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Interview: Maximo Park

Last week we caught up with Duncan Lloyd from the mighty Maximo Park about their new album and tour! Here’s what he had to say…


 You are about to embark on your first tour since 2014. Are you excited about it and where are you looking forward to playing the most?
Yes definitely, we’re excited to be playing new songs & a fresh set from our past albums so there will be a fair few new & old surprises for people to enjoy. 
We haven’t played in Aberdeen for a while so getting back up there will be great, Bexhill & Falmouth are new places for us to tour so it’ll be exciting & interesting to see how the shows go. It’s hard to pick favourites though! It’s always a pleasure for us to play to people all across the U.K.

You’ve been together for quite a few years now, you must have some great stories about life on tour. Have you any fond memories that you’d like to share with us?
Visiting China was very special, we were one of the first alternative bands to play a tour out there, we visited the Great Wall, played Beijing and then Shanghai which is one of the most futuristic cities to experience ,  just like being in a scene from Blade Runner.
There are smaller pockets of memories that pop up now & then, like getting up in the middle of the night when we were driving through America & watching the vast landscape for hours.

Since the retirement of bassist Archis Tiku at the end of the ‘Quicken the Heart’ tour have the dynamics of the band changed and who have you called in to replace him?

Archis was such an important element to the band & it was tough when he left as he & I started the band together & I think all of us miss having him around. He’s a brilliant writer in his own right & he’s a good friend so to find a way forward was daunting initially. 
We wanted to keep moving, so recorded ‘Too Much Information’, I took to covering most of the bass on that album but around the same time we heard our friend Paul Rafferty from ‘Hot Club De Paris‘ was available to play for us live, we knew he was a great player from touring with him so we asked him to join.
 It’s not only taken the pressure off but it has also opened things up again. Paul is a really versatile musician and has been able to find his own space in the group and adds his own style to whatever we’re working on.

Your 6th album, ‘Risk to Exist’ is due to be released on 21st April. Can you tell us a bit about how it came about, what motivated it and how long it took to record?
We wrote the album over a period of about 18 months & recorded it in three weeks, so the songs are very fresh. Musically we wanted to get more space in the songs, less layered, more focused and there was a loose concept for it to have the feeling that you could dance to it throughout. 
Personally I wrote a lot more songs on piano & bass rather than just guitar & approached them with a more minimal method of writing, I liked the idea of having the four instruments coming in & out of songs rather than us all playing at once all the time. Paul’s lyrics took on a more political slant, a reaction to how hot the political climate was & is, whilst still managing to focus on more personal messages & relatable moments between people. 
We recorded it in Chicago with Tom Schick, it’s all pretty much live as we wanted to capture a truer snapshot of what we are really like as a live band.

Who came up with the title ‘Risk to Exist’ and what is the meaning behind it?
Paul the singer came up with the idea after seeing an article about MOAS who help save refugees from drowning whilst trying to escape to a better life. The lyrics were inspired by these events & it felt direct and fitting as the album title.

Although your previous albums have all had something of a political message you seem to have stepped it up a game on this new album. Was this intentional and to what extent was it influenced by the events of 2016?
As we wrote & 2016 unfolded it was kind of inevitable that the album would be influenced by what was going on. We didn’t set out for it to be an overtly political record but the observations felt right in a non preaching way & naturally became part of the album’s finished picture.

 I’ve listened to the title track from the album and it seems much closer to your roots in sound than your previous album. Would you say that’s the case?
It’s very instinctive & that’s how a lot of our earlier stuff was written, so that definitely makes sense. I was aware after writing the music that it was a more instant and reactionary thing, Paul responded to it straight away once I’d sent it. I guess that’s something that’s always been in the band’s make up that we can’t get away from!

 You drafted in Low’s Mimi Parker for vocal support on the new album. What made you choose her and will she be joining you on tour?
We have been big fans of Low for a long time & it so happened that Mimi had recorded with Tom Schick in Wilco‘s studio before. We thought we’d chance asking her as we were thinking some of the songs could do with an additional, warmer vocal tone. 
She liked the tracks we sent & came to Chicago to sing, it was truly great to collaborate with her. Live would be a little tricky as she’s in the States but you never know!

Since being signed in 2004 Maximo Park have secured over 1.5 million record sales and had four UK top 10 albums. Did you ever think the band would reach that level of success when you first started out? 
There was always a feeling that we could break through as we knew we had good songs, the atmosphere at gigs was also very different & exciting but we couldn’t read where it would lead.

Having already experienced such a level of success how do you keep finding the motivation to keep going and to write new songs?
I tend to write most days as musical ideas have always been there in one form or another. Rather than finding motivation it’s more a matter of being focused & making sense of those ideas, basically not getting too lost in music. It can feel like an addiction or even an illness sometimes.
As not every piece of music I or the other guys write is for the band, it means that when we do get down to writing Maxïmo Park songs, it’s like a fresh start.

One of my all-time favourite tracks from Maximo Park is ‘Books from Boxes’ – such a beautiful and relatable song. Do you have any favourites? 
Thank you , we are all fond of that one too. Hmmm that’s  tricky as it always changes !
There’s a new song called ‘What Equals Love?’ 
Like ‘Books From Boxes’ it came out of nowhere, from my head, straight through my guitar, all in one go. I like those the best as there is no real explanation to where they came from.

What are your plans for the future of Maximo Park?
Well we are about to head out on tour which we’ll carry on into next year. I have a solo album coming out on May 26th called 
I O U O M E.
In terms of new Maximo Park songs, we have a few put to one side, ready to work on if & when the time comes for another album.
Maximo Park being their UK tour next Thursday, you can still buy tickets here.
Pre-order their new album ‘Risk to Exist’ here.
Ellie Roffey

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