Interview : The Mash

I recently caught up Maxime Wathieu, singer/guitarist from Belgium three piece The Mash, to find out among other things whats going with his band at the moment, which new artists he recommends checking out, and the all important question - what's his favourite sandwich?

Music Liberation : Who are you and where are you from?

Maxime: We're The Mash, a pop-rock band from Li├Ęge, Belgium. We're victim of the so-classic band story "starting making music to escape from teenage boredom". After having played about 100 gigs since 2004 in every kind of stages (bars, clubs, festivals, massive support acts), and with every kind of line-up, we are now a power pop trio. Our best gig's souvenirs are supporting Girls, The Bishops, and Indochine (famous french band), where we played in front of a 10.000 people crowd!

ML : Describe your music in three words?

M: "Ice cream - sun - sunglasses." (ED: Technically that's four, but we'll let him off!)

ML: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

M: "The Mash love a lot of music. Classic bands (The Beatles, Beach Boys), power rock band (Foo Fighters, Weezer, Biffy Clyro, Switchfoot), noisy bands (Sonic Youth, Blood Brothers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), stoner bands (Queens of the stone age, Millionaire), britpop bands (The Cribs, The Jam, The Coral, XTC), pure pop bands (Cardigans, New Radicals), indie bands (Pavement, Pixies), folk bands (Fleet Foxes, Simon and Garfunkel), west coast bands (Girls, Best Coast, Wavves), "Strokes like" bands (Strokes of course, Postelles, Enveloppes). Well, all music I'm listening to is an influence. Do you want me to send you my iTunes list? I'm joking.

My non-musical influences are everything that go through my eyes and my ears. I like raw writers like Charles Bukowski, and Jim Harrison. I also like movies with caricatured teenage characters: for example, I'm a big fan of Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World, Art School Confidential), Larry Clark (Ken Park, Wassup Rockers, Kids) and last but not least, Trainspotting! Watching all of them, you finally understand that these so called caricatured stories are so close to reality! I really like those dared critical looks.

I'd finish by quoting some photographers' influences: Ryan Mc Ginley, Bryan Sheffield, Jeremy Weiss, Larry Clark again..."

ML : What's on your agenda for the next 12 months?

M: "Find a job, get some vacation in Romania to celebrate my student life's end, and write new songs. More seriously, we will tour in late October with our folk band friends Lieutenant. It's a first real "on the road tour" for us, so we're very excited about it!

Our first album "Disconnected" will be released on 31th October, distributed by PIAS. I really hope it will be well greeted by press and music lovers.

At our gigs, people are quite often receptive, because our songs have a really direct side, due to our trio line-up. But on the album, we chose a more pop production, with more guitars and voices. I hope listeners will enjoy. Anyway, we like this contrast between our live performance, and our album recordings. It's totally assumed.

The main goal now is to play as many gigs as we can, especially in Belgian summer festivals. And maybe abroad in UK? It's a dream."

ML: Any new bands/artists you recommend us checking out?

M: "I just discovered (thanks to The Mash's bassist Guillaume) a French/Swedish band called Envelopes. They sound like The Strokes, but with a girl singing, and more wacky tunes.

I guess our drummer Axel would advice the band Switchfoot. He really likes those catchy American tunes!

And finally Guillaume just told me by phone, a band called Beast. Searching on the net, I found two bands called Beast. First is a South Korean Boys Band. Second is an indie canadian one. I guess (and I really hope...) he was talking about the second one!"

ML: If you could tour with any two artists, past or present, who would they be and why?

M: "Maybe the most important would be bands with funny, and friendly musicians. I'd say Wavves for that, because they seemed so cool while watching them in a interview...
And next, maybe a crap band, so we'd seem so great next to them. Randomly, hem... Here's one!!"

ML: If you had unlimited funds, what 3 things would you have on your tour rider?

M: "1. Maybe unlimited food, that's the only reason why we're doing gigs, man! Fat food in preference. Anyway, we'll eat anything that is backstage, even non-tasty stuff.
2. Fans!!! "Organizers must undertake to bring a minimum of 500 crazy fans in front of the stage".
3. Some Jacuzzis with champagne, so we can jump in directly after the show with our girlfriends."

ML: What’s more important for you, selling records or live shows?

M: "I'd say live shows, as record sells are really bad nowadays. Maybe for us Belgian bands, Cd's became a promotion object to attract people to our gigs. Furthermore we have spent more time on stage, rather than in the studio, and live shows are a direct contact between fans and band...

ML:  What's your perfect sandwich?

M: "Some hamburger with hot peppers. I miss that incredible "Red Hot Chili Chicken" that I ate in a German burger king. It was a limited edition so I won't eat it anymore. Life's so unfair!"

ML: How can we find out more about you?

"Simply by checking our Facebook page, myspace and blog. It's all about french speaking stuff, but I'll try to write some more in English I promise!"

Many thanks to Maxime for his time, and for his great answers! There will be a full review of 'Disconnected', the debut album from The Mash later on this month.

The Mash - Good Day To Die by Themashmusic