Style: High energy Blues
Influences: Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Beatles, Howlin Wolf, Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, Sonny Boy & Blind Willie Johnson, Muddy Waters, Tom Waits, Tony Joe White, John Martyn and Shuggie Otis
K: Hi Marcus. Welcome to Glasgow
M: Thanks mate, always a pleasure.
K: You’ve been here quite a few times now. You’ve played this gig before, King Tuts and loads of other Glasgow venues.
M: Yeah I did a pretty cool gig at a place called “The Roxy”. That’s when it all kicked off. It was brilliant that night. I’ve played a lot of gigs here. The thing I want to do more than anything else after a gig is play another one. Jaylo, the guy that runs this place, knows how I like to work so whenever I finish playing here he always takes me down somewhere else to play a late-night set. That’s what I love about playing Glasgow. You can do 2 gigs a night.
K: What else is there about Glasgow that keeps you coming back?
M: I’ve always liked Glasgow, I’ve been coming here for a long time. Scotland was one of the first places I ever toured back in about 2004 when I was living in Liverpool.
My enduring memory of most early tours playing that “toilet tour” circuit is not getting looked after that well and then you get to “King Tuts”…and they give you a meal and some beers!! I used to look at the tour dates and see…”2 days till King Tuts” and you’d be like “Don’t worry boys, King Tuts is coming up…we’ll eat in 2 days, it’s gonna be fine!!” And the other thing I love about Glasgow is just how warm the people are. The fact that the whole city seems to run on music. Every bar I go into there seems to be someone playing music or there’s a band on. Everyone wants to come out and see some live music, it’s part of everyone’s night out. It’s very vibrant.
It’s a beautiful place, architecturally. It’s one of my favourite cities…probably in the world, with all that Georgian architecture.
I’ve been lucky enough to see the scene change and get even better over the last 10 years I’ve been playing here. There’s been some fairly recent changes in places like the West End. Oran Mor for example. I played there a couple of times as a session player with different artists.
I don’t want to tempt fate but I’ve never had a bad night in Glasgow…in fact I’ve never had a bad gig in Scotland!
K: So when I was researching a bit of your background I could see that you’ve been interviewed quite a few times and I don’t want to go over old ground so I’m going to try a different approach if that’s ok?
M: Yeah of course….I’m looking forward to this (laughs)
K: Life’s all about decisions so I’m going to ask you to make some tough choices. Imagine you had 4 fantasy gigs that you could play. I’m going to ask you to make a choice between 2 artists that you can play with for each gig
M: Oh right, I like it!
K: Ok so here’s the first one. Tom Waits of Jimi Hendrix?
M: Oh man!!!! I think it would have to be Tom Waits man! Hendrix would burn me up! (laughs) I wouldn’t be able to do anything, I was just be stood there, devoid of inspiration, I wouldn’t know what I could add to his music. Not that I’m saying that I could add a hell of a lot more to Tom Waits, but I like the way that Tom Waits does things live. It’s all a bit weird….and all a bit mad…and I feel like I could slot into his mad world quite nicely. Yeah, I’d love the priviledge of playing with Hendrix, but like I say, I don’t think I could bring anything to his show! (laughs)
K: Ok, next one…Jim Morrison or John Martyn?
M: (5 second pause) About 15 years ago it would have been Jim Morrison every time but over the years I’ve become a huge fan of John Martyn, so yeah, John Martyn. I’d love to do a gig with John Martyn up in Kinross in the Green Hotel, playing just John Martyn songs…maybe a couple of mine if he’d let me, that would be ideal.
K: The Beatles or Led Zeppelin?
M: Zeppelin. I love the Beatles but Zeppelin was what got me into playing guitar. They will always be like…my window into the Blues. I didn’t know much about the Blues at all until I heard Zeppelin. Suddenly they opened this door to Muddy Waters, Skip James, Willie Dixon…and my mind was just blown so yeah I would love to have a go with Jimmy Paige, I think we could have a nice little time (laughs)
K: Ok, so that flows nicely into the next one. Two Mississippi Bluesmen…Robert Johnstone or Muddy Waters?
