Maccabees Interview - Wild times in the city with the Maccabees

Emma LeeWith a critically-acclaimed album and a host of triumphant festival shows under their belts, it's been a great year for the Maccabees. About to set out on another nationwide jaunt, frontman Orlando Weeks tells us why he's looking forward to a return visit to Norwich.

Emma Lee

When a rock band hit the road, it's an opportunity to indulge in all sorts of hedonistic pursuits. And Orlando Weeks, lead singer of the Maccabees has some pretty crazy plans for when the group's tour hits Norwich on Friday.

'I haven't been to the castle. I'll definitely check that out. And I want to go to Soundclash [record shop in St Benedict's]. I bought some gospel albums last time we were there, and I'm still listening to them,' he says.

So, sightseeing and shopping then. Another myth busted.


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It's the band's second visit to the fine city in just a few months. Orlando, guitarists Hugo and Felix White, bassist Rupert Jarvis and drummer Sam Doyle, were last in town in May, at the Waterfront. But, after the success of their sophomore album, Wall of Arms, and a triumphant festival season which has seen them doing up to three gigs a weekend all over Europe, they've graduated to bigger venues and will be playing Norwich UEA.

'It's been a cracking summer to be fair,' Orlando says. 'When you're not playing festivals you look forward to it, save up and wait. It's a celebration. But when you're doing three festivals in a weekend it's different - it's a blur. But crowds have been good.'

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And have there been any highlights in particular?

'We did this festival in Switzerland and we drove over this glacier and through a tunnel in the glacier. Seeing that because we were touring was pretty special. Reading and Leeds were very special. And Glastonbury was the most people I've ever seen from the stage. That was pretty incredible,' he says.

The Maccabees' sound has certainly evolved since their debut album Colour it In, which was released in 2007.

The wistfulness of Toothpaste Kisses has made way for something altogether darker. For Wall of Arms they recruited producer Markus Dravs, who has previously collaborated with Bj�rk, Coldplay and helped create Arcade Fire's indie rock epic Neon Bible.

'The writing maybe took almost two years and it took about eight weeks to record the whole thing. I think. This interview is really revealing my inability to remember anything,' Orlando laughs.

The album was recorded away from London's distractions (they hail from South London, via Brighton) in Liverpool and Paris.

Did they feel the pressure of difficult second album syndrome?

'I suppose what we felt was we wanted to make something we were proud of. The pressure was our own,' Orlando says.

The epic Love You Better (with an ace trumpet solo) is a great introduction to the new album. The record has also spawned the singles Can You Give It, which was accompanied by a video of the annual cheese rolling race in Gloucestershire and featured a brass band rendition of the song by the Dodworth Colliery Band on the B-side, and No Kind Words, whose video starred Mathew Horne of Gavin and Stacey fame.

Wall of Arms charted at number 13 on its release in May and is likely to be pretty high up on the list when the critics' end of year polls are revealed.

Now, with promotional duties for the album winding down, they're concentrating their efforts into the tour, which they see as a thank-you to their fans for their support.

And in mid October they're heading to Africa to headline the Lake of Stars festival in Malawi.

'We are rehearsing pretty constantly. It's a big deal,' Orlando says.

'A lot of people that are going to come will have come before and we want to show we appreciate them coming back. That's how we've always been.

'The end of an album tour is a good opportunity to prove your gratitude and that you don't take any of it for granted. We're going to play a lot of songs - but we've got to find out how to do it and not lose people's attention.'

t The Maccabees play Norwich UEA on Friday October 2, 01603 508050 (�13.50 adv) UEA Students' Union, Waterfront and Soundclash, www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk

t www. themaccabees.co.uk

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