Four years might not seem a long time in the grand scheme of things, but for fans of The Xcerts it’s been hell. In 2010, the Scottish trio released their second full length ‘Scatterbrain’ – A wonderful record of cracking, infectious pop hits, spearheaded by the heart wrenching vocals of front man Murray Macleod. Released to critical acclaim, the record pricked up the ears of many and helped strengthen the bands loyal following.
2014 sees The Xcerts triumphantly return (having never been away, mind you) with their third full length record ‘There is only You’ Leading up to its release, the band put up a cock-teasing snippet of first single ’Shaking In The Water’, accompanied by a video that saw the geezers frolicking in a field interspersed with in-studio footage. Those same ears that had pricked up for the release of ‘Scatterbrain’ were well and truly listening now. A month later, the full track was released and fans around the world sat at their computers, jaws firmly on the floor. It’s an incredible comeback single and such a massive pop smash hit. Just take a break from this piece, and check it out below:
Now we’ve got full details for ‘There is only You‘, with a release date set for November 3rd and some sweet looking bundles to go along with the record (personally, I’ve got my eye on some of those limited edition prints)
So the question on everyone’s lips – where have they been? Here to answer that question (and many more) is Tom Petty’s number 1 fan, Xcerts front man Murray Macleod.
BCFB: ‘There is only You’ sees your triumphant return – what can people expect from the new record?
Murray: 10 big pop songs with a lot of heart. We wanted to make a record that sounded modern but with a classic feel to it. We referenced Tom Petty an awful lot but I really wanted the guitars to sound quite Smashing Pumpkins-esque so I guess we wanted the record to sound like Tom Petty doing alternative rock. The record also has quite a romantic feel to it, well it does to me any way. Our good friend Paul Steel who did additional production on the record added so many layers to the album that you may not hear on first listen, but with continued listens they will become more apparent. The sounds he created give the album a strange lustful wash.
It’s been four years since your last album – where have you guys been?!
Well, we ended up touring ‘Scatterbrain’ for longer that anticipated. We ended up touring that record for 2 and a half years and then we took a break as we all needed some normality in our lives. We were constantly working on music though and during the writing period we weren’t signed. We had no ties, no deadlines, no tours, no pressure, so we just took our time on writing the best record we could. We would write a batch of songs, demo them, listen back and figure out how we could improve them, write the next batch, demo them…you can see the pattern right? I guess it’s a pretty militant way of making a record but it definitely helped us hone in on our songwriting abilities which is something we wanted to showcase greatly with these songs.
How was the writing process this time around? How long have you been working on the new record?
We truly started working on the record at the beginning of 2013. We had written a couple of songs previously like ‘Shaking In The Water’ which we had started to incorporate into our live sets on various tours, but the overall sound and tone of the record didn’t present itself until we distanced ourself from touring.
The main difference to the previous records is that we gave ourselves time which a lot of bands aren’t able to do. We are very fortunate to have a following that are so patient and understanding. We don’t want to be a flash in the pan band, we have no interest in being a fad. Longevity is really important to us and i think the people that dig our band understand that and that’s why they are so loyal.
…And patient they were (if a bit cheeky with it) I remember when the 30 second teaser video was posted online, I asked my housemate what he thought and he just angrily responded “I’ve been waiting four fucking years for this record!”
Is it true that you went temporarily deaf during recording?
I burst my eardrum when we began writing the record, so things got put on hold for a few months. It was truly horrendous. I was completely deaf in my left ear with tinnitus ringing loudly 24/7. I wish I could say it occurred due to playing rock n roll for many years but sadly I flew from France with a terrible head cold. Miserable.
‘Shaking in the Water’ is the first single from the new record – how has the response been? How did you feel when releasing it?
The response has been really great. Quite possibly the best reaction to a song we have released. The night before we released the song I was incredibly anxious. I almost convinced myself that the song was worthless and not all that good. When I woke up the next day I was totally fine, it had been a long time since we had released something so the anxiousness turned to excitement. It became apparent quite quickly that folks were enjoying the song so I eased up on myself.
Looking down the track listing, I spied a track called ‘Kevin Costner’ – what’s the story there? A major influence, perhaps?
Our friends in Flood Of Red had a demo entitled ‘KFC’ which stood for ‘Kurt Fucking Cobain’, we then entitled a demo ‘Kevin Fucking Costner’. When it came round to submitting the final track listing for the record I spent a week trying to think of a more ‘poetic’ title but I just couldn’t conjure up anything. The song to us is just ‘Kevin Costner’. We all enjoy him greatly as an actor but there is a small personal reference in there also which I won’t divulge.
After this interview I am going to cut my answer down to, “the song is an emotional journey much like a Costner movie”.
Speaking of influences, The first time I caught you guys, I commented that Murray really reminded me of Tom Petty. I’ve since heard you’re big fans, how much of an impression has he made on the band?
Tom Petty is without doubt one of the greatest songwriters of all time, he also happens to be the coolest guy on Planet Earth. I got into him heavily about 3 years ago. Tom has always been a fan and Jordan joined in the Petty loving once we started referencing him during every writing session.
He has had a massive impression on us in terms of where we want to take our band. His songwriting is so effortless and he gives each song so much breathing space melodically and lyrically. That’s definitely something we focused on with the new batch of songs. I wanted to express a lot of emotion without having to say much at all. It’s an incredibly hard thing to do but hopefully I’m on my way to mastering the art.
Aside from the new record, you’re also off on a US tour with Brand New, how psyched are you about that?
Very excited. They are such a fantastic group of dudes and they have been incredibly kind to us. This goes without saying but they have been a huge influence on our band so we really can’t wait to hit the road with them. It will be our first tour in the US so it will be an incredible introduction to playing shows in the country.
How are things in the Xcerts camp with the new record and recent/upcoming tours?
We are all really good thank you. Minus my small freakout before we released ‘Shaking In The Water’, self belief within the band is really high. We feel revitalized and we’re incredibly excited to hit the road with the new record. Thanks to everyone for the continued support.