Maximo Park - 'we've always been outsiders'
- By Jack Preston -
- Jun 20, 2012
“We’ve always been out of sync with what’s going on in the music scene,” explains Maximo Park keyboardist Lukas Wooller, as he tries to make sense of the world his band have recently stepped back into following their lengthy break.
“We were lumped in with bands like The Futureheads when we started out in 2005, we didn’t feel that was right. Paul’s [Paul Smith, lead singer] lyrics are very direct and emotional – we didn’t think anyone else was doing that at the time. Other bands were trying to be cool, we weren’t cool but our musicality had a lot more depth and passion. We had things that set us apart, but the frustration at times was that it felt like it was getting overlooked.”
Until last week it had been over two years since Maximo Park released an album, marking a significantly longer period of time between records for the band than at any other point in their career. The early signs for ‘The National Health’ look good, with a string of positive reviews, however as Wooller explains, it almost didn’t get this far.
“We went through an introspective, soul searching period before beginning working on the album. We’d written and toured three records, if we’d have kept on pushing at that rate we would have been burned out, no question. We had to ask ourselves if we wanted to do another record.”
Although finding the answer to the question was clearly not the end of the band’s problems, with the Geordie five piece having to put aside differences before work could begin: “To get the record done we had to go back to basics, find a point where we could all agree – that was more difficult than we anticipated.”
“We had to wipe the slate clean. So we scored a silent film. We literally locked ourselves away in the studio for a month and churned this weird, instrumental piece of music out. It was nothing like Maximo Park, but it let us clear our heads. Once or twice it nearly went the other way though. “
Satisfyingly, the record itself presents to the listener a picture of a band in full harmony, or at the very least all pulling in the same direction. The rough edges and dead tracks that blighted their previous release, ‘Quicken The Heart’, have disappeared. “We had a policy for this record, we didn’t want to let anyone get away with anything that was lukewarm. You can be a bit lazy at times and it’s hard when your friend brings a song to the table that isn’t great and you have to tell them so. It was a tough process.”
Enigmatic frontman Paul Smith’s lyrics have not sounded so direct and purposeful since they first graced indie playlists, while the complete listen, with its fuzzy guitars, pinging keyboards and pulling choruses, could not sound anymore ‘Maximo Park’. The decision to not only stick to their sound, but to further define it, may have come as a surprise in some quarters. With some survivors of the indie massacre, such as the aforementioned Futureheads, choosing to reinventing themselves in order to stay the course.
“We came to the conclusion that we had to stay true to what was quintessentially us, it would have felt untrue to have made a deliberate change in our sound or to try and fit in with something that we thought was more current.
"There’s something that we have that nobody else can do, we have to be proud of that. Maximo Park means aggressive, emotional, catchy music.”