Jess Weiss 01/06/2005
So here we are, speeding towards the Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms in the back of a taxi, half an hour late for our supposed interview with the new band everyone's talking about, Maximo Park.
Hot on the tail of their top 20 hit's success, 'Graffiti', the band have released their debut album 'A Certain Trigger', and after a while longer sitting in the back of the car worrying, we get to the venue to find out that now it is too close to show time for us to talk to all the band members. Damn South West trains to hell I say!
Just as we are giving up hope, and wondering if we should just go and queue out at the front like the rest of the fans, Maximo keyboardist Lucas Wooller comes out to meet us, and we are taken inside.
Maximo Park are an unashamedly 'pop' band, a label which many would not be content with, but, as Lucas says, 'we don't want to alienate audiences by calling our selves indie or rock or anything elitist like that, because that's not our music apart from anything else.' He says they've played to some pretty varied crowds in their time, but are 'getting a really great reception at the moment- everyone seems to know the songs, even before the album was out; that's the beauty of the internet I suppose.' Diplomatically, he tells us that he hasn't noticed a difference between northern and southern audiences.
Due to illness, Nine Black Alps and The Checks had pulled out of tonight's show on the NME awards tour, but audiences loved the replacement boykillboy, and went crazy for Komakino, both bands that Lucas said were 'cool guys' but was not necessarily a huge fan of. As talk turns to the state of the music business, Lucas professes that Maximo Park tend to 'hate most bands around', preferring mainstream tastes, having been 'nurtured on popular culture'. He is, however, the only classically trained musician of the band. Having played keyboard in bands since he was 15, Lucas wanted to 'bring something new' to any band he was in, rather than just playing chords, or background music, and takes most inspiration for his instrument from the music of Stereolab. 'Most of us don't necessarily have to be the best musicians, as long as you can get creative and make good music' he says. He also adds that being the best of friends is not compulsory to forming a successful band, 'we all get on, but when we're not on tour we don't tend to spend too much time together, but I think that's a healthy attitude.' When there are conflicting ideas in the studio though you might think that problems could arise, but they find that 'arguments and tension when writing songs show that you care; that it's serious', and this energy is well reflected in the title, 'A Certain Trigger'.
Their debut album was recorded in a month on Warp records; they'd been 'playing the songs live for a while, so everything was sorted really; no problems'. Lucas feels confident that for their follow up album they should be able to explore different musical spheres 'we know that they'd support us if we wanted to do a two hour prog masterpiece', although admits that the change is unlikely to be that drastic, instead hoping to consider a more dance based sound.
Another refreshing concept for Maximo Park is that they admit not only to looking after their appearance, but also giving it an equal weighting with their music, saying, 'its all 50/50 isn't it; you've got to be realistic, even if it's not the way you'd like it to be'. Their energetic and engaging front man Paul Smith, the last to join the band, is perfecting a rather iconic hairstyle, and all the guys seem to dress with flair, style and sophistication, both in the day and after changing for their performance, disliking the 'ripped jeans, indie cool look', as it give the audience the impression that you don't care.
Maximo Park are definitely a band that want to put on a good show for their fans, and the love is more than returned by the excitable audience pogoing up and down to their perfect pop tunes. They are set to convert the unwitting public over the summer at the festivals and on a July tour ending in Ibiza. They are fast gaining a strong following for their witty and off-beat lyrics, such as the iconic, 'I'll do graffiti if you sing to me in French', and with the anthemic 'I am young and I am lost' already influencing for a music label (Young and Lost club, with signings such as Vincent Vincent and the Villains), as Lucas says, leaning in with an easy smile on his face 'you just have to sit back and laugh don't you?'