We caught up with Murray Macleod from The Xcerts, prior to their slot at BFest 2013 in Wick on the 17th of August, to talk about what keeps them going, the follow up to Scatterbrain and coming to Wick for the first time.
The Xcerts have built quite a reputation for themselves, with two very well received albums, a strong reputation for their live performances, several high profile festival appearances and supporting the likes of Biffy Clyro, Idlewild and Anberlin.
It has been a busy year for the boys, although perhaps unintentionally as the plan was to have some time to concentrate on the third album. One of the highest profile opportunities that the band had this year was to play with Biffy Clyro on four dates taking in Sweden, Germany and France. An opportunity that many bands would die for, Murray said of the experience “it was absolutely magnificent… they’re lovely guys, it was a really inspiring trip to see a band like Biffy who have worked so hard, and they really care about their music and their live show”.
With over three hundred and seventy gigs under their belt, it is clear that The Xcerts share that hard work ethos. Murray reflects on his upbringing when looking at the motivation for the band, “being from Aberdeen, it’s a hard working city full of grafters…. I was always taught by my parents if I wanted something I would have to work for it.” Having toured for nearly two years straight is clear evidence of this, “it never really stops for us. We love being in a band and playing music together. That drive to be heard by more and more people, it really feels as if it’s paying off”.
One of their fans is Mike Dulce, frontman for Lower than Atlantis. A very keen advocate for the band having described them in a recent interview as “Great band, great songs, nice guys.” Murray is very appreciative of the support; “We have noticed a few more Lower than Atlantis members coming to our gigs because he keeps on banging on about us”.
In the same interview Mike talked about new material from the band; “I heard them sound check with a couple of new tracks a few months back on their last headline tour. I got that warm ‘new music’ feeling that I haven’t felt in a while.”
Indeed, the band are still planning the release of the follow up to ‘Scatterbrain’, which Murray has described as “The sweet sound of a young man losing his mind.” On reflection he described the album as “Almost a bit of recklessness wanting to be noisy… wanting it to be raw sounding”, clearly Murray still has an affection for the approach to making music. “We did a definitive show at the end of October where we decided that would be the end of the ‘Scatterbrain’ cycle.”
The new album is nearly complete (they are needing to finish off a final track) and they have been working hard utilising the feedback, particularly from ‘Scatterbrain’. In addition, they have been working with Jason Perry on strong structures honing in on song writing that could have been overlooked in Scatterbrain. The opportunity to do significant pre-production work including demo-ing and trying out different producers, is one that they have not been afforded before.
The resultant material Murray explains as being “a big step up” acknowledging that the sound in the new album is “very very different”, describing influences such as Tom Petty and old Smashing Pumpkins, creating “a lush sounding record. “We’ve kinda been told that it’s all there to completely explode, or to completely fail”, so it’s just as well he concludes by saying “we’re extremely comfortable in the shoes that we are trying on”.
The band are currently ‘unsigned’ although Murray notes that the longer they delay a decision about who to go with, the better the opportunities appear. Regardless of this, they have a very clear plan, releasing a single in Autumn and then again in early 2014 when the new album should be ready for release.
In the meantime BFest 2013 is just around the corner, and they are no strangers to the area, having played Thurso a couple of times.It will, however, be the first time that they have been to Wick and they are clearly looking forward to the opportunity. However, they have the small task of driving from Brighton to get there first, although they will afford themselves the opportunity to touch base with their hometown Aberdeen on the way up. After BFest they return to Aberdeen to headline the second year of the Wake the Deen Festival.
See our previous news on the line-up.