It has taken the Maccabees three albums and five years to find the lush, cinematic sound of their latest album, Given to the Wild. The band was stunned when the album debuted at Number Four on the charts in their native U.K, a higher position than either of their previous nods to post-punk revival – 2007’s Colour It In and 2009’s Wall of Arms – had reached.
“It’s pretty amazing seeing your name above Beyoncé,” frontman Orlando Weeks tells Rolling Stone from the band’s studio in London’s Elephant & Castle district. “We thought that we made something that was not that accessible.” Unlike its predecessors, Given to the Wild was made as a studio record that the band – Weeks, bassist Rupert Jarvis, drummer Sam Doyle, guitarists and brothers Hugo, Felix and recent addition Will White – would figure out how to play live later. “We only learned to play ‘Go’ live yesterday,” Weeks says of the track, “because it has 20 guitars in it and it’s hard to try and replicate it live onstage.” Given to the Wild was released on April 24th, but you can download “Go” for free here.
Influenced by Kate Bush and David Bowie’s Low, the band set out to make an album that had something recognizable throughout. “When we started, a lot of the time we had an idea of what we wanted to sound like, but not be able to express that or put it into words,” admits Weeks. “On this record we put our heads together a little bit more.”
The rock band also enlisted the help of dance producers/DFA Records namesake Tim Goldsworthy and Bruno Ellingham, and stowed away at the famous Rockfield Studios in Wales, where Queen recorded “Bohemian Rhapsody.” “Tim introduced us to a bunch of gadgets and gizmos.” says Weeks. One in particular was the drone commander. “It looks like an ammunition box,” explains Weeks. “Tim gave it to Hugo to play with and we didn’t see the guy for three days. He was just in his room in this seriously unhealthy world of continuous drone.”
“At the end of ‘Go’ we had to add a party that’s like the most drunk people, like 30-40 of us,” says Weeks of the track’s impromptu middle-of-the-night recording session. “Everyone turned up and came to the studio. We had all the words written on the wall, and everyone was shouting obscenities. I have a feeling we picked up some random people between my house and the studio. [Producer] Jag [Jago] was in the control room, like ‘This sounds awful.’ They were very patient for drunk people actually.”