The Maccabees: “We haven’t been avoiding Australia!”
The Maccabees are visiting Australian shores for the first time this year with appearances scheduled for Groovin’ The Moo* and a handful of their own headline dates too. While it seems to have taken them some time to finally make it here, throughout our lengthy chat frontman Orlando Weeks assures me that the band has had their sites set on their Down Under fans for some time.
While The Maccabees had two very solid releases in 2007 with Colour It In and 2009’s Wall of Arms, they’re one of the (many) British bands that seemed to suffer from being hyped to death by their country’s red-cordial guzzling press. This initial buzz focused squarely on the bands catchy and easily consumable tunes, featuring choppy guitar work and poppy hooks. So it came as a bit of a surprise when the band returned with their third studio album Given to the Wild, a collection of softer, more cinematic builders that sounds vaguely like The Maccabees, but so much more mature.
Fast-forward to 2012 and the album is already one of the toasts of the year. By all regards, it seems to be their greatest critical success to date, despite the songs not being as instantly accessible as the band’s earlier work. “From my point of view I feel we’ve always been pretty upfront about saying we’re learning as we go along” Weeks divulges in his meek British accent. “We’ve got to a point where we know a little bit more about what we’re doing in terms of production and song writing. We feel with this record we stepped our game up, became more in control, taking more time, and being pernickety with every little aspect.”
“We feel with this record that we stepped our game up”
The band were incognito while making Given to the Wild, but they weren’t too stressed about falling into the abyss, although Weeks admits that the record should have been out sooner than it was: “We thought we were going to have it ready sooner, but we just weren’t happy with what we had after a year and a half, so we just needed that extra six months to get it right. Just taking bits and pieces apart and putting them back together, you know?”
Meeks explains the title Given to the Wild is about “giving in to certain things, and accepting things going on around you.” It’s also a tempting metaphor for the writing style the band adopted during the recording process: “We felt it would be a good idea to let everyone go and get some stuff written rather than immediately go into a room and feel claustrophobic, or the pressure you get from sitting in a room and not getting anywhere. It’s a lot more of a pain than if you’re at home and you spend a few hours working, and if it’s not really happening then you can go for a walk or whatever, it just made more sense this way. Everyone had this sort of basic recording set up, so people would be like ‘Hey, I got something, I think we should work on it’. So like if I had had something, I’d take it over to Sam [Doyle]’s house and we’d work on it because I couldn’t figure out to make drums and he could, or he’d say he had this string part and he’d get me to put lyrics over them. It just felt nice, it was my favourite time in the process because it was so liberating, and everyone was producing all this cool stuff. You’d get an email with this loop from Hugo [White] and you’d say ‘Yep, that’s amazing’ and you’d spend your night working on it and send it back to them. By the time we came around maybe three/four months in, you know if something wasn’t working we could go ‘Oh hang we’ve got that other thing, we can work on that.’ It just meant that everyone had these slightly more considered ideas’