The Maple State

By paul

This interview was conducted by Paul and Greg, vocalist in The Maple State.

PT: Hello the Maple State! How are you all today?
TMS: Hello Punktastic, I think we’re all great today, just got back from rehearsal and I’m listening to stay what you are by Saves the Day, thinking back to a time which was oh so simple.

PT: The Manchester Evening News recently described you as Canadian. I’ve always had ‘concerns’ about John, but is there something you need to tell us all about your nationalities?!
TMS: Yeah that was pretty weird, lazy journalism! No we’re not from Canada, although John did recently go to North Dakota in search of the money they buried in Fargo.

PT: Things appear to have gone quiet for a while, so let’s go through a few points over the last year just to clarify matters. You went to Chicago last year and did a few songs with Sean O’Keefe. They went on purevolume for a bit, but (I think) have since disappeared. Is there any chance they will ever be released?
TMS: We did indeed go to Chicago. The recording we did over there was basically to see what we could do, up until that point we’d recorded all our own music with Andy Farrer so we’d never actually done anything quite so professional before. The tracks are floating around on various compilations and websites, those recordings will not be featuring on an album, but that’s not to say we won’t ever revisit those songs. And yes it did go very quiet for a long while with us, last September after the Motion City tour we all started university, we’d built up a whole lot of momentum over that year and despite our best efforts to keep it up, it was inevitable that university would get in the way. And we all know now that it wasn’t what we should’ve done, but we finished our respective years and picked up where we’d left off as best we could.

PT: How was the Sean O’Keefe recording experience and how was Chicago and the MCS show, compared to what you are used to back here?
TMS: Recording with Sean was incredible, he’s a perfectionist and when you’re working on a timescale like we had it got pretty intense, but he knew what we wanted to achieve and he delivered some amazing tracks. He’s definitely someone whom we’re all open to the idea of recording our full-length with. The MCS show was crazy, we’ve never played outside of England so to go over and play to two thousand people was pretty strange, but it went really well, despite being about 2 degrees inside the venue.

PT: You came back to being named the best new band in Big Cheese magazine’s end of year poll – how did that make you feel? Was it a surprise to receive such an accolade so early in your careers?
TMS: Ha yeah that was cool, I had a copy of it in my room at university and my lovable neighbour was like “what the fuck is a big cheese magazine?” needless to say he wasn’t impressed with the title they’d given us. But yeah it was a nice way to end the year.

PT: Next came dates with Gym Class Heroes, The Academy is…, Motion City Soundtrack, Junior Varsity and Get Cape. How were these shows, many of which were in London and sold out. Any funny show-related stories to tell?
TMS: That was a hectic time for us, with us all studying in Manchester and Leeds; we’d be driving back from London at 5 in the morning and walking straight into lectures. But there were some amazing shows, I don’t know about funny stories, I found Aiden in our dressing room at the Junior Varsity show, which was pretty funny. Oh and when we played with the Academy is… in Birmingham Christian and Will fell through a hole in the stage and Christian broke his foot. It probably wasn’t too funny at the time I don’t remember, I know he played a whole half hour set though before collapsing.

PT: In June you went to record even more songs with Andy Gill, ex Gang of Four, who also recorded with RHCP. How did that recording session go and how did it differ from working with Sean O’Keefe? Which songs did you record during this session? Will they ever officially be released?
TMS: This was pretty weird for us, after the rush job of recording in Chicago, this was the complete opposite. The whole thing was being paid for by a label so we weren’t limited in a monetary sense like if we had been funding it ourselves; I think we were down in London for 5 weeks. It had both good and bad points, Andy Gill is an amazing guy so getting to know him and work with him was awesome, and the freedom to experiment with anything we wanted was great. But I think when you spend so much time on something, constantly altering and improving you get to a point where it’s like; well how are we going to know when to stop? So it came to something of a strange end. Again we currently have no plans to release any of these recordings.

PT: I was reading Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography and within it he was very critical of Andy Gill’s methods. How did you find him to work with and is he someone you would like to work with again?
TMS: Haha, well Andy was pretty critical of Anthony Kiedis’ methods so I think that’s an area best left untouched. We loved working with him, he had this great attitude of, “try it, and if it doesn’t work it doesn’t matter” so he did open us up to trying things we probably wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

PT: After this recording session you did dates with Say Anything. How did you find that tour? Again, any funny/interesting stories to tell?
TMS: To be honest this was a tour of two halves, the first few shows were pretty rough on all the bands, but once it got going it was awesome. I got to watch Max sing ‘a walk through hell’ every night, what more could you ask for? And the London and Manchester shows we’re just incredible. What is it with you and your damn funny stories Savage? I think John was pretty priceless in Glasgow when we went to a club after the show and our tour manager got thrown out for carrying illegal substances, then when we left the club a bit later, a drunken John asked the police men at the door if we could have our friends drugs back, they didn’t take too kindly to it.

PT: During this tour I know you were asked to do a series of tours, such as the Paramore one, but you turned them down. Why was this so?
TMS: We did what we thought was best for our band, if the shows had been bigger we probably would’ve considered it, but at the time it wasn’t the sort of thing we wanted to do. At the end of the day we’re not a pop-punk band and we didn’t particularly feel it was a tour we’d be suited on. That’s in no way meant to offend Paramore or any pop-punk bands for that matter; I mean we went to watch New Found Glory last night! But like I said we just did what we thought was best for us.

PT: How was In the City?
TMS: It was buzzin! We played three shows over the weekend and they were all packed out, it was just a hell of a lot of fun, and on the last night there were people who we’d seen at the other two shows and they’d still come down to watch. It was a good thing for us to do, we’re based in Manchester but we’ve never really been involved with the Manchester music industry. We’ve always had the emo label next to our name so I think a lot of the more hardened indie folks just expected My Chemical Romance, but we’ve had loads of good feedback and people taking interest who might otherwise have previously overlooked us on principal.

