“Life Is Beautiful is all about kind of growing into love and growing into relationships”: An Interview with Maggie Cassidy

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Maggie Cassidy is a band you want on your radar. Their music centres around mental health and the importance of talking about it. In this interview, Maggie Cassidy delve into why mental health is an important part of their identity as a band and how they want to use their platform to spread awareness. This interview took place after their epic set at The Joiners on 4th June, and they reveal their plans for the future and tell us what it’s like to be performing again. If you haven’t listened to Maggie Cassidy before, this interview will surely convince you to give them a listen!

How does it feel to be back performing in front of a live audience?

Tom: It was genuinely amazing for me as soon as we started playing, I saw some eyes looking out for me and the lights and stuff- all this sort of crap from COVID and the past year and a bit, or whatever it is, kind of like two years, feels kind of like melted away a little bit. Performing just felt right. It’s good. I had the time of my life.

Jan: I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yeah, it’s really good. It’s really good to play live. I was quite nervous. I think it was because this was the show to start the year off. I was saying earlier, but like the first quarter of the show- I spent the whole night focusing on the first part. And yeah, I thought, if I don’t fuck up the first quarter, everything will be fine.

Jamie: He was awesome.

Jan: Yeah it’s great to be back out there with the boys.

Lewis: Yeah, I loved it. It was ecstatic. I haven’t been on stage for the last four years, so it was great.

Jamie: I thought it was awesome as soon as we got here, because sometimes with sound checks, you can get a bit of like, people with egos or cliques and stuff. And we played and people were just like literally clapping, and everyone’s so nice. If you’ve got good company like the bands, the bar was amazing. But I knew as soon as we got here, everyone’s lovely, we just knew it’s just gonna be a great show.

Your name comes from the Jack Kerouac book Maggie Cassidy, what was it about this book that made you name yourself after it?

Jan: That is a good question, a very good question. I think for me that book is really kind of like, resonant. There’s a young love, but it’s also about loss. I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to. So, it’s one of my favourite books and when we were searching for a name, we locked ourselves in a room for hours. So, well we were meant to be called ‘Blood Honey’ and then we found that a band in the same town had the same name. And then we locked ourselves in a room and we’re like, we’re not going to leave this room until we’ve got a name. And it was a very stressful number of hours.

Tom: Yeah, then Jan just slapped this book down on the table and was ‘Maggie Cassidy’ and it was the only one that we could all agree that we didn’t not like. No one had a problem with it.

Does Beat literature (Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Charles Bukowski etc) inspire your music?

Jamie: For me it’s very much about life experience. Like I said tonight, I met Holly (the promoter) seven years ago, when she was super young and just listening to bands. She inspired me to start writing about things like mental health and things that actually happened and things that make it make it count for people.

Tom: Inspiration for me, comes in many forms. Even coffee for me, like sometimes, one of our songs ‘Hard Reality’ came about by me just humming something. Like again, and again, it got stuck in my head. And then other times I’ve like been sat working in a shop and I can hear faintly on the radio, something can’t really tell what it is, I can just hear a bit of it like the drums or something like, so I’ve like taken that and then sort of built on it. And then years later, I find out what the song is and why it sounds completely different.

Jamie: In a way our name inspires our music-  like the book is all about love and loss and ‘You Don’t Excite Me’ from our EP Life Is Beautiful is all about kind of growing into love and growing into relationships, which is a brand-new thing for me to try and focus on. It’s probably my favourite song I’ve written.

Where does the title of your EP Life Is Beautiful come from?

Tom: Jan was really looking for something that we could sort of like brand in a way. And he wanted like something where you could have like multiple answers to it. And it was kind of like, inspired a little bit by a film called Trainspotting, where they have this whole like montage of like, choose life, choose death. And I think we were sort of running on that. And loads of ideas were sort of floating around, and then ‘Life is…’ came up. And I think we just arrived at Life is Beautiful.

Mental health is a key theme throughout your music, can you describe the importance of discussing these issues throughout your music?  

Jamie: Yeah, so I don’t think it’s talked about as much as we need in order to move the dial towards bringing awareness to mental health. At our show we tell this story about our promoter Holly who I met when I was 18, she said to me that one of my songs called ‘Reason to Scream’, stopped her from doing something stupid. And that stuck with me and we stayed in touch ever since.

Jack: Everyone’s going through it like, especially with a pandemic- pretty much everyone has been submerged in it.

Jamie: Yeah, it’s about feeling connected and like you can think about things properly and try and get better. Because it’s really hard at the moment for a lot of people. So yeah, if I’ve got a microphone and I’m 26 and confident on stage then I’m going to talk about it because it’s really fucking important.

Now that lockdown seems to be over do you have any big plans for 2021?

Jamie: We are hoping to release Maggie Cassidy the lost tapes, which is solely songs we wish we’d recorded, and we are hoping to perform more as well.

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Editor 2020/21 and a History student with a Britney Spears addiction.

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