No matter how old you are, there are few things more exhilarating than an up-and-coming guitar band wowing audiences and making a splash. Even when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, the energy and impetuousness of youth means there’s always new pretenders to check out. The buzz around Marseille suggests they stand as good a chance as any to make an impact, and as they’re heading to Scotland for the first time, we tracked them down for a few words.
SNACK caught up with Will Brown (vocalist) and Joe Labram (guitarist) to discuss starting out, growing big, TV, fashion, and smelly cars.
How did the band get started?
Will Brown: Me and Joe played in bands together before, ages ago. Joe lived near my gran and grandad’s house, so we chatted about music, stuff like Kasabian, and started this project. Then Tom [Spray, drummer] joined after he left uni, then Lennon [Hall, rhythm guitar] and Felix [Moxey, bassist] came along, it happened quite naturally.
Any reasoning behind the name?
Will: Named after the football team, I had a trackie top, and I thought it was a cool name for a band.
What’s the general song writing process for Marseille?
Joe: Will comes in with the bones of a song, the chords. He’ll either show it to me, or to the whole band in the rehearsal room. With each member’s influence, we’ll add our own parts to it, it all comes together from there as a Marseille song.
Have you ever been surprised at how much a song has changed?
Will: That’s definitely happened a few times. In our first band, we had a song that was basically a ‘Supersonic’ by Oasis ripoff, when we brought it to Marseille, it became a shoegazey, groovy, Stone Roses type of song. I don’t understand how some songs evolve like that due to other people’s input.
One song which has changed a lot is ‘State of Mind’, it’s now got a massive outro.
What are the influences on the group?
Joe: It’s different for each member. For me, as a guitarist, I go for the big names, Jimmy Page, Dave Gilmour, and I’ve started to get into The Black Keys recently. Tom is a heavy hitting drummer, so he is a big John Bonham fan, but he’s also into ballads. Lennon is a Beatles fan, Felix likes The Smiths and The Stones, and Will, you like The Verve, don’t you?
Will: Yeah, I’m really into The Verve, for the song writing perspective. Early Verve; the first two albums are the best.
Correct answer. Anyways, your first major tour is looming large, including your first gigs in Scotland, are you looking forward to it?
Will: Big time.
Joe: It’s a milestone to say the least, for us, at the age we are, to go around the UK is fantastic.
Will: When we do the tour, I’ll have just turned 18, so I’ll expect to smash a few bars.
You’ll play a lot of places you haven’t played before, are you prepared to win a lot of people over?
Will: We’ll give it a shot. We’ve always been keen to do well locally, but then spread the word around the UK. It’s all word-of-mouth. A lot of people want to see us down south, and we think that’s because of the Isle of Wight performance, louds people were talking about that. We’ll try to conquer the North too, Scotland is a new territory for us, so let’s do that!
Will, you’ve got a Scottish family link, any added pressure or excitement for these shows?
Will: I’m really looking forward to it, seeing everyone again, I’m buzzing and I can’t wait to show them what I’ve been up to.
Joe: It is just a fantastic milestone, and new territory, I’m sure it’ll be an insane couple of nights, hopefully people will be in for a treat.
Will: We tried to get these gigs on a Friday and Saturday night, help people have a mad one.
You’ve a new song ‘Only Just Begun’ coming out in January, what’s that about, and what’s it like?
Will: It was written a while ago in lockdown, about a relationship that ended too soon. That’s what the lyrics are about. It’s evolved a lot with the band on it, it’s one of the more 60s inspired songs. We’re trying to use influences which date further back.
You’ve been in the studio recently, how was that, and what was that for?
Joe: That was a fun experience, three days in Birmingham, a lot of hard work, three songs, but I reckon we’ll keep it on the downlow for a bit. When we hear them back, we’ll maybe reveal a bit more, but it was fun to say the least.
Have you noticed a big difference in your approach to the studio compared to live shows?
Joe: I’d say so, both very enjoyable, for different reasons. When playing live, you have the crowd and the chemistry of the band, and it’s what you’re there to do. With the studio it’s different, we can add more layers and try out different sounds. I love studio time as much as playing live.
Will: There are some songs that are more in your face live than the recorded version. I love playing live because you feed off everyone else. If the crowd is loving it and you love it, it elevates your performance even more. Of course, in the studio, you have to recreate that energy without feeding off anything.
You played some major festivals in 2022, the Isle of Wight and Y-Not, how was it?
Joe: The festivals were one of my favourite times in Marseille so far. Isle of Wight was a fun road trip with mates, food and drink in the car, and then getting the ferry across. As 17-year-olds, it doesn’t happen that often. We hope to do more this year. It was the same for Y-Not too.
Will: Our band’s humour is awful, if people saw us and heard us, they’d ask if these lads hate each other, but no, we all get on, we just say dreadful things.
