via Bullet Music
The Marcus King Band came to Terminal West in Atlanta on a frigid Saturday night in January. A previously sold out show didn't quite pack out after icy roads left many unable to make it to the venue. That didn't stop the guys from heating the place up, though. Marcus and the band played a mixture of originals off the recently released self titled album, their first studio album Soul Insight, and some crowd favorite covers including a soaring version of Hot 'Lanta by The Allman Brothers Band. Marcus was gracious enough to grant us a brief interview backstage just before the show. Here's a few things we learned about the young phenom.
How did The Marcus King Band come together?
I met my drummer, Jack Ryan, about four years ago this April. He was playing in another band with our trumpet player, Justin...I saw them playing in Greenville, and said “that’s my drummer." We got together about a month after that, started renting a house together, and building a band. We had a bass player and a keys player, so we were ready to cut a record. Shortly later we went out to San Diego, and did Soul Insight. When we came back our bass player and keyboard player had to split back to school, but we’re all still great friends. At that time, Matt Jennings (keyboard player) was just moving back from the Northern California area, and he needed a gig so that worked out great. Stephen Campbell (bassist) was playing with my friend Vincent who was getting ready to go back to school. He was in the band before he knew he was in the band because I told Vincent I really liked his bass player, and he said he was going to school anyways so I said “I’ll take him!" Then, I just kind of met Dean Mitchell (saxophonist) wandering the streets of Asheville. And here we are today.
How do you approach songwriting being so young and constantly on the go?
The more we travel the harder it becomes to really have a process. I don’t stick to any kind of particular writing process. It just comes in spurts of different ideas or arrangements I come up with when I have a second to sit down after sound check at a keyboard, or when I’m playing a guitar in the hotel room practicing. The lyrics can come to me in the van through all the chaos. It’s kind of similar to the early part of writing I did when I was in a real dark place, and didn’t like being alone. I’d always surround myself with people who were partying at my house, but I never really wanted to be a part of it. I just didn’t want to be alone.
You’ve already gotten to play with some phenomenal musicians. Is there anyone you haven’t played with that you’d like to?
Well, the Christmas Jam really knocked off a lot of cats that I’ve been wanting to play with. I got to play with John Medeski and George Porter. I would really like to play with Chris Wood and Billy Martin, the rest of Medeski Martin & Wood. There’s an endless pool of guys I’ve met, but we just haven’t gotten the chance to play together yet. Guys like Jimmy Herring and Larry Keel. The opportunity will come.
How did your relationship with Warren Haynes kick off, and how has it helped you?
Warren is from Asheville, and I’ve honestly always felt more at home there than I have in Greenville. I was spending a lot of time there playing and writing on the weekends when I didn’t have school. I brought the first record up there to Asheville, and they wanted to introduce it to Warren. So he heard it and was really digging it, and gave us the opportunity to work with him and prove ourselves. Warren is such a pure and true spirit within this genre of music, and his word really goes a long way. People know he doesn’t bullshit. Having his approval is something I never dreamed of, and it’s a game changer. That said, it’s still a lot of hard work.
You’ve been performing live for a long time, do you still get nervous? Is there anything you do to help with the nerves?
Of course, the nerves will always be there. I like to separate myself from the chaos a little bit, and take any opportunity I have to just briefly meditate and escape from this realm. Traveling in a van with seven other guys sharing beds, green rooms, stages, and everything else; You don’t really get much time alone unless you have to use the bathroom. That’s where we draw the line. I like to call it porcelain serenity.
What are you looking forward to most in 2017?
Seeing some new regions more than anything. We’re going to be hitting some different continents this year. I think Japan is gonna be a lot of fun. It’ll be our first time going over there. Speaking short term, next week we’re going to Jamaica. Our tour manager some family over there, and it’s the first time going there for most of us so we’re really looking forward to it. This year will bring a lot of firsts, and that’s always exciting.
The Marcus King band has very busy year ahead of them. Including a very strenuous tour schedule with stops in Japan, Jamaica and Europe. Along with their international travels, you can also catch the band at some of your favorite festivals this year including Hogs For the Cause, Tortuga Music Festival, and the ever so beloved Wanee Festival down in Live Oaks, Florida.