Maximo Park - 07.05.12
The following is a mini interview of generic questions that we posed to all bands that wanted to answer:
1. How did you get your band name?
Maximo Gomez Park is a place named after the Cuban revolutionary in Havana. Duncan, our guitarist, saw the park on a documentary and was inspired by the open and frank discussions that the people were having in the park as they sat in the shade, smoked, played chess etc. He liked the idea of starting a band in which everyone had a say. It set the tone for our band in which we consciously try to be as democratic as we can in our decision making.
2. How did this band get started?
We came together in 2001. We were all living as University students in Newcastle in NE England, and we knew each other from the music scene. We played in different bands and had become friends. So when all our respective bands dissipated, it made sense for us to join forces.
3. What bands are you influenced by?
At the very beginning I'd say bands like Pavement and Super Furry Animals - bands writing catchy, but odd pop songs. In the those early days Archis, our bass player, was the main vocalist. Paul Smith was the last to join the band. The rest of us knew we were writing good songs but we wanted to have a singer who could really be a front man and concentrate on singing and performing, as way of us really getting through to an audience. Paul was playing in an instrumental band at the time and we had no idea if he had a good voice. But his presence on stage told us that he could be the last piece in the puzzle.
4. If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
Too many to mention! There would be plenty of big hitters on our list - The Band, Neil Young, possibly even Queen. We've played with The Stones twice on their European tour in 2006. They have literally hundreds of crew on tour with them. It's insane. This year we're hoping our festival travails bring us into contact with the recently reformed Stone Roses and Black Sabbath.
5. Best food to eat on tour?
Australia is pretty much the best place to eat - they seem to be able to do massive portions but with healthy, fresh ingredients. So you get a big burger but it's topped up with fresh avocado and peppers and salad so you don't feel so bad. Germany deso amazing Caramel Wafers, or Stroopwafels, which taste great but have a ton of sugar. And Paul insists on Coke Zero everywhere but its hard to find on main land Europe. I'm looking forward to going back to the States and indulging in a guilty pleasure - Jack-In-The-Box.
6. Why should people listen to your band?
I think we do something which not many bands are doing at the moment which is to write emotional, passionate lyrics which you can keep going back to and find fresh meaning in, and to set them to frenetic, melodic music in short, efficient and often weird, pop songs. Basically we aim for your head, heart and feet all at the same time.
8. If you won a Grammy, who would you thank?
My girlfriend of course! (or she'd dump me!). And then all the people around us that have helped us; the same people that artists usually thank - management, label etc. We'd also thank a friend called Jont Watson who lent us enough money when we first started the band, to produce our first 7 inch single which ultimately got us enough attention to be offered a record deal.
9. If you could change something about the music industry, what would it be?
It would be great if big labels were required to take on a certain amount of new artists every year. It seems these days that its very difficult to get the support you need as a very new artist because the labels are playing it safe and concentrating on their more established acts.
10. Memorable tour experience?
I watched the recently reformed Faith No More in Hungarian festival 3 years ago from the side of the stage and witnessed Mike Patton taking a dirty festival shoe from the audience, unthreading the lace and feeding it down his throat. He then noisily threw it back up while the band played on. I managed to film it - its on YouTube somewhere.
12. What is your favorite song to play?
We did a cover of Donna Summers 'I Feel Love' recently for Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1 and that was really fun - we made it pretty abrasive!
13. What is your vacation spot of choice?
At the moment I'm looking forward to a few days in Paris next week. There's some great record shops that have loads of African stuff that's much cheaper than you get in the UK. And the food is always great in France.
14. What music reminds you of your childhood?
The first pop song I remember getting excited about was Shakin' Stevens' 'Green Door'. I think I was 4 or something.
15. If you could have any super power, what would it be? Why?
I wish I could always remember how to play our songs so we could play any song we wanted whenever people asked - we have so many know we can't possibly keep them all in our heads at the same time. But it would be great if we could.
16. Any pre-show superstitions or rituals?
Our ritual is to avoid rituals. Personally I do a few stretches so I don't hurt myself on stage after sitting in a tour bus all day. I saw Bruce Springsteen at Glastonbury and noticed he was steaming as soon as he came on stage and I later learned he throws a bucket of water on himself before the show so that any sweat patches that appear don't show up. I do a lesser version of that - and wear a wet t-shirt on stage.
17. What is something that most fans don't know about you?
I played French Horn better than I played piano at school.
18. What is your assessment of the current state of radio? Do you think it's a place where your band could flourish?
Radio is a mystery to me. I'm always surprised when we get played on radio because I think we're too weird to get played on such a big platform.
19. What do you like to do in your spare time?
When I'm home from tour, I'm usually getting back to normal health eating well and I do quite a bit of Bikram yoga which is the hot one, so I'm ready for the next shows. Then I go and ruin it all on tour, and have to start again when I get home.
20. What kind of hidden talents do you have?
I can twist my tongue all the way around.
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