A great song can change your life or at least make you re-evaluate certain aspects of it. It can become a legend that affects all different kinds of people. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION‘s ‘Behind The Song’ series wants to explore the stories behind those songs, in the words of the people who wrote them.
2005’s A Certain Trigger by Newcastle-based indie rock formation MAXIMO PARK is without doubt one of the most important and critically praised debut albums of the past decade. Critics and fans will confirm that to you anytime and we already told you about that two years ago. 12 years later the band arond charismatic singer Paul Smith is still going strong while many other former competitors have vanished. April 21 will see the release of Risk To Exist, the band’s sixth full-length studio release. And the first teasers are leading us to believe that the urgency within the furious sound of the four-piece is still very much alive. Still, you can’t and shouldn’t ignore the legacy of these guys. So, before taking a big step into the future of MAXIMO PARK we’d like to take a trip back to a time 15 years ago when these gentlemen just started. On NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION guitarist Duncan Lloyd explains how Graffiti, one of the key tracks within the group’s back catalogue, came to be and how it was actually the foundation for A Certain Trigger and the rest that followed.
I was living in my hometown of Derby around the start of 2002, having moved back in with my parents as I was heavily in debt from my student loans. I got a job waiting tables and washing pots to make ends meet. But between working hours I spent my time writing and recording songs on my 8 track, music was like a kind of salvation for me. Through experimenting on the guitar and bass I developed a new rhythmical and driving playing style, that little break through lead me to writing Graffiti. The lyrics were based on a memory of my art teacher’s daughter who was the same age as me. She had come into my university to visit her mum and that’s where we briefly met.
The song was about our own small rebellion, it was about having had enough of our situations and daring each other to cut loose. The original lyric was ‘Let’s do graffiti as you sing to me in French, let’s go electric and paint the walls’.
The middle section was the verse at first, it was a little too mellow & there’s an early recorded version where the song is more of a monologue of memory. I changed that soon enough as I wanted it to have a vibrancy and urgency that I was craving from music that wasn’t there at the time. One afternoon, as I finished my shift, I got a call from our drummer Tom. He told me he had a spare room in his flat in Newcastle with a months rent covered & asked if I wanted to give the band one more try…I thought for a second and figured I had nothing to loose.
When I arrived at Tom’s we recorded the demo with drums and then played it to Archis and Lukas. Listening back together we all realised we had something special. A few short months later Paul Smith joined the band, sensing the romance in the song he sang his vocal over mine and altered a few lines, adding , ‘What are we doing here if romance isn’t dead?’ It rounded the song off nicely & along with Going Missing, was our first collaboration.
Warp Records signed us up after hearing the two songs and we set about recording an album at Eastcote Studios in London with Paul Epworth. With Graffiti the feel of the home demo was so immediate that all we had to do is capture the same spirit, nothing else needed changing, it was all there. Epworth and engineer Al O’Connell got great performances out of us, at the time we thought it could be the only album we’d ever make so it meant everything to us. When fans sing that song back to us with such force and passion, even now, it can be an overwhelming feeling. To make a positive, relatable connection with people on that level is hard to explain but seeing it bring people together is an amazing moment. In retrospect the song came about the right way, by that I mean it was instinctive and it expresses something that is a genuine emotion. I’m proud of it. Everybody in the band adds their personalities into the song and that makes the song what it is, which is a very special thing.
If you love to revisit the legendary sound of Mid 00s indie music, we highly recommend you to check out NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION‘s epic playlist, specifically designed for that cause. Click right here.