INTERVIEW

You can’t call yourself DIY until you’ve mixed your tracks through a Sony TV

Photography by Tom Cockram

Photography by Tom Cockram

YOU CAN’T CALL YOURSELF DIY UNTIL YOU’VE MIXED YOUR TRACKS THROUGH A SONY TV

“It’s easy being in a band that do too much together, practice too much and think about it too much,” says Mazes’ main man Jack Cooper.

You would have thought the secret to being a good band is hard work, unending toil and disciplined graft. And not having members living in different cities. But think again.

“I think if we all lived near each other,” Jack says, “we’d probably practice more and we’d talk about the band more, and this just keeps it all really fresh. The fact that we’re not together that much, when we are together it’s fun, you know.”

We all know how troublesome long distance relationships are, but Cooper reckons being in a long distance band – drummer Jay is up in Manchester with Jack, while guitarist Jarin is down in London – has its benefits.

“We have to be sort of really picky about what gigs we do, which sort of works in a good way, I suppose, as the temptation is just to play everything you get offered. It gives us some spontaneity around it, not being too practiced.”

Their sloppiness live on record fits perfectly, though – the latest vanguards in the still-growing DIY scene that’s also brought us blog-tastic bands like (to pick a few) Pens, Times New Viking and Wavves in the last few years, Mazes are gloriously in thrall to scratchy Kiwi punk-rock; if it’s on the Flying Nun label, they probably dig it. Think the lo-fi fuzz and clatter of The Clean and The Chills, mixed in with a dollop of Manchester’s own The Fall.
“I think all the Flying Nun stuff, the way a lot of those records were recorded there’s a real excitement about it ’cause they haven’t had the time or the money to spend like weeks in the studio getting everything right and learning their parts.

“There’s a spontaneity and excitement about it that I always really loved. Those first Flying Nun records are so exciting to listen to and that’s definitely something we wanted to do ourselves.”

As well as sounding ace, their DIY approach means they can get a lot done in a short amount of time.

“Just occasionally we record,” explains Jack. “Jarin will come up and we’ll do something. We’re pretty quick as well – the first time we did 5 songs in one day then the next time he came up we did another 4 or something so it’s pretty easy, it doesn’t seem like a big deal.”
Formed by Jack in Manchester last year, the trio haven’t bothered getting a bassist as, “Low end doesn’t interest [them]”.

Making their first recordings around Christmas time, they’ve played live only around 15 times, and have – surprise, surprise – only practiced three times. All their recordings have been tracked on a Tascam Portastudio and then mixed – get this DIY fans – on a Sony TV.
“I don’t have any speakers,” explains Jack “so I put it through this TV and it sounded pretty good.

“It seems like people always ask that – although this is our first proper interview really – but people always say, ‘Jack, did you really mix it on that?’ like it’s a gimmick or something, but no, I’m playing a record through it right now actually.

“It’s not some analogue tube thing but it sounds pretty good. Most people don’t have any good speakers, they always listen to stuff through their laptop or shitty iPod headphones. I suppose I could buy some proper speakers but I’ve got better things to spend my money on.”

The technique seems to be working so far – tracks like forthcoming single ‘Bowie Knives’ are thrillingly dirty ditties on the right side of both punk and lo-fi geek-rock, harking back to a more magical time of analogue hiss and cassette worship.

The music industry is a corrupting place but it’s good to hear not everyone wants to sign to Columbia and re-record their songs with Rich Costey or Paul Epworth – in fact, Mazes are tying themselves up deliberating whether or not re-recording their songs on the four-track would be going against their ethos. Steady on guys.

“It’s very easy to kind of get carried away, even with people MySpacing you and saying they really like it,” Jack says. “I know lots of people who’ve been in bands and they get signed and it just becomes a completely watered-down version of what they originally intended, and I don’t want that. You have to analyse why you got into music in the first place.

“I’ve got a job, I don’t want another one,” he laughs. “I don’t even want that one.”

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Originally published in issue 8 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. July 2009

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