The Marcus King Band is profiled in the latest issue of Relix, where Matt Nestor writes:
There’s a certain humbleness in Marcus King’s Southern drawl. He doesn’t sound like you might imagine a 20-year-old would after learning he will be playing at Austin’s SXSW conference and festival for the first time. Shocked as he is, King remains calm, but honored—like he’s been doing this for years. And he has. He’s a third-generation bluesman from Greenville, S.C., who’s already been playing live shows for half his life. His long, curly hair, wailing Gibson SG and eponymous band name evoke links to Derek Trucks or Warren Haynes. But King is more of a mixture of these influences—and their influences—plus a welcomed dose of jazz-fusion. King admits that his band isn’t the first to blend blues, rock and jazz, but there’s a renewed energy here (with all due respect). “I feel like, since we’re all young and we’re really hungry for it, it’s just got this intensity behind it,” King says from Carriage House Studios in Stamford, Conn., where he’s working alongside Haynes on his band’s second LP. If you pick up The Marcus King Band’s first album, last year’s Soul Insight, or catch them on tour, then you’ll discover King’s not-so-secret weapon: his voice. Equal parts soulful and powerful, King says that he finds his identity in his singing and songwriting. “I’m pretty much screaming everything that I feel to as many people who will listen,” King explains. “It’s my form of therapy.”
Now that you’re familiar with Marcus, here’s a recent conversation with William Hastings…
Musicians and farmers keep different hours.
“I was catching up on a bit of sleep,” Marcus King said. “I’ve been up since five. Bit of a break now. That’s when I went to bed.”
We both laughed.
“Where are you now?”
“On a run of northeast dates,” Marcus said. “Just played New York and we’re going back in the studio in a bit. Finish up this new record.”
“How’s it going?”
“Put down twenty tracks in two weeks. Some of the songs I’d written as soon as I got home from cutting the last record. Others are very fresh. Some worked out on the road. But it feels good, feels great to be recording them, ready to get them out there. You’re a farmer, you’ll like this one song on the new record, ‘Devil’s Land.’ It’s about a farmer taking a stand.”
“Ever read Ed Abbey’s Fire on the Mountain ?”
“No,” Marcus said.
“Shit. You need to read that book if that’s what you are writing about.”
He was silent. I heard a pen scratch paper.
“It’s one of those books, you know? For the people in there, it’s do or die. Everything’s on the line. When I heard your record it was one of the few albums I’d listened to in a long time that felt like it had to be made, you know? There’re writers out there who write because they want to write, or there’re musicians out there who want to make music, but they don’t have to. There’s a huge difference between having to and wanting to. You guys have to. You sound hungry.”
“We are. Working musicians.”
“I grow tree fruit. Peaches, apples, nectarines, berries. Come through and we’ll pile that van full.”
“You aren’t careful out here you could put on fifteen pounds in a week eating what we have to,” Marcus said.
“What’s there to eat at four a.m.?”
“I couldn’t move fast enough for awhile,” I said. “Ten years. One place to the next.”
“I know it.”
“I know. That’s what caught me with ‘Keep Moving.’ That song. It’s in there. But I’ll tell you what.”
“I hear people, my brother, talk about grabbing their passport and taking off if November goes the wrong way. And I get it. I mean I did it.”
“But now? I’m thinking it’s time to dig in. I mean, I’m farming. You plant an apple tree, you’re thinking about the next fifteen years.”
“A whole different mindset now,” Marcus said.
“Still getting used to it. But liking it, especially after all the velocity.”
“But there’s never enough time is there?”
“I guess not,” I said.
“There’s so much music to listen to. Couldn’t listen to it all in a lifetime. It’s a wild concept.”
“Every paycheck for books and music. Can’t get enough fast enough.”
“That can be right, too,” Marcus said.
“Yeah but too often I hear about people who couldn’t get it fast enough burning out too soon. That’s a devouring. Or is it running?”
“In a way,” Marcus said. “But done right? That’s improvisation.”
“Yes. But you’re going inside, looking for that thing and then letting it out.”
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