Mac the Knife

The-Maccabees_0815A band that have been here, there and everywhere for over a decade. Obviously it’s The Maccabees and lead singer Orlando Weeks took some time out from being all rock’n’roll, fresh off of a plane from The States to chat to me about the current state of indie music, amongst other bits and bobs.

Hey! How’s it going?

‘I’m all good! We’ve literally just gotten back from our tour in America we flew from Chicago to home last night, so i’m starting to feel a little
more normal.’

What’ve you guys been upto?

‘The last few months have just been preparing for the U.S tour and then getting on with doing that. Other than that we’ve just been finishing the album which is just out, getting all the artwork and everything sorted… And finishing up the music videos – this is the nice bit, we’ve been knocking about for a long time and it’s nice to be in a position where we’re aiming to make something better than the last.’

You’re heading to play Reading and Leeds festival(s) in August, do you have any stand out memories of them from past years to share?

‘I remember a couple of years back when we played the same year as The Hives – I love that band. The amazing thing about festivals is that obviously you’re on tour and all over the place all year round but at a festival, you get to see all the bands you’ve missed all at once, it’s a chance to catch up with people. I think it was that year that we headlined one of the tents and the lights in there were crazy so while they were flashing and going mental the audience were climbing over each other and forming a pyramid; with the strobe lighting it meant all I could see when I blinked for about a week was some guy on another’s shoulders waving his arms at me – it was a bit haunting actually.’

Do you prefer performing in indoor or outdoor venues?

‘I don’t really have a preference, we can balls up an indoor venue just as well as we can a festival. Or it can work well, there are just too many factors to quantify it. You can only keep on top of so much stuff at once in either and just hope for the best. I don’t think i’m great at convincing people to feel a certain way at a gig, Felix is amazing at it, he can just tell people to clap and they all do, so he can alter the vibe of anything. Festival atmospheres are guaranteed, everyone is there to have a wicked time; you’re outside and getting really muddy in a field but at an indoor gig the marriage of venue and band can be all wrong which totally throws off the way it feels. We’re doing a load of new festivals we haven’t played before so we aren’t sure what they’ll be like but it’ll be fun
to find out.’
The new album [Marks to Prove It] has been a long time coming,  what can we expect from it?

‘I’d like to hope that it has all the same successes of the last album [Given to the Wild], like the atmosphere and the ability to sustain that, without using the same tricks. That’s part of the reason it took so long, we started off writing all these songs and being like: “yeah using that triple vocal works really well and people love it!” to then realising that we’d already done it and doing it again just felt
like a load of cheap tricks and that isn’t what we wanted.’

How do you think the ‘indie’ scene has changed since you guys started out?

‘We’ve been going for 11 years now, and after a 9 hour flight and no decent sleep it definitely feels like 11 years – I don’t particularly think that’s a bad thing, I consider it an achievement that we’ve stuck it out so long. I think when we started out there weren’t as many people recording music in their bedrooms, they needed certain tools and certain people to make the music that they wanted to create, but the opportunity to do things on your own now is much more open ‘cause the change in tools and technology is huge. Felix always says that people grew up wanting to be in a rock n roll band ‘cause they’d get stupidly rich and live a glamorous life, but it really isn’t like that. You don’t sell as much music anymore ‘cause people can just download it, very few people pay for music nowadays, and it isn’t terribly glamorous – the stuff you see on Instagram are the highlights, the rare moments of glamour. You aren’t gonna get rich so people aspire to do other things.’

What does the rest of 2015 hold for you?

‘It’s just gonna be a lot of touring, we’ll probably be doing our own tour later in the year amongst other bits and bobs. For now, the album has just dropped and we’re trying to work out as many ways for people to hear it as possible.’

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be and why?

‘I studied illustration at Brighton, so i’d probably have been…unemployed for a while until I gave up on that and went for something else. I always liked art so I figured i’d end up doing that, I never knew I wanted to be in a band until I was in one, and even then I wasn’t sure it was what I really wanted to do. Art school was fun, they’re breeding grounds to meet like-minded people; you go from being the ‘arty’ one at school to being the least arty one at art school. Art school gives people a lot of opportunity to be lazy and do other things… Like start a band!’

If you could work with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?  

‘While we’ve been in the States touring with Mumford and Sons as part of a huge bill, the first on is Son Little which is a guy called Aaron and if I were to write songs for other people i’d get him to sing them, he has a very wise voice which I love to listen to. I’ve just finished a
side-project called ‘Young Colossus’ which is a book with a soundtrack and for that I wrote songs for the main character which I really enjoyed doing.’

What is your favourite song of yours and why?

‘Ohhh… [laughs]. I find it really difficult to listen to our stuff without just being able to hear the problems. There’s a song on the new album called ‘Silence’ which is sang by Hugo and it’s a really beautiful piece of work that he wrote, i’m wailing in the background but I can usually ignore that and just listen – so probably that. If i’m drunk it’s easier to sit through it and listen, maybe I squirm just as much but I have less awareness of it. I’m really envious of people that enjoy their own work and can listen to it for pleasure…’

By Ellie Greenfield

Pay The Maccabees a visit when they hit up Leeds Fest at the end of August, go form a pyramid or something.

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