Their infectious blend of catchy art rock, lyrical sincerity and ability to impress a live audience has made The Maccabees into one of the UK’s most exciting indie acts. Their debut album received the critical acclaim it deserved and with a new EP now available for hardcore fans, Glasswerk Glasgow caught up with guitarist Felix White to discuss the making of said release, their recent trip to the States and the gig which almost ended them as a live band.
Glasswerk: Good day Felix. I understand you’re not long back from New York? What was that like?
FW: We’ve been back a few days now – For me it was a strange experience because I had an infected finger, like it was all blown up so I spent most of my time in medical centres getting puss sucked out of it… So yeah that makes for a bit of a different experience.
Glasswerk: Ouch – did you have any trouble playing the shows?
FW: Yeah just kinda fuckin’ (pause) oh sorry man…
Glasswerk: Its cool we can swear all we like
FW: (laughing) Ok yeah well I did just play through the pain, but we had a good time, the gigs were great man. We were playing as part of bills with other bands like Foals… It was great, everytime we played the venues were full. We didn’t really expect people to like, know who we were, but it was a nice surprise. We did sorta know there was a tiny amount of people that were interested but I dunno… It’s a special thing when you can go that far and have people sing your songs, you know what I mean.
Glasswerk: Sure. Ok so The Maccabees have a new EP. It goes by the name of ‘Toothpaste Kisses’. Tell us about it
FW: ‘It’s a limited edition thing, (made up of) songs we had at around the time of the first album. It’s a little bit low-fi, a little low-fi package – It's not a fully blown collection of pop songs or whatever. I’m not gonna talk it up too much, it is what it is… A nice little thing for a couple of thousand fans to have. Its got an acoustic version of precious time on it – like we did an almost gypsy version of that song which we thought was quite fun so we put that on there. Its definitely a different collection of songs that you would usually find with us.
Glasswerk: In your opinion how have you guys developed since the recording of the album, as a band and in the writing etc?
FW: Erm well just being on tour a lot and playing the songs every night you just become more confident and you get a much better understanding of what people want from songs, more than anything we’re just excited at being here, we now understand the possibilities of what you can do with a band, more so than when we first started.
Glasswerk: Having a look at media articles, reviews of the album etc it’s obvious that there has been a lot of, perhaps over-hype and a lot of praise for you guys, how do you deal with that sort of thing?
FW: Its not a matter of dealing with it at all, I don’t think we’re even necessarily aware of it. We definitely don’t ever feel like a big band. We’re a band that exists wholly separate from all that, it’s a word of mouth thing, like coming to see us live, people telling their friends etc I think its important to have that and then if the NME and wherever want to write about us and the radio want to play us then that’s great but… that’s not the prime goal, we’re just happy that there’s so many people who wanna come see us.
Glasswerk: The Maccabees are placed in a genre bustling with post-Libertine guitar bands – What would you say makes The Maccabees stand out?
FW: Well I’m not a salesman… Its not really my place to say…Ok well all I would say is that we’re a genuine band, honest. Maybe too honest at times but very honest about how we go about things and who we are. We represent ourselves wholly. And if you have that, and people go for it, then you cant go far wrong.
Glasswerk: How has life changed for you since the band effectively took off?
FW: Erm its changed in that we’re never at home, never ever at home so it completely changes, you know being carted around all the time playing to people, its juts like ‘fucking hell’. It’s a weird existence. You know I’ve still got all the same friends so we can go back down to Brighton and get on with things normally, at home its completely the same (as before).
Glasswerk: You guys were the first band since the Sex Pistols to be threatened with a nation-wide live ban after one of your gigs ended in a mini riot? Tell us about that
FW: (laughing) Well no I wouldn’t say it was the craziest thing since punk or anything. We played our first big gig in Brighton and the kids just went completely nuts, hanging from the ceiling and stuff.
Glasswerk: Did you guys get a little scared at any point?
FW: Well no we weren’t particularly scared, probably more so the bouncers to be honest. It was a little bit of a crowd vs. bouncer vs. band situation. I think when you put excited 16 year olds in a room with alcohol and a band they fucking love then things can get a bit, um, hairy and unfortunately that’s what happened.
Glasswerk: Before I let you go, let me ask you about a rumor I heard about Robert (drums) ejaculating on a bouncers head after a show?!? Explain!
FW: (Laughing) Yeah man I’ve heard that one too, its off Wikipedia I think – I can honestly tell you that isn’t true, its funny all the same. I dunno who honestly makes this kinda shit up… though I’m happy for that to be a rumor (laughing)”
Glasswerk: Don’t worry you’ve just killed it. Thanks for your time.