via The 11th Hour
Where you at right now?
I’m in New York City. I’m in town meeting with some folks and we’re headed to Indianapolis tomorrow.
Marcus, first off, we are loving this new album. I think I spend at least a few hours each day walking around trying to sing “Rita is Gone.” Absolutely great!
Thank you so much, man. I sure appreciate that.
Who is Rita?
Well, she’s sort of a combination of all the problems I had going on at the time. It was one of those things where I had the verses written, but I couldn’t figure out the name I was going to use. And there was this TV show I was into that had a character in it named Rita, and she’d just died as I was writing this. I was thinking about how bad that sucked, so I named her Rita.
What TV show?
Dexter. So that’s the name!
I love the horns on that track. Do you travel with horns? Who was playing horns there?
Yes, sir. We have a six piece band right now – a two piece horn section and organ, drums, bass, and guitar.
That would be a Hammond B3 organ, right?
You know you’ve got a good band when you look behind you and see a horn section and a Hammond in it, right?
Ha! But man, I think it’s more the Indian than it is the Arrow.
Did you watch the Grammys last night? Anyone you were rooting for in particular?
I didn’t get a chance to watch it all. I saw Beyonce’s performance, which was pretty intense. We had some good friends in The Record Company who got nominated. We were rootin’ for them.
Tell me about when you first started playing music?
I was about two or three years old when I had my first memories of it, on my great grandfather’s front porch. He played the fiddle. My grandfather sang and played guitar, and fiddle as well. Both my uncles played bass, and my father played guitar and sang. All my aunts sang. So I was around that a lot when I was young. That slowed down as I got older, but my fondest memories are being able to watch my family express their joy through that music. Even if they were pissed off about something, or at each other, they could play music and forget all about it.
And in 2014 Warren Haynes came into your life. How did that happen?
Warren grew up in Asheville, North Carolina and I grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. They aren’t too far apart. I was able to meet him through some mutual friends in the area that I was writing with and playing with. After I did the first record, they wanted to introduce my music to him. And I was blessed that he really dug it and he kind of took us under his wing and has really helped us out a lot.
Warren produced this album. What were his suggestions coming in?
Well, to be honest, all of us were pretty green when it came to studio recording at that point. So we were naturally a little freaked out by this. But when we got there, we realized that Warren and I had very similar ideas about how we wanted to approach it. We were going for the same thing with the sound, and the recording process, as far as recording everything live. I think that really helped. Plus he's just fun to work with. He's one of my heroes, but he's also just an incredible person.
How familiar are you with Macon music history? I know Warren is a student of it.
Oh, well, I doubt I know as much as he does, but it’s certainly something I’m aware of, and something we talked about many times. I got to play one of Duane’s guitars when I was there at the Big House, and that was incredible. His whole passion and his tenacity behind what he did is something I really aspire to. Not just as a musician, but as a businessman. He was one of the first musicians I gravitated towards.
Who were some of the other people you gravitated towards?
Stevie Ray Vaughn was really it early on. Hendrix, Albert King, and BB and Freddie. But a big thing for me was Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.
Well, you have that soul in your voice.
James Brown. All those cats were really big influences on me. I never thought I was going to be a singer. I just wanted to play. Everything I wrote was instrumental early on. Then I had a friend of mine pass away in a car accident when I was 13, and it really tore me up, man. Through a song I wrote for her, I realized I wasn’t able to express myself anymore through just instrumentation. That’s the day I started singing.
I feel like you’re one of those people who’s on the verge of stardom – like, next year, when we try to get an interview, it’s gonna be harder! What does that feel like? I know you probably don’t think about it, but I know you have to look out at these audiences and think, “Man this is working,” right?
Well, you know, the more people we can try to bring together with our music and what we write – the biggest thing for us is to try to invoke expression in others. We want folks to express their emotions. Because this world has some of its biggest problems from folks who can’t express themselves. If we can bring that to some of our live shows, and keep our own sanity, and keep the lights on at our house, we’ll be doing alright in my book.
We’re looking forward to seeing you in Macon, Marcus.
Thank you, bud. I hope to see y’all soon.