An open letter to The Maccabees….

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It’s not often you stumble across a band or an artist that from the moment you first hear them, they grab hold of your heart and cement themselves firmly in it for the rest of eternity. That’s how I felt when I first clapped eyes and ears on you guys.

I was living in Manchester at the time, in my first year of training to be a nurse. It wasn’t going well and I spent most of my nights at gigs desperately trying to make someone with a guitar notice me. You see that’s often how a love affair with a band starts for a girl; you fix eyes on the floppy haired blue eyed guitarist and that’s it. And admittedly that’s how it was – the fact you made exceptional music which seemed to speak to me in ways nothing ever had before was a bonus.

There were the typical nights after gigs where I’d drag my friends over to one of your DJ sets,  pluck up the courage to speak to you by sinking copious amounts of vodka and be bowled over by how down to earth and lovely you all were; taking the time to talk to a very awkward and shy girl.

One of said moments that particularly sticks out in my mind is at Jabez Clegg after your headline set at the Academy as part of the NME Tour. Boozed up, I bounded over to Orlando and proceeded to tell him that he totally mesmerised me and that I loved him, to which he very kindly gave me a hug and made me feel anything but a stupid drunken girl. And then there was a similar night in Liverpool at The Shipping Forecast, after the sweatfest that was Liverpool Academy. I repeatedly tried to engage in conversation despite not really being able to string a sentence together due to nerves. Felix and Hugo both took the time to chat despite the room being full of far more exciting and coherent people. It meant such a lot; so much so that it’s quite hard to put it in to words. But anyone who has loved a band and been lucky enough to have a conversation with them and not leave feeling like a complete fool will know. 

And that’s a knack that you’ve never lost; that ability to make each and every one of your fans feel special. Many bands would have called it a day by releasing a statement and that would have been it. Not you. You’ve gone out there and played the farewell gigs and said a proper personal goodbye. You’ve even painstakingly put together a programme with mementos from your 14 years, had a photography exhibition and played an intimate gig in aid of the MS Society. You didn’t have to, but you have and I know it’s been very much appreciated. You’ve made your fans feel like they matter and that they deserve one final show and that’s something quite special. Respect isn’t something that a band always offers its fans, but you’ve always shown it in bucketloads.

Music very quickly became even more important for me when I went through some dark times, struggling with my mental health. I no longer went out to lots of gigs and I no longer had any confidence whatsoever to speak to anyone. And whilst it wasn’t a happy time it did mean I saw you in a whole new light; you were no longer just the good looking boys who made my favourite type of music and I no longer felt the need to elbow my way to the front or throw myself at you every time I saw you.

The shift in my personal life and the loneliness I was feeling saw me become obsessed with lyrics and finding lyrics that conveyed how I was feeling when words escaped me. I found great affinity in so many of your songs and when the noise in my head became too much to bear I would turn to you. Your tours would give me something to look forward to when there was little else to live for. The thought of having one night of sheer happiness at one of your gigs could keep me going for months on end and that’s probably my biggest fear now you’re leaving; never feeling that sheer euphoria at a gig again. Even this weekend at 32 and very much now one of those people that stands at the back at gigs and nods their head; I was compelled to jump around like a crazed teenager. There’s always been something so empowering about being at one of your gigs, it’s like hanging out with your best friends, all sense of self consciousness goes because you know that everyone around you is equally impassioned.

I left nursing and started working in music and spent lots of time interviewing bands and reviewing gigs and I quickly realised that the kindness and down-to-earthness you oozed wasn’t necessarily a common occurrence when it came to bands. I had the misfortune of interviewing some that left me feeling utterly worthless. And then I was given the opportunity to write about your tiny gig at Sound Control in Manchester in support of Given To The Wild. It was a special gig for many reasons, not least because it was such a small, intimate gig, the likes that never happened again as that album so rightly propelled you in to the next realm and bigger venues beckoned. The joy I felt getting to wax lyrical about you, my favourite band, for other people, was something else and one of my proudest moments still (despite the fact I’m pretty sure it was only ever my Dad who read it). I always hoped that one day I would get to interview you too, and would regularly bombard your PR (and get various editors to do the same) with begging requests every time you came up North but sadly it was never to be. My foray in to music journalism came just that bit too late as everyone was clambering to get a piece of you by this point and a regional entertainment website writer just wasn’t going to make the cut.

One of the many things I’ve admired about you has been the way you’ve done things your own way. It feels like everything you’ve ever done has been very organic and in no way contrived whatsoever, even down to your artwork and merch. You’ve never been the average indie guitar band complete with gobby frontman and outspoken views on everything. You’ve always been the nice guys, the guys who just let the music do the talking. And it’s telling that every single person I have ever spoken to and every single person I have ever heard talk about you, from guitar techs to friends to people who have toured with you, they have all said that you’re the nicest bunch. That sort of reputation doesn’t come from nothing. And being nice in an industry that doesn’t necessarily always appreciate it is why you have the legions of loyal fans you do. Fakeness doesn’t stand the test of time, humility does.

And while I of course wish you would continue making albums for years to come I feel like this is the perfect ending to your story. Going out on your own terms retaining all the poise, grace and love that you’ve always had and with a extraordinary back catalogue that will be revered for  years to come. We could never have asked for more.

You’ve seen me through some of the hardest times but you’ve also seen me through some of the happiest times and will continue to do so. I just hope that we too have been there for you in some small way along the journey. You inspired us and paved the way for so many bands, showing that it’s okay to be different and it’s okay to be nice. But most of all you’ve ensured that no-one ever forgets that Latchmere’s got a wave machine. 

Thank you for everything – these are tears of joy, not woe x

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