Tasty snacks. That’s the first sight that greets you on arrival in the Maccabees’ room at Glasgow Uni’s QM Union. A lengthy table groaning with tasty snacks.
Around the room various Maccabees are seated in laidback poses. Hugo White, a long-haired gent with extravagant pointy shoes, is the first to greet me. I nod to Orlando Weeks, the lead singer, at the other side of the room.
Having been ushered by the band’s publicist to an antechamber across the corridor for our interview, Orlando’s first act is to compliment me on my t-shirt. For some reason this prompts me to explain that I had attempted to dress like a music journalist for the day.
Orlando: “You did it great! You’ve got your leather jacket, the cords, the Velvet Underground t-shirt and a notebook. The only thing that’s missing is the shorthand and then you’re 100%!”
I make a final check that my mobile phone is recording our conversation, necessitated by my lack of shorthand, and then we get underway.
The band’s new album, Given to the Wild, is their first to crack the top ten in the UK. In terms of its content it’s quite different to their previous more romantically inclined efforts.
Orlando: “I didn’t want to write love songs necessarily again. I wanted to find something that I felt was worth making a point about or really thinking about because it takes me ages to settle on lyrics. I felt like writing about family.
“Seeing friends have babies and that kind of thing makes you think about your own situation and your own family. My brother had just moved abroad. It felt like that was just worth spending some time thinking about.”
Pelican, the catchy lead single from the album, crops up halfway through the record rather than at the beginning. The reasons for this relate to the band’s desire to create a natural flow through Given to the Wild.
Orlando: “It’s a big commitment listening to an album, in a way. It’s maybe 45 minutes or an hour of time. We wanted it to come across as something that hopefully people would give their time to so we wanted it to have an introduction to ease you into it.
“I think if we had started with one of the more poppier up tempo ones then it would have been a bit more of a kind of slap in the face and not gently encourage you to commit yourself to the time it takes to listen to an album.”
We discuss the fact that with the advent of iTunes and Spotify less and less people are listening to albums these days. He tells me about the Paul McCartney album he’s bought and failed to listen to. This leads naturally to me having him sign my 7” Pelican single.
Orlando: “I think it’s really important to hold the thing, because I also got, on iTunes, I got the Arthur Russell one, Love is Overtaking Me. That’s a great album. I don’t have it, it’s on my computer and now it’s on my iPod or whatever, but I don’t have it.”
I wish Mr Weeks well for this evening’s gig, thank him for his time and then he’s gone. Drawn inexorably back towards the tasty snacks.