvention of course being the key to longevity. Thus, the band will need to release an album that demonstrates further progression but continues to nurture everything we’ve been so enchanted by since it all started. It’s undoubtedly a tall order but there is something about the quiet confidence The Maccabees exudes that leaves us convinced they can do it.

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