No 15: The Maccabees

Riotous Brighton-based quintet offering their own quirky take on aggro-pop, and a biblical name that has nothing to do with Paul McCartney or bees

Hometown: Brighton via Battersea.

The lineup: Orlando Weeks (vocals), Hugo White (guitar), Felix White (guitar, vocals), Rupert Jarvis (bass), Robert Dylan Thomas (drums).

The background: Influenced by "late 60s comedy rockers Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, television cricket coverage and growing up in south London", the Maccabees formed in 2003, having met either through school or football.

Quintessentially British "but not laddish", they saw XTC, Dr Feelgood and Talking Heads on re-runs of The Old Grey Whistle Test - and immediately knew their pop future was to be quirky and aggressive. "We never tried to be a rock'n'roll band," they say. "Pop isn't a conscious decision for us."

Orlando began by rehearsing in his bedroom with drummer Robert, bassist Rupert and guitarist brothers Hugo and Felix White. They started out almost folkishly soft and slow, but as soon as they played live their natural tuneful nerviness and angularity emerged.

The Macabees' debut single, X-Ray, was released on Promise in November 2005 and garnered attention from xfm. Second single Latchmere, issued by Fierce Panda six months later, was championed by Radio 1 DJ Steve Lamacq. It was about going swimming in a well-known pool in Battersea.

Self-deprecating boys, they established a Libertines-like rapport with their audience, who loved their pace, pop sensibility and the now trademark call-and-response vocals between Orlando and Felix.

In late 2006, Robert was replaced by a session drummer following a gig at Concorde 2 in Brighton - the venue told the police they were trying to "incite a riot" while the police threatened to stop any licensed venue in the city from putting on another show by the band. Ooh, anarchy in the UK!

The buzz: After their locally notorious mid-2006 headline show at London's Cafe De Paris, one excitable music paper proclaimed them "the best new band in Britain!"

The truth: They're the best new band with a biblical name in Britain.

Most likely to: Stage a re-enactment in 2007 of the infamous Sex Pistols summer 77 boat trip.

Least likely to: See Johnny Rotten, Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood et al try and gatecrash said 30th anniversary boat trip.

File next to: XTC, the Futureheads, Franz Ferdinand, Pull Tiger Tail.

What to buy: First Love is out now on Fiction. The debut album follows in the new year.

Useful links:


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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