Also, on the way to Isle of Wight, we ripped into Lennon for bringing the smelliest food ever. Chicken tikka bites, everything stunk out.
Joe: It tasted alright, but the smell lingered.
Another big thing for you last year was one of your songs featured on Soccer AM, and did that help you reach new fans?
Will: That massively impacted the band, big time. Joe was on Spotify and watching the numbers go up and up. It was the first time we had major exposure, wasn’t it?
Joe: I’d say so. When the song first started playing, I was watching it go 32, 100, 200, and thought this was insane, and it shows what this show can do. It has brought a lot of new fans along, so it has massively benefitted us.
Will: It’s surreal. I used to go to football training on Saturday morning with my dad, and come home and watch Soccer AM. I did that until I was about 8, and I imagine being able to tell that kid he’d be on Soccer AM in 14 years’ time, that’s crazy!
There’s been a couple of line-up changes and you’re now a five-piece, do you feel things are clicking into place?
Joe: I think we’ve completed it as a five-piece. Now that Felix is in, he’s talented and a great laugh, but the live show is different. Will has put the guitar down and Lennon has moved to rhythm. The live show is better now, we enjoy it more, so we’ve completed the puzzle, onwards and upwards.
What have you enjoyed most about the Marseille experience so far?
Joe: One of the more recent ones, I loved it when we played the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham as a five piece. The reaction was something else, unless you’re in a band you can’t describe that, that was something for me.
Will: For me, just writing songs and watching them come to life when the rest of the lads get on it. Even just putting the album track list together with Joe, and seeing how it flows, that’s special. I love the creative side, I love playing gigs and going out with my mates, everything’s great about this.
The creative side of making music is important, but obviously artwork, logos and your look is something that matters as well?
Joe: That’s very important. Our logo and artwork, all that is done by our designer Karl Shaw. He has his own clothing store, Mr Shaw 75, we wear a lot of his stuff on stage, and he does all the graphic design for us. Great guy, too!
Will: Clothes are as important to us as music.
Joe: I don’t look at The Stone Roses or Oasis and say, I want to look like them, but the 90s era looked cool, so you wear Adidas and Fila.
Will: If it looks cool, it looks cool. We’re not brand snobs, we wear what we think is cool. That’s all.
What’s been the most frustrating thing so far, and what have you done to overcome these problems?
Will: Some of our songs can be quite long, ‘The Jungle’ is 9 minutes, and it’s hard to get radio play with long songs. We’ve overcome it with radio edits.
Joe: I’d agree, you don’t want to shorten it because the magic of the song is in the length. Having the full thing is awesome, but having the radio play is vital too.
Do you deliberately create long songs or does it just happen?
Will: It was a bit rebellious for us, we got told our songs are too long. So, we decided to release a nine-minute song. We had a bass riff and thought we could jam it out for nine minutes.
Joe: It goes down great live, people love it, we got a remix of it too, so the nine-minute song didn’t go too badly.
How did the remix come about?
Joe: We thought this is cool and groovy, and that a remix would be different for a band like us. We’re big fans of Spirit Of Spike Island [record label], with acts like Pastel, Afflecks Palace, and Vega Rally. Vega does his own stuff, makes his own tracks, and he did a Pastel remix, so we asked him. It came to life, we went for a Fatboy Slim vibe, it was perfect.
Will: Stuff like The Chemical Brothers, you know Noel Gallagher and Tim Burgess worked with them, so there’s that. I love house music, it’s a low-key thing, I don’t shout it from the rooftops, but I do like it, and thought it’d be nice to get a beat behind it. It’s nine minutes long, so Vega had plenty to work with.
What other bands do you like coming through?
Joe: Locally, we have a few great bands coming through. Shadows of A Silhouette are supporting us at The Hairy Dog in Derby. The Mease released an album recently, they’re great.
Will: A band called The Institutes from Coventry who took us under their wing. They sound as though they’ve got shorter pop versions of Ride tracks in my opinion, they’re good.
If things go to plan, what are your ambitions for 2023?
Joe: Ambitions this year are to get in the studio to record more tracks, try to sell out this tour, try and hop on as much as we can in the festival season, and just keep the band growing. Grow the fanbase. We had the same ambitions for 2022, but keep that going, get big.
Will: It takes time for people to fall in love with you, but it’s inevitable they will!
Why should people come along and see Marseille on this tour?
Will: We aim to blow the roof off everywhere we go. I’d say we’re better live than what we are on record. If you like what you hear on Spotify, or whatever you listen on, come along, it’ll be better.
Joe: Also, for the price of your ticket, you’ll get three great bands in great places. You’ll be mesmerised, and it’s only £8!
Will: Times are tough, so we want to give people a good night for a great price, three amazing bands at the right price.