James Smith 10/10/2010
We travel to the Borderline to talk to The Xcerts about their upcoming album, the highs and lows of touring, and what the future has in store for the Aberdeen based three-piece.
On Monday (04/10/2010) The Xcerts released Scatterbrain, their second studio album and signal a daring departure into new, deeper, darker musical territory. Previews of the album suggest that, whilst they have retained much of the big choruses and catchy melodies that characterised debut album In the Cold Wind We Smile, they have moved these same features into a darker and more aggressive sound. The first single, 'Slackerpop', in particular, packs quite a devastating punch, moves at a vigorous pace, and declares from the off that this is a new album and a new approach.
It is a transition that the band are very pleased to have managed, 'We feel this album is much stronger. It works more cohesively as a single entity.' Front man Murray MacLeod goes onto explain how, whilst this record is perhaps less experimental instrumentally, they have pushed themselves further in what they actually achieve musically; he jokingly recalls, 'On the first album we were constantly told “If less is more, just imagine what more could be”, but we feel we had more room to breathe on this album; we were given as much time off as we needed to work on it, our record label were very patient, there was no pressure, so we found it all came fairly naturally. This record is less restrictive in terms of adhering to a set structure, so I think we had the freedom to push our sound further because of it. The first album [In the Cold Wind We Smile] was sort of like a square, where this one is more like a circle, I think.'
The Xcerts produced Scatterbrain in collaboration with Mike Sapone, a producer most famed for his work, amongst others, with 'Brand New'. 'It's no secret that we're massive fans of Brand New, they really are the benchmark for what we try to do and aspire to. Not just within their music but the way they go about everything on their own terms, we have a lot of respect for them.'
As for other influences, The Xcerts are quite expansive, 'You obviously grow up listening to a lot of your parents stuff, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and then start to move onto your own stuff, I remember, having grown up on all my parents stuff, going in on my first day at high school and this guy giving me a copy of 'Bleach' and it blowing my mind.' 'Yeah, we definitely went through the Nirvana stage, and then through all the scenes really, Pop-punk, So-cal etc.' Given the Scottish background of two-thirds of the band, bands such as Idlewild and Biffy Clyro pose an obvious influence, but it is an association they are keen to shrug off, 'Starting out in the Scottish music scene, it is hard to break free from being constantly compared and associated with those bands, but I think we've managed to lose that now, no ones really mentioned it for a while.'
The band avoid setting any specific goals in their careers, no single pinnacle of success, but having made considerable progress over the last couple of years, they do talk rather excitedly about the release of this new album and the future it brings. 'We'd like to just do what we're doing now but on the next level; maybe some bigger venues, and also maybe try venturing into Europe.' 'We've played the same little venues up and down the UK however many times, even if we went to Cologne and only played to four people it'd still be great, because we're in Cologne… Not that we've actually booked any shows in Cologne yet,' bassist Jordan Smith jokes. 'This venue's (The Borderline) starting to turn into a bit of a favourite. We've definitely got over our fear of playing London. They always used to say the audience would always be 80% industry, but now we're signed we don't really need to worry so much about whose going to be there.' Jordan adds, 'Yeah, and you could always tell, because you'd look out and see half of them typing away on their blackberries.'
It's hard to see how this new venture will go down with fans, and in which direction it will push them. But if nothing else, it seems The Xcerts are doing what they want with their music, and by the looks of it they are, right now, having a blast.
I Scare Easy by The Xcerts