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Maximo Park Interview PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tom Walsh   
29 06 2010
ImageThe North East has a proud musical history, producing legends such as Sting, Bryan Ferry and Dire Straights to name a few; however, the current breed of musicians are one of the region's best, with bands like The Futureheads, Field Music and Maximo Park establishing themselves as top national acts. With Maximo set to headline Sunderland's Split Festival in the coming months, Floatation Suite sent Tom Walsh to chat with lead Paul Smith and Tom English about their plans for 2010, their new album, and Paul's dance moves.

TW: What have you been up to since you've been away?

PS: We've been working hard on new material. We've had a lot of time off as well; we hadn't realised but we'd been on the road for six years more or less non-stop combined with going back into the studio to record demos and albums. A month seems like a long time away from music for me, but this time around we had about two or three months where we didn't see each other and just went back to being normal. Just doing normal things like working the washing machine or going down to the shops. It was nice to have a break from everything for a while.

TE: We usually work in two year cycles. We record in the autumn to release an album in the following spring and now we're just going to use the whole year to write and record and maybe release at a later point. We're just going to take our time and not do photo shoots in the winter [laughs].

TW: Even though it's in the early stages, what can the fans expect from this new album?

PS: Well, it's pretty weird. We're doing things slightly different this time. We did a silent film soundtrack at the Star and Shadow Cinema in Newcastle, it's all volunteer run so we wanted to support the cinema and at the same time loosen ourselves up a bit. We recorded a soundtrack to what was going on and we found some big melodies that we could us in songs. We're doing different things and some of the demos are either big pop songs in classic Maximo Park mode and then some are like industrial. Like a groovy Rammstein [laughs].

TE: We've got going again now with new material so by the time it comes to playing Split Festival in September hopefully some of it will be in the set. Split will be a nice way to give our local fans some new songs.


TW: What is your favourite show that you've played in the North East?

PS: It's a tough question, because playing the Metro Arena and watching 12,000 people go nuts for your music is a big thrill; but at the same time playing in the Head of Steam to your mates is also great. We played there before the second album was released and debuted some new material and when we walked off stage we had a feeling of, 'Yeah this is going to be a good album'. There's so many shows that I've really enjoyed - I mean, playing the Star and Shadow, standing on a box because no-one could see what was going on - stuff like that is really cool. If I was pushed I'd have to go for the Metro Arena show.

There are so many good venues around this area and we're lucky to have been able to play most of them. I've actually played in this room [Ashbrooke] and Paul was in the crowd and it's good that we've come back. We played a gig a couple years ago in Roker in the Students' Union on Sunderland University's campus and that was a really crazy show.

TW: You mentioned Split Festival earlier - how does it feel to headline this year's festival in Sunderland?

PS: Well it's an honour. [Ashbrooke Cricket Club] is a beautiful place and I think a lot of places like Ashbrooke Cricket Club have been lost. I'm from Middlesbrough and I remember when they demolished Ayresome Park I was gutted. It's an old football ground and holds historical values. I mean, North Korea beat Italy 1-0 there in the World Cup in 1966 and now it's gone. I walk around and see a lot of the older Victorian buildings get demolished, so coming to a place like Ashbrooke and showing a bit of support fills me with a bit of pride. We're from round these parts and it'll mean a lot to many people.

TW : Do you think it's important that we keep venues like this instead of them all becoming corporate venues like the O2 Academy's?

PS: There needs to be a bit of variety in what is around a city. I'm a sucker for a modern building as well. I'm not stuck in the past so I do appreciate good architecture. It'd be good to preserve a venue like Ashbrooke and obviously by holding a music festival it'll make people realise it's here. Most people would tend to stay around the city centre and not go five minutes down the road to find a place like this.

TW: Do you think having festivals like Split, Evolution and Middlesbrough Music Live helps create a new music scene in the North East?

PS: I think it can do but it's difficult to say. Scenes are weird. We were never part of a scene, but we've seemed to have broken through into more mainstream success and so I think it's about supporting each other. I remember playing Battle of the Bands and winning a 1000's worth of equipment which at the time was a lot of money and, well, still is. We weren't rivals with any of the other bands you just used to muck in together like you'd use someone else's drum kit or amp. Hopefully people who put gigs on around the city will be enthused by what they see at Split Festival. It can only ever be a source of inspiration. They can go away and know it's not impossible to put on a gig or it's not impossible to be in a band because me and Tom [English, Maximo Park drummer] are just two guys who were in a local band and now we're able to headline things like the Split festival.

TW: As you're not doing any other festivals in this country this summer was the decision to do Split Festival down to the fact that it's a local festival?

TE: It was very much because we were asked to do it and we wanted to show our support for the event. The relationship between Sunderland and Newcastle musically and socially can be mutually beneficial. Local bands from Sunderland play in Newcastle so we felt that a band from Newcastle should play a Sunderland festival. The two cities do have separate scenes but once you've played one city you have to play the other very soon.


TW: Do North East bands have a sense of camaraderie when they're out on tour?

PS: Absolutely. We've always had a good relationship with The Futureheads. They took us out on tour when we didn't even have an album out and I'll be eternally grateful to them for that.

TE: It's was one of our very first long tours in the winter of 2004 but it really helped us. I mean we don't get to see them as much as we used to as we're both really busy.

TW: Do you practice your stage dance moves?

PS: No, well I try not to. There's no choreography involved, I'm just a natural mover [laughs].

TE: If you come to a show at the end of the tour the moves will look like there's a lot of choreography involved. We're a well-oiled machine then right down to the dance moves.

TW: Finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2010?

TE: Writing, mainly, peppered with a few small shows, and, of course, Split Festival. But 2011 will be a much busier year.

PS: In the early part of next year we'll be mainly writing but it'd be nice to do some festivals in the summer. We've not done many this year and so to do the likes of Reading or Glastonbury next year would be nice.

TW: Cheers for your time, lads.

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