Around a year and a half ago, noise-pop trio The Xcerts burst into the UKís consciousness with razor-sharp sophomore album Scatterbrain. With an appearance at SXSW and tours with Brand New, Taking Back Sunday and Manchester Orchestra under their belt, I caught up with a band preparing to make their mark once again.
So youíre in the middle of a few rescheduled dates in the UK, got back from SXSW two days ago and have another huge UK run coming up in May. Any plans to sit down any time soon?
Murray: We were meant to stop touring in November 2011 and that didnít really happen.
Jordan: We had plans to write a new album...
It has been a year and a half since Scatterbrain was released. Are you moving towards recording a third album?
Murray: Kind of, yeah. Thereís not much to report. Weíre just taking our time with it. Everythingís been pushed back because weíve been offered tours and had to reschedule shows so weíve been focusing on playing shows. We havenít really stopped touring. Itís just weird that towards the end of the album campaign more people have started coming to our shows.
Jordan: You canít really dictate that Ė the time that people get into the record.
Murray: I think for us the idea of releasing a record, touring it for a year, recording the next record and touring that for a year seems pretty redundant now with the internet and stuff. I think bands should have time because recording a record needs to feel right so if we toured our last record for two and a half years and we still didnít feel comfortable about recording then we wouldnít.
Is going through the same cities over and over again starting to pay off?
Murray: Yeah! Weíre not too sure if itís happened everywhere but our January tour was the best headline tour weíve ever done, without a doubt. On that tour the Scottish shows were all sold out.
Jordan: It was a total surprise as well. Like I was saying, you just canít dictate that. You donít know when the momentumís going to come and go and you just have to roll with it.
Howís it been having your mates in Flood Of Red with you throughout the tour?
Jordan: Awful. [laughter]
Murray: Itís the only way to tour. Theyíre just a touring machine and not only are we massive fans of their band weíre also incredibly close with them as people so thereís never a dull moment when that lot around.
Jordan: As headliners we have to keep our game face on every night because they just kill it every night.
Youíve toured with bands like Brand New, I Am The Avalanche, Taking Back Sunday and Manchester Orchestra over the past few months. What do you learn from sharing that stage with bands of that stature?
Murray: You take different things away from each tour. What we learnt from Brand New are things that would probably scare our manager.
Tom: Like not doing press!
Murray: From Brand New we learned just not to worry...
Jordan: ...How to be comfortable in your own band, not be pressured and be free to do things your own way. Thatís ok.
Murray: Weíre all crazy about Brand New; theyíre one of the reasons we chose to work with Mike Sapone so the fact that we became friendly with them and got to watch them every night was just incredible. You know, itís funny because after touring with Taking Back Sunday we were like: ďoh man, theyíre so professional, we should be like thatĒ and ďmaybe we should play to a click trackĒ and stuff like that. But then we toured with Manchester Orchestra and Brand New who are way more about the feel and Brand New are so carefree when it comes to their live show Ė in a really good way Ė theyíre so dialled in as a unit so we came out from that tour like ďyeah, who gives a shit?Ē
Do you think your sound suits the more expansive venues that you got to play on those tours or do you prefer smaller, more intense rooms?
Murray: We think that we suit a bigger venue.
Jordan: Itís a toss-up. Would you rather have a small venue full of people who love your band or an enormous venue full of people who donít really know who you are?
Tom: Itís nice to have them both. Itís nice that we get to play big shows and then come down and play smaller club shows. Itís the best of both worlds.
Jordan: But we do occasionally play small shows where nobody knows who were are either.
Murray: Yeah weíre doing pretty well down south but then thereís the Midlands where it seems like nobody gives a fuck about our band. Itís cool though, weíre always moving forwards even if itís at an incredible slow rate. Itís never stalled.
You mentioned Mike Sapone earlier. Would you record with him again if you had the opportunity?
Murray: It would have to be a different sound. Weíre kind of conceptualising the sound and look of the next record and that sound is way different to what weíve done on the first two albums but we all know for a fact that Mike would nail it.
Jordan: Scatterbrain sounds the way it does because we were so terrified and didnít know what we were doing whereas this time weíd be going in knowing the songs, knowing how we want to sound and knowing Mike.
Youíve just got back from SXSW. How did that go for you?
Murray: We played four shows; the Xtra Mile night, the Raw Power/Rock Sound night, Mightier Than the Sword Recordsí showcase and the Scottish showcase. Iíd have said three out of the four shows were incredible.
Jordan: The Mightier than the Sword one was in the dusty backyard of a pub.
Tom: We had no gear at all, we borrowed it all from people who just happened to be there.
Jordan: It was 1 in the afternoon and youíre just imposing every band who youíve never met before like ďhey, whatís up? Iím Jordan. Can I use all your stuff right now?Ē
Murray: It was weird because we were playing a show that night and that was the big one and we didnít play all that great.
Jordan: Well that dude was at that show. We didnít think anybody was there but it turns out that some guy from some agency group was there and he said that we were the best band at SXSW.
Murray: Best small band.
Tom: Thereís Bruce Springsteen and then thereís The Xcerts.
Murray: Thereís so much going on at SXSW that the fact that anybody was watching us is just insane to me.
You played a Scottish showcase over there Ė an indicator of how well British music is doing at the moment? Do you think itís fair to say that people have started to care about British rock music again?
Jordan: Thereís people trying to make people care but I donít think itís in the publicís consciousness yet.
Murray: I think people in the UK have always loved guitar bands itís just that thereís way more young, UK guitar bands starting to get noticed. The whole ďguitar musicís deadĒ thing baffled me.
Tom: Itís never gone anywhere.
Murray: We donít fully take notice of people that we probably should. We donít listen to much UK rock music.
Jordan: There are way more young bands than we are aware of playing shows right now.
Murray: I mean, weíve played with people like Young Guns and Lower Than Atlantis and theyíre great people but we donít really listen to stuff like that. We probably talk about American guitar bands than we do UK ones so itís hard for us to gauge it.
So what are you listening to at the moment?
Jordan: White Denim, White Denim, White Denim, White Denim, White Denim. Their album D came out like a year and a half ago but I donít care. Everyone should buy it. Itís amazing.
Murray: Iím really into a band called Cloud Nothings. They just did a record with Steve Albini. They used to be like a Pitchfork-approved pop-punk band but now they sound vicious. Their new record is awesome. Itís like pop songs but screamed in Pixies fashion but way more harsh.
Jordan: Heís got barbed wire in his throat, itís amazing.
What does the rest of 2012 have in store for The Xcerts?
Murray: Weíve got some festivals trickling in. We donít want to go too crazy because we want to write the record. We have the May UK tour. There was talk of maybe going back to Europe but thatís not looking likely because we want to book out April to write and finish the record. Weíre going to go away for a while and leave everyone alone because we donít want to tire ourselves out and we donít want to tire people that like our band out. Weíre going to finish that UK tour in May then weíll be pretty quiet for a wee while and then come back with a fucking monster.
Great band. I'm from the midlands and have a lot of time for them. Was meant to support them in Birmingham in fact with my band but I'll still be there to watch. Can't wait to hear some new stuff from them.