"We're about fast love songs, really," states guitarist Hugo White. “People say we sound like the Futureheads, who we love, but I don’t think it’s true. Me and [fellow guitarist/older brother] Felix always admired the way [punk godfather] Joe Strummer from The Clash attacked the guitar. But in terms of sound The Strokes and Interpol helped shape us – the way they put little riffs in everywhere to build up and complement a song.”
Hugo’s 1980s Fender Japan Telecaster and Felix’s 1970s Tokai Telecaster copy (flipped upside down so he can play it left-handed) give them the bite needed for their single-note style to cut through. For the cost-conscious, Squier Telecasters are available in both right- and left-handed versions. The Maccabees use what seems to be the indie amp of choice these days, a Fender Blues DeVille, plumping for the 60W Tweed reissue with 4x10" speakers. “It’s so clean and clear – you can do anything with it,” says Hugo. “We both usually use the bridge pickup of the guitar and go through the Drive channel; I only use the neck pickup for sweet parts such as the beginning of 'First Love'." Get a Marshall MG100DFX (they used these for their early gigs) if you can’t afford a DeVille (RRP £899). The duo’s love of the amp’s Drive channel means they only use a a Subdecay BlackStar distortion unit, heard on debut single 'Latchmere'. When performing 'First Love' b-side 'Colour It In' live, Hugo turns on the pedal, hits all the strings open and stands next to the amp to summon the sonic banshees during the intro.
In The Studio
Two producers worked on their debut album 'Colour It In'. First up was legendary Smiths producer Stephen Street, who helped create 'First Love’, ‘Lego’ and latest single ‘About Your Dress’. “He knows how to make big epic records, so he tried to warn us off the DeVilles,” states Hugo. Contrast this with Blur/Futureheads producer Ben Hillier, who got them to play through Smokey Amps (waspish mini speakers placed inside a fag packet) for album track ‘Toothpaste Kisses’.
On The Stage
“Rehearse until you know the songs, so you can concentrate on putting on a show,” advises Hugo. “And don’t get pissed before you play. You aren’t in The Libertines!”
“We’ve always concentrated on notes and melodies rather than loads of chords and scales. Felix has slightly sweeter parts than me, like on the breakdown riff in 'Pressure Time', whereas I’m maybe a bit more raucous. But we try and keep it all swirling and switching between the two of us, so there’s no lead guitar as such.”
“Everything I just said. And no solos.”