Interview: Arkells

Kicking off for Frank Turner during his latest UK are alt-rock touring troubadours Arkells. Having toured together previously to sold-out audiences in North America, Arkells are now returning the favour on his home turf. I was fortunate to have some time with the band’s frontman Max Kerman.

Could you tell me about how you initially got involved with music and who influenced you most?
My dad was a DJ at the local University radio station when he was in school. He went to school in Detroit and was surrounded by Motown, and all the great music of the late 60’s. The first movie I ever remember watching was Help, and from that moment The Beatles became my favourite band. As a songwriter, listening to The Beatles and Motown is a great place learn about the craft itself.

Could you tell me about how the band came to be formed? 
Nick, Mike and I met in the first year of University when we were 17-18 years old. I went to school looking to start a band and lucked out! Mike and I lived on Arkell Street, and that’s where our name comes from. We thought it sounded like a 60’s doo-wop group: the Sherelles, the Vandellas etc.

For those who are new to your music which three tracks would you encourage them to check out first and why?
Give a listen to People’s Champ – our latest single, Knocking At the Door and Leather Jacket! All three are key sing-a-longs in our live set and a fair gateway into what it’s like to see Arkells in concert.

What bands and artists are you currently listening to and how are they inspiring you to explore and implement new ideas with your music?
So many! Everything from Wilco to CHVRCHES to Kanye to Florence to Springsteen to Arcade Fire to Dylan to Jay-Z.

We’ve had a chance to open for a lot of bands, but there’s never been a better fit than playing with Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls.

You are just approaching the halfway point on your tour. How has it been for you so far?
The tour has been amazing so far. We’ve had a chance to open for a lot of bands, but there’s never been a better fit than playing with Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls. Their audience is very open-minded and there to have a good time. They share the same spirit as us. We played in Sheffield last night, and it was my favourite show of the tour so far. But just before the last song they all started chanting “You’re shie” at us, I was very confused because they looked like they were having a great time. I replied “ I don’t know what you’re talking about but I’ll take it as a compliment! 1, 2, 3, 4!”

After the show many kind people came up to me and told me the chant was “Yorkshire.” We were all relieved.

While on tour do you get very much time to explore the towns and cities that you are playing?
Yeah – our band takes great pride in exploring the towns we play. We took a tour of Belfast, and the history of that town was so powerful. We had the nicest day in Edinburgh history – sunny and 20 degrees. The city looked so magnificent. Pulling in to Liverpool today and hitting up the Beatles museum!

What does the rest of 2018 have in store for you?
Finishing up our record, summer festivals and we’ll be back in the UK this fall. I mean autumn! The locals have corrected me on this a number of times.


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