Arts + Entertainment

insideSUSSEX Exclusive: Interview with Orlando Weeks of The Maccabees

We caught up with The Maccabees lead singer and guitarist, Orlando Weeks, for a chat about their number one album and a return to familiar grounds, heading back to Brighton to showcase their new album at Brighton Dome.
interview by Adam Ready

Congratulations on your fourth album, Marks To Prove It, going to number one in the UK album chart back in July. How did you and the guys celebrate?

Thank you! we were on an aeroplane to Bucharest going to a play festival!

So it was a celebration at 20,000ft?

Nearly. We were sitting on those uncomfortable seats waiting for that ‘would row 26-something-or-other come to the desk, open your passport on the right page’, and oh, you’re No.1! It was good, we’d never been to Romania before and it was great, we had a really nice time and they really looked after us out there.

The 3rd single from the album, “Spit it Out”, was recently released. Has this been your best work to date?

I think it’s been the strongest set of singles we’ve ever had; I think all three of the songs fit pretty easily into a festival set, and that speaks volumes, and they have gone down well over the summer festivals.

“Toothpaste Kisses” was picked up by Samsung for an advert campaign in 2007, now with over 10.7 million plays on Spotify. Did you imagine the impact it would have?

I don’t know how much is to do with the commercial, but I definitely didn’t think it would be like that. I wrote it on a tiny half-size guitar on a tour bus somewhere, and ended up using that guitar on the actual track.

We were nervous about using it on an advert because it would get associated with that, but it didn’t get shown enough for that to happen, although I remember doing a gig in Belfast and a girl came up to ask for a light and said, “Oh I quite like the Maccabees (she didn’t know I was in them…) but they’ve got this awful saccharine, nonsense song, Toothpaste Kisses, and I just leave when they play that one!” I’m sure that song has done good and harm in equal measure.

Studying in a thriving music town at University of Brighton, what were your favourite venues to hang out in?

I loved The Freeb (The legendary Freebutt)—it was sad when that went. That was my favourite place to see a gig and play a gig. We’d done two or three gigs before playing Brighton, but that definitely became the first  place where people started queuing to come and see us play rather than just our mates!

So you’re back showcasing the new album at Brighton Dome on 23rd November, are we in for any treats?

Yeah, I think we are going to change the lineup a little bit; I think we’re going to have a percussionist, a single brass player and Rebecca playing the piano. We’re going to try and find a way to play as much of the new record without sacrificing the option of playing some of our old songs and it’s going to be one of the first times we’ll be playing some of the new songs too, so we’ll be finding our feet a bit but it will keep us on our toes!

I think anytime we play in Brighton it feels like we’re playing to a friendly crowd and The Dome is great. I remember seeing Kings Of Leon there, and sneaking ‘round the back with our passes to see some of Skepta backstage, and I’m hoping it’s going to be the same vibe.

How was your appearance on Jools Holland, how is it doing TV?

It’s an odd thing to do because you’re trying very hard to sustain the atmosphere of the song you’re playing, but could come before or after a completely different atmosphere. It’s pressured but I think we did alright!

Where do you find inspiration for your lyrics?

When I’m doing the lyrics I’m trying to find little phrases or words that I can build around. I’m going to spend a lot of time with these lyrics, that’s the way I think about it. I need to feel like they are substantial enough to me in terms of what they mean or that they are worth thinking about for a long time, and I’m not going to get sick of them or question their sincerity.

What’s next for The Maccabees?

We’re off to America and Mexico for most of October, and then were back to start trekking around the UK including Brighton in November.


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