The Xcerts’ fourth album “Hold On To Your Heart” is due for release on the 19th of January, 2018 via Raygun Records and the band has already hinted the direction they are taking with the release of singles Daydream and Feels Like Falling in Love, earlier in 2017. The latter moved up to BBC Radio 1’s track of the week and combined over 1,8 million streams of Spotify in a few months. Not to mention the band’s appearance at Reading + Leeds festivals’ mainstage and their triumphant headline show at London’s Scala at the end of last year. Constantly evolving, trying out new ways of crafting art and changing their image gradually, has taken The Xcerts where they are now.
The Xcerts want to be a big band and they’re not afraid to say it out loud. But they are also very aware that it’s a long way. As much as we love The Xcerts, we wouldn’t have bet on their longevity back to when ‘In The Cold Wind We Smile’ (2009) was released, nor their majestic flowering since the 2015 album “There is Only You”. Still, the past year was the occasion for the Scottish to show everyone what they’ve been doing in the past couple years, and more importantly to get everyone onboard for the next big journey.
The boys have grown up with classic music, Tom Petty being singer Murray Macleod’s all-time favorite. So it only seems fair for them to set these artists as role models and take influence from them;“hopefully our songs are timeless, but we won’t know until 20 years from now!”
In an industry that’s constantly evolving but also very difficult to navigate and survive, Murray believes that the only thing he can do to achieve his goals as well as staying true to his ethics is to work hard and be honest, in order to resonate in people’s minds: “You have to keep people interested and especially now because you have so much music. […] It’s like a turnstile. There’s nothing bands can do about it, because it’s up to the consumers, how all of us absorb music. Make as great records as possible. And continue to make music that hopefully really connects with people. They’ll live with it for the rest of their lives“
What The Xcerts are enjoying right now could be very much compared to a re-birth. Oddly enough, it seems like many people were only hearing about them for the first time in 2017 and that the majority thinks they are a new band, whereas we all know that The Xcerts have been around…forever! It takes time to achieve big things, notes Murray: “In the past, if we released something, it sometimes felt like we were swimming upstream, we had to fight for people’s attention”, but the impact they had with Feels Like Falling in Love only is unprecedented, with old fans being ecstatic about it, just as much as the new crowd that’s increasingly gaining interest in The Xcerts; “It feels to us like a mini-explosion!”
The thing is that The Xcerts’ new tracks are a lot more accessible than what the band used to do before, so the connection Is made easy. If you knew The Xcerts back in 2009-2010, circa “In The Cold Wind We Smile” and “Scatterbrain”, you’ve probably noticed that long gone are the good old dark and gloomy spirals of torment. Remember Crisis in the Slow Lane and Hurt With Me! Instead, the band offers to us bright, shiny and positive pop rock anthems; big choruses, “and the big pop thing.” It still, however, holds The Xcerts’ trademark, where it’s lyrically as raw, honest and romantic – in the literary sense : “Feels Like Falling In Love sums up pretty well the record; I romanticize everything in my life…It’s got the romanticism, but it’s also a song about turning negativity into positivity, which I think is an important message right now.”
The Xcerts, in fact, didn’t process to record their album in the most positive mindset at first, but it somehow nurtured their reflection on what they wanted to share this time around: “Turning negativity into positivity goes throughout our album and we wanted it to sound like a very large flower blooming very quickly.” A real challenge for the trio, but also what makes the journey exciting for them; to come back with a new album and a new step towards achieving their dreams. “We wanted to make a really lean record, so if something was put there just for the sake of it into a song, [we would] cut it, [which makes hold on to your heart] a very concise record.”
There’s no shame in dreaming big. On their last tour, The Xcerts played The Scala in London, an 800 capacity venue which they sold out and their next headliner later this year will be their bigger to date, “We want to be a massive band. We absolutely want to be an arena rock band!” If the singer is laughing as he pronounces these words, he is certainly not joking. In fact, his sparkling eyes are worth a thousand words and this is probably what this kid who grew up educating himself with classic records –“Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, always, always!” – has been working towards his whole life.
It is probably baby steps right now, but for the Xcerts, success doesn’t come overnight, despite what the unscrupulous, ruthless music industry wants to make us believe. It is a lot of hard work. Discussing his influences, Macleod mentions as an example that their fellows Biffy Clyro didn’t make it until their 4th record and “they’re like our biggest heroes, so they’ve set the blueprint for us.”
At this moment, the band is focusing on connecting with a new demographic, with the help of “maintstream” radio airplays and other media attention. It only shows how they are now coming across with music for people who dig pop music, as well as indie fans and rock fans. “We are fortunate the people that know our band want to see us succeed […] and scream and shout about us. We are now crossing a few genres.”
With a busy schedule of touring lined up for the upcoming year, one must wonder how overwhelming such a agenda can become, for humans like these three; “It’s terrifying. I get butterflies in my tummy before getting on stage. I used to get really bad, I used to really freak out, but we’ve been doing it for a long time now and I’ve definitely learned to calm down.” Judging by their ability to unite crowds that are not theirs to sing along to the infamous “I’ll be your man, I’ll be your mannequin” (Slackerpop, 2010), the trio has clearly come a long way.
The Xcerts are happy to be set with their record and see their shows get bigger and busier, but right now, Murray Macleod simply takes pride in still being the same group of friends who created this band in school many years ago, when they first started. “The fact that we haven’t murdered one another is pretty amazing to me […] There’s been huge milestones, but I really do think that just the fact that we’re still happy and excited to be in a band is my proudest achievement.”
‘Hold On To Your Heart’ – out on 19/01/2018
via Raygun Records
Catch The Xcerts on the road in The UK (+ more to be announced)