Emerging on a wave of guitar-led pop bands mid-oughts, Maxïmo Park, featuring vocalist Paul Smith and guitarist Duncan Lloyd, are one of the few to survive Gordon Brown. Match their velocity at Huxley’s Neue Welt on Thursday, February 13.
You’re practically the geezers of the New Britain revival.
Paul Smith: Pop is a youthful thing, a fashion-led thing, and our band was part of a fashionable wave of guitar bands, even though we felt separate from it. I cherish all of our records and they’re a big part of my working life – my adult life – but seeing bands kind of pretending that they’re young and cutting-edge, it ends up being very forced. Bands want to distance themselves from the term ‘pop’ because of the whole reality-show mess; people can forget about the good side of pop music.
Duncan Lloyd: When British music started becoming popular it was about a craft, it was about the song. Like Dusty Springfield – if you hear the first record, it’s a soul record, but they are pop songs. Even The Velvet Underground, you listen to a song like “Here She Comes Now”, that’s just a great pop song. That is what we get excited about: it’s like “Teen Age Riot” by Sonic Youth. It just stays with you, so you just want to hear it again, and again. I still define that as pop music, it’s about a lyric and a melody that connect.
PS: Three or four minutes and it changes your life. You hear it on the radio and you’re like “Wow!” You put it on your headphones when you’re going to work – who cares about that first hour at work? You’re still buzzing. That’s what we’re aiming for when we play live as well, just seeing people who’ve connected with it, and new people connecting with it for the first time.
Pop or not, you were signed to the electronic label Warp, and have collaborated with Modeselektor.
PS: Lukas, our keyboard player, was wearing a Modeselektor t-shirt in a photo shoot. One of the guys saw it and approached Lukas saying, “I didn’t know you liked our music, if you ever want to remix or collaborate…” and he was like, “Yeah!” and got straight back to them, obviously. We had this song, sent it over to them, and they chopped it up, sent it back and said “That’s the song.” That was one of the first times that we had really dipped our toe into the electronic world. It was quite alien from working as a band in a room. Even just hearing my voice in a different context was weird because it’s out of the usual sonic palette. It’s in another world, and it seemed to work.
And the new album, Too Much Information (Vertigo/ Universal)? You set up your own studio to record it.
DL: We did have a space before but it wasn’t really that conducive to working because it was cold and the set-up just wasn’t really that great. We basically self-produced so we all collaborated on ideas – it was interesting because we listened to a lot more records in the studio and referenced a lot of stuff.
PS: We’ve always wanted to represent what the band sounds like in a room. But this time around we wanted to do something that sounds just that little bit more raw. To me it does.
DL: It was strange because there isn’t anyone there cracking the whip.
PS: Which wasn’t the estate where we had our other studio. It had bars on the windows.
DL: Like you were in prison, basically.
PS: This is definitely a better place to be. We’re more confident as a band to just kind of do whatever we like.
Maxïmo Park Thu, Feb 13, 20:00 | Huxleys Neue Welt, Hasenheide 107-113, Neukölln, U-Bhf Hermannplatz
Originally published in issue #124, February 2014.