Mike Caulfield 13/03/2007
Having recently played to some of there biggest audiences, supporting +44 (the slightly less ego-maniacal 2/3rds of Blink 182), GIITTV caught up with Christian, Will and John of The Maple State for a few words before there XFM showcase at Night & Day Café, on a perfectly drizzly Manchester evening.
How did you get together as a group?
(John) Well obviously Christian and Gregory are brothers so they met a long time ago…that jokes always in every interview we've done.
(Christian) I met Will at school, and we kind of poached John from another band, and we were about sixteen or seventeen when we first play together as a band, plus we all kind of live around Manchester.
How did the +44 tour come about and how did you find playing to some of the bigger audiences?
(Christian) We just sent them a demo, not really thinking anything would happen with it but they really liked it, in fact he asked us to support them on the whole tour and we desperately tried to get the money together but we couldn't in the end.
(Will) He (Mark Hoppus) was really nice too.
(Christian) Yeah, you think he's gonna be a certain way 'cos he's from a big band but he was actually really softly spoken and down to earth. On the first night of the tour he came into our dressing room after they'd sound checked and introduced himself to us and made us feel really welcome.
(John) So far as playing to bigger audiences, it was a bit scary when you think “we're playing to 5,000 people tonight,” But when you start playing it's not so bad, you kind of forget and just get into it.
How does the song writing process work within the group?
(Christian) Well Greg (Vocals/bass) writes the lyrics, that's kind of his thing and what he's into, but musically it's very collaborative, it's a very organic process. I might bring in some chords and we'll all put our own touches to it until it fells finished. And sometimes we start writing something, like with a new song recently, which we started months ago, kind of left it and picked it up again at our rehearsal space and we keep going over it again and again.
But I wouldn't say that any one of us are songwriters in the band, I think we each just like writing music and Greg's started learning guitar so he'll come in with some ideas too.
How conscious are you of your influences when you are writing, do they even come into it?
(Will) I think you're always gonna be influenced by what you listen too, but not necessary, we never think “oh, I wanna write a song like that”, they just come really naturally and if they sound like someone then it's the product of all our influences combined, but it's never one specific band.
(Christian) We listen to a lot of American, kind of indie or punk rock, but we listen to loads of stuff really.
In fact we find that a lot of the bands we get compared too here we don't really listen too or have even heard of in some cases.
How did you find working with Andy Gill and how did that come about?
(Christian) He heard a demo, and he got in contact with us, so he came down to see us when we played at the Barfly and came back and told us he really enjoyed the set. So we went down and did three demos with him.
(John) I don't think any of us really had any idea of how influential he was, I mean he's worked with the Chili Peppers, the Futureheads, loads of others and of course the Gang of Four stuff too.
(Christian) He gave us a lot of structure ideas and harmonies too, which he's really cool with stuff like that, like he spent a lot of time with me and Greg and we're really happy with the way the vocals came out.
What kind of message do you want to convey with your music?
(Christian) I don't think we have any message really, we don't have an agenda or anything, if Greg were here now he'd be having a field day, 'cause he's very opinionated, so far as people shouldn't mix music with politics. Like we don't want to tell people what to do, if people just want to enjoy music and can take something from it then fine, but a lot of the bands we listen too is more about affecting you in a certain way because of the sounds, rather than having a message.
Are there any groups, either locally or globally, that you particularly identify with?
(John) We don't really follow any kind of scene or anything, nor read the NME…
(Will) We just like to do our own thing really. We do have lots of influences but we don't try and go on about them or anything.
(Christian) Like we don't subscribe to that NME look like some bands do or focus more on how we look rather than what we write. I think 'cause we've been doing our own underground kind of thing, mixing all the American stuff like, indie, emo rock kind of thing and some people have really got behind us here for that.
What can people expect from your live show?
(Christian) Lots of energy…well maybe not much from me tonight as I've got a cold but usually…
(John) We really enjoy playing live, it's kind of our thing really and we take a lot of pride in our live shows, we practice four days a week still. We're a bit suspicious of bands that don't really play live and are more a studio thing.
(Christian) If people are gonna come and see your band you've got to make it worth there while, so it's a really, really big thing for us to put on a good show, no matter what the size of the crowd. Like last week we played with as much energy to a half-full room this size as we did, the week before when we played to five thousand people.
(Will) That's the best attitude to have.
So what does the next few months have in store for you guys?
(Christian) I think we've got a tour planned for March or just a few dates here and there, but other than that we just want to try and get an album together.
Any festival dates planned?
(Christian) Well we don't know yet, we've left it with some people so hopefully…
(John) The thing is we tend to just get asked to do things like a few day before, we'll plant an idea in someone's head then forget about it and then like a month later we just get told, but a few festivals would be great…we'll let you know.
The Maple State's 'Joanna' EP is out now.