First thing’s first: Maximo Park lives! I’m still an active member of the band and the future is bright, since we’ve been writing in my house in Newcastle this week.
However, I’m about to release a record under my own name that I wrote and recorded in a friend’s house. There was no conscious decision to ‘go solo’; it just seemed natural to put out this group of songs that I’d recorded in spare moments over the last few years.
Maybe it wouldn’t exist if my friend Andy Hodson hadn’t insisted on playing the drums along to the songs he was recording. Maybe it would’ve been more acoustic-based than it already is, had David Brewis from Field Music not agreed to play the bass.
The songs I was recording had a different feel to what I’d done before and I didn’t think they needed much more than my guitar and vocal or a loose rhythm section. With less collaborators I was free to write what I wanted, which resulted in more personal lyrics and a more reflective, finger-picked guitar sound.
I love slick pop production as much as the next Prefab Sprout fan, but I also love the Strurm und Drang of My Bloody Valentine or Sonic Youth, and this collection of songs feels more spontaneous, reflecting its birth.
Paul Smith with Emily Eavis at the NME Awards last year
Like Girls Aloud, I’m also into the sounds of the underground although, come to think of it I’ve never heard them extol the virtues of Bill Callaghan or Slint in any interviews. Yet.
Because Maximo Park is a pure democracy I don’t want to sully our arrangement by forcing opinions or my more extreme tastes onto anyone else. I think the lyrics I write with the band have always had a universal element to them and when I’m thinking about my words I always wonder if the other lads will approve, which isn’t a bad thing.
However, when you have a desire to do something creative, it’s wise not to suppress it, which means ‘Margins’ provides me with a sense of release that both differs and complements the enjoyment I get from being in the band.
Putting out a record by myself, and acting as label boss is both terrifying and exhilarating, but it’s also gratifying being part of a group, especially one that has an urge to be direct and say something to a mass of people – it’ll be great to share the responsibility and the rewards of being in The Park again.
For the time being, though, I’ve got a creative itch to scratch.
Paul Smith’s solo album ‘Margins’ is released on October 11