Interview: Maxïmo Park front-man talks Brexit, Inspiration and Viola Beach

Ahead of RivFest ’17, we talked to front-man, Paul Smith (2nd from right) ahead of Maximo Park playing in Warrington next month.

Headlining RivFest 2017 on Saturday 2nd September over at Priestley College are Alternative Pop veterans Maxïmo Park. They will top a day full of sensational bands, tasty street food, craft stalls in a safe family friendly environment.

We were keen to find out what makes the band tick 17 years after they were formed and managed to catch up with front-man, Paul Smith, and we asked all the important questions, using the bands bands own song titles!

To find out more about more of the RivFest ’17 artists, click here.

Risk To Exist – The lead track from the new album is a response to the government’s reaction to the migrant crisis, politics have always been important to the band, how vital is it to have a voice in this day and age?
Paul Smith: It’s important to make your views heard, especially if they are in opposition to the status quo. Mainstream political debate has shifted to the right and there need to be other voices that balance out the conversation. As you say, the band has had a political element previously, but this is not a time to be ambiguous. Hopefully, the lyrics contain the right amount of subtlety among the overt political and social content. 

Leave This Island – Following on from last question How do you feel about Brexit?
Paul: It’s a mess! Nobody knows what the future holds, nobody had a plan for where we are right now. There’s plenty to debate, but from our band’s particular point of view, we work abroad and our rights and opportunities will (eventually) be diminished. It makes me sad and angry that our children wont have the same freedom that we did. The British public were fed lies by the Brexiteers, who preyed on people’s base fears of the ‘other’ in order to plead their case. If wealthy, self-styled ‘outsider’ Nigel Farage is the figurehead of a movement, then that is a clear sign to oppose that movement!

Write this down – What is the usual process for Maxïmo Park when writing tracks?
Paul: We’re pretty flexible – often Dunc (Duncan Lloyd, Guitar) will send me a song that he’s demo-ed and I will write words and melodies that work with his music. That said, Lukas (Lukas Wooller, keyboard) and myself sometimes contribute songs, and we all arrange the final songs together in a room to complete the process.

Karaoke Plays – What would be your go to track when it comes to Karoke?
Paul: Any early Pearl Jam song. I’m a dead ringer for Vedder!

Respond to the Feeling – After taking a break to work on solo projects, Were you worried about the response from fans with the new record?
Paul: Not particularly. Our fans know we like to make music outside the band and it ends up enhancing our work when we reconvene. All we can do is make something we feel is great and hope others share that opinion!

The Reason I Am Here – After 6 top 20 albums and millions of records sold, what continues to drive the band to make music?
Paul: Inspiration!

What Equals Love? Away from the band what passions do you have?
Paul: We all listen to a lot of music, but that’s part of our job! I love reading and drawing but it’s hard to find the time. If I want to relax I watch football, which provides a good emotional release (if its a good game).

Apply Some Pressure – The song is a huge anthem for the band and marked a turning point, how important was it for opening doors for the band and how does it feel to know the track is still a staple of the Indie dance-floor so many years later?
Paul: It feels pretty, pretty good! It was the song that convinced a lot of doubters and sealed the deal with our supporters, so, yes, we were (and are) happy to have it in our arsenal!

Work And Then Wait – What advice would you give to upcoming artists?
Paul: Be yourself. Too many young artists copy other, more established artists and I find that really boring. Find out what makes you unique.

Paul Smith Maximo Park Karoke

What Equals Love? – You will be headlining RivFest, set up after the tragic loss of Viola Beach and their manager Craig Tarry, how important is to create something loving in memory of something devastating?
Paul: It probably helps with the grieving process and it’s a lovely tribute. Like Viola Beach, we also experienced that same unusual combination of excitement and hardship when we were a young band out on tour in the early days, so this event is especially meaningful.

Write This Down – Finally, what should we look forward to in coming months from Maximo Park?
Paul: We’re off on European and North American tours, before figuring out what we’re going to do next.

Risk to Exist Maximo ParkRisk to Exist is out now. Find out more about the band at

Tickets for RivFest ’17 are on sale now via Eventim and
Pyramid & Parr Hall

Many thanks to Thom at Sonic Pr and Paul Smith for interview


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