MAXIMO PARK – Interview

Es kommt einem vor wie gestern als Maximo ParksApply Some Pressure‘ in keiner Indieplaylist fehlen durfte und doch bringen die fünf Engländer im Februar nächsten Jahres bereits ihr füntes Studioalbum mit dem Titel ‘Too Much Information‘ in die Plattenläden. Wir haben Sänger Paul Smith und Gitarrist Duncan Lloyd in Berlin auf eine Cola getroffen und die beiden ein wenig über das neue Album ausgefragt.

You have been making music together for 13 years now, what has changed since you started the band?
Paul: I joined the band in 2003, so for me it’s been 10 years.
Duncan: We have a few more wrinkles. We’ve grown up together an become more understanding of each other. We reached a stage now where we’re able to be more open with each other and all have the same goal to make great music. If you can get past that time in your twenties where you’re mainly just thinking about what you are doing and start thinking more about other people you can keep writing songs. Fortunately we’ve been able to do that!

What would you say is your main motivation to make music in the first place?
Paul: I think human beings have the need to express themselves and create, even from a really young age. It goes on through life- playing football can be a creative thing. For us it’s about making something beautiful, something aesthetic. When I first joined the band I didn’t know if I could sing or write lyrics. I was in another band and someone overheard me singing so joining the band happened by chance really. Now, it’s a kind of living and I feel pleasure in being able to sit here and talk about the new album. I think there are bands that are ambitious in a wrong way and it’s mainly about money. You can’t be number one all the time. We are trying to create alternative pop where the chorus right hits you in the gut, a song that is about something you can feel for three minutes. When you make music, you have to make it with pure intentions first!

Is that why you offer ‘Brain Cells’ as a free download on your website?
Duncan: It’s quite a different track for us and we felt it is good to give songs to our fans. We got great feedback from radio stations in the Uk and even from Australia. I think people wouldn’t have expected that sound from Maximo Park but we like to take a few risks here and there.
Paul: One of the ways to make people listen is to do something that doesn’t sound like the other things you did. Whenever we put out a record we try to put out the song that is the catchiest, a song that says “Look, we’re going in another direction’.

‘Brain Cells’ has an 80ties feeling to it what where your influences for the song?
Duncan: I listened to a lot of cold wave compilations at that time. I quite like minimal stuff. When you here synthezisers do a thing that’s quite simple it can be great. I wrote the song on a little nuke syntheziser and the simplicity just worked. As a musician you have to spread your wings a bit and ‘Brain Cells’ was the perfect song for that!

How does the process of writing a song look like?
Duncan: Once Paul wrote a little story and send it to me so I had to imagine the words in a musical way. Normally I write music at home and then send it to Paul so he can work on the lyrics.
Paul: We each like what the other does so it works for us in a very simple way.
Duncan: There’s been times where we’ve written songs that the other guys of the band weren’t into when they first heard it and then after a few weeks, they changed their minds. After a while together as a band you understand that there are some songs that are not gonna work, so you have to start all over again.
Paul: It’s hard though. If you have a good idea you don’t want to let it go. The idea of other people listening to your music can affect you. When we started out as a band we had all these rules like no solos, no reverb, no disguise whatsoever, all raw. Now we have all this experience as a band and are more comfortable so we can do an angry song but also a really quite song next. You feel like you can do all those things and it’s still you.

Talking about experience, if you’d be the mentor of a band, what would be the first thing you’d tell them?
Paul: Find your thing, what are you doing that nobody else is doing. It starts from the way you look, the artwork. Just be yourself! You make mistakes with people, it’s a learning process. The lyrics you write and the style of music you play will define the band. We wrote a song once that had an off beat and we ended up not playing it because it sounded like a ska song and it just didn’t work for us though we liked the song. So, if anything doesn’t feel right don’t play it!
Duncan: Before you play your first gig make sure you are super tight and rehearse a lot! When we prepared for our first gig we were like “There’s no doubt in this band, we are the best band in Newcastle”. We were ready. You have to be driven to write. Every band is gonna experience set backs. You just have to work very hard!

When you google ‘Maximo Park live’ you find a lot of pictures of Paul jumping around like crazy. When did you start doing that?
Paul: I don’t play an instrument on stage so I just wanted to put on a show. My job on stage is to get people excited about our music if I want to jump up and down or dance that’s what i do. Other people choreograph their show but I just want to react to the emotions in the songs. When we started playing festivals I started to jump off things and climb speakers just because I was trying to do something different. It’s exhausting really, you still gotta sing the songs.
Duncan: It works really well because we’re all concentrating on our instruments and Paul is flying by our heads. We don’t want to be a band that just stands there looking at their shoes.

One last question: In a perfect world, what happens with the new album?
Paul: Well, we don’t live in a perfect world but if we did the album would get five star reviews in every magazine, be number one everywhere and the world would realize that we are in fact musical geniuses!
Duncan: The end!

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