Felix White of The Maccabees (London) talks having the Marks to Prove It & their Australian return!

This year has seen The Maccabees release the long awaited follow up album to 2012’s Given to the Wild in the acclaimed Marks to Prove It. A continued development of the Londoners’ striking and confident musicianship, The Maccabees’ latest offering sees the five-piece taking a further step out and really dive into the creative fire that had originally brought the band together in the first place.

Marks to Prove It also has put The Maccabees well and truly back under the touring spotlight, with recent shows bringing much-deserved applause and an Australian tour lined up for the end of the year. Celebrating the end of the year with fans on the Falls Festival run this year seems a pretty cool way to round things off and as Felix White notes, this Australian trip means much more to the band than it may appear on a press release.

“I know it’s a small point,” he says. “But I know that Triple J have been playing songs from the record, which I didn’t really expect. Sometimes it’s not even that financially viable to come all the way around the world, but we were sure we wanted to come back to Australia, so I’m glad we’ve been able to make it happen.”

Foals are doing it as well,” White says of spending New Year’s in Lorne. “We’ve spoken about having New Year’s with them, which will be awesome. I only found out that we’ve actually got to get a flight on New Year’s Day at like 11am in the morning, which is a very disturbing bit of information for me! I was not expecting that. We’ll see how that one develops.”

Having just returned home to the UK after a round of live shows in the US, the focus has understandably been trained on bringing the band’s new material to life on festival and headline stages as best the band can. Already voted the best act at Reading and Leeds this year by NME readers, just as an example, The Maccabees have switched into another gear as live performers.

“It’s been pretty full on but it’s been a relief actually to celebrate this record and play it live,” White admits of their recent shows. “Musically, the record has shown something positive and refreshing about all the music that we’ve made before, actually. The sets have a nice summery perspective or context about what The Maccabees have been up until now. I think that in a lot of ways, it’s a good time for us, a time where we feel the most comfortable about what it is our band is and it stands for who we are. In a lot of ways, there has been a bit more ease to it.”

“One of the things we were a bit more conscious of when we were making this album was that band dynamic,” the guitarist says of The Maccabees’ current dynamic. “Given to the Wild was a record that we were really keen to make and there are still a lot of great things about it, but I think we hid behind a lot of the reverb and layered vocals and lots of layered guitars, we really got into that world quite a bit. It became its own thing, but it felt cathartic and freeing just to get rid of all of that and just play and rely again on how the band interacts musically with each other.”

Recording Marks to Prove It at their studio in Elephant and Castle gave the band an excuse to really take their London surroundings into the creative process. White talks about the area and its affect on the new album, the South London environment that would end up being featured in the recent Maccabees-commissioned documentary, Elephant Days.

“It’s interesting, London.” White muses. “I suppose London is pretty claustrophobic, it’s very competitive and there are a lot of people. I don’t know if you noticed it when you were here, but whenever I leave London I realise it’s generally the only time I look up at the sky, or to see a horizon! It’s such a weird thing, but I very rarely even do it because we’re so enclosed. That’s why a lot of good music comes from here, because we’ve got a lot of energy in a very small space, I guess. We’d written, recorded and produced everything on the record in our studio in Elephant and it just made sense that it was going to resemble it in some way. The record did start to sound a bit like London at night and the photo on the cover has that…we did a few conscious things like sound recording out in the market outside the studio and things like that. Also, there was something about the sound of it that just felt like it belonged where it was, you know? It’s inevitable I suppose, but it wasn’t that conscious until halfway through, really.”

“It is odd when we’ve been taking the songs out to other countries,” he continues. “It’ll probably be the same in Australia, but it’s a little bizarre to be playing the songs that sound enclosed and dark and London, in these beautiful open spaces! It morphs them in a strange way, but that’s part of taking it on the road.”

As to where The Maccabees are headed in the new year, Felix is confident about the band’s next steps now this album has had its chance to be released and to breathe.

“What’s kind of always paid off for us is that we’ve always felt good after we’ve done it [recorded] and people, I think, have responded to that.” he says. “What’s made our band live a little bit is that we’ve always followed our instincts and we’ve been allowed to make a different record. When we were making this one, a lot of people would ask me, ‘What does it sound like?’ – they didn’t actually know where it was going to go and it was a nice position to be in, that we hadn’t set that template where people just expect it of you and that’s all you can deliver. You’re stuck in that place. Because there is more than writer and we do it as a band, it’s difficult to even voice it as one opinion, because it morphs and changes and the way I would describe it to you is probably different to how somebody else in the band would describe it! It’s not that even tangible to explain in a sentence, but I suppose that’s what bands are and I like that about our band, it comes out in a way that no one even thought it would.”

The Maccabees will be appearing in Australia at the following headline and festival dates! Grab Marks to Prove It now.

December 28th – January 1st | Falls Festival, LORNE
December 29th – January 1st | Falls Festival, MARION BAY
December 31st – January 3rd | Falls Festival, BYRON BAY
January 4th | Metro Theatre, Sydney | www.ticketek.com.au
January 6th | 170 Russell, Melbourne | www.170russell.com
January 8th – January 11th | Southbound Festival, WA


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