I love the holidays because I can sleep for 16 hours a day and no one notices. Getting up is a gargantuan task, but luckily Mazes are here to motivate me. Not only is “Painting of Tupac Shakur” the best-named song of the week-old decade, it’s the shabby, beer-stained spark that propelled me out of bed before midday for the first time in forever. Mazes are three guys based in Manchester and London with admirable destructive streaks, a distaste for the mainstream music business (they once said “major label A&Rs should all kill themselves”) and a love of Jonathan Richman and Mark E Smith. I caught up with main man Jack Cooper to talk about TVs, pound shop posters and Little Boots.
Download: Mazes, “Painting of Tupac Shakur”
The last time we spoke you told me an awesome story about how your knife-wielding grandad inspired your song “Bowie Knives.” “Painting Of Tupac Shakur” will probably end up being the best song title of 2010. What’s the story behind it?
There’s a pound shop near where we live and they have ace framed posters. We got a cool Jesus one that’s in our living room but I’ve always held a torch for the one of Tupac in front of a huge weed leaf.
Is it true you mix your songs through a television?
It’s true to a point. I should take that off our MySpace cos it’s dumb. We had this band contact us, asking how to record using a TV and I had to let them down. I don’t have any monitors or anything, so to roughly mix songs, I listen to them on my TV using the auxiliary input…y’know pretty boring. They eventually get mixed in a semi-serious way at Jay’s house. That’s what he does for a living…teaches mixing and stuff for Apple. Recording wise…we record live and very quickly to tape. We don’t work on anything too much due to circumstance and a quest for spontaneity.
Do you still think major label A&Rs should all kill themselves?
Ha no, I don’t think that. I’m not gonna be able to shed any light on the decline of the major label either. I don’t think we’re going to be bothered by major labels anytime soon to be honest…
From your blog: “There’s another band called Mazes from Chicago. They’ve changed their name to “The Better Mazes” and now they seem to be called the English Mazes.” What’s the latest news with this madness?
To our shame, they sent us an email ages ago saying “hey we’ve got the same name, maybe one of us should change” and we ignored it…out of laziness. They seem to be quite angry about it though, hence the “Better Mazes” and now their attempt to confuse people with “English Mazes.” We could change our name to the “American Mazes” or “The Mazes Who Don’t Change Their Name” I dunno… I just fear a “London Suede” or “Charlatans UK” situation… I think we can be forgiven not having heard of the other Mazes…The Charlatans not knowing about The Charlatans is unforgivable.
Have you managed to play with Mark E Smith or Jonathan Richman yet?
No, but I gave Jonathan Richman a Mazes single when he played at the venue I work at. I’m assuming he loved it.
Tell us a bit about your favourite Manchester bands.
There’s a small handful of bands doing something vaguely similar to us, Former Bullies being one that I like… but Manchester bands are fairly uninspiring. That’s not to say we don’t have alot of great gigs to go to…places like The Deaf Institute and nights like Now Wave.
You’re from Blackpool, the Vegas of the north. So are Robert Smith and Little Boots. Are you going to form a Blackpool supergroup?
My grandma was telling me that she knows Little Boots’ grandad…so that could happen, I’d have to have a lobotomy but yeah, that could happen.