Max Raptor are back, they didn’t exactly go-away so to speak, but the UK’s finest politically and socially charged Punk band are finally bringing new music our way. Announcing their signing to Hassle Records, Max Raptor have also treated us to a new single ‘Blue on Red’ which is available for download through their website maxraptor.co.uk for FREE.
We caught up with Wil, Matt, Ben and Pete in Birmingham as they supported God Damn on a recent UK tour to talk about the new EP, signing to Hassle and Britain First.
New track, the first taste of Max Raptor on Hassle- is this an indication of what’s to come?
Matt: Why do you not like it?
Ben: Immediately on the defensive!
Wil: I think that the new tracks are not more of the same, and are a bit of progression from the first two records. The four tracks we are releasing on the EP in November are all quite different actually, sound wise.
Ben: That started so badly, “it’s not more of the same” again like we are trying to defend ourselves.
As though we’ve got an issue with the same sort of songs?
Ben: It is not the same categorically.
Matt: We like them!
Ben: The new Max Raptor “we like them”.
Matt: It’s going to be good.
You’re in the studio at the moment (or in and about the studio,) is it all written and you’ve just got to track them or is it still a work in progress?
Matt: Well to get these four songs we’d written about twenty-five, and we’ve whittled them down to four!
Wil: Lots of those will go on the album though.
Matt: You always want to strive to write more, because you never know what you’ve got coming up when you write stuff. So we’ve gone from twenty-five to the four that represented us the best I think. Even though there are four tracks they are different because there is a range of sounds.
Ben: They deliberately fit together across the range of the EP.
Wil: It almost feels like a little mini album.
Pete: Essentially we went into the studio with complete tracks and with the fifth set of ears being the producer Jag Jago he helps us tweek them a little bit.
Wil: Its a new producer as well, because we did the first two records with Dan Weller. This time we’ve worked with Jag, he gets it, we get on really well and he’s made us work hard. We’ve definitely got what we wanted out of it.
How does working with a producer work?
Matt: They are all a bit different.
Wil: You take the tracks that you want, maybe six or seven options for four tracks and you go through them and they are pretty much finished, but you just go through them and chop some bits out that you don’t really need. When we first started out we used to write songs with huge instrumental bits or massive intros, but you don’t need that- you just want to go straight into the track else its boring.
Pete: Like I said, he’s like a fifth set of ears so we might be like “this song is super cool” and he’ll be like “here is something else, we could add these little touches” so that’s essentially his role. As well as recording it.
Matt: What you find as well, when you are on a roll writing songs you might write sort of four or five ideas in the space of a couple of weeks. But because you focus on riffs and chorus shapes, I often find that song five has exactly the same structure as song two, because you aren’t necessarily thinking about that- you’re thinking about what’s going on. We all just have a big Sound Cloud account and Jag listens and he’s constantly writing notes and telling us “try and extend that a little bit” or “write something a little bit different because that’s too similar.” Its really really good, it’s like a constant process.
Wil: (In an American accent) It’s song therapy!
Matt: And we’ve got shit Loads more to do for December as well. Woo.
Are you recording it all as one? Because I know we’ve spoken before, and because you are all scattered around the country the creative process is done apart- but will you all head into the studio in one location?
Matt: I think we are going back down to Brighton in December for a couple of weeks, so we’ve just recorded the EP which is coming out in November, and then we head in to write the album in December with release in March/April hopefully depending on how stuff goes.
What have Hassle been like as a Record Label, have they just left you to get on with it?
Ben: They’ve been excellent, all the in-put has been really good. I think it helps that they’ve worked with a lot of bands that we’ve been A) been friends with and B) looked up to quite a bit.
Pete: I think it’s been a little more hands on this time, and we’ve gotten involved and they’re fully supportive of that as well.
Matt: What’s nice is that they always come to us first for ideas, which is really important. Instead of being like “We think this” they are more “So what are you guys imagining for this” and as Pete said, we’ve all gotten more involved in stuff whether it be the artwork or lyric videos and stuff. They are very open about everything, so if we’d love to do X they’re just like “Well that’s going to cost too much to do” and we’ll go back and re-work it, or the other way around. They’ve been really really open since the very start, which is really good because again new producer, new label, everything is new this time around. We’ve even got him now (nods towards Ben) which we didn’t have for the last one.
