By Damian Jones
The Geordie five-piece talk about burying songs in time capsules, recording in LA and getting over that difficult second album.
Maximo Park singer Paul Smith says their new album is a more dancey affair
"I'm just writing a song," splutters Paul Smith as he picks up the phone in a panic.
"It's about not being able to finish a book," the singer adds, as he tries to catch his breath. "It's a very Maximo Park themed song to write about."
Unfortunately the song in question is unlikely to appear on the Geordie five-piece's new album Quicken The Heart after the band recently tied up recording sessions with Yeah Yeah Yeahs producer Nick Launay in LA.
"I'll probably just record it myself and see if the band like it and if they don't, I'll probably bury it in a time capsule or something," shrugs Smith.
Broken love songs, tales of time obsession and leaving home, are just some of the themes the band tackled as they locked themselves away in late Steely Dan drummer Jeff Porcaro's house.
The mullet haired sticksman, who was also a founding member of Grammy Award winning band Toto, died of freak heart attack brought on by incesticide fumes he sprayed in his garden in the summer of 1992.
"The record was partially inspired by his death," explains the scissor kicking singer.
Smith is renowned for his scissor kicking antics onstage
"But it was more inspiring in the sense that we were in the presence of greatness because we're all big fans of Steely Dan.
"We just recorded in the garage and slept in the same bedroom and swam in the same pool as Jeff," Smith adds.
Although their last album Our Earthly Pleasures entered the charts at number two just behind Kings Of Leon in 2007, it wasn't as warmly received by some critics as their pop drenched 2005 debut A Certain Trigger.
"It sold more than the first record so it meant that more people were getting into the new album," Smith argues.
"I read a lot of reviews which said it was a bit more ambitious but it still had that pop sensibility whereas others thought it was too far away from what we'd done on our debut.
"You're always going to get that. Besides I'd rather be in a band that polarises opinion rather than polarises wallpaper."
Despite returning to their pop roots on their third record, Smith claims that the Geordie five-piece have continued to push new boundaries.
"It feels like a new phase," Smith enthuses. "I think when people hear the new album they'll hear a more danceable groove.
"It's not disco and we've not done anything that's wildly away from what we've done before but I think the guitars and keyboards are more atmospheric."
But the singer admitted that initial recording sessions found the band struggling to find a sense of direction.
"When we were recording the demos we were all pulling in quite different directions," Smith reveals.
"We all said, 'Look what is the best thing about our songs?' We all agreed that pop is the one thing that binds our songs together.
The band recorded their new album in the sunny heights of LA
"What we do is pop art, that very same challenging pop that makes people sit up and listen," he continues.
Songs slated to appear on the record include the upbeat Wraithlike, which was recently released as a download, Roller Disco Dreams and A Cloud Of Mystery.
"That song is one of the tracks that's a bit more dancey for us," the singer explains.
"It's about a girl going to a disco and she's very disappointed because she can't maintain that mysterious feeling she had when she went for the first time."
To accompany the special edition of the album, the band have pieced together a tour DVD from their 2007 homecoming show at Newcastle Arena.
"There are some funny moments on there," Smith giggles. "There's a bit of a Freddie Mercury moment on there at the start where I'm singing along to myself not knowing that someone's filming me."
Quicken The Heart is released on 11 May 2009.