Interview: Maybeshewill - By Volume

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Interview: Maybeshewill

We spoke to the Leicester-based instrumental rock maestros on the brink of releasing their fourth album.

Author: on July 31, 2014
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On the Saturday of last weekend’s Tramlines festival in Sheffield, Maybeshewill played a storming special set with a live string section which spanned their three records to date and got pulses racing for their hotly anticipated fourth album, Fair Youth, which is released on August 25. Before the show, we caught up with the band and got the lowdown on the new record.

Thanks for the chat, guys – I know there’s a lot happening this weekend! I’m absolutely stoked for the set tonight, because you folks are playing with live strings. Is this your first time doing that?

No. We did festivals last year or maybe two years ago – I think it was maybe two years ago – we did a few festivals in the UK with Sophie and Dave, the guys who are on violin and cello today, who played on the last two albums. And we actually played a full album show for I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone.

Is it a different vibe to your usual live shows?

Yeah, definitely. You do have to take into consideration the fact that you’re playing with people who aren’t amplified, so you have to change the dynamic a little bit. We’ve been practicing today and just had to take everything down a little bit in terms of volume so we don’t blow their heads off! So it’s a little bit more delicate, I guess, we’ve sort of chosen songs that have a little bit more potential to have the strings rather than some of the more heavy ones.

I can see how that would work with your new track “In Amber”. In the past you’ve described I Was Here as always being in motion, whereas the new song feels like it takes its time a little more. Would you say that’s true of the track and the album as a whole?

Yeah, definitely. The thing behind the last record was that it was written at a time where we were touring pretty heavily so we were on the road quite a lot. So that influenced the idea behind the titles and some of the music. Although we’ve been touring quite a lot since then, actually, so that’s probably a continued influence. But yeah, I think “In Amber” in particular is a kind of look back at everything we’ve achieved in the last few years and taking stock of things a little bit, so that’s the kind of feel behind the…

I’m intrigued as to the last word of this sentence. The feel behind what?

Well, it’s difficult to say because we’re only really going off a title and what the music sounds like, and what it means to us is linked to the period it was written in. It’s always going to be a temptation for other people, but for us it holds certain memories and feelings that we try to encapsulate in the titles and such.

So is that something that you guys talk about while you’re writing? Being an instrumental band you have one fewer way to communicate specific imagery. How do you handle that?

Very occasionally we’ve written with a title in mind, but it’s normally just a case of what music comes out of us writing and then we ascribe a title to it later down the line. Sometimes there’s a general understanding of a concept we want to get across, but usually that is the last thing that brings it all together.

Do you write by building on a motif somewhat? A guitar line, a piano melody?

It’s usually a little bit more developed by the time we actually come to playing the song. Most of them are written with a good understanding of what the song should sound like as a whole, so we do a large portion of a song and then we work on the refinement of the ideas as a band. So it takes shape like that and then we get to smooth out the rough bits and so on.

Do you have conversations before a song or album is in its infancy about what you want to be achieving?

Sometimes that’s accurate, but it’s really hard to say. We just take each bit as it comes, really. I think we just sort of write and see what comes out of it. And then it gets moulded by the five of us into something that approximates all of our input.

So would you say that Fair Youth has got that looking back feel to it throughout?

Definitely in some of the tracks, yeah. There are elements of nostalgia and it’s a bit more contemplative in places – thoughtful, for want of a better word.

It’s been three years since I Was Here, which in the context of your early release cycle is a long time. What’s it like being on the cusp again?

It’s good to have it done! Like we mentioned, we’ve been touring a lot so it’s been hard to get into a flow. We’d start writing and then there’s a nine week tour coming up and there were times where it just wasn’t going to work. A lot of the record was written in isolated periods over the last two years, so at one point it wasn’t really a record, just ideas, and we needed to fashion them into something more cohesive. So I wouldn’t say it was a struggle, but it took a lot of work to get it to a full album rather than bits of songs! Before it was quite ready we booked the studio time just to make sure we had a deadline and give us a kick up the arse. There were bits that were stressful – relatively, obviously, ‘cause you’re in a band! – but it really came out loads better than I personally was anticipating.

You say you’ve been touring a lot but I’ve just had a look at your schedule for the next couple of months and that’s ridiculous.

Yeah, we’ve got a solid month in Russia, China and Australia, and then back to Europe, and then we’ve got UK dates coming up too. So there’s a lot of places to get to in those two months, some of which we’ve never been to before like the east of Russia, Siberia way, which is kind of terrifying but it’ll be great to get into some really remote places. We’ve been to China before. Quite a lot of the things we’ve done in patches over the history of the band we’re now in a position to do it all in one go, which feels good. It’s a real world tour.

Excellent. Well, thanks for speaking to us, guys – enjoy tonight and good look with the album launch. We can’t wait for it.

Fair Youth is out August 25 on Superball Music.

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