In the Middle with Marsicans

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Leeds natives, Marsicans, are an exciting up & coming indie band with a bright future ahead of them. Their catchy melodies and impressive vocal harmonies have earned them a loyal fan base and their music has attracted radio attention and thousands of hits online. We spoke with James from the band, a former Leeds Uni Student, to discuss life in Leeds, musical influences and their new EP Absence.

Can you describe Marsicans’ sound in three words?
Another indie band.

The Absence EP has four tracks, and four alternate versions of each track; how did you come up with that idea?
We had the four tracks for the main EP recorded, and we were really happy with each one. We started releasing them one by one and then secured some PRS funding to get them pressed onto 12″ vinyl. We thought it would be a nice way to make the EP special and challenge ourselves. In the end we added two remix versions, an acoustic/folk version featuring Sophie Pearson, a vocalist from a Leeds, and a string quartet arrangement. When we got the vinyl delivered it was great to see it had all worked out!

Leeds is a city well known for its music scene. Having grown up here, do you feel a connection to the city as a band?
Definitely. We spent all of our time and money when we were kids going to gigs. We pretty much lived at the Cockpit and saw most of our favourite bands there. Going from being an audience member to playing shows at our favourite venues was an incredible step. Live at Leeds has always been a pretty crucial day in the Leeds music calendar, and we’ve been fortunate enough to play that a few times now. Its days like that where you feel connected to everyone around you in the scene. It’s like Christmas.

Is there a certain camaraderie between smaller bands when you’re starting out?
We always try and make friends with as many bands as possible. Really that’s what it’s all about: having a good time, doing something you love and meeting new people. When you’re all in it together facing the same setbacks, it’s inevitable.

What’s your favourite venue in the city?
Probably the Brudenell Social Club. If you’ve been there then you’ll know what we mean. The place has an undeniable charm about it, plus it sells cheap/great beer.

As students did you go to many gigs?
We got to as many as we could in between playing our own shows. There’s always something going on in Leeds. I remember seeing the 1975 and Catfish and the Bottlemen for under a fiver. So if you can’t afford the large shows you should go out and find the small ones. Like ours for example…..

Do you think it’s harder to stand out nowadays because of YouTube?
Without sounding like an on-the-fence answer, it can genuinely go both ways. On one hand, you appear to have a more saturated music scene, with thousands of bands posting content online. But then again, you yourself have a platform which bands a couple of decades ago would have killed for. I think as long as you’re releasing music or videos which you are happy with and are of a high quality, then you’ll always stand out. Hopefully!

Does the music your parents played when you were younger influence your sound today?
To an extent yes. I grew up with my dad playing all the B’s (The Beatles, Bowie and Blur) which have had a massive influence on my song writing, and I still listen to them now. I remember hearing Arctic Monkeys for the first time on Jools Holland and immediately wanting to be in a band. It’s a combination of new bands, plus all the classics our parents exposed us to that have been our biggest influences when writing.

Does being friends help or hinder life in the band?
We couldn’t imagine doing this and not being best friends. I don’t think we actually could -ha! The fact that we can call each other out about anything means nothing ever builds up into an argument. We just have a laugh about it and move on.

Now for the quick fire round… Any unusual influences?
Katy Perry, Slipknot, Huey Lewis and the News.

Dream festival line-up?
Bon Iver for a relaxed Friday night, Michael Jackson ft. Paul McCartney doing ‘Girl is Mine’ for the whole of Saturday and ABBA for a fun Sunday evening.

Do you have a plan B?
In short: no. We can’t imagine ourselves doing anything else.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Be nice to everyone. It’s simple but really does go a long way.

Catch Marsicans on the 10th of November at the Brudenell Social Club.
Tickets here ––brudenell-social-club/

Interview by Hannah Mason

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