Have you been sitting on the announcement about Hassle for a while, because I know when you did the tour with Emp!re you were hinting at announcing stuff…
Matt: Honestly, it all took a while, we’ve been talking to them since December of last year. It’s on-going, we started talking to them, then they wanted to come to a couple of shows. They’ve got their own rosters, and they’ve got to make sure we fit. They seem like the kind of Record Label where, if they are going to do it, they are going to do it one hundred percent. They won’t just do something half arsed, which is awesome. But because of that we have to fit in with their release schedules- when we want to release, and when they’ve got cash available, the whole thing has to time in. Start of the process we went in for just meetings, then started listening to demos, then started coming to some shows, it’s been a long long process but now we are Here which is cool.
In terms of content, Max Raptor are quite political, and originating from Burton on Trent. Britain First are currently planning a march in the town, what are your opinions on that?
Matt: Absolute waste of time.
Wil: There are lots of extremist factions in this society we live in. Britain First they don’t stand for the majority, they are just a minority that don’t actually have anything to stand for, and they take that out on other minorities. It’s not good!
Matt: It’s just an odd way of thinking.
Wil: It’s better that you can see them, because if it was underground that would be even more dangerous.
Ben: Although the armoured camouflaged jeep patrols they’ve been doing is a bit fucking next level.
Wil: The trouble is with that, they’ll recruit people no doubt. It’s just a lack of understanding I guess.
Ben: They’re also massive propagandists in a clever way.
Wil: They pray on peoples fears! We won’t be marching with them, that’s for sure.
Matt: Haven’t got the time, too busy ! New record and all…
Leads onto the new single, ‘Blue on Red’ is it what it says on the tin? Is it really important to you, to get a message into the songs?
Wil: Yeah definitely, makes things more interesting and it’s a point in history that you can go back to and say “that was happening at that time.” ‘Blue on Red’ is about the two political parties becoming exactly the same thing, but we released that and then Jeremy Corbyn got elected !
Wil: He’s going to shake things up. A lot of people won’t agree with some of his more extreme views and policies that he’s going to try and pass though, but that’s good because he’ll take on the Tories.
Ben: It just drags the conversation in the opposite direction to which it’s been going for the last couple of years. Immigration being a numbers game- instead of a peoples game- and stuff like that.
Another of the themes on the EP is depression, and specifically depression in men. Is that something that is a personal thing, or is it simply an issue you feel is not being talked about as loudly as it should be?
Wil: It is probably the only song that I’ve written with a personal approach, I think it is making that song represent your feelings for a certain period of time and I think it has come across. You haven’t heard it because it hasn’t been released, when you do you’ll get it I think.
Do you think with it being so personal it’ll be hard to perform?
Wil: Yeah, I think so but it’ll be good at the same time because I think a lot of people will be able to relate to it.
Ben: Be nice if it opened up a few conversations as well, because it is not something that is as well documented as it should be, or sensitively approached as it should be.
In terms of the rest of the year, anything else planned? Any Christmas shows?
Wil: We’ve got a gig in a brewery!
(This was the answer we were hoping for… The Local Christmas show is a Max Raptor tradition…)
Matt: We can’t say too much because it’s not been announced yet. We may or may not be announcing shows, one of which may or may not be on the 21st November and it may or may not be in Burton. I don’t know? Yeah, we’ve got a few little bits coming up because we want to go out and play these songs, but for us it is straight back into recording again. Next year is going to be really really busy, which is great and we’re going to be taking the first step into Europe which is going to be exciting for us. But rest of this year, we’ve really got to just write more songs and play some songs out, because that’s the truest test. Even if we play a song that’ll change completely when we record it, it is nice to know that people will respond to different bits and that’s really cool.
Plans to do a headline tour? Because you’ve done a few co-headline tours of late.
Matt: *(!Sensitive Exciting News Removed!)* Yeah, we’ll go out…
Huge thanks to the lads for talking to us before what was always a brilliant show.
‘Red on Blue’ is out now, and make sure you get out to one of their shows when dates are announced.