Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Maxïmo Park Interview

My interview with Paul Smith from Maxïmo Park appeared in Drum Media to coincide with their appearance at Playground Weekender. Here is is:YOU CAN RELY ON ENGLISHMEN MAXÏMO PARK TO GIVE THEIR ALL AT THE PLAYGROUND WEEKENDER, AS FRONTMAN PAUL SMITH TELLS ROB TOWNSEND

“It’s certainly a surprise to us,” Maxïmo Park singer Paul Smith tells me when I ask how it feels to have struck such a chord in Australia that the quintet has been invited to be one of the main acts at this year’s Playground Weekender. “We still live in the North East of England and we consider ourselves quite an independent band, so to play on the other side of the world was something we never anticipated at the start of things. I think as time goes on though you realise how similar people are. It’s almost a cliché; you end up on the other side of the world and the songs still mean the same things.”

Maxïmo Park arrives at Playground with a proven festival pedigree. Last year the band played at Glastonbury and blew headliners Razorlight and Red Hot Chili Peppers off the stage at the Reading Festival. Smith, whose charismatic live performances see him pull off all manner of acrobatic jumps that would give lesser men groin strains, says his group always aims to blow people away whether they are playing to thousands or just a handful. “I don’t know anybody who puts in as much physical effort as us. I don’t think anyone could ever say that we gave a lacklustre show or that we dropped the level in any way. At festivals we’re not trying to be these introverted, tortured artists. All of the tortured bits go into the writing of the songs and then after that they’re there for everybody. We’re not going to step on some guitar pedal and get the big stadium sound; we’re actually going to play some songs that have been built to move people in their structure, in the lyrics and in the way we perform them instead of relying on stadium rock tricks.”Anyone who has witnessed Maxïmo Park’s previous gigs in Sydney will understand why their Playground Weekender show is so highly anticipated. “We’re lucky because we get to play to enthusiastic crowds wherever we go,” Smith beams. “It’s something I am extremely grateful for. It helps us put on a great performance if the crowd is going nuts. In Australia there is the same intensity that we get at our English shows. The live performance is something we’ve worked really hard at; to be as tight as we can without losing that raw feel. I think it is quite a rare mix, to have a band that is quite serious about the music but that also has fun when we play live.”

While Maxïmo Park’s indie-pop melodies and boundless verve are indeed well-suited to festivals, they take great pride in the fact that their lyrics go deeper than the usual winning festival formula of simple, chant-along choruses. Smith is a lover of literature, which naturally leads to his lyrics being particularly carefully crafted and emotive. “Sometimes I wonder whether I have over-complicated matters by making the lyrics quite ornate, but I think when people watch our band they can say ‘This guy actually cares about what he’s singing about. He has taken the time to fashion something.’ I think it is something that endears us to people.”
Considering Smith is so passionate about the written word, it must be quite a feeling for him to see crowds across the globe singing his lyrics back at him. “I do get a lot of personal satisfaction out of it,” he admits. “But not too much because you’ve got to have a hunger to keep getting better. I feel like the songs are universal enough for people to really latch onto what they’re about but they’ve also got really specific personal things that give them a bit of detail. There is also something visceral and immediate about them.” In his Geordie accent, and with focus and enthusiasm, he continues: “We’ve always loved the fact that music can cut through to the core of a person; a song can come on the radio that changes your day. We want to try to get through to people like that, but if you want to get through to people in that manner then you’ve got to have something meaningful to say that feels fresh to the listener.”

And with work on the third album well under way, is there any chance that we will hear some brand new material at Playground? “We’ve just come up with a really straightforward pop song with big riffs and a garage band chorus so, yeah, there is a good chance that we will play one or two new songs in Australia.”


Anonymous said...

I'll do grafitti if you sing to meee in French!

Love this band!!!

Anonymous said...

have a good birthday in brissy paul

Anonymous said...

Lovely interview..thank you,I enjoyed reading it.Paul and Maximo should have more awards from the music industry,they are very overlooked by the right people.

bobbysix said...

Thank you for your kind comment. It was a pleasure to talk to Paul. And yes, I think they are a very underrated band. Much more intelligent than they are given credit for.