Marseille singer Will Brown speaks to Live4ever to explain the band’s backstory, songwriting process and what the rest of 2023 holds in store.
One of the new breed of young bands proudly taking their influence from 90’s Madchester and 60’s Merseybeat, Marseille are a five-piece band consisting of Will Brown, Joe Labram, Lennon Hall, Tom Spray and most recent addition Felix Moxey.
With patronage from Soccer AM and BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq already on their score sheet, and having completed a successful 10-date tour of the UK, recently the quintet released their Freedom EP.
How did the band come together?
Me and Joe have been mates since Year 8 in school. Our grandparents lived near each other so we got into the habit of talking to each other about music.
Then one day he asked me, ‘Do you like Kasabian?’. ‘Yeah, I do.’ Me and Joe have been in and out of bands together for a while. When we did Marseille, I asked him to join and Tom joined on drums just after uni.
We found Lennon at an open mic night, who initially joined on bass then went to rhythm guitar, and we met Felix at college. We’ve been together about 9 months as a 5-piece.
What are the band’s main influences?
Early on it was the basics: Oasis, The Stone Roses, Kasabian. But now, since Lennon joined ( with a name like that he’s into his 60’s music), it’s more The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Love, The Doors…all that kind of stuff. I’d say that’s the way (our writing) is going at the minute, the more psychedelia route.
How do the songs come about?
I used to write the songs on acoustic guitar at home, but because we only live about 5 minutes away from each other it’s been a bit more collaborative between me and Joe. One of us will have the bones of an idea and we’ll come together and jam it all out. Earlier on it was more just me showing the songs.
We’ve got a single with three B-sides coming out in the summer. I wrote all the songs on the EP, but with this next single all the B-sides are written by me and Joe.
On Forever, I was on rhythm guitar, but the only reason I did that was to be able to get these songs down and start writing them. I’m not the best rhythm guitarist but I made do and I couldn’t really be a frontman while playing guitar on stage, and Lennon’s a rhythm player by trade. Our live performances have really elevated since then.
How was the recent tour?
We did a full UK tour of 10 dates going far and wide. There was one week where we went from Norwich to Manchester in a day. That was mental and really tiring. I think we were all living on Red Bull! But it’s been really good.
We’ve played to our fair share of empty rooms over the years, but when we did the tour every single venue was near-enough sold out. All these people coming to see us and singing the songs back…it was really something mental for us. We were expecting some gigs to be better than others but it was the same level all the way through.
We’ve got quite a lot of festivals coming up, which I can’t say because the bill hasn’t been announced yet, but there’s some big ones. We’ve got a few support slots with bands in the autumn which are exciting, although we can’t say anything about them either!
We can’t wait to share what’s been going on behind the scenes. We’ve supported The Sherlocks before but we don’t really get many slots if I’m honest. I think it’s because we’ll blow them all away!
Tell us about the Freedom EP.
We released that ourselves, all the promotion was us. It was mainly independent but we’ve got a really exciting label looking at us because of that. That will be announced soon as well!
I think the EP shows different sides of us: it starts off with a hard-hitting track in Freedom then it goes into the jangle-pop that we do, Thinker is more of a ballad then Lost & Found is the first song we wrote as a band.
We don’t really push that now as we’ve moved on. It stills sounds great but we’ve got a lot of diverse songs in the band, and the ones that haven’t been released yet means the older ones can suffer. We’ve got a single with three B-sides coming out in the summer.
Presumably an album will follow.
I reckon you can expect an album next summer. We’ve got it written but it’s just a case of finding the right producer. It’s been good to go for a while but we’ve already started writing stuff for the second album which is a bit different but the same style. The first album is more hard-hitting and aggressive and the second plays to the upbeat, happy side.
We worked with our initial producer but this label are looking to put us on with Simon Jones (The Verve) or potentially Youth. He produces a band called This Is War. The Verve are my second favourite band of all time.
What are your long-term plans?
As a band everyone’s aim is to go to top and create something new. Make music and change up the game. Take the 1990’s stuff, tie in with the elements of 1960’s stuff and get in the charts. Rather than tie it down to one style, we’re trying to do as many different songs as possible of those eras then get it out and take over the whole guitar scene.
What do you make of the current UK guitar scene?
I really admire Pastel and The Goa Express. Institutes are good (but otherwise) I think it’s predictable at the minute. You can tell exactly what every song is gonna do, how long it’s gonna be. You know exactly when the chorus is gonna kick in. I’ve noticed in a lot of current guitar music (that the) guitars come blaring in straight away and as soon as the vocals come in, the guitars drop out. What isn’t it in your face all the way through?
I wish everyone had their own unique style. Bands all sound like one and I’d rather just develop our thing and make it unique.