an interview with Mazes

it would not be over-exaggerating to say Mazes is one of my favourite UK bands at this moment in time. they are rather marvelous. they do DIY pop music of a sort. you can listen to them here if you like. and read about them below…

So, Mazes, who is lost within the friendly confines of Hampton Court?

We don’t seem to have settled on a line up really. The first things we recorded were just me, my girlfriend Claire, Jay and Jarin… then Jay left and Neil joined, Claire got too busy. And then now our friend Conan is gonna start playing second guitar…it’s transient I suppose, but that can be nice. I like to think we’ll hit on a formula soon.

How long have you been doing this music thing, is Mazes your first band that’s put a record out?

For all intents and purposes

Sex Is Disgusting is a clued up label, how did you wind up hooking up with those chaps?

Well we were based in Manchester initially and honestly there weren’t any like minded bands when we started or we didn’t really know any. A friend of ours Paul had a bizarre job ghostwriting a music blog for Alan McGee (true story) and he wrote about Mazes in a post about Wavves. I think James from Sex Is Disgusting stumbled upon it and liked what he heard. At that point we’d only recorded a handful of songs and we’d never played a show. They booked us to play with Wavves and Pens in Brighton and asked us to do a single…that was like 18 months ago.

Your latest 7″ is DIY / self released, why did you decide to put your own record out and are you hoping to release other bands music as well? How are you going about distributing it?

I’m fortunate enough to work for a really cool guy in Manchester who owns a place called The Deaf Institute… He was like ‘we should start a label’ so we did, the Mazes seven being the first release so I didn’t fuck up anyone else’s record. As far as distribution’s concerned I dunno…we just write people and see if they want it. We have sevens lined up for two Manchester bands called Former Bullies and Milk Maid and then a tape for Brown Brogues… there’s a vagues plan to do a Colleen Green seven which I’m psyched about.

You guys seem to be pretty out on a limb, I’m not sure there’s much around at the moment that you easily fit with. Which is a good thing! What other bands do you play shows with, is there a cross over with DIY punk and hardcore bands, or are you tending to get lumped in with the whole lo-fi indie thing?

We’ve got pretty picky with shows because we’ve played a load that have been promoted badly… we like playing with our friends bands but apart from that, we just need to not lose money and get enough beers to keep us happy.

What do you get out of being in a band, what keeps you going, and holds your interest?

Personally it’s become like a compulsion I spose and it just makes me really happy, most aspects anyway. We’ve had a couple of deals thrown our way and one in particular would’ve enabled us to do this a little more seriously… we’re not purist idiots but we pissed them off and they got sick of us. We had to have a big think about why we do it and what they could offer us just didn’t seem like something that’d make us happy… I mean we’re ambitious but not at the expense of certain things.

Trying hard to work out how to phrase this next one without coming across like a complete jerk – but it seems to me that whenever there’s a new trend in the US (i.e. Captured Tracks etc…) that a lot of bands can pop up in the UK doing kind of the same thing. Do you think that is a terrible blanket generalisation? Are UK bands a lot more autonomous than my gut instinct would suggest, or do bands trend hop?

Yeah maybe… but I think that’s the fault of the british music industry and the press…all that’s changing obviously and it’s getting to the point where we’re all on an even playing field. It’s just as easy for someone in London to hear a new LA band as it is for someone in LA. The DIY scene is the US has been around for years and now UK bands realise that that’s a good way of doing things…people are beginning to see that making music to ‘get signed’ is short sighted bullshit… and completely futile obviously.

This somewhat pointless penultimate question is a holdover from when I first did interviews on this website about 11 years ago… what is your favourite weather condition?


What does the future hold for Mazes? Is there anything you’d like to add at this point? Thanks for dealing with this shit!

Gonna sort ourselves out…another seven soon, a 30 song tape album on Italian Beach Babes and then record an album proper over the summer.


an interview with Sauna Youth

sauna youth is a punk band, they have a 7″ out. they have a website. here is some words what i asked them and some words what they told me.

Sauna Youth. So, who’s sitting around in the steam with a towel on their lap?

We have Murphy, lounging back on a deep red number, thrown so carelessly around him as to barely conceal his dignity. Next to him Reza relaxes with an Azure shade wrapped around his waist, handling the coals, frequently and steadily keeping the temperature high and the steam strong. Lindsay, with his Aubergine towel, perched at the back keeps the conversation animated whilst sipping on an exquisitely constructed mojito cocktail. I, Richard, stand and sweat in white.

