Rivalries may be commonplace in British indie music, but more compelling are the genre’s musical alliances, like that between indie-rock juggernaughts The Maccabees and Mystery Jets. A decade in music has seen each outfit undergo sonic evolutions and outlast passing fads, responding to shifts in the musical landscape through their art. Their mutual circumstances have established a relationship between the two groups, that sees them sharing a stage for The Maccabees’ sell out farewell tour this month.
Following the second sold out show at O2 Apollo Manchester, Mystery Jets will DJ at a special afterparty at Band on the Wall and have dutifully selected four fine Maccabees numbers for a playlist, as well as discussing the band’s respective musical journeys.
Yourselves and The Maccabees released your respective debut albums within a year of each other, and despite only a decade having passed, the music world has changed vastly since then. How have you experienced and weathered change and do you see parallels between the trajectory of yourselves and the bees?
‘You’re quite right, the music world is incomparable to what it was a decade ago. I think there are many reasons for this, one of the main ones being the advancement of the internet as a consumer tool for the enjoyment and dissemination of music.
The first releases from both of our bands appeared on a series of self-designed 7-inch singles, featuring rare cuts and live recordings of their b-sides, they made for a beautiful collection of a band’s early progress, displaying a visual language as well as a sonic one. This has been lost and it was once an essential part of a band and record label’s modus operandi.
There are many arguments for the pro’s and cons of the internet, its a myriad question that is constantly evolving and throwing up new ideas and new ways to listen to music. Being in a band during the last decade has meant engaging with this and making the most out of the change it’s bought upon us, it’s also affected our relationship and attitude towards music. The music world has experienced several ‘ground zeros’ in recent years and though this has been painful at times for those making the music, perhaps ultimately it has been a healthy thing.’
You’ve picked five key Maccabees numbers for our playlist, can you walk us through your selections and tell us what you dig about each track?
Pelican: ‘I think this represents the Maccabees at a real high, it brings together the best of all they do. A touching lyrical sentiment from Orlando mixed with the propulsive rhythms of the drumming and bass playing and the intricate, weaving melody lines of the White brothers. It’s a distillation of their sound and it’s brilliant.’
Toothpaste Kisses: ‘I love this track, it’s the sound track to my early twenties and I can’t help thinking of unrequited hearts as they jostle about at the indie disco…good times.’
Spit it Out: ‘This is the Maccabees doing desperate and angry, a side to them that I love and that they do very well. You can’t lie with a song like this, it cuts straight through the crap and it reveals something of the process they must have been going through whilst making their final record.’
Dawn Chorus: ‘I love everything on their last album ‘Marks to Prove it’ and this track in particular is beautiful…an amazing closer to a great album and potentially the last thing we’ll ever hear from them.’
It’s to your credit that you’ve explored many different sounds across your recording career. Do you think the desire to explore and push yourselves, both in the studio and the writing room, is the key to the longevity of groups like yourselves and The Maccabees?
‘I believe so, it certainly plays a big part. I think more for our own sanity and sense of interest we have to keep pushing onwards and trying new approaches.’
You’ll be behind the decks at Manchester after party – do you have a philosophy where DJ’ing is concerned and are their certain tracks that never leave the record bag?
‘There are certain tracks that stay with you when djing, ‘Idioteque’ into Mount Kimbie’s ‘Made to Stray’ is one such combo that always works. I think you’ve got to walk the line between playing the music you love and also giving a great ride for the crowd, something memorable that they can get into…there’s nothing like the feeling when you’ve got the room in the palm of your hand and all moving to the sound.’