Following the release of their fourth album ‘Marks To Prove It’ late last month, The Maccabees are ready to rock this summer’s esteemed Leeds and Reading Festivals.
The indie rock band, who came up with their name by flicking through the Bible and choosing a random word, will be performing on both main stages on Friday 28th and Sunday 30th August.
After releasing singles ‘Marks To Prove It’ and ‘Something Like Happiness’ earlier this year as a taster for their fans, The Maccabees are also set to visit Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands later this month as part of their latest tour.
Guitarist and Fulham fan Felix White took time out from the band’s hectic schedule to talk EXCLUSIVELY to Shoot about his beloved football club, Fulham’s first season back in the Championship, his admiration for manager Kit Symons and his favourite players to ever grace Craven Cottage’s turf.
You released your fourth album last week, called ‘Marks To Prove It’. What can we look forward to hearing from your recent release?
“Well ‘Marks to Prove It’ is our fourth album. There is something about ‘Marks To Prove It’ that feels like a nice summary of the whole ten years that we have had as a band to be honest. This is kind of showing the nice spectrum on the band as a whole and I think at this moment, it feels like it is the best that we have made.”
August will be a very busy month you, including appearances at the Leeds and Reading Festivals. Are you looking forward to those?
“Yes, of course. I mean Reading and Leeds are weird because it always looks exactly the same, so it is quite a sentimental place because we have obviously been going back there for like 15 years or something now. So, it is almost like a specific market really. We are doing it on the main stage with Jamie T this year which is always a pleasure. So I’m going to be chuffed with that one.”
You are a Fulham fan. How did that all come about? Do you get many chances to watch the Cottagers?
“The Cottagers..? [Laughs] I don’t think we have been called the Cottagers for quite a while now! When I was younger, my dad wasn’t particularly fussed about football. But by the time I was about 11 or 12, I was itching to get into a club. So he just took me on the train to the ground one day and said, “Okay, if you want to do this, well you can do it”. So that’s what I decided to do!
“Now; because we have been making records for the last few years, I have been going a lot and I have had a season ticket for the last seven years, then I had a break before that and had about another eight years before that. So yeah, I have been going along to Craven Cottage rather regularly for a rather long time.”
What are your earliest memories of supporting Fulham?
“The strongest memories are the ones where the ground was all terracing, looking at the uncovered Putney End. I really remember being able to walk up and down the place, so in the first-half I would stand in the Stevenage Road end next to the away fans so we would be attacking that end and then going to the other end in the second-half. I clearly remember there being a hierarchy terrace culture there when I first started going. When I was really young, I would stand right at the front. Then if you had been going for a few years, you would stand ten rows back. So the older you got, the further back in the terraces you stood. I liked that aspect about it, sort of earning your stripes.”
Your team finished 17th in the Championship last season, just 11 points above the bottom three. Can you sum up Fulham’s 2014-15 campaign for us?
“It was a very interesting year last season because for a lot of younger people they hadn’t really known Fulham to not be a Premier League club, so I think it came as a bit of a shock to the system to the slightly younger fan base. But for the older and more wary fans, it was a bit more same old and back to “Oh here we go again”, sort of thing. I mean we lost ten straight games at the start of the season under [Felix] Magath, but as soon as he left, we started to balance up.”
The manager, Kit Symons, is he the right man to take the club forward?
“I think Kit Symons is proper Fulham and I hope he gets a full year run at it because I think he will be a very good manager actually. He just needs a bit of time to build his own team. Kit obviously played in the special Championship winning teams during the early Premier League days and late 1990s and he has sort of been involved with the club ever since. He did a really good job with the youth team, so he is embedded in what Fulham’s culture is and he really understands the club. I think especially what happened with Magath and all that, our identity had been ripped away a little bit. I think Kit is the absolute perfect person to reinstall that and I think he will be a very good manager. But it is just going to be the case of getting to grips with the Championship and his own team. Yeah, I am confident about him.”
If you were manager, what additional changes would you make before the close of the transfer window?
“I don’t think we have got the money to bring anyone in! The only thing I would be keen on doing is keeping hold of Ross McCormack – that is a must. But it looks like we have done that. Jamie O’Hara seems like a good signing, he looks as if he could be the Danny Murphy kind of player. Other than that, I’m just going to let Kit get on with it.”
Patrick Roberts left Craven Cottage earlier this summer for Premier League giants Manchester City. What did you make of the 18-year-old’s move?
