Imaginary Interview: Hey Marseilles
TIG: Who are you guys excited to be on the bill with here at Block Party?
Matt Bishop: There’s too many. Sonic Youth, Moondoggies, Wild Orchid Children, The Thermals, Fences, New Faces, so many good bands.
TIG: I heard you guys are working on a new album. Is that true?
Matt Bishop: Yeah, we’re kind of very much in the beginning stages of that. We’re really hoping to spend a lot of the summer and some of the fall writing new material. We’ve got a few songs done. We’re really just trying to get a larger catalogue together.
TIG: Would you guys being looking for a label for the new album? You put out To Travels and Trunks independently, are you interested in signing to a label?
MB: I think that we’re kind of taking things as they come.
Nick Ward: When we get to the place where that makes sense, then that’s a possibility.
Philip Kobernik: The music industry is changing a lot. A lot of bands are doing it without a traditional label. I think that what people understand as a label is changing as well, so it’s a tricky question these days. But we have goals for the future and we’ll see what it takes to get there.
MB: But certainly, that is an option. If record labels see this, that’s on the table.
NW: We started out doing everything ourselves, like recording and stuff. We’ll see what happens, I guess.
TIG: With so many members how would you describe your song writing process?
MB: There’s kind of a few different ways that we do it. Some of the songs were songs that I brought to the table and then we would fill in the spaces and integrate it into the Hey Marseilles sound. A lot of the songs these days are coming out of the instrumentals that we’ll put together and then I’ll sit down and write melodies and lyrics on top of that. So it’s pretty dynamic in terms of the way they come together.
NW: I think everyone has a pretty good idea of when it’s appropriate to voice their opinion on a song, and good at stepping back as well.
MB: It’s becoming more and more a collaboration. Which is very exciting. I’m excited for the next record because everybody is putting some really good ideas out there and it’s going to be a really intensely collaborative process. That’s fun.
TIG: What about themes on To Travels and Trunks. As a name for an album, it leads to quick connotations. Was there a long period of transition or upheaval that influenced the theme of this album or was that transitory feeling just an inspiration for the content?
MB: The name of the record is the name of the first song that we wrote together. It was appropriate in that it was kind of a thesis statement and really when we put all of our songs together, that was kind of the theme that ran throughout. As the person who writes the lyrics primarily, I have an eye towards that, but it wasn’t necessarily intentional from the get go. I do a fair amount of traveling for my job and that’s just an intriguing part of what it means to be…alive. There’s a lot of tension and stories that result from traveling physically or traveling through a variety of stages of growth and adaptation… I’m rambling.
TIG: Can you give a quick run down on how you guys came together to form Hey Marseilles?
MB: Nick and I met at the University of Washington. We were students and I would play a lot of solo shows and he would always be like ‘hey come over and jam’ or ‘let’s go play at parks.’ Phillip lived with Nick and we used to jam at Gasworks Park in the summer and eventually we made a few songs and started adding members from there.
NW: It’s very much a Seattle record. Made out of parks and sunshine and all around Seattle.
TIG: It’s interesting that you say it’s very much a Seattle record, but you guys have a definite international influence in your music, where’s that come from?
MB: Can’t be a Seattle record unless there’s grunge. It has to be grunge.
NW: That’s the next record.
Patrick Brannon: Also we don’t have enough beards to be a Seattle record.
MB: Not enough beards. Colin’s the only one who can grow a legitimate beard, so, you know.
Colin Richey: Hey.
MB: I don’t know if the international influence was intentional when we started making tunes. We just started jamming and that’s what came out.
PK: We kind of just had a lot of instruments lying around for one reason or another and we’d just pick them yp and see if it sounded cool
MB: Nick is very much a guy who will, if you’re playing a song, will go pick up some trashcans, or whatever it might be, at a nearby store and make music from it. That’s how it works with us.
NW: Trashcans, accordions…
MB: Yeah I think the higher-level classification of a sound being European, or you know, what people would call gypsy or folk, I don’t want to say that it comes from grass roots, but it’s sort of an organic thing. We’re more concerned with a sound, so like you know, we have an accordion, we have strings, we have a guitar, how do we put these instruments together, what can we make with these instruments that sounds cool. And that’s just sort of what came out.
NW: Yeah, it’s a smattering of what we listening to and enjoying too.
TIG: Which was?
NW: All sorts of different types of music. I was really into folk.
PK: Classical stuff.
NW: We’d get together and listen to a lot of old world, gypsy sort of music. We didn’t think too much about it, we just threw it in.
PK: I’ve been listening to a lot of Rachmaninov and Philip Glass.
MB: And then they bring it to me and I’m like, what the fuck do I do with this? And I try to sing a sort of standard singer/songwriter folk-pop melody over it, and it eventually works out.
TIG: You guys are a big band and you’ll be going on the road a lot. How do you coordinate with all seven of the members?
MB: We haven’t been doing too much road stuff. We’ve been playing mainly locally. We went to South by Southwest, but coordinating to do anything takes a lot of effort. Everybody’s just sort of on the same page and we’re very organized with regards to when we’re practicing, when shows are going to be, etc. It’s a labor of love.
TIG: So, what do you guys have coming up in the future, you’re playing the Doe Bay festival, right?
MB: Yeah, Doe Bay in mid-August. We’ve got a show in Portland at the end of August, and then we’re playing Bumbershoot in September.
PK: I don’t think people know how intimate Doe Bay festival is going to be. I’ve been there before and it’s so cool. You’re on the water and you look out and you see the other islands. It’s going to be fun.
TIG: I hear you guys are trying to get a campsite next to David Bazan.
MB: We’re trying to get more than a campsite next to David Bazan. We’ve got a big tent. We’ll just invite Dave over.
CR: I really want to play some gorilla drums for him. I’m just going stay on stage.
NW: We’re thinking about doing some covers right before he plays.
(At this point the members of Hey Marseilles broke into an A Capella rendition of “Cold Beer and Cigarettes.” I wish you could have heard it, it was just lovely as they all chimed in, one by one).
(Photos by Trickshot Photography)