Headlining the Eyesore Merch Stage at Damnation Festival in Manchester this year were eclectic instrumentalist supremos Maybeshewill. Guitarist Robin Southby and drummer James Collins spoke with Paul Castles just prior to their performance at the BEC Arena.
Hi guys, good to see you both, have you been happy with how the year has gone for the band? You’ve been able to play several notable festivals, including Damnation today of course!
Robin – I would say that we have adopted a more selective approach this year. We’ve not played loads of shows but we have played some key festivals like Dunk!Fest in Belgium and Portals in London. Brutal Assault was a bit weird for us, as we’re not technically a conventional metal band. But it was really interesting to be on a line-up with seriously heavy metal acts and thankfully we had a good reception there.
James – In many ways it’s been quite a contrasting year compared to how busy they used to be. It’s been a relaxing year and it’s been nice to get out of the UK and play some cool festivals.
So you have just re-released the band’s first two albums on vinyl, what was the thinking behind this?
Robin – I suppose in some ways this has been a contentious issue for the band. The place we were at when we made those records (Sing the Word Hope in Four-Part Harmony and Not For Want of Trying) is quite different to where we are now, both musically and as band. Those albums were put together on shoestring budgets. We did it for free basically, just borrowing stuff, winging it a bit and that may showed a little in the production. But they are both still well liked albums.
James – That’s true, there is a lot of love for those records which is why we have released them again, putting them on (coloured) vinyl for the first time gives them the status they deserve.
Looking back now, 15 years or so later, are there any songs you no longer like?
Robin– There are songs there that I don’t love, it is what it is, but it’s part of our journey as a band.
James – Yeah, it’s a bit like looking back at your teenage years. The records reflect what we released back then and how we did it, we’re certainly not not ashamed of those albums.
How have the band’s relationships grown and evolved with time? You were students when you first met in Leicester?
Robin – We don’t tour as heavily as we used to thesedays, but you naturally develop a strong bond like a family when you tour a lot.
James – When you come back it’s still there, like seeing old friends and the line-up has been consistent since about 2010.
What were the circumstances that lead to the band calling it a day in 2016?
Robin – At that point it just felt right thing to do at that time. We had done a really big tour, a were probably a bit burnt out. There are lot of pros to touring but it can put a strain on things. In 2016 when we played Koko in London that was the last show. That was how it felt to us and we I was not sure we were going to have the opportunity to play together again.
James – We did it for a solid 10 years of hard graft and just needed a bit of a change. We needed to press ‘stop’ and spend some time away from the band. Relationships evolve over time. We still had respect for each other but we were just exhausted – there was no big falling out. That Koko show was very emotional, in my mind that was our last time on stage together.
As we know now, that wasn’t your last gig – so what was the spark that brought you back together a few years later?
Robin – We were contacted by Robert Smith (The Cure) who was curating Meltdown at the Southbank in 2018. There had been some sharing of ideas between us but Meltdown made us rethink things. We got together for the show which went well and coincided with some ideas for new music.
James – Yes, Meltdown was the trigger, it may not have happened without it.
During this second phase as a band, is the approach noticeably different?
Robin – Well yes, the way we write has evolved. In the early days it was me and John (Helps) writing together in a bedroom, then when we started writing again the pandemic was with us so we had to write remotely. On the last album, No Feeling is Final, we did get together towards the end of the process to play it out, finish things off, and it worked out ok in the end.
James – I moved to Bristol , Robin is in Sheffield, so we’re a bit more spread out now. There isn’t the same opportunity to get together and rehearse in a room twice a week. This our fifth album, so we’re a bit more experienced around the process. It’s important not to be afraid of things, to embrace accidents, explore new things with that freedom of new ideas. It takes a bit of time and trust for a band to reach that point where they are comfortable with change.
Have you ever regretted being an instrumental band?
Robin – No, we have never had a problem with it, it felt an exciting at the time when we started the band.
James –It’s created a lot of opportunities for the band, if we’d had a vocalist, I don’t think we’d have played in Europe, China, Russia, it’s opened more doors in many ways.
And finally, hopes for2024?
Robin – We are at a very early stage of writing new material with a few bits underway but we’ll just see how it goes. There’s no rush, no pressure, we’re in control of what we do, we’re not being hounded by a label
James – We have settled into the idea that we won’t tour as we used to, don’t want to give things up that we now have, we don’t want that hard slog approach. There’s a limit to how hard we push ourselves, before it was having a detrimental effect on us.