Interview – Marmozets

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Marmozets photo by Steve Gerrard

Marmozets aren’t great at doing nothing. Backstage at Birmingham’s Academy, brothers Sam & Josh Macintyre are more than happy to be back on the road after a prolonged period away from the stage partly due to their vocalist & sister Becca being housebound for several months following a major operation to correct a condition that meant her knees would pop out of their sockets. Not something any of us would want to experience but even more of an issue when you’re fronting an energetic rock band about to launch their much-anticipated second album.

“It’s been really annoying not being able to tour,” Sam tells me. “This is the first time, as a band, we’ve had a break this long. I’m 23 now and we started this band when we were like 14, so even though we’re still young and this is only our second album, we’ve been playing shows for about ten years now. So I found this break challenging. It’s nice to be back.”

On their 10 year anniversary as a band, it’s been an interesting journey for the band from Bingley, West Yorkshire. Their sound began in more of a technical, math-rock vein before moving more and more towards feisty pop-punk anthems that saw them being picked up by mainstream radio. When the band began, Josh says he was listening to a lot of Green Day but his brother’s record collection was more diverse.

“It’s funny,” says Sam. “When I was 13 or 14, my uncle used to DJ for Ministry Of Sound and did electronic stuff and I grew up listening to Basement Jaxx and Chemical Brothers. Even though we’re in a rock band I listen to quite a lot of electronic music. But then I was listening to Nirvana & Foo Fighters and then when we met the Bottomleys (Marmozets’ guiratist Jack and bass player Will) it was getting towards bands like Big Black and Steve Albini stuff. It was quite a mixture. I used to listen to a lot more heavy stuff as well. My friend introduced me to bands like Job For A Cowboy when I was about 13. We were on the bus on a school trip and he played me Job For A Cowboy and it freaked me the hell out!”

Josh adds, “I remember listening to bands like At The Drive-In and Mars Volta but Jack & Will listened to that stuff way more than I did. I only really played the really heavy stuff because it was just fun to play. As a drummer I was way more angry back then than I am now so playing the heaviest beat I can play would get all that anger out.”

It took a few years but Marmozets’ sound continued to develop into something that struck a chord when they released their debut album, The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets, in 2014.

Josh remembers those early days finding their sound. “We were writing a lot of technical stuff which was fun stuff to play but we got bored of that after a while.”

“Yeah, we wanted to write something that we could actually appreciate ourselves,” says Sam. “We were getting heavier and heavier but then we chose to do more melodic stuff. Maybe one day down the line we’ll bring something out that’s just ridiculously heavy. But in recent years I’ve been listening to bands like Sigur Ros and This Will Destroy You or Sufjan Stevens and Jose Gonzalez. We all listen to so much different music. Our sound has changed too. We just wanted something more engaging, musically and lyrically.”

The new material represents a definite shift from the debut album but the band are happy with how the songs are going down with fans.

“It’s always good to see people’s reactions and to see what they think,” Josh says. “The new stuff is going so down really well and I haven’t seen one bad thing online yet. Even one of the new ones we’ve been playing called Major System Error. Before it was even released fans were singing it when we played it live. People were going mental. It’s almost got that Prodigy kind of feel to it.”

I ask them what song were they are most excited for people to hear from the new album?

Josh says “I think mine is probably Me & You.” His brother agrees, adding, “Me & You and Insomnia. They’re the songs that are the biggest leap as a band. But all these songs felt like they came out very naturally. Becca’s vocals on Insomnia are something else. But Me & You is about our nan who passed away and it’s a really personal one to Bec.”

Marmozets by Steve Gerrard

The new album is called Knowing What You Know Now, and that leads to an obvious question. Knowing what they know now, what advice would Sam and Josh give to the band originally called The Marmozets starting out in 2007?

Sam quickly replies “Don’t stress out mate!” before Josh adds “Yeah, that’s kinda where that title came from. Giving ourselves advice like Sam was saying, don’t stress out, relax and go with it. Things happen and things just get better.”

But Sam realises he may have answered too quickly. “For me, that’s the kind of question I have to walk away for five minutes and think about it.”

It’s probably a question they’ll probably get asked a lot!

Sam laughs. “It’s a good question. So for anyone out there, just hang tight. It’ll be alright. Do what you’ve got to do and just enjoy it.”

March 16th sees Marmozets return to Montreal for a headline show at Petit Campus. What memories do the brothers have of their last visit to the city.

“It was the one where Josh dressed up and ran down the street as a woman,” recalls Sam.

“Ahh yes, I do remember that,” admits Josh. “There were prostitutes around that area and I remember one guy turning up in his car and giving me a kind of wink.”

Marmozets at Birmingham Academy by Steve Gerrard

I end our chat by asking them to name two albums they’d take to a desert island.

“For me, probably Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys cos it has so many ridiculous hits on there,” Sam says. “And then maybe something like Mac Demarco or something,” before quickly changing his mind. “No, I’ll go with Queens Of The Stone Age, Songs For The Deaf.”

Josh goes for a more chilled vibe. “I’d go for Sigur Ros’ Valtari and Bon Iver – Bon Iver. You have to have that chilled music on a desert island.”

And what album do they love that fans wouldn’t expect?

Sam thinks for a while before answering. “Riceboy Sleeps, which is Jonsi from Sigur Ros and his boyfriend Alex and they made this absolutely beautiful album.”

Josh checks his phone looking for inspiration. “I don’t know, maybe Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence.”

Our chat turns to festivals and hanging out with more mainstream artists backstage. “We met Sting in France and he was absolutely hilarious. We were backstage and he was headlining this beautiful festival and the backstage area was this amazing French mansion with the catering for all the artists. We were all just stood there admiring the building and Sting shows up, looks at it and says “Ha. My house is bigger than that!” and then just walks off. It’s true probably but he just has this dry sense of humour.”

Marmozets may not quite be ready to begin house-hunting in Sting’s neighbourhood just yet but their star is certainly on the rise. And if you see anyone walking around near Petit Campus in a dress on March 16th, it may just be the drummer of the band you’re heading to see!

For tickets to Marmozets’ Montreal show CLICK HERE

Interview and photos – Steve Gerrard


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