“You don’t want to write a record about being on the road.” – Murray Macleod (The Xcerts)
Before their show with Taking Back Sunday in Manchester, I caught up with Murray and Jordan from The Xcerts to talk a little about the tour, playing to an audience of Charlie Simpson fans, any future recordings and what one man from Plymouth did for twenty quid. You also get a deep discussion about fishing (thank god we’re retiring that question soon).
Anthony Barlow: Hey guys, how’s it going?
Murray Macleod: It’s good.
AB: So, you’re on tour with Taking Back Sunday. How has that been?
MM: Good so far. We’ve only played one show, but it was in our homeland. It was in Glasgow and we were pretty blown away by the response. There was a lot of people singing along, which is kind of unusual for us when we’re supporting a band. Taking Back Sunday were phenomenal last night and they are some of the nicest guys we’ve ever played with. That’s always a plus.
AB: Yeah, that’s always good. How did the tour come about?
Jordan Smith: Well, there’s kind of a Long Island connection: We did our record in Long Island last year, the guy that produced it is good buddies with them from way back and they got to hearing our record. Adam liked it.
MM: I think, at the same time our producer played it to them, one of their best friends, who we had met when we were in New York, also was plugging us to the band. So i think they were getting it from two different people in New York saying “take this band out on tour.” And then, from what we gather, Adam Lazzara bought our record, which is bizarre.
JS: We’re still so pensive about saying it, because it doesn’t seem real. He owns our record and he listens to it. It’s in his collection.
AB: That’s got to be pretty cool?
JS: Very cool.
MM: It feels weird talking about it. He was talking about us on stage and we were looking up listening to him talk about our band. It was like: “What is going on?”
AB: Do you think you guys are received well by the Taking Back Sunday crowd then?
MM: I think so. I don’t think we sound like Taking Back Sunday, but there’s definitely similarities, I think. There’s a lot of common ground there, from what they’re into and what we’re into. I think, from the crowd’s perspective, we’re probably not too far away, as a support band, from what they do. But it varies, in Nottingham it was a cold crowd. And I don’t think they warmed to us all that much. But we played in London and Glasgow with them and both of those shows were great. I don’t know, it’s a tough one. Depends on a lot of things, I guess.
AB: No one asking you to play Reuben covers then? *laughs*
AB: *laughs* Just me then. You’ve been on some pretty big tours this year, the Charlie Simpson tour being the last one. It must have been hard on you guys dealing with that kind of crowd.
JS: They are an interesting crowd. Especially as Charlie has a lot to deal with anyway from fans of his previous incarnations and everybody’s at the show. There’s people there who’ve just heard the record, and people who know him as Charlie Simpson. To go up and face that kind of crowd, especially considering that none of them had ever heard of us before, definitely.
AB: You guys played acoustic for that tour too.
MM: Yeah, it was kind of stripped down. I mean, we had electric guitar and some drums and percussion, but it was nice to tour like that. It was a lot more laid back for us, not that we stress about full band shows, but we really want to play as well as we can every single night to whoever.
JS: There’s a lot more to worry about with full band shows.
MM: Yeah, on that one we were relaxed, which was nice. It felt weird, it kinda felt more like a holiday.
JS: It was casual.
MM: Yeah, it was casual.
JS: There was no gear. It was a really easy load in. It was good. We really got into it after two or three shows.
AB: Has it affected your fanbase being on these tours?
MM: Yeah, the Charlie tour was a resounding success, in fact. It was bizarre. We couldn’t really gauge it on stage, it was weird. I did a lot more talking on that tour. On our own sets or these shows I barely talk, because I just want to make noise. On the Charlie tour we did a lot more talking and a lot more interacting with people, which was really interesting for us. And we could only really gauge it by how many records we were selling at the end of the night. But we spoke to a lot of people, a lot of people have joined us on the social networks and that’s really the only big tour we’ve done this year. So it’s weird. We did the Rocksound tour, a headline tour, and Fu Manchu in Europe, but it’s weird that that was a big tour for us and we weren’t even doing what we usually do.
AB: You say that, but would you have rather done that tour as full band?
JS: With respect for Charlie and what he’s doing, to come on as full band and blow the roof off the place before he comes on and plays his really sweet, Bright Eyes sounding, acoustic music would have been a little inappropriate.
AB: You could have totally stolen the show.
JS: Yes. We could have.
MM: Only because of noise voice.
JS: Yeah, decibels.
AB: *laughs* You’ve said you’ve seen an increase in people interacting with you online and buying the record, do you think these people will now be expecting a new full length from you or something along those lines?
MM: I don’t know. I think the people who are just getting into us are probably excited about the fact that we have two records out.
JS: Yeah, they can go back and get into both of them.
MM: It’s seems like, from what people have said to us, they’re just excited to be getting into us now.
JS: It’s more the hardcore fans that are badgering us for new stuff.
AB: Well, you’ve released the cover of ‘Drinking In LA’. Is that the new direction? Is drinking in LA just de rigueur for you now?
MM: Basically, we’re re-releasing our song ‘Slackerpop’ and we recorded four tracks stripped down, like we did for the Charlie tour, because a lot of people who didn’t see us on that tour were asking about it. So, basically, when you buy the flexidisc of the single, you get a code to download four stripped down tunes. As an incentive to get people’s email addresses we decided to do a cover and that one came up, and we’re all big fans of that song, and we thought we could do a pretty cool cover of it.
JS: It’s a cool song, despite the kinda nihilistic lyrics and stuff.
MM: The guy raps in the verses, so I didn’t have to rap.
JS: You rap.
MM: I do rap.
AB: You should totally rap.
JS: He’s got mad rhymes.
MM: We did contemplate it. The first take I just had a microphone, and we did it pretty raw, and I was like “should I rap?” I was like no “sing it”.
AB: *laughs* I’m disappointed you didn’t rap now. Aside from that you did release the EP in March, any plans for something like that again?
MM: No. We’re going to release this single, and then we’re going to be touring until the end of the year, with that. Then we’ve got some plans to keep touring in the new year and then we’re going to make another record.
JS: We’ll do the same as last time, just do it whenever we find the space.
MM: The first record lasted, basically, going on a year. This seems like it’s going to last longer, which is cool, because it’s going to give us time for the new stuff. When we went out to the States for the second record we kind of had bits and bobs and loose ends with us. I think this time we want to make sure every song is perfect.
JS: It’s better for you, because it’s such a classic scenario for a band that’s just on the road all the time. When they finish touring they have to record their album there and then, so they try to write songs on the road and maybe that’s why you get shoddy second records, or whatever, because a band has toured to death. They’ve got to rush out ten songs or whatever.
MM: You don’t want to write a record about being on the road.
JS: Yeah, no one wants a road record.
AB: Speaking of writing records on the road, you’ve got this new single coming out and you’ve been saying how your fanbase has grown so me, my colleague and Geoff Rickly from Thursday were wondering if we could get bands to donate a percentage of their profits from releases towards a Chuck Ragan fishing show.
MM: Geoff Rickly?
JS: He wants Chuck Ragan to have his own fishing show?
AB: He said it was “his dream”.
JS: How much are we talking?
AB: Whatever you want.
MM: You’re going to be hard pressed to find a band with any record profits *laughs*. I would love to see Chuck Ragan on my telly talking about fishing.