Ask MKB Archive

Avi M. Asks: Hey guys! I absolutely love the band and the music... you guys seriously groove and rock. Marcus, would you please be kind enough to enlighten me as to how you approach improvisation? Is there any particular scale or mode that you particularly rely upon?

Hey Avi! Depending on the tune I like to establish what all of the "rules" are for playing that mode, Dorian for example. I like to establish okay, here are the guide line, I try to dance around those lines and look at it more as a release of energy as oppose to a set of rules. Hope this helps! Take care -MK

Anthony M. Asks: Jack - fellow drummer here. Very impressed with your style and performance. For example, your drumming on Radio Soldier is no joke - nice work! Was just wondering where you studied drums, took lessons, self-taught, etc. Could listen to you guys all day - best band to come around in a long time. Looking forward to checking you out in NYC tonight.

I studied with Jeff Sipe for a short stint about two years ago. I'm a huge fan of Steve Gadd, Billy Cobham, Richie Hayward, Vinnie Colaiuta, Buddy Rich etc. and I love all things funky or jazzy. I was in my high school jazz band and had three teachers on and off from age 12 to 17. Mostly self taught otherwise. 


Tony R. Asks: Hey Marcus, Love the band and your albums. Hey, do you use strap locks, if so what type Dunlop, etc...?

Hey Tony! I do not use strap locks. I always use one Strap for a gig and I like to be able to get it off and on rather quickly, changing straps usually results in my hat getting knocked off haha. Thanks for listening -MK

Pete C. Asks: Hi Marcus-- Pete from Chicago here. You've had the chance to befriend and jam with many of your guitar playing heroes/influences, which must be very surreal sometimes. My question: If you could spend a day chilling and playing guitar with one guitarist that isn't living-- who would it be? 

PS- when can we expect the new record to come out? Can't wait!

Hey Pete! Duane Allman would be my answer ! Hoping for a late summer release ! 

Gus B. Asks: What's up Marcus? Hope everyone's doing well in the band. I'm looking forward to catching y'all in ATL. I've been trying to practice as much guitar as I can and trying to branch out to other types of musicians like Scofield, McLaughlin, Sonny Rollins and others to help work on finding my own tone. I was wondering what was the most effective thing for you on trying to find your own voice on the guitar and what some good practicing techniques would be.

Hey Gus! I found it helpful to seek knowledge from anything. Mostly vocalists like Janis Joplin, Otis Redding & James Brown. I spent time trying to emulate the vocal runs they were doing by applying them to guitar. Making your guitar an extension of your voice. I find it important to be so familiar with the neck that you can. So you can express yourself through that as well as through your voice. 

Colby M. Asks: What’s goin on MKB! I am a huge fan of y’all’s music and try to see y’all every chance i get . I love the vibe your music puts out and the style in which y’all play it, keep it up! My question is, I recently saw y’all perform at the Georgia theater in Athens And after the show I asked one of the rogue as to hand me one of your picks and I noticed it was a Dunlop jazz III pick and I was curious if you always use those picks or if you only use them for certain songs? Also wanted to know where you got your influences from for your style and technique used in your guitar playing and solos? Thanks brother

Hey Colby! Thanks for reaching out. I've been using Jazz III picks for a while. They work best for me. Jimmy herring, Derek trucks, Warren haynes, John McLaughlin.. to name a few! 

Casey D Asks: Hey Marcus! Big, big fan of yours and the band. I have been listening to the Due North EP nonstop lately but I’m having trouble playing along with Slip Back. I know I’m close on the chords but something doesn’t quite match. I’m hoping you could shed some light on it for me!

Hey Casey! MK here. Thanks so much for digging on the EP! That tune is basically

Verse: G7, B-7, C7.. Dsus (cmajor with  D on the base) 

Bridge (during SAX solo) G7, F-7, E dominant, A7 (Cmaj with D in the base)

James M. Asks: What's up with your red shoes? You wear them all the time tell us about them.

Hey man. I like my shoes to match my guitar. That's pretty much it haha.

Peter M. Asks: Great to see you coming up to Canada in September. How do you find the audience in Canada compared to the States? I understand Japan was awesome for the band - what makes a great crowd? Looking forward to seeing you in Toronto.

We love Canada crowds. We find in the states sometimes people are a little closed off to The vibe we're trying to offer. Canadian crowds reciprocate a lot louder! 

Josh V. Asks: Virginia has that straightforward guitar driven groove. (or "the bounce" as I like to call it) Are you using the super reverb on the album? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like Warren is using a late 60's plexi? Tonally he sounds damn near identical to Mr. Reverend Willie G. Keep on keepin on

Josh! Hey man, MK Here. Thanks for digging on the record. Warren was playing through a late 60s plexi . Good ear my friend. And I was using a Super reverb with a Marshall and a mid 60s  Supro all in stereo

Glen S. Asks: You are stranded forever on a deserted island with only 3 albums. Which ones?

Mahavishnu orchestra: birds of fire

King Crimson: in the court of the crimson king

BB King: live at the regal

Andrew K. Asks: Hi, just wondering if anyone in the band has started a little collection of anything while doing so much traveling around. Kind of a random question, but just wanted to know.

Haha well. Dean and I have been collecting Hotel Room keys and show laminates. Jack and Stephen collect VHS tapes

Tyler C. Asks:  Hey guys, I'm a huge fan of your music, and lately of Thespian Espionage in particular. I've been trying to learn it on guitar, but I'm having a hard time picking up the chord progression by ear, especially the jam in the middle. Would you be able share those chords? I'd really appreciate it. Either way, can't wait for you guys to come around to CT again!

Hey Tyler. The improvisational section is a pattern of chords based around the key of C minor

C-7 (8 bars)
F-7. Eflat maj 7 , F-7,  Aflat maj. 7
C-7 (4 bars)
F-7, G-7, A flat maj. 7, G-7 (Repeat 2x)

Keith T Asks: Hi Marcus, I'm a 65 year young fan. Love your music and the styles you deliver. Started playing guitar at an older age. Played in a local blues band in NJ for a few years recently. I am hooked on your song Rita is Gone, specifically the versions you jam on . Not sure what you can or would share, but it would be great if you could provide the chords. I think it's in some sort of Dm mode but your changes have a unique sound so a mix of what sounds like some diminished or Maj7's in there, but I may be way off. Would appreciate what you can share. It would be great in a jam with some other musicians I am trying to get together. Would also be willing to purchase in copyrighted sheet music if necessary.
Thanks and all my best for your success.

Hey Keith! Really happy to hear you dig the tune. 

Verse: Dminor, C7, Bflat Major 7

Chorus: G minor7, C7, Fminor7, B flat major 7
G-7, A-7, B flat major 7, C7 (A flat 13, G7)

Isy H. Asks: Just wanted to ask where (and if) can I buy a guitar strap like the one Marcus is using (with the big ring)?

I had that particular strap made when I was 11 years old. I have tried to contact the leathersmith responsible since then but haven't heard anything back. I do know it was called leathersmith by Liz in Easley SC. Moody Leather makes all of my other straps. 

Benny B. Asks: What do you set the knobs on your TS9 ? I have the same amp you use My TS9 is a keeley mod plus . Would there be any difference?

Hey benny! Depending on the size of the venue I adjust the gain. Usually. The amp is cranked to 10 tube screamer gain is at noon. Volume is at 7 o'clock . 

Patricia R. Asks: That hat is your trademark! Did you buy that or did someone pick that out for you! Not everyone can pull that look off but you do and very well! Love the feathers trailing in back!

Hey Patricia ! I got my hat at high mountain outfitters in Denver CO

Gustavo R. Asks: Hello, Marcus, how are you? Would you like to know what your favorite Ibanez TS9 configuration is and whether your wah pedal is Standard (GCB-95) or Classic (GCB-95F)? Thank you!

Gustavo, hey brother! Using a standard TS9 and Standard Cry baby wah

Mike M. Asks: Your FREDDIE KING" ripen it up clone action...was that on purpose??? KILLER cant wait to see you again/will bring 1000 of my closest friends!!!

Hey Mike! It was greeting meeting you both! We always love covering Freddie King Tunes, We try to go with whatever vibe is in the room and Freddies spirit happened to be in the air that night! Looking forward to the next one. Talk soon - MK

Richard A. Asks: HI Jack, fellow drummer down here in Texas. I play a similar setup to yours, but couldn't find any details online. Im curious what your primary kit is, what heads you use and what cymbals. Rock on.

Hey rich! 
Are you referring to what I play live? Or what you heard on the album? 

I've been touring with my Noble & Cooley CD maple kit since august of 2016. It's a 5 piece kit. 
Bass drum: 24x14
Rack tom: 13x9
Floor toms: 16x14 18x16
Snare: 7x14 Solid shell maple has been my main girl. 
I also have a 6ply walnut 6.5x14 and a solid shell beech wood 7x14. All noble  & Cooley. 
I use Evans coated G1 heads on the snare and toms (no moon gels or any muffling) 
I usually just use an emad for the bass drum.  

Cymbals all zildjan: hi hat 14" kerope (heavy on top) 
19" kerope (hi hat side)
22" k custom medium ride
20" k custom hybrid ride (tilted to the right of the main ride, used as more of a crash) 

If you saw any of the old videos where I'm playing a blue sparkle kit, those are my slingerlands. Late 70's pretty much exact same set up as my noble & cooleys (only difference is the first floor tom is 16x16). 

I hope that answered you're questions, ask away if you want to know more. 
Thanks for reaching out! 

James F. Asks: Marcus - I LOVE your tone. What model and year is your SG and what P90s are you using? Thank you. See you in NYC!

Hey James! My SG is an early 70s model with mini humbuckers, I use a tubescreamer TS9 and a 65 Fender super reverb amp with a cry baby wah! We'll see you in NYC brother.. Cheers-MK