“When we first started, we didn’t want to make generic post-rock."
We wanted to make something that was more to-the-point, and refined, with no extraneous stuff.” John Helps, co-founder of Leicester’s Maybeshewill, is emphatic when he describes the pitfalls of instrumental music. Their compositional process, which involves individual band members tabling ideas, a period of development and eventually a ruthless “fine tooth comb” being put to the material, is aimed at keeping the five-piece’s sound lean and mean. From their earlier, heavier material, their new album Fair Youth has diverged significantly. “There’s less reliance on riffs and power chords and more melody and textures, sounds and sonics,” Helps explains, with the object being to “make something that’s a little more delicately put together.” Yet the guitarist acknowledges the risk of this thought process affecting the overall impact of the album. “We’re trying to capture the same power and energy that we had on the first records, but using different instrumentation and trying to do it in a more refined way.”
When quizzed about influences, he is quick to point out that no two bandmembers listen to the same music. Even though Helps and fellow guitarist Robin Southby shared records and went to the same shows when they first started the band, their taste has diverged significantly since then. He summarises their sound as having elements of shoegaze, electronic music and even hip-hop, with the caveat that it still has an obvious post-rock bent to it. The interaction of all these genres, brought together by the band members is, he says, what allows Maybeshewill to make “instrumental music that’s hopefully different enough that it’s still interesting.” Perhaps the biggest influence on this album has been the extended period of touring that preceded it; Maybeshewill are a spectacularly hardworking band and that’s one of the defining themes on here. Despite nearly ten years and three excellent records behind them, they remain down-to-earth. “We’ve never aspired to be a massive band,” says Helps, and he’s just as realistic about the potential audience for post-rock crossover. “If you look at the grander scheme of music it’s a niche product,” he states. Describing how they keep motivated through the sometimes-stressful life of being in a touring band, John Helps is stoic. “We’ve never been disappointed that we didn’t make it to a certain level. Everything is like: ‘Holy shit, we’re going to Russia? That’s incredible!’”
As for what he’s personally drawn to about music, the guitarist is more cautious and muses that he’s been working with melodies ever since his university days. “I like being around music that’s happening; it’s exciting. If it’s interesting and feels like it’s being done for the right reasons then it doesn’t really matter what style it is. If it’s got that passion, that enthusiasm, that drive to do something that’s interesting, then I like it.”