In 2005, five young boys from Newcastle, England, known collectively as Maximo Park, released A Certain Trigger upon the music world. Four years down the line, they’ve released their third album Quicken the Heart and are bringing it to Australia to close off a big year. Sitting down to talk with front man Paul Smith, I can feel his excitement for everything that has happened over the past year in support of the new album.
“People have been really into it. I have to say, I’m pleased with that reaction. It’s always weird because you go out and play your new stuff and people obviously go crazy for your old stuff and I’m glad to say that kind of fervour has seeped into the responses of the new songs as well.”
Paul is casual in his demeanor yet smart in his dress, a man who knows what he is talking about and believes every word he says. Every day is a new day of excitement and adventure. Having been the third billing on the main stage at Reading and Leeds festivals this past August, Paul is still buzzing from the whirlwind that has been 2009.
“It was brilliant. As soon as you look out into a sea of faces that big, from when you tread out from behind the curtain, it takes your breath away quite literally. For the first song, you end up struggling for breath and I jump around a lot anyway so when I go out there on the stage with that kind of mentality, that I’m going to give it everything that I have.”
Very open to sharing everything, there is no sugarcoating with Paul. It takes away from the connection between him and the fans and, at the end of the day, that is what really matters.
“I believe in the songs so much, you get straight into the swing of it and I think the crowd can see that. Giving anything less than 100% is not an option. I’d feel like I was cheating people.” The sincerity in Paul’s voice reaches out, like the whole point of Maximo Park is beyond just making good music, but creating a lasting experience for everyone involved.
“That is kind of the perfect evening really, when the crowd understand that and they give you their own emotions back on a grand level. When the volume of the crowd reaches fever pitch and when the actions and the sound of the band has this resonance inside. We put in the same sort of energy and commitment every night to make sure the connection happens and the crowd are the other part of that. Once it kicks off, everybody remembers it.”
After hearing that, I trust that any show Maximo Park play is far from boring. Given the upbeat music and their energy and dedication, Australian audiences are curious as to what’s in store for the local shows. “We always try and blend the new album in with the older material and try to play as many songs as we can off our last two albums without disrespecting the new ones. I think people can expect that the bulk of the set will come from Quicken The Heart but we don’t shirk our responsibilities to our old songs either. The Australian crowd will get the best we can offer.”
The idea of going into every show that hard, all year round amazes me. Paul says he is a bit tired but it doesn’t show in any way. Talking to him feels more natural than talking to most of my friends. Down to earth and pleasant, we talk about keeping it all fresh, so the music doesn’t become repetitive on the road.
“I think it is important to stay creative on tour and not become stagnant and do the same stuff each day. If you can just find a couple of hours each day to stay sharp, whether it is going for a swim or doing something else like drawing that frees you up a bit and takes you outside what you have to do.”
We keep talking about the joys of traveling around the world while on tour and being able to play to so many people but we sadly run out of time and he has to be off to his next interview. We shake hands and start to head our separate ways, as he calls back to me:
“Come to the show, you won’t be disappointed.”
I have no doubt in my mind that he is correct.