Maps @ Reading Festival 2007

We caught up with James Chapman from Maps at Reading to discuss wrestling, nearly ending his career and, of course, his Mercury Music Prize nomination...

Virtual Festivals: Have you been to Reading Festival before?
James Chapman: “I’ve been here quite a few times, though it is quite strange to be on this side of the stage. But it’s going really well, the sun's out and it’s a really nice atmosphere.”

VF: I imagine that playing Reading is a bit of a right of passage for a musician. Do you need to do a couple of Reading festivals to believe that it’s all really happening?
JC: “Yeah, it sums up where we’re at, we’re doing pretty well. The band is at a place that we’re pretty pleased with. We’re just really excited to be playing – it’s really cool.”

VF: What has been your best ever Reading Festival experience?
JC: “It was The Chemical Brothers ages ago when they were headlining the main stage. They were amazing.”

VF: What do you think sets this festival apart from others?
JC: “It’s the line-up. I know it sounds cheesy but there’s something for everyone. There’s the rock on the main stage but for people who aren’t into that they can have a wander around. Maybe come and watch us?”

VF: Who are you looking forward to seeing?
JC: “I wanted to see The Shins but it didn’t work out. I would like to see LCD Soundsystem but I haven’t really thought about it.  I’ll just take a wander around and see what takes my fancy.”

VF: You played Leeds on Friday, how did that go down?
JC: “It was cool. The weather was hot which was awesome. I was really nervous because everyone was saying it was horrible, but then we got there and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.”

VF: So did you turn up with your wellies and a canoe for the rain?
JC: “Yeah and I haven’t touched them since. I think it is a conspiracy to just get people to leave stuff here.”

VF: What can people expect from your set today?
JC: “We’re playing a pretty banging festival set. We’re just going to try and enjoy our sets as much as possible and then hopefully other people will too.”

VF: You have done quite a few festivals this year, which has been the best yet?
JC: “I reckon, for performance and for response from the crowd, it was Accelerator Festival in Sweden. It was amazing; people were going crazy. They were singing along and jumping up and down. It was surreal but it was great.”

VF: So you don’t do lots of European festivals?
JC: “We have done Paris, Norway and Sweden. But we have a European tour coming up in September. Then we are off to the States in October before we come back here to do a proper UK tour so it’s pretty hectic at the moment.”

VF: How are you finding the touring life considering you made the record on your own and now you’re sharing it with other band members?
JC: “I don’t know if I’m lucky or not. But it’s a special thing when you get a group of people together so quickly. We have a great laugh though it could be a nightmare if we weren’t really getting along but luckily we all do.”

VF: How is transferring your music, which was produced in a bedroom, to the live experience?
JC: “I had to think about it a lot. I knew I had to do it live but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I knew it couldn’t just be me, with a laptop, alone on the stage so I thought other members would make it more interesting. It makes the live music quite different from the recorded stuff.”

VF: Did you have to expand it to make it bigger?
JC: “Yeah, we had to make it have more of a band sound. We use a backing track from the laptop, but it adds up to a really good musical experience.”

VF: Most people know you at the moment for being the guy who was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. How does that feel?
JC: “I was blown away, just stunned by the whole thing. I’m really excited and proud to be on the list because it makes me feel like everything I’ve done is worthwhile. For people to be connecting with my album is a great feeling.”

VF: Did it cross your mind beforehand that you could be nominated?
JC: “In the back of my mind I thought it would be awesome, but I’ve thought that since I was eighteen. I think it’s interesting to see who’s been nominated because it shows where music is at today.”

VF: Who do you reckon will win?
JC: “A lot of people have asked me that. The album I listen to most is the Bat for Lashes, I think they have something really special.”

VF: What’s your tip to a Reading Festival goer?
JC: “Pace yourself, which I haven’t been doing. I was actually walking around last night in a wrestling belt. We thought last night it would be a good idea to come on stage to the Rocky theme tune and then I woke up this morning and was like: ‘what the hell was I thinking?’ That would definitely be career over.”

VF: Did you stay in a hotel last night?
JC: “No way, camping all the way. Keeping it real.”