Backstage at Leeds – Interview with The Maccabees

Posted on August 27, 2012

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written by Robert Pollard for Leeds Festival

The Maccabees are one of the biggest bands at Leeds this year. They headlined the NME/Radio 1 Stage on Saturday for what was one of the finest moments of this year’s festival. We caught up with Felix White and Orlando Weeks backstage prior to their show to get their thoughts on life in The Maccabees.

From the outside it looks as if you guys are absolutely flying right now. How are you finding life in The Maccabees?

Orlando – Enjoying it, although, I can’t really remember a time not being in the band.

Does it just feel normal now then?

Orlando – Well, not normal but what has changed for us is that we’ve just become more comfortable with everything that comes with being involved in a band. I feel more natural and comfortable and I like it when band’s are like that, it’s how it should be.

When you were starting out your career in music, did your family tell you to get a proper job?

Orlando – I would never have been able to get a proper job. I would have gone into something like illustration or design. I wouldn’t trust myself doing anything with any responsibility. You [Felix] could have been a responsible human being…

Felix – I am a responsible human being. I wanted to be in a band from being quite young, from 13 or 14 probably, and I told all my mates I was gonna do it and they thought it was ridiculous and those same friends I got on the guest list for Reading Festival!

Do you take inspiration from other art forms?

Orlando – I find it very difficult to answer any question to do with influence because I think it’d be really weird to pinpoint stuff like that but then again it’s such a kop out answer. The list would just be so tedious. The things you like you remember.

What about musical influences for you Felix?

Felix – Again, I’d be rather hesitant to answer that question because it becomes so easy to say who we sound like and sometimes it’s misrepresentative. You just try and make music your own way. But, like, The Hives…they’re the best live band I’ve seen all summer and we’ve done 30 festivals. I don’t know what that says but I just wanted to get that in!

You get a lot of support from within the industry. I’m thinking XFM Radio and also Steve Lamacq seems to be a fan of the band. How important is that?

Felix – Realistically, that kind of support is important, that’s how it’s set up. It’s a little bit idealistic to say bands don’t need that kind of thing.

Orlando – Supports nice. I mean, whatever job you have, if someone says you’re good at what you do, it’s nice. If you’re a butcher better than any other butcher and someone in butchery thinks you’re the best…

Felix – You’d be top butcher.

Orlando – Do you think there’s like an award for head butcher?

Felix – Yeah, like NME have Godlike Genius Award

Orlando – They get one enormous lamb chop [laughs]

 How big a deal is it for you guys to be playing Reading and Leeds?

Orlando – I think it’s a pretty big deal to be honest.

Felix – Reading and Leeds was were we played a big festival, like 5 or 6 years ago, on the new band stage, and every time we’ve come back we’ve slowly moved up. You can look back on each year over your life and see the progression because it’s exactly the same every year, like backstage and the people, and you really feel yourself getting older. It’s a very sentimental place I think.

Are you both atheists?

Both – Yes.

But the name of the band has biblical connotations, no?

Orlando – Not to us. It’s the name of the band, that’s the long and short of it. It sounds like a band and that’s it.

Does atheism inform your work?

Orlando – I guess, yeah, in the sense that, if you’re religious, it informs everything you make. But we’d never have a sit down and be like ‘this isn’t secular enough’, ya know?

How did you meet?

Orlando – Felix was best friends with my little brother at school and that’s how we all met.

And then you moved to Brighton. How come?

I moved to Brighton because it had a really good reputation for illustration and I thought it was close enough to London without cutting my off from my family and friends.

If I asked you to curate the Main Stage at a dream festival, what bands would you pick?

Felix – We were talking about this earlier. The Hives would be on there, Radiohead headlining, Interpol would be in there.

Orlando – La Shark as well

Felix – I’d be quite up for playing

Orlando – Felix’s solo project

Felix – I’ll just do my bits from The Maccabees

Orlando – He’d be on just as it’s getting dark.

Are there any bands out there who get a lot of credit that you think really aren’t worthy of it?

Orlando – I wouldn’t tell you if I did. What’s the point of that?

Felix – A lot of bands do that and it’s fine. A lot of bands can do it in a kinda playful way but we just avoid it.

What’s the best festival of all the ones you have done this year?

Felix – Benicassim

Orlando – Yeah, that was good. I like Lowlands, just the scale of it, and because there hasn’t been a Glastonbury this year. Lowlands has, like, 7 or 8 stages and it’s a weird enough place to get that slightly other worldly feel.

Felix – I’d have to say Reading and Leeds though as well. I think the slot that we’ve got is great. I think it’s the best slot we could ever imagine being asked to do.

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Posted in: Interviews, Music