Mazes, an experimental indie 3-piece are finally breaking through the barriers and reaching our vulnerable ears. Their tracks are guitar-heavy, but with more abstract melodies and interesting sound effects that add a unique twang that makes them impossible to pigeonhole.
Shuf caught Mazes on the last date of their tour with Parquet Courts in Manchester. Their live show is a monumentally tight operation, a trio with who allow zero room for error. They master their eccentric loopy kraut-rock on the live platform in a fashion that would make many of their heroes quake in their tatty desert boots. They have an unmissable grasp of melody but their handle on rhythms and percussion is something to truly shout about. They came before a show from Parquet Courts that was characteristically freeform but slightly taxing by the final 6 minute amorphous crescendo. Mazes' expansive, rolling breed of indie is truly very exciting. So we chatted to them.
You’ve just finished your tour with Parquet Courts. How was it? What show was your favourite and why?
It’s been great. We just said bye to those guys the other day. When Parquet Courts came over to the UK for the first time in February they stayed at my flat and I did their merch and hung out. They’ve been over so much this year and have literally slept at my flat for about a month on and off. Something just clicked between them and us along the way and we’re just all amazing friends. It’s been wild seeing their rise over 2013 and really fun riding with them a little. We’ve always toured with friends but this last one felt like a family holiday. The shows were all good but Lyon sticks out- our second time there and I always enjoy playing in France and stumbling my way through conversations in French. The crowd were absolutely crazy. It was a Friday night, and for us it was probably the best we’ve ever played. Cool to progress.
‘Better Ghosts’ is a great name for a LP, how did the name come about?
Conan and I were out at a bar my friend Tiger was running and we were all just drunk and talking about movies. Conan has the most vociferous appetite for music, films, documentaries, books and TV, turns me on to say so many interesting things, but he does also have some questionable opinions on movies (laughs). He was putting forward an argument regarding 'Ghostbusters 2' and that’s where the title came from. It’s dumb but it means something to us. Having to explain it over and over in interviews makes me wish we’d picked something with more profundity. But yeah, thanks, I like it too.
What influences can be heard on ‘Better Ghosts’?
I don’t think about music in terms of incorporating influences. I don’t want to pick apart your question because I appreciate you’re interested in us enough to want to talk to me about the band, but I think music writing’s collective obsession with things like influences and the minutiae of being in a band is so boring and me answering questions like that is just perpetuating it. Name me a band and we’re probably influenced by them in some way…ABBA? Yes! Oasis? Yes! I’ve had so many rewarding discussions and talks with music writers about music and I love talking music and bands, but listing things we’re influenced by, for other writers to then just wearily use that as a list of things we sound like is something I’m personally done with.
What’s the worst gig you’ve ever been to?
I’m constantly disappointed at shows but it’s rarely the band’s fault. I think the sound in a lot of venues is terrible. Somewhere along the line people’s ears stopped listening carefully, because if you actually do, you’ll realise most live engineers only care about kick drum and vocals…cheap tricks basically. A lack of DIY spaces, licensing issues, police etc means that bands now play predominantly in venues owned by breweries or big companies, and big surprise; these venues actually care more about selling alcohol. And that actually extends to some of the smaller privately owned venues. There are some good venues, but fuck, there are also a lot of bad ones.
How would you describe your sound to people who haven’t listened to you before?
I haven’t attempted to describe out music to someone face to face in about 5 years. Cab drivers driving us to the airport, my mum’s friends, music writers…it’s just inherently impossible.
Who have you guys been listening to a lot recently?
Ha…well Parquet Courts all month, The Skunks, Cock Sparrer, Proper Ornaments, Tense Men, Fuck Buttons, The Evens, Q And Not U, Piano Movers, Royal Limp, Jessica Pratt, Will Oldham and Unrest.
Any advice for our readers?
Well I’d say if you’re excited by music, you’re into discussing it, you want to be involved, but you don’t play an instrument or sing…then either learn one or get involved in a positive way. The resurgence of DIY culture and the decline of the mainstream music industry seems to have taken a weird turn to me…less people are being pro-active…setting up labels, forming bands, putting on shows, contributing. And more people are just writing about it. I love music criticism and writing, I read a hell of a lot of it but there’s more to life.
I guess it’d be very easy for people to read this interview and for them to think I’m moody or sounding off, but I’m absolutely not. I’m sat here with my cat purring after a really successful fortnight away, completely enthused by music and my friends. Completely psyched on a handful of new records I’m listening to, ideas I’ve had for 2014 and then an alert pops up on my phone via twitter…a mealy mouthed review of a show we played…a bad review and the blog has tagged our twitter handle. Firstly, why the fuck do I have alerts? I’m stopping that now haha. And secondly, what fucking planet do these people live on tagging us in a lame review? I’ve just spent two weeks, driven about five thousand miles playing music to people all over Europe, had a total ball, met many new friends, I feel enriched and this bozo’s contribution is a thoughtless review and then tagging us in it. A bad review’s fine, I’m fine with opinions but jeeeeeesus.
So my advice, if it’s worth a damn, is to contribute. Make things.
Words: Cerys Kenneally