How did this come about? It would appear that several of you chaps did “time” in pop punk / melodic hardcore bands. How did you get from that to this, and why are you all bumming around in a DIY punk band, what keeps you doing this shit?

I once asked a man who had been working at CERN for the last 30 years how something like the Large Hadron Collider could ever be conceived, what is the starting point for something like that? and he replied, “2 people sitting around drinking coffee”. He also laughed in my face when I asked if anyone knew how it worked.  It’s all just different variations on pop songs really. I think the transition from what we were doing before was quite natural. With Sauna Youth we wanted to experiment more, not back ourselves into a corner with the music or lyrics, employ a more diverse range of things that actually influence us but it still be a punk band. Also, we really wanted to be in a band that sounded like the Undertones or The Ramones. I think we might be failing in this respect but i’m ok with that.  Why do we still do this? That is a very good question indeed! We’ve all done “time” in a number of other bands, I think there’s been a 2 week period of my life in 13 years when I haven’t been in a band. Often it can feel like bumming around for sure when you’re involved with DIY punk rock but it’s only when you peer outside it’s walls do you realise the freedom that exists within it. It’s good to feel like you’re a part of a network and community that can exist outside of the more conventional means.

The seven inch is based around the concept of youth. I want to ask you a bunch of questions about this! How old are the folk in the band and do you consider yourself youthful?

Ah, now that would be telling… I will say that ¾ of us are falling off the wrong end of our twenties though. I think we all still definitely consider ourselves youthful, the world still fascinates us and we all still collectively do something that we’ve been doing since we were teenagers.

Does one stop being youthful when they hit a certain age? How important do you think it is to maintain such an outlook? Can it conflict with growing up and is being mature a good thing? What if you’re like the Get Up Kids and still farting about in 10 years time, would the band name still be appropriate?

There’s that benjamin Franklin quote, “We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing” I would stand by that wholeheartedly. My nan is 87 and still plays bowls, won her last 2 matches, and she works for her local meals on wheels delivering food to people that are 10-15 years younger than her. The conflict? I don’t necessarily think that there has to be one, maturity in my eyes is more to do with taking responsibility for yourself and learning that experience should come pretty early in life. It’s like if you’re a kid and you act like a dick and blame your behaviour on other people, your friends will eventually see through it and won’t want to play with you anymore. I think there’s a difference between that and running around and shouting just for the fun of it. If we’re about in 10 years time the band name would be wholly inappropriate but all the better for it.

I am fully behind the fact that you put your own record out. Was it a collective effort from all the band? How are you going about distributing it and how has the experience been?

Thanks. The whole thing has been pretty self-contained, down to recording, mixing, putting together & printing the artwork. We were going to scrape together the money ourselves but we played up in Cambridge for our friend and he heard about the record & said he would lend us the money to put it out, so that was great. It also has given us a good incentive to really work at selling them so we can pay him back. So far the experience has been great, especially as where I live, in Brighton, there are such a wealth of great record shops. Getting to wander about going into the Punker Bunker, Resident, Rounder and Edgeworld records hocking our gear and talking to the people that work there has been wonderful. It’s also good having distros and shops that we buy records from ourselves taking copies.

Good idea with the female backing vocals that feel wonderfully out of place. Who’s idea was this and was there any particular reason to add something that is perhaps not what people would expect to hear?

It’s either a very considered, well thought-out idea coming from a love of girl groups from the 50’s & 60’s with a view to eventually having a trio of singers on stage with us, or an off the cuff experiment in which an acquaintance was harangued into singing along to something she’d never heard before in her life. Or both. There are very particular reasons for adding unexpected elements to the music, we’re not attempting to introduce any new sub-sub-genres but we’d like to make things more interesting for ourselves. Also, eating peanut butter with celery AND/OR cheese and honey on toast.

Bizarre old question I used in a bunch of old interviews when the C was the most emo thing in the world: what is your favourite weather condition?

Sitting in the shade in a crisp sun-soaked park with a mild breeze flowing through.

Thanks for doing this. What next for Sauna Youth? Anything else you’d like to add? Stay youthful!

Thanks for the interview. We have a 3 song tape coming out on Suplex Cassettes in the next few months, called “MAD MIND”. After that there’s talk of doing a 7” with Sex is Digusting. We’re going to be recording our LP “DREAMLANDS” over summer and hopefully we’ll work out a way of putting that out soon after. Always!