PT: OMG!1!!1!!! You’re now indie sell-outs that changed your sound to cash in on an indie trend! Discuss.
TMS: Indeed, you’ve got some lovely folks on your forum hah. It’s always the way though, people seem to have trouble accepting that bands move on and change. Since writing our EP two years ago, we’ve written and recorded like 40 songs or something, so our sound has gradually expanded on what it was. It was bands like hot rod circuit, the anniversary and brand new that made us want to play music in the first place, these bands have all allowed themselves to develop within their song writing at some point or another, its a natural progression. We’ve never been too interested in what the current trends in music have to offer. For us there is no predetermined path; there are four of us who write together so over two years we’re going to draw inspiration from a lot of different places. But it doesn’t bother us, some people get accustomed to a certain sound which they associate with a band and they don’t like to hear that change. I look at when we re-recorded ‘the city is…’ from the EP with Sean O’Keefe and although the new version was so much better we still had people saying we’d ruined the song or whatever, so we just have to continue doing what we enjoy, and if people dig it then it’s a bonus.

PT: Moving on to the label side of it, earlier this year you were kicked off Punktastic Recordings because you wouldn’t share your drugs and hookers with us, or something. I know there’s no drama, but can you explain to all the kids what went on!
TMS: Basically kids Mr and Mrs Punktastic Recordings agreed to release our EP at a time when no else would give us a second look; we thought this was pretty good of them. There was no contract; no agreement to release multiple records, just a whole load of faulty EP’s that needed re-packaging by hand! (Not Punktastic’s fault though I’ll have you know) and when we sold out of the EP that was the end of our original agreement, until we decided to print more. I wasn’t aware there had been any drama about this either, but I’ll say now that in the most official of senses; there was no drama.

PT: In the following months I know a stack of labels got in touch with you and are still talking to you. Is it true that some of the bigger labels/majors will wine and dine you and literally do anything you ask? Has anyone asked for a jar of blue M&Ms or anything equally ridiculous?
TMS: There is a certain amount of wining and dining involved, but its more beer and curry after a show rather than fancy Italian restaurants, although we have been taken to one or two of them too.

PT: Did any of them meet you in a pub at a train station? (For those who don’t know, the TMS/PTRECS deal was done and dusted at Leeds train station!)
TMS: A Weatherspoons I believe? I’m afraid not Paul, we’re yet to re-reach such heights.

PT: You have a single coming out in the New Year. Which songs will feature, which label is it out on, do you have a date for release, and will it be CD/vinyl etc?
TMS: We do, the single is a song called Joanna, we recorded a demo of it last year but due to killing a hard disk we never got around to finishing it, so we’ve gone back and re-worked it, finished it off so to speak in the way we originally envisaged. The B-side to the single is called Wood and Rain. It’s being released by the Manchester indie label High Voltage Sounds and should be available on itunes and limited vinyl on the 29th January.

PT: I also heard you’re planning to do a video for it – is this true? Any themes/concepts in the works for it?
TMS: We had some awesome ideas but when we met with the label and some video directors it became apparent that our plans were a bit beyond what our budget could cover, so it’s probably going to be quite a low-fi video, but John will look fit so it won’t matter.

PT: This moves us on very nicely towards an album. As we’ve so far found out, you have a veritable feast of tracks, some recorded and some not, for a full length. Have you decided who will record it, what it may be called, which songs will be on it and when it may be released?
TMS: Right now we have no idea about an album, we are talking to labels but we are yet to sign anything, we know who we’d like to produce it, and I’m sure some of the songs we’ve put out online this last year will be on it. But until then we are continuing to write and demo new songs so we’re yet to know ourselves really what may or may not end up on an album.

PT: Who made the decision to let Christian sing?!
TMS: Well Christian comes up with a lot of the melodies anyway and he’s always running around the stage shouting them, so Andy Gill suggested we give him a microphone, so far its been working out pretty well.

PT: Will the new single come with a step-by-step guide from Christian on how to robot dance?
TMS: Not since the broken foot, maybe he’ll release a DVD in the future who knows.

PT: Do you have any dates planned for next year at all? You seem to get asked it on your myspace every day…
TMS: I know we’re doing some dates at the end of January with a band called Data.Select.Party (members of the Riverclub) as they have a single out around the same time. But fingers-crossed we’ll have some others tours to announce pretty soon as well.

PT: Who is your biggest ‘celebrity’ fan? Did it surprise you when Mark Hoppus emailed asking for a track to be used on his pod cast?
TMS: Yeah that was top! I’d just been out with some friends at uni and I was way too drunk and excitable to be reading emails like that. A girl in my halls had a Blink poster on her door, and I have some vague recollection of waking her at 4 in the morning to tell her Mark Hoppus just emailed me, I’d never spoke to her before…or since. And I use to listen to Bad Religion all the time at school, so I thought it was amazing when Josh Cain first told us Bret Gurewitz is really into us.

PT: In no more than five words, what does the future hold for The Maple State?
TMS: Dating, Marriage, Parenthood, Retirement, Death.

PT: Also, does the future freak you out?
TMS: No, on the whole everything is alright!

PT: Greg, the floor is yours!
TMS: Our single ‘Joanna’ is out on High Voltage Sounds in late January, and we’re playing one last show this year on the 22nd December in Manchester, its going to be a good one so if you’re around please come enjoy it with us.
And I’d Just like to thank you Paul and everyone who writes for and reads Punktastic for their support over the past couple of years, and also to congratulate any one who has got this far into the interview, it’s been a beast to answer!

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]