Back in 2005 John Helps and Robin Southby formed Maybeshewill while studying together at Leicester’s De Montfort University. This week – after eleven years, four albums, the only acceptably use of Howard Beale’s speech from The Network and a legacy that will endure – John and Robin will, alongside Jamie Ward, James Collins and Matthew Daly, kill the band.
“There’s not really a reason that’s possible to verbalise,” explains John of the decision to call time. Some members wanted to carry on while others just couldn’t do it anymore. “We spoke about it and we all agreed that this is the right time to do this. If we tried to carry on any longer, it wouldn’t feel right. It feels like the right time to go. It feels like a positive because we’re all still the best of friends, we’re as close as five people can be. There’s no animosity or devastating incident that’s caused the band to come to an end. We’ve been able to plan our own slow, structured demise, which is nice. It’s nice to have that luxury.
Luxury isn’t something Maybeshewill have been accustomed to. They’ve remained fiercely independent for the duration, not out of necessity but because they don’t like playing games. “Doing a mid-level small band like we have been for 11 years, it’s something that’s hard to balance. We’re just getting to the point where it takes up a lot of time but it’s still not quite financially sustainable and that puts a strain on everybody. We got to a point where, if we could do this full time we would but we can’t, so it’s better to go out on a high than drift off and not be around anyone’s consciousness for the foreseeable future.”
For their last album ‘Fair Youth’ the band undertook a five-month tour across three continents, which is their “biggest achievement as a band. Getting to basically do a world tour with the same people we worked with at the start of the band, keeping the tour managing in-house and being able to do these insane things is a pretty big deal for us. That felt like an achievement.” Their tours with …And They Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Dillinger Escape Plan and And So I Watch You From Afar are also looked back at fondly, as is every appearance at 2000 Trees and ArcTanGent Festivals. Basically, Maybeshewill have “millions of things” they look back at with pride, most recently “getting to go to the states which was crowdfunded by people who were into the band. People who didn’t live in the states were contributing to help us do it, which is a really lovely thing to experience. We’d always known people were behind us, it’s always felt good, but that hammered it home. Realising people would go out of their way to help us do something we wanted to do for people who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to see us, all pulling together for that, that was really lovely.”
From their ‘Japanese Spy Transcript’ EP, through ‘Not For Want Of Trying’, ‘Sing The World In Four-Part Harmony’ and beyond onto ‘I Was Here For A Moment and Then I Was Gone’ and ‘Fair Youth’, Maybeshewill constantly pushed things forward. They didn’t just surprise with what they, as a band, were capable of but they challenged what being an instrumental band was. “I feel like it’s a good place to finish. I can’t imagine what the next Maybeshewill record would have sounded like at this point but maybe other members had ideas in their head. It’s difficult to know. We came off that five-month tour and we didn’t immediately start writing anything.” There’s also little hope for any new-old material.
“Because of the level of quality control we’ve had in the band in recent years, almost everything we’ve worked on has come out in some form or another. If an idea wasn’t getting to the level where it would work on the record, it wouldn’t be finished. It wouldn’t even get to the stage where it was a song. There isn’t really anything that’s worth hearing left in our back catalogue, as far as I know.”
That’s not to say the band don’t have any secrets. During a Reddit AMA, John revealed that, “Fair Youth was intended as a broad but subtle statement about certain issues we care deeply about, but everyone missed the reference.” Turns out it’s still something he doesn’t know if he’s allowed to give away. “There’s an overriding theme to that title that tied into some of the places we were going and some particularly heavy news stories related to those places. Prior to us touring there…I don’t know. It would have been difficult to talk about it before the final tour but maybe we’ll talk about it after the band finishes,” he ventures before offering, ”the most simple Google search will give you an idea.”
But before you disappear down an internet rabbit hole, there’s the small matter of the final four shows of Maybeshewill’s last tour. It started in February at the Bowery Ballroom in New York and has taken in Russia and most of Europe before this home straight of Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester and London.
“It’s not really felt like a last tour. It did to start with, when we started the first few dates of the tour, it was quite emotional going to places and realising you wouldn’t be going back there and you’re not going to see some of the people there that we’ve known for so many years. As we’ve gotten into the flow of it, it’s not felt like we’re coming to the end of something. It’s felt like a celebration and a bit of a party. A victory lap, in a way.”
“There’s definitely some reflecting going on. Every time we do a show, it’s the last time we’re going to go to that place and always, at every show, there’s someone special to the band. It’s nice that we get to do this, and go and see people one last time and not just say ‘that’s the end of the band’.”
But the end is nigh. The final show at KOKO is something the band had to be “talked into” by their booking agent after Maybeshewill had set their sights on somewhere half as big. Convinced that “it’ll look good half empty,” the band agreed but the show has been sold out for weeks now. “It caught us all by surprise. As we’ve been going around Europe, people have said they’re travelling from as far afield as the Czech Republic and Budapest for it. I think there are some guys from Russia coming over. That we managed to get ourselves, with a lot of help from some really good friends, to a level where we could finish our career headlining KOKO. That absolutely blows my mind.”
Beyond that, Maybeshewill hope to put out a film of the final show. There are also some remixes the band has done for people which might see a release but beyond that, this is it.
“I hope that we’re remembered fondly,” offers John. “Whether it’s for music or what we managed to do as a band, I hope people remember that in a positive light.”
Maybeshewill will play:
12 Glasgow, Stereo
13 Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
14 Leicester, Y Theatre
15 London, Koko