It feels like barely any time ago that The Xcerts released what might just be their best album yet, 'Hold On To Your Heart' - but no, it was actually way back in 2018. Time for a new one then, eh? Ahead of his upcoming set at May Bank Holiday online festival Homeschool, Murray Macleod lets us in on how full-length number five is coming along, and teases a new project...
Hey Murray, how's it going? Are you self-isolating at the mo?
I'm doing good, currently self-isolating at my place in Brighton.
What are you up to, day to day? Do you have lots to be getting on with?
I'm trying to stay as productive as possible in regards to writing. Before shit hit the fan, we were approaching the end of writing / demoing for the new record, so we are just continuing to finish the last few songs in preparation for the studio once we are able to run wild again. I've also been using the time to think about artwork and aesthetic, this time around the concept of the record is a lot more focused, so there's a lot of work to be done in regards to making the story and themes clear.
I've also started writing for a new project which will hopefully see the light of day at some point?? Other than that, exercising, reading, listening to ALL the music, drinking too much coffee, watching movies and the entirety of Seinfeld.
Has the lockdown interrupted or changed many of your plans? What would you guys have been doing now, otherwise?
We would probably be on the verge of entering the studio to record the album. The process would have certainly started. We've discussed trying to roll out singles during this time, but we've decided not to rush anything, we're going to take our time, and hopefully, it will just push everything back by a couple of months. It's hard to say though what with the never-ending race to keep up with the facts and stats about this awful virus, but I promise new music is coming this year.
Do you think 'current events' will impact the vibe of your next batch of songs?
It's really interesting in regards to how it will influence the new record. In terms of vibe, the majority of the record was written pre quarantine but the songs that we are still working on are definitely feeling more contemplative which definitely stems from staring out the kitchen window and dwelling on existentialism and the state of the world right now. The record is certainly the most culturally aware record we've made, the lyrics are still very much rooted in relationships and human behaviour, but each story is set in front of a very aware backdrop. Less introspective and more observational I guess.
What's your home recording set up like? Do you have a lot of kit?
No, I barely have anything. I'm not too tech-savvy, which is something I'm working on, right now all I use is my iPhone. I used to have a dictaphone, but it became kind of impractical. My phone can keep up with my racing mind and capture all of my questionable ideas. All of our gear is in the lockup, but I've got my trusty acoustic which is all I need right now. Tom and Jordan are able to record at home so they are sending over ideas and I'm also working with Julien (producer) via zoom which isn't ideal, but we're able to keep the train moving forward, so I'm grateful for the technology and his wizardry.
What do you miss the most with the current restrictions in place, and what's the first thing you'll do once they're lifted?
My parents were meant to be down visiting me last week, and that hit me pretty hard. So I really miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss the studio, I miss the cinema, I miss sports, I miss the bar. I miss lots of things, but I ain't gonna complain because I know how fortunate I am to have my health (touch wood), a roof over my head and food in the fridge.
Once this is over, I am going to run out of my building and hug the first stranger I see.
What's your preferred way of socialising at the mo, have you figured out any fun ways of keeping in touch?
Me and my friend (who lives across the street) are currently communicating via tin cans on a string. Some people don't think it works... it does.
Have you learnt any new skills during the lockdown period?
I've learned how to sing whilst running without completely losing my breath which must mean my lungs are in decent shape. If you see me out of breath at a show on the next album cycle, I have failed myself and most importantly you.
What do you reckon the best hobby is to do while stuck at home?
I mean, the best hobby is the obvious one that everybody is doing, but it doesn't kill much time, unfortunately. I live my life by the 'whatever works' mentality, do what you wanna do as long as it makes you feel good, content or at peace.
Anything else we should know?
The new Fiona Apple record is incredible, and Shia LaBeouf will win an Oscar someday.
The Xcerts are taking part in new online festival Homeschool, which runs from 8th-10th May - visit homeschoolfest.com for details.