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The Maccabees 'clear conscience' for LP

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter

The south Londoner's spent a month walking past the gravestones of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison in Paris whilst recording - no wonder their new album is so haunting.

The Maccabees
The Maccabees' second LP Wall Of Arms is out now

Esteemed punk rock prophet Billie Joe Armstrong once said: "Nice guys finish last."

Not strictly the case. The Maccabees might be one of Britain's more well-mannered indie rock clans but it hasn't prevented them from getting ahead, so far.

In 2007 the five football playing pals from school built one of the most urgent, instantly magnetic breakthrough albums [Colour It In] of that year.

But new album Walls Of Arms has seen them toughen up, bring the pace down and gather their thoughts.

Calming influence

"Definitely less frenetic," begins guitarist Felix White describing the sound of their new deeper sound. "The darkest thing we've done.

"One of the goals to make a record that was exciting, but not always fighting for your attention - the intention was to make a record that wraps you up a little bit more."

Watch: No Kind Words by The Maccabees

It's seen the band debut new elements such as brass for the first time to create an altogether more coherent LP.

"We knew that we wanted something, some kind of embellishment along those lines without being a gun-how second album throw the kitchen sink at it," says Felix. "I suppose with the muscularity of the songs, that brass kind of lent itself."

Looking back, Colour It In was a sharp-edged box of pointy, hurried riffs and inexperienced abandon. Albeit a thoroughly charming one.

At the sake of slowing things down but not ironing out any of the endearing kinks, the band enlisted the skills of producer Markus Dravs [Coldplay, Bjork and Arcade Fire] and decamped to, amongst other locations, Paris.

"I think he was very aware that he wasn't making an Arcade Fire record or anything like that - it wasn't like, 'What button did you press to do that?'" says Felix.

Parisian sessions

Removed from the distractions of home the band bunkered down in the French capital for four weeks at the tail end of 2008.

"We weren't weary berets or anything like that hoping it would channel its way into the guitar playing," he laughs.

"Just us five in a house walking through this cemetery [Bagneux] everyday to get to the studio," he recalls. "Its got Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Jim Morrison are buried there so it was an eerie but beautiful place.

The Maccabees
The Maccabees will play this year's Glastonbury festival

"It was the kind of thing you envisage when you dream of going away with and making a record with your mates in your band.

The result was a renewed, previously unattained focus and balshy confidence.

"When you're isolated like that the only people you know are your people everyone has to switch on and care about it."

"And to know that our conscience is clean so much as we think it's good and we think it's the best we could do.

"Good bands - the next set of songs they write from the last lot should be better. We shouldn't be dried up. What are we early twenties? We've kind of just learnt."

Now with Wall Of Arms dropping into the top 15 of the UK The Maccabees embark on festivals with Glastonbury [Other Stage], Reading and Leeds and T In The Park all inked on the calendar.

"The nice things about our gigs are that the people who come to them have a positive spirit and hopefully a lack of cynicism," concludes Felix. "People just go with things, which is how people should behave."

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