M: The first time I heard Robert Johnson he blew my mind and a lot of the time I couldn’t work out what was going on but I remember when I got into Muddy Waters……..it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard! I don’t know….he was just….”The Man”. And also I’m a big fan of guitarists that have played with Muddy. They have influenced me personally…people like, Johnny Winter, Bob Margolin…he’s lke the forgotten man of the Blues, he’s a fantastic guitar player, also Luther Allison. So to get a chance to actually be one of his guitar players and follow in the footsteps of those people would be incredible. To be able to have Johnny Winter phone me up and say “I can’t make the Muddy gig tonight, can you do it?” I would be like “Yeah of course I can man…I know every note you ever played!!” (laughs)
K: Ok, so we’ll stay in that area. Down in the Delta.
M: Yeah, cool. I’m liking this a lot!
K: So we’re coming out of Memphis, over the “Old Bridge”, down Highway 61 and about an hour and a half later we end up in a little place called Clarksdale and we’re at “The Crossroads” and we both know what happened there. Personally, I don’t see any reason not to believe the story and for anyone who’s not aware, “The Crossroads” is where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil for fame and fortune.
So Marcus, we’ve got 3 choices on this one. What are you looking for? Fame, Fortune…or something else?
M: Something else. I’ve always loved Blues music but I want to see if I can take it on somewhere else. I want to see if I can take this great heritage that we’ve had and do something unique with it. Something that only I can do. Money has to come with it because I have to pay my rent and put food on the table for my family and keep things ticking over. The “Fame” element? Well obviously, I’d love to be playing my music in front of thousands of people. I’d love my music to touch thousands of people like my favourite artists did to me, but it’s all a progression. For me, it’s always about the music and I just want to make things that I’m proud of and that can blow peoples’ minds. I think you need to strive to carve out your unique place in life and say what you have to say that’s different from everyone else.
K: Staying with the theme then, what have been the “Crossroads” moments in your life that have led you here?
M: To be honest, I can probably bring it back to when I was about 8 years old and it wasn’t even a decision to play the Blues or even play the guitar. When I was 8 years old at my school, we all had an opportunity to learn a musical instrument. School was always all right but I remember being quite bored there a lot of time. So I remember that day, eveyone had to pick a musical instrument and I think I’d done something naughty so I had to pick last and all that was left was a trumpet. I quite fancied the trombone because of the way it looked but I ended up with the trumpet. So I went for this trumpet lesson and I just absolutely loved it! Suddenly you were making music. I’d always loved listening to music but suddenly there I were playing it. And then I joined an orchestra and a brass band and to be part of that whole sound just blew my mind.
It was pretty much at that point that I knew I was going to be a musician. That was all I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t know which way it was going to go but I did know that I was going to be a musician.
Musically speaking the next one was when I was 16 and I first heard Zeppelin and then I knew I had to play the electric guitar and make THAT noise and be part of whatever THAT is.
K: Sometimes there are decisions that are made for you aren’t there?
M: Yeah, but some people say, “You were obviously born with this talent”, but I honestly don’t think I was. I don’t think people are born with a god-given gift….(Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix starts blasting through the Jukebox….Marcus pauses for a moment and listens and then laughs) …. Well maybe some were!! I always think that, in life, something comes along and grabs you like nothing else. Some people go into medicine, some people get into writing or something else, it doesn’t matter. When that thing comes along then that becomes your life, it’s almost like tunnel vision. That can happen to different people at different ages and I know this might sound a bit “hippy” but sometime IT chooses YOU and something just strikes a chord within you and suddenly your life has meaning and you think “This is exactly what I need to do!”
K: What are you most excited about at this stage of your life Marcus?
M: Everything! I love what I’m doing but I guess the most exciting thing is the new album I’m working on and that will be recorded at the end of the year. I’m really excited about the new sound and there a lot of new ideas. I’ve also got some work coming up with “Ten Years After” at the end of Summer which I’m really excited about. I’m in a lucky place and I know it. Someone must be looking out for me because, at the moment, everything I’m doing, I’m enjoying.
K: It’s been great talking to you Marcus. I’ve enjoyed meeting you. I’m staying on and looking forward to the show.
M: Thanks man, I’ve really enjoyed this. Really interesting questions. I’ts been a great pleasure.
the record factory
Camera: Nikon D750
Lens: Nikon 50mm f/1.4
Focal length: 50mm
Exposure: 1/250 sec at f/2.5
Time of day: 17:33
Lighting: Keylight at 45 degrees at about 5 feet elevation with 24″ softbox, white umbrella fill light