With their emotive vocals, driving guitars, and finely crafted melodies, The Xcerts is a name you’re going to be hearing more of.
Their debut album ‘In the Cold Wind We Smile’ displays a maturity of songwriting that belies the fact that the average age of the band members is around 20.
Singer-guitarist Murray Mcleod and bassist Jordan Smith formed the band while in High School in Aberdeen before moving down to Brighton, which Jordan describes as being like “Aberdeen in Technicolor”. There they met Tom Heron, who joined the band on drums when their original drummer left. Although Brighton is still their base, Murray says they haven’t been back in months. “To be honest our tour van is more like our base these days” he says.
The Xcerts have certainly done their fair share of touring and have supported the likes of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Make Model, Fighting With Wire and Twin Atlantic as well as performing at a variety of festivals including T in the Park, Rock Ness, The Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, and Connect. As a result of their relentless gigging the band have developed a formidable live reputation “We’ve always worked hard as a live band” says Murray. “If you put in the effort when you play a gig then word of mouth will eventually spread.” Jordan is adamant that playing live is what the band does best. “When someone comes to us and says they really like a recording of one of our songs, I always tell them ‘come to one of our shows because you’ll enjoy it even more live’.”
However, the band feels that ‘In the Cold Wind We Smile’ has captured the energy of their live show better than previous recordings. “I think the new record is definitely closer to what we do on stage” says Murray. “Having said that, we don’t want it to be identical to our live performances. In the studio you’ve got the scope to do whatever you want to enhance your sound and I think it’s important to make use of that so you can produce the best album you can.”
The man enlisted to help achieve this was Dave Eringa, who has produced the likes of Idlewild and the Manic Street Preachers. “Dave’s a fantastic producer” says Murray. “He’s just got a really good ear for rock sounds. As a band we all loved his production on Idlewild’s ‘100 Broken Records’ album but he decided to take a bit of a different approach for us. He knew we needed more of a polished pop sound.”
Judging by the emotive lyrics on ‘In the Cold Wind We Smile’ it’s clear a fair amount of angst was involved in the songwriting. “There was a lot of personal tragedy, heartache and other nasty stuff that was going on in the lead up to recording the album” Murray admits. “It was unintentional, but we’d had a bad year so all this dark stuff ended up pouring out of us. Hopefully the next album will be a nice happy record!”
The tour for ‘In the Cold Wind We Smile’ has taking the band on some exotic jaunts so far. They recently spent a week in Japan and played their first show there to over a thousand people alongside The Fratellis. “That was pretty crazy considering we’d never set foot in Japan before” laughs Murray. “We were like a ‘buzz band’ over there! They were all taking pictures and wanting autographs and stuff. We met one girl who actually had an original 7-inch of our first single! It was pretty good for the ego. We’ve got allies in the embassy over there now so hopefully we’ll be able to go back soon!”
The recent launch party for their album was also a novel experience, as it took place on board a boat in Loch Ness. “That was strange” recounts Murray. “For some reason the boat started speeding-up halfway through and it got pretty rocky onboard. I was finding it hard to sing because I was practically in hysterics!”
Bassist Jordan also had problems. “I’d be pogo-ing, and when I came back down the floor just wasn’t there” he says. “I’m glad it was just our friends and family who were there and it wasn’t some sort of showcase with all the heads of the major labels. Maybe next time we launch an album we’ll play on a plane or something!”
It looks like 2009 will be a busy year for The Xcerts. There will be another single from the album in a couple of months, some festival dates, and a headline tour is also on the cards. However, the band have their sights set on the end of the year. “I think that deep down in every band’s heart, all they really want is to write a classic Christmas song” says Murray. “It doesn’t matter how left-field you are. I mean, look at Shane MacGowan- he’s got enough money to buy all the Guinness he needs. He’ll never be thirsty again!”
We’ll have to wait and see whether The Xcerts write a Xmas classic to rank among the likes of Slade, Wham, and Cliff Richard but ‘In The Cold Wind We Smile’ is sure to win them many new fans in the meantime.
‘In The Cold Wind We Smile’ is out now on Xtra Mile Recordings