“I don’t know what the fee was Patrick Roberts, but I am sure it was quite a lot of money. I think it was a weird move for Patrick because even at Championship level, he was only playing ten minutes at the end of every game doing his little cameos. Although he is obviously a very talented footballer, I think one of the reasons he may have left was because he wasn’t quite up to the physical demands of the Championship or that kind of level of football. So with [Manchester] City obviously trying to build their quota for English footballers, for Patrick I think he would have been much better suited to staying at Fulham for a couple of years.
“He’ll only be 19 and he would be playing proper football, but more regularly. I imagine he’ll be getting paid an absolute fortune, but it will be difficult for him to actually play competitive football now which just seems like an odd choice. I understand temptation, but if I were him, I would have just been up for playing. So it seems like a huge jump and a little bit disorientating, but I am sure we got a good deal for him. If he does as well as everyone says he is, then he is probably going to be worth a lot more than that.”
What has been your best memory of supporting Fulham?
“Obviously the Europa League run under Roy [Hodgson], his little reign, was just a perfect storm of footballing interest really because Roy Hodgson seemed to sum up what Fulham prided itself on as a club. So that was a really beautiful two or three years. It might even be the greatest few years in the history of Fulham, so I would have to say Roy Hodgson’s reign.”
And your lowest moment?
“Well unfortunately since going to watch them since 1996, weirdly I hadn’t even seen Fulham be relegated until last year. So, I would have to say that really.”
Who are your favourite players to play for Fulham during your time supporting them?
“My favourite Fulham players have been Matt Lawrence, Simon Morgan, Moussa Dembele is probably the most talented footballer I have ever seen at the club. I am surprised he hasn’t done slightly more at Spurs because he is so gifted on the ball. Bobby Zamora is one of my favourite centre forwards to play for Fulham, I mean I could go on forever!
“If I had to pick one, Simon Morgan would probably be my all-time Fulham hero. I used to have shirts with Morgan on the back, and he played for us through every league and was Fulham through and through. Since I have been playing a couple of charity games, he has ended up being the manager, so Simon Morgan picking me on the right side of midfield is a moment that my 10-year-old self would have been very proud of! I think I was so bad at football that it kind of got to the point that Comic Relief wanted me. So I wasn’t oblivious to that, but still it was cool.”
Fulham signed Ross McCormack for £11m last summer, he managed 17 league goals last season. Are you expecting a bit more from the Scottish striker this season?
“I think he got a hard time last season. We would have got relegated, without a shadow of a doubt, if we didn’t have McCormack in our team. So even though people say that is a lot of money, in hindsight, it was actually good business and he is definitely a very high quality Championship footballer. Plus, he is definitely capable of taking the team up, so it will be interesting if we can get the infrastructure around him to really work. Yes he can be a 30-goal-a-season striker, but the reason he didn’t get as many goals last season was because he was doing everything. He was collecting the ball from very deep. He was feeling like he had to pull the strings a bit more, so hopefully he will get some more support this year.”
Fulham suffered relegation from the Premier League last May under the management of three coaches (Martin Jol, Rene Meulensteen and Felix Magath). You must have been distraught after finishing second bottom that season?
“I wouldn’t use distraught because this is football and you have got to have respect for these things in life haven’t you? But it was a shame what happened with Magath because some players who were associated with the club for such a long time and who cared about the club were suddenly walking out. So that was a pretty confusing six-month spell. For what it is worth, I think that Meulensteen would have actually been a very good Fulham manager, he seemed like he would have been. The main mistake really was not getting rid of Jol the season before; I think we would have been fine if we didn’t let Jol’s spell run a few months into that season.
“The one thing I would say about Felix is that I went away to the Madejski Stadium [Reading] last year in a corporate box in the away end and the box was right above the dugout. I had the whole ground pointing, not at me, but directly at Felix Magath shouting “Felix out, Felix out!” Obviously my name being Felix, I couldn’t help but feel slightly offended! It was a bit of an insight into what it actually must be like to be a football manager and it is not particularly nice. It wasn’t fun for the whole of Craven Cottage to be shouting “Felix out!” every week, that was for sure.”
Do the other Maccabees band mates like football? Do you get much grief for being a Fulham fan?
“Sam [Doyle] hates football; Orlando [Weeks] enjoys watching Match of the Day, but you know what, I think they might all support Fulham just for moral support. Normally before gigs, I would be saying under my breath, “Come on Fulham!” So it has sort of become the phrase that everyone uses now before we perform at shows, everyone is going, “Come on Fulham!” But they actually don’t like football at all. I wouldn’t say that they care about Fulham, but they probably care about Fulham than any other football club, just because they know if Fulham lose then it is going to be a more difficult day for them!”
The Maccabees’ new album ‘Marks To Prove It’ is out now on Fiction Records.