Meet: We chat with Mazes ahead of their new album and European tour dates

My mate once won tickets to a band on Manchester’s GLR. That band was Suicidal Tendancies, they of legendary hardcore metal infamy (they were promoting the track ‘Feel like shit, de ja vu, at the time) I sort of knew this, but when I raised this with said mate, he said they were like the Stone Roses. We were very much into the baggy scene at the time, and although I thought I knew a lot about music, he probably knew about as much as any person I’ve ever met. And in the way that sometimes someone speaks so knowledgeably they can persuade you that black is white etc, so he did to me.

Imagine our horrified looks as well turned up at Manchester International 3 all those years ago… I had Converse, Joe Bloggs flares, my James t-shirt over the top of a stone roses long-sleeved thing, an acid house smiley badge, and it was during the few weeks that I had pierced my ear. The sight in front of us was like one of leather, studs, well-worn jeans, bullet belts, and the like. As we creeped in the back, all (musical) hell was being let loose and worshipful hands we’re raised in the air doing that little finger/index finger thing I’ve often found rather mystifying. Although the music wasn’t really my cup of tea, as it happened turns out the thrash metal community is very accepting of all comers, and as I witnessed my mate, throw himself of the stage, in full Happy Mondays regalia to be caught by the throng, it didn’t seem so bad.

Quite a few years later, I saw Manchester’s Mazes without ever hearing them. I was pretty sure they weren’t like Suicidal Tendancies, and anyway, I dressed fairly unremarkably for every age given my age. What was different was that instead of being overcome by the smell of sweat and leather, I was overcome by this mesmerising band I  had somehow failed to see. Instead of my breath being taken as my mate flew through the air, it was taken by this….noise, this wall of guitar sound, faux garage almost, with this sort of classic songwriting over the top.

Recent reviews of their new album ‘Ores and Minerals’ have been almost universally gushing. They’ve come a long way since an early mix tape they made featuring out-takes, covers and the like. It was enough to persuade the fantastically consistent Fatcat records to sign them up. The three-piece, Jack Cooper (vocals/guitar), Conan Roberts (bass) and Neil Robertson (drums) look to have a bright future…. We spoke to Jack Cooper to find out more….

If you were brought together by a love or something(s) musical or otherwise, what was it?
I suppose just vaguely like-minded spirits. I’m always amazed at the persistent interest in how bands met, where bands are from and how many people are in the band. It’s strange. Who cares? I think these things are becoming increasingly irrelevant. How a band got together is just the same as how friends become friends… common interests, similar takes on life, all that jazz.
But who were the influences that really shaped the music you make?
Anything and everything. We’re influenced by art, music and lives that have happened before ours. That’s all there is right? Name me any band ever and I can probably tell you how they’ve influenced us both positively and negatively.
And if you were to describe to someone unlucky enough not to have heard your songs, you would
I’d go out of my way not to… it’s impossible. ‘What do you sound like?’ is a completely perverse question. It’s like making a sound to describe how something looks.
So, anyway, you got together. What was the next step? How soon was it before you started playing
Pretty quickly… the internet moves things. We had someone wanting to do a 7″ a few days after we put stuff online and they booked us to play as well. Brighton’s sadly defunct Sex is Disgusting Records
You remember that first one with…excitement? horror?
Seems so long ago… Usually just excitement. Slightly dulled by alcohol.
And then you started recording, including a 7” with bowie knives on, right – was that song written
early on?
Maybe the first song I wrote for Mazes although there was a batch of about 5. That was certainly the first good one.
How did the deal with fat cat come about?
They were really into the IBB Tape record Conan released and I suppose they thought we were resourceful. I don’t really know.
Mazes – Bodies (from Ores & Minerals)
You’ve released (new album) Ore’s and minerals recently – pleased with it?
Yeah… We’ve lived with it for so long now. It’s been complete for nearly a year so I see the flaws. I think there are a couple of songs on it that I’d either redo or can. Sucker Punched to me sounds slightly lazy and generally quite wooly…sonically. I like Delancey Essex but maybe it doesn’t fit quite right. Hyper critical stuff… Happy with it though for sure.
What do you think are the main differences between that and the first album (A Thousand Heys)
I think the differences are endless… I wouldn’t know where to begin
How were the writing sessions, did you all throw ideas into a bowl see what came out? Or is there
specific roles?
For better or for worse I write the main body of the song. It’s just how it’s happened and I think the other two are fairly content for that to keep happening. If either of them came to rehearsal with a song idea, I’d be really into it but they both have other creative outlets as well. I guess Mazes is fuelled by songs I write but filtered through Conan and Neil’s unique styles. It’s certainly not a dictatorship… it just is what it is.
If there were 5 words to describe what you were aiming for when recording the record it was….
I couldn’t… we don’t really think like that
And the sessions were fuelled by…………
You play live, a lot – you enjoy that aspect?
Completely… that’s what it’s all about. Records are an excuse to play live
And the most prima donna band/artists you’ve played with is……..
I’ve been burnt too many times to bitch about bands… ask me when you see me
Big European tour coming up……is there anything you’re desperate to see or visit while you’re out
Just Germany in general
The best record I’ve heard this year is….
The Vision Fortune record
Thank You

So there you have it. There’s no need to worry if you’re seeing Mazes without ever hearing them. They’re fantastic. What you should be asking yourselves is – Why haven’t you heard them before now….

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