Maps Are Fiction

Interview with Maps Are Fiction, May 2012

South Shield’s alt. Rockers ‘Maps Are Fiction’ play The Head of Steam this Friday (25th), supporting This Many Boyfriends (one of NME’s 20 must-see bands this summer) and Hollywood and Vines. Following a coveted support slot for Field Music’s homecoming gig at The Independent last month, the band have been busy releasing debut single Geography and recording more tracks for their forthcoming album, due for release in the autumn. I caught up with spokesman and drummer John Curry who gave an insight into the band’s ‘dark’ beginnings and also what their hopes are over the next few months.

Maps Are Fiction consists of John, front man and bassist Jordan Ridley and lead guitarist/keyboardist Andrew Yates. The three lads have been friends since they were kids and first met in the back room of Jordan’s Dad’s butchers shop in South Shields. Following the demise of Andrew and John’s previous band ‘The Broken Things’ (which they played in alongside The Union Choir’s Jon Melvin and Mark Cliff from Ashes of Iron) the three friends created Maps Are Fiction in 2010, joining a whole host of great bands on Sunderland’s Bunker music label. They describe their music as ‘dark pop/white nose’ and their sound has been likened to Radiohead, Interpol and Death Cab for Cutie in recent times.

John explains the fact that the three members met in a butcher’s shop seems quite fitting as “the backdrop of mangled animal corpses, sawdust, blood and tripe probably subconsciously shaped our music more than we then realised.” Their love of dead trees, ghosts, horses and “the morbid obsessions of the Victorian age” certainly makes them one of the most curious bands on the scene at the moment. The forthcoming album has also been recorded “in a variety of haunted houses and industrial units” and should make for interesting listening when it’s finally released. “We’ll be announcing the release date over the next few weeks.”

New track Geography and its video, which is available on YouTube, gives a good insight into what to expect from the band. Bass driven with a searing vocal, it has a despairing edge that resembles the often gnarly ambient/heavy style of My Vitriol. According to John “Geography is about that feeling that there’s probably somewhere else that you should be, or something better you could be doing with your time. It’s about cutting loose grudges.” A second single will be out soon, preceding the album release.

To get to this point has been quite a slow process for the band. “It’s taken us two full years to work out our sound as a three piece  – how to augment a basic three piece set up with samplers, keyboards, drum machines.” John explained that in some respects they’re still very “immature” despite their “two year vintage” and described their gig with Field Music in April as “Our Ground Zero – the point where everything clicked and we were able to play live in a way that did justice to the recordings we’ve been doing.”

To get on the bill with Field Music, however, confirmed their status as one of the rising stars of the North East scene. This is something they consider to be “a pleasure and a privilege” made more all the better by the fact that many of the bands are South Shields/Sunderland based – “we can see a lot of old friends doing very well at the moment. It’s very nice to be a part of that.”

Last year Maps Are Fiction did venture out of the region to play a gig at the iconic Hoxton 333 Club in London supporting The Dead Pirates. It was a great night with some typical strangeness thrown in for good measure – “There was another band on the bill, one of whom played entirely nude, and who had Adam Sandler’s hair.” For the remainder of this year though the intention is to stay local (another show planned for Washington Arts Centre in July) while finalising the final mixes for the album and shooting videos. John indicated that there is an “exciting little project planned” to coincide with the release. Keep checking Facebook/Twitter for details.