Remember those pigtailed days of red ribbons and candy-adorned cards? When it was awesomely awkward handing the boy with a bowl cut that doily heart ruined by your own spiky cursive attempts? Perhaps if your school desk had been in the middle of a Brighton, England classroom,
one of the Maccabees-to-be would be receiving that valentine.
Flash back to lunch hour, the Holy Grail of all that is secondary school. Most of the band’s current members would have been sitting at the same table. Guitarist Felix White has been buds with lead singer Orlando Weeks since his gawky days (Felix’s brother, Hugo, also plays guitar in the band).
“I’ve known this is what I wanted to be since the first time we played,” explained Felix White, whose British accent is so dreamily thick it nearly makes one forget about how difficult it is to actually make out what he’s saying.
“And it was terrible, in front of like six people, but I always felt there was something correct about us and sometimes the planets just align.”
Despite what you’d think listening to them now, the Maccabees men weren’t always praised for their enthusiastic, pop-strewn approach to indie rock. Back in grade school, some members were “rubbish” at music, claimed White, laughing as he remembered being rejected from singing a class-wide rendition of a Beatles song because of his “broken” voice.
Somewhere under that same school’s fluorescent lighting was an adolescent Florence Welch, who the White brothers have known since Felix was around 15 or 16 years old. Which explains why, if you were to flash forward to late last year when the Maccabees toured across the U.S. with Florence + the Machine, Welch jumped onstage to accompany the five-piece in their darling, “Toothpaste Kisses.”
Turns out high school can leave you with more than ditched classes and cigarette-burn scars.
But the band’s 2012 release, Given To The Wild, is anything but enclosed by off-white brick walls and rusty metal lockers. It received countless raves for its more mature emotional departure from 2007’s Colour It In and 2009’s Wall of Arms. Although the album’s been out for just over a year now, each listen sounds as lush and natural as the first. With titles like “Glimmer,” “Grew Up At Midnight,” and “Pelican,” you’d be forgiven for thinking that the band met as feral nomads, roaming an overgrown England in a search for the ultimate single.
But then, of course, you’d be wrong. And perhaps a bit mad.
“We made our record in South London where it’s cold and gray and quite industrial,” said White. “It might have kind of been a bit of escapism, or trying to paint something different to where we live.” He added, “It was the first record where … we never worried about what we could or couldn’t do live.
And we were very conscious that we wanted it to belong in a different place.”
And Wild will belong to Cambridge, Mass. soon enough, when the Maccabees trek ‘cross the pond this week to grace The Sinclair, serenading away any lingering Valentine’s Day blues (see: hangover) with their particular brand of adventurous pop (not to mention their boyish good looks).
“We’ve all known each other for a very long time, so there is a community aspect to the group,” said White.
“We always feel really close when we play live and I never take that for granted.”
52 CHURCH ST.