The Mae Shi

LA's musically eclectic sextet The Mae Shi talk to Dazed on the eve of their Stag & Dagger headline dates.

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The Mae Shi are a hybrid of musical backgrounds and aspirations thrown together to form a 'franchise' band, evolving through a process of reinvention known in the industry as 'snaking' (the shedding of members to reveal a new layer). It's current line-up, Jonathan Gray, Jeff Byron, Tim Byron, Bred Breeck, Jacob Cooper and William Esperanto Gray have been going strong since late 2007. We grab a hasty moment with Jacob Cooper the newest member of the band on the eve of their Stag and Dagger shows in London, Leeds and Glasgow. You can check out their band blog here.

Dazed Digital: What was the inspiration for your latest album?
Jacob Cooper: The end of the world, in both a religious and non-religious perspective at the same time.

DD: Where does your sound come from?
Jacob Cooper: We all listen to a lot of music and play in different sounding bands. Brad is a pop song writer, I'm into digital hardcore, Jon and Bill are in a punk band together, and Jeff composes music and used to be a trance DJ.

DD: What are your favorite tracks from the album, why?
Jacob Cooper: I personally love The Melody. It's a proper pop song and it's the only song from the record we can't tack down as a live band. Go figure.

DD: What was ATP like, it must have been a good to make it onto the fan curated line-up?
Jacob Cooper: We had a blast at ATP. It sort of sucked that none of the rides were working while we were there. They had shut off the whole theme park to throw the festival for ATP. We got to see some amazing bands too like Jesus Lizard and Sleep. I got pretty slammed and ended up having conversation with who I thought was the guitarist for Jesus Lizard for about ten minutes, but 3 days later realised the guy was English and worked for the government. He was still an awesome dude though.

DD: Are you looking forward to Stag and Dagger?
Jacob Cooper: Stag and Dagger is going to be loads of fun. It involves everything we have learned to love: shitty food, drunk people, tons of music in one area, and all night parties. Lock and load.

DD: You've been kicking around since 2003, how do you compare to when you began?
Jacob Cooper: We have had several line up changes. I'm the newest member of the band, and that was about a year and a half ago now. I'd like to consider the Mae Shi as more of a franchise now.

DD: What other bands have you been listening to this week?
Jacob Cooper: Abe Vigoda, our friends who we are touring with.

DD: What kind of sound were you into growing up?
Jacob Cooper: My dad hitting my mom. Just kidding.

DD: How does London compare to California?
Jacob Cooper: California has 'In and Out' Burgers, London has the 'English Breakfast', together, I would be in heaven.

DD: "The Mae Shi is your attempt to grow up?" - How is that working out for you?
Jacob Cooper: We learn a lot every-time we tour or write a record. I think we are all pretty obnoxious and probably weird a lot of people out when they watch us live for the first time. Maybe that's what that means? This band is also catalyst to trying things on our own most of the time like making shirts, putting out our own records, recording ourselves, etc. We depend on being self dependent.

DD: Describe your personal clothing style?
Jacob Cooper: Jeff dresses really nice, and the rest of us dress like children.

DD: Any style icons?
Jacob Cooper: Magnum P.I.

DD: Did you write any new years resolutions, did you stick to them?
Jacob Cooper: I vowed to make better decisions about things this year. I ended up getting two shitty/funny tattoos on the last tour.

DD: What are your plans for the next six months?
Jacob Cooper: Write some new music and relax. We are going to Mexico when we get back to play a show, as well as Pitchfork Festival in Chicago in July. We are also touring with The Germs for four days.

21 May - Stag & Dagger, London
22 May - Stag & Dagger, Leeds
23 May - Stag & Dagger, Glasgow
24 May - Yardbird Jazz Cafe, Birmingham*
25 May - Fleche D'or, Paris*
26 May - Stall 6, Zurich*
27 May - Grrrd Zero, Lyon*
28 May - B-side festival, Marseille*
29 May - Primavera Sound, Barcelona
30 May - Spazio 211, Turin
31 May - Bad Bonn Kilbi, Dudingen-Fribourg
7 June - Parque Fundidora, Monterrey
19 July - Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago
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