Next Wave #977: Marsicans
“We’ve never had any idea of what exactly we’re doing. We make many wrong choices, and then make a right one; for everything we’ve ever done well, we’ve done five things wrong to get to that point,” says bassist and singer Rob Brander of Leeds quartet Marsicans, speaking of their journey as an indie band who allow their music to lead the way. Out now, debut record ‘Ursa Major’ is the latest addition to the band’s list of things they’ve done well.
Speaking of the album - which gate-crashed the charts - guitarist/vocalist James Newbigging says: “We’re constantly trying to push ourselves in a new direction. As a band who has been releasing a lot of singles, we had a lot of fun working on an album. We had a bit more creative freedom to explore other musical avenues; musically this time around bit heavier and darker.” He adds: “We’re always been a bit tongue-in-cheek lyrically and that’s carried on in this record as well.”
They reveal that they’ve always drawn inspiration from the people and stories around them – taking real sometimes silly, sometimes serious experiences, trivialising them and providing a whole new perspective to listeners. Giving a general example of the kind of things that inspire them, Brander recounts: “I was watching the Netflix show Sex Education, and one of the characters was speaking about someone else and their line ‘she’s my blind spot’, and I thought that was really cool so I wrote a song recently taking inspiration from it. One line is enough to start the song and then we build around it.”
Talking about specifically about ‘Ursa Major’, he adds: “’Dr Jekyll’ is a very personal song about someone I really care about and it’s not exactly a nice song. It was a sensitive thing to write about, and I’m pleased it turned out well.”
Newbigging adds: “I take inspiration from people and conversations around me. For example, a lyric in the song ‘Sunday’, was drawn from something a mate’s Dad said. He was watching a film and when I asked what he was watching he said ‘just some love story shit’, and I felt it summed up the rom-com genre so perfectly. I love taking big things in life and making them smaller and bare for everyone to see.”
- - -
- - -
While they’ve got a solid process for making music, the four-piece – rounded out by Oliver Jameson on guitar, and Matthew ‘Cale’ McHale on drums – have always achieved their end result in an organic manner. “Rather than try and make the tracks fit a certain mould we were happy to let the song decide its own direction. If we like something we don’t think about it too much and just go for it, that allows us to stumble upon new things about our own music.”
Delving into an example, Brander says: “There’s a track called ‘Sleep Star’ which takes influences from the Beatles. There are some sitar sounds and textures that’s different from our usual stuff.”
They attribute these differences to growing up and evolving not only as artists but as people. Talking about the overall message of the album, they add: “The overarching message of this record is being caught in the middle of a post-adolescent existence and learning to go with it. Some tracks are about being head over heels in love or feeling anxious or troubled. It’s about being a mess, but being alright with it. Don’t be harsh on yourself and you’re no more of a mess than anything around you.”
Getting further into messages and songwriting within the album, Brander explains: “A lot of our lyrics were written during a time where we had done a lot of growing, where we were more established as adults. We were more self-aware, but we’re less guarded now. We’ve just grown up and that’s reflected in the lyrics.” Newbigging adds: “We concentrate more on exploring the song writing rather than chasing the hook. Rather than a specific sonic direction, we’ve become keen to keep trying new things on each track.”
This interest in keeping things fresh isn’t new, as Brander reveals: “One thing we did consciously even in a previous EP was write songs which were influenced by specific genres within an indie pop sphere. Other genres have always been at the back of minds even as we write within indie pop whether that’s electronic, heavy rock or hip-hop.”
As a band who have always preferred writing music in the presence of one another, Marsicans predictably struggled with the screeching halt the world has come to. This however didn’t stop them from putting their all into ‘Ursa Major’. In fact, they’ve found enough to motivation to write music for the future as well. “We’re hoping to amend the tour and make it work next year. But we want to tour our album, while we aren’t able to do it in the way that we hoped but one good thing we’ve been writing a lot and we might have two new records sat on our hard drives.”
- - -
- - -
'Ursa Major' is out now.
Words: Malvika Padin
Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.