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The Maccabees-Wood Panels

Ellen Gallagher talks to Hugo White of The Maccabees

You released your second album, Wall of Arms, in May last year. How would you go about describing it?
I think it’s a much better record really. I think for the first record we had just started and we wrote a collection of songs that weren’t necessarily going to be on a record together. It is great for what it is and we were really happy with it at the time, but with this record we were starting again and it felt like we literally had to sit down and think, “Right we have got to write an album.” We thought about it as creating a record as a whole, as a unity. That was quite a major difference.

Do you think the success of the first album and the fame it brought affected the way the second album came together?
No I don’t think so, I wouldn’t say it was fame and success or the bright lights or anything! [Laughing] I would say we felt more confident and more capable as musicians, we had learned a lot in that way and I think you learn a lot from playing shows all the time.

This album’s sound is much thicker than the last; there is a brass section and extra percussion. Was this a conscious decision?
Yeah it was a decision. From the start of the record we were writing songs and purposely leaving space in certain things for additional instrumentation or there’d be guitar parts written to be played by brass. We had a lot of ideas. At one point, it was going to have no guitars on the whole record which would have been a disaster but we luckily decided to rein stuff in on the stupid ideas and we settled on just having a brass section. We thought it would be a quite nice identity to the record. A lot of the noises on the record, the depth of it, was us creating things — weird guitar noises, and then sitting them under the track. We had a bit of fun in that respect. We created a bit of depth to it instead of it being a wirey, indie guitar sound.

The title track of Wall of Arms, deals with your views on religion. Was this something you wanted to address considering your name’s religious connotations?
They’re Orlando’s lyrics really. There’s not really a relation or attempt to make people think we are religious, we don’t really care about that. We didn’t even know what it meant when we chose the name! I don’t think the lyrics are trying to say anything in relation to our name, it’s a separate thing.

What can we hope for from the Maccabees in the coming year?
Hopefully we are going to get another record written, and that’s a daunting thought because it was such a long process before. It was two years of locking ourselves away! It’s a scary prospect but we are excited at the same time.

Will you be applying the same techniques: writing with other instruments in mind?
This time the idea is to take a little bit more of a separate approach — with certain things on the first record we did like that but for a lot of it we were all in the room and we would battle things out until they worked which was a really long process and made it really difficult at times, although it had its benefits. I think this time there is the idea in place that we are going to try and write a lot more individually before we even meet up, so that everyone has a whole thing so we can bring them together and see where we are. We will see what happens but we will make sure it’s right.