Last week, our pants were charmed off by Maximo Park‘s Paul Smith. The lead singer, along with the rest of the British alt-rock crew, will return to Australia this coming New Year for Falls Festival. He was wearing an “I am the great cornholio” t-shirt at the time of questioning.
Where are you and what are you wearing? Umm, I am in my bed in Newcastle because it’s about 9:15PM here (laughs). Embarrassingly, I am wearing a Beavis and Butthead t-shirt that says “I am the great cornholio,” which I was dared to buy at a Walmart on our recent tour in America (laughs).
Having been together for a few years, do you still travel and work well together? We actually get on better these days than we ever did I think. As time goes on and you get to know people, it can go one of two ways; there’s no doubt about that. Sometimes people can sort of fracture apart, but I think we understand each other more than we ever did and we are all so grateful that the band exists.
What would you be doing if the band didn’t exist? Maybe I would’ve been a part-time music teacher. I don’t really know! The other week we were in Aragon, Spain and I remember one of the guys saying: “This is amazing. Look at where we are and what we are doing.” It really is amazing (laughs).
Congrats on the release of The National Health a few months back. Are you happy with its response so far? Yeah, of course. We haven’t released a record for 3 years and we were freaking out a little bit, thinking that maybe people wouldn’t even want to listen to us anymore, or if people would even pick up on it. We felt we’d made a good album but you just don’t know (laughs). We have had some great feedback on the record now and playing the songs live is a great way for us to measure how people are enjoying the record. I personally don’t read reviews because I feel it can destroy your brain (laughs). I don’t want to become an egomaniac with the good things or become a depressed, bitter man with the bad stuff (laughs). So, I just leave all that stuff alone.
Is writing a damn catchy chorus something you think about heavily when writing songs? Well, it is something that we are more aware of these days. We just like to take our time to write good material that we can all be happy with. I guess the fact that we do write catchy songs is just something that comes naturally to us. We’ve tried a few different things over the last few records but one of the things that just keeps coming back is the catchiness. It’s just one of the things that defines us.
You’re heading back to Australia later this year for the Falls Music Festival. Are you getting pumped? That line up is incredible. We are playing alongside some great bands. It makes us feel we need to step it up and try to be as good as these bands (laughs). It’s also a great opportunity for Maximo Park to showcase who we are and what we do to a crowd of people that may not even know who we are. It’s a big deal for us.
Are there any other acts on the bill that you are looking forward to seeing, or even meeting? I’m actually scared of (laughs). It’s just really awkward when you like somebody and you get all nervous about what to say when you do cross paths with them. You don’t want to tell them that you like their band straight up because they may just see you as some groupie that has sneaked in backstage (laughs). We did meet the guys from Beach House when we were playing at the same gig in a place called Gateshead, near Newcastle. They were really nice people and I’d like to meet them again. We’ve had Bombay Bicycle Club support us on tour before, so it’ll be great to hang out with those guys again too. We ran into Hot Chip in a corridor at a festival in Germany a few weeks ago and I very embarrassingly said: “I really like your music.” I really hope they don’t remember me (laughs).
I’m also really looking forward to seeing Sharon Van Etten, her new record is great. Hopefully if I get to meet her I don’t embarrass myself too much (laughs). Just rock up in your Beavis and Butthead t-shirt. Perfect, I’ll do that! Steer clear; I’ll be way too cool (laughs).
If you could create the ultimate band, whom would you have in it? Wow, this is the toughest question. Okay, here goes. I’d choose a three-pronged guitar attack made up of Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) and Dave Pajo (Slint). That would involve lots of weaving guitars in and out of each other (laughs). On vocals I’d have Elizabeth Fraser from the Cocteau Twins and Otis Redding doing a bizarre duet (laughs). On bass guitar we’d have Bootsy Collins and Larry Graham for a bit of funk and, on drums will be Levon Helm from The Band. We’d have to have Brian Eno in there somewhere too, just creating chaos (laughs).
Stream Maximo Park’s latest and fourth studio LP The National Health:
You can catch Maximo Park at this year’s Falls Festivals, held in Tasmania and Victoria over the New Year. Get all those details on the link below.
Before you go, consume their massive hit of 2006. Here’s ‘Apply Some Pressure’: