On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of chatting with Sam Macintyre (guitar) and Will Bottomley (Bass) of Marmozets, during the afternoon before their magnificent show at the Middlesbrough Empire. We mused about a range of topics, from the new album (coming in January) to their experiences supporting global superstars, Muse, to their earlier and more musically frenetic days and the influences behind all that.
As I write this, two singles (‘Play’ and ‘Habits’) from upcoming LP Knowing What You Know Now have been released and I started by asking whether we can expect more new music before the album drops. “We’ve got a couple more coming”, Will explains, “an absolute rager next up before we tone things down after that. Then we’ll release the album.”
“The album is still varied and very different, and different from The Weird and Wonderful too. It’s not all one sounding, there’s some more chilled out stuff, and some really fast paced stuff.”
When a band introduces the first couple of singles before a release that tends to lead to speculation about the direction that an artist is likely to take for the album. However, with Marmozets it’s wrong to do this, as they’re just so diverse.
Sam says: “People are too quick to jump to conclusions. People online after only two singles are already saying ‘oh you don’t scream anymore’.” Will goes on to add: “The album is still varied and very different, and different from The Weird and Wonderful too. It’s not all one sounding, there’s some more chilled out stuff, and some really fast paced stuff.”
“We actually wrote an album before this one, but just knew it wasn’t good enough..."
The Weird and Wonderful is certainly up there with some of my favourite albums of the past few years. I think the main reason for that, being the shear amount of different ideas that the band explored. Typically, when albums are as jumbled and frantic as their debut, it is often to the detriment of the overall output. With Marmozets though, it just works wonderfully well. I was interested to see whether this is all pre-planned and carefully imagined or whether the process of writing albums for them is more organic and a kind of ‘make it up as we go along’ approach. It didn’t surprise me when Will informed me it’s more of the latter:
“We actually wrote an album before this one, but just knew it wasn’t good enough, and then wrote [first single] ‘Play’ and it just all clicked and went from there. It wasn’t a case of, ‘for this song, we’ll do this, and for this other one, we’ll do that’, we were just writing and picking the best tunes that came out.”
Sam spoke about the bands desire to step outside their comfort zone to do something different to what they’d done before then: “We wrote a bunch of songs that sounded like Weird and Wonderful, and they were good songs, but it wasn’t a step up for us, we weren’t challenging ourselves. We don’t want the same album twice.”
This is such a refreshing stance for artists to have, and shows a genuine desire to better themselves and what they put out. They’re a band of reasonable size now, given the success of the debut album, and if they had just thought, ‘sod it’ and recorded and released the other album they wrote, it probably would still had done alright for them commercially. It takes guts to scrap something and start again (let alone a project as big as a full-length album) and I have so much more respect for them as artists having learnt this.
We went on to speak about a support tour they did with Muse in 2015 and what, if anything, they had taken inspiration from and applied to their own shows: “Touring with them made us want to put on more of a proper show as well as a performance. Their whole rig is just insane, despite them toning it down on that tour, but it still looked class!”
They also supported UK Hardcore band Gallows back in 2012, and from that show Will said they took their kind of punk, DIY ethos of “f*ck it, let’s just do this and let’s have fun”. They showed off both of these juxtaposing elements really well that evening and it was cool understanding the thought behind some of their stage production.
Regarding their earlier releases, we touched on one of the main influences behind their more math-inspired schizophrenic sound, and that’s a band called the Dillinger Escape Plan: “We were just young, and nuts and just like, ‘let’s do this, let’s try and play something we can’t actually play, and try and make it sound good!’. It’s almost like challenging yourself. I go back to some of that stuff and I can’t even play half of it anymore!”.
Album number two, Knowing What You Know Now is out on January 26th. Go and get it, see them live, support them. They’re one of the figureheads in a growing scene of great, young UK bands right now. You can do much worse than giving these guys some of your time.