Introducing… MMX (Interview)

“I think people compare us to Coldplay because they’re not what people would define as a ‘cool band’, and we’re not cool either…” Ashley Wilkie, MMX.

Writing an ‘introducing’ piece on MMX is a rather peculiar task, as when listening to the Oxford four piece’s crisp, developed sound one would think they were anything but an up and coming band.

Instilling a calculated electronic sensibility onto indie foundations, the quartet adopt a spacious, cinematic style transcendent of any breakthrough band at the moment, more akin to well-established musical behemoths like M83 or Coldplay (the latter being their most heavily compared act thus far).

“I think people compare us to Coldplay because they’re not what people would define as a ‘cool band’, and we’re not cool either” says frontman Ashley Wilkie, as we sit down in East London before their show at The Old Blue Last. “To be honest though I’d be more frustrated if people kept saying we sound like Slayer”.

It’s safe to say no one is going to be comparing their latest single ‘Ritual’ to ‘Raining Blood’ anytime soon, but it’s also fair to argue that MMX wouldn’t be where they are today without earning their stripes through a promising career in the rock world a few years ago. The atmospheric harmonies and incisive indie grandeur they have perfected as MMX is a far cry from the visceral punk of past band ‘Francesqa’ (which in fairness did have a slightly different lineup), but nevertheless there’s no denying their radical change of direction has given the quartet a new sense of precision in their work, replacing ferocity with intricacy, departing a scene that wasn’t right for them anymore and starting afresh.

After the success of their singles so far, it is clearly only a matter of time before a full length LP will be in the works. Though the band themselves are currently unsure on plans for an album, they discuss crafting a possible debut record like a journey, carefully working each track to suit its context, whilst taking their distinctive sound into new territories by introducing new concepts.

“This album isn’t just going to be some filler based around singles,” explains drummer Warren Senior, “it’s going to be a coherent piece of work where everything just makes sense throughout”.

We have seen glimpses of this process already on debut EP ‘Child’, which was released in March earlier this year, and brought together everything that has made MMX unique so far, from the huge harmonies to intricate electronic layers, every tiny nuance as important as the next to create a calculated style that manages to remain heartfelt and resonant. “I guess you could say we’re meticulous,” says bassist Ben Hordos when asked about how they achieve such a determined sound, the rest of the band nod in agreement. “What actually takes time though is adding little bits to the production that only we can hear, so we’ve got no idea how long an album would actually take”.

It becomes clear that a sense of complete control is at the core of the MMX ethos, which stretches far beyond the recording process, even into blocking comments on their youtube videos. This may sound pedantic to some, but one cant argue with their logic, “We don’t allow comments on our videos because people are always going to put unnecessary opinions about unrelated events” Wilkie explains, “we basically like to take the power away from the keyboard warrior as well”.

It is somewhat commendable that MMX are progressing at their own speed, especially with the increased pressure on new bands nowadays to release material at the first signs of buzz. Far too many artists in the past have let themselves down by rush releasing debut albums (“cough-Palma Violets- cough”), and the complex nature of the Oxford quartet’s work no doubt requires time and painstaking levels of detail.

“When we eventually release a debut album we want it to sound as good as it possibly can, so we’re definitely going to take our time with it” concludes Senior.

As long as it doesn’t take years, that’s fine with us.

MMX’s ‘Child’ EP is out now.

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