We Chat to Marseille Ahead of Their Biggest UK Tour to Date

Words: Talia Robinson
Saturday 20 April 2024
reading time: min, words

The boys are taking anything but a laissez-faire approach to music, challenging the contemporary notions of fitting into one genre...

IMG 9381

“It’s the name of champions, if you will,” move over Madchester nostalgia, your local time machine is only down the road in Derby and it’s on a one-way trip to your new favourite band.

This jingle-jangle juggernaut is making a statement on the soundwaves, yet it’s their name that precedes them. “Marseille is currently the only French team to have won the Champions League. You’ve got the original metal band from the 70s; they won the first ever UK Battle of the Bands.  We’re on a winning streak since This Morning got in touch with us!

“Well, they wanted Neil Buchanan from Art Attack. Wrong Marseille, though we tried to run with it for a while and thought it would be dead funny to be like, ‘Aw, sorry, Neil couldn’t make it’, and it’s just a bunch of at the time eighteen-year-olds who come on and play our songs instead.”

Perhaps a missed opportunity for now but one we’re sure they’ll make eventually, for the quintet are piecing together all your favourite guitar-twanging and bass-plosive beats into the jigsaw that is Marseille. The band are self-described as ‘The Baggy Era’ of the 90’s Madchester scene, the soundscapes of shoegaze and a hint of 60’s psychedelic pop. No easy feat to finesse. Yet the nonchalance which frontman Will Brown speaks with is evident that these lads know what they’re doing.

“Eh, it wasn’t intentional,” Brown admits when asked of the band name. “I was literally just  wearing a Marseille football shirt during the conversation of what to call ourselves and it stuck. But it’s got a history to it, so it’s worked out.”

Although they didn’t necessarily grow up kicking a football around if you will, the beginnings of the band are as age-old as the sport itself when he met Joe Labram at school: "Frankly, we never really liked each other to begin with. It was more that I was friends with his friends, but we used to walk the same route home; Kasabian was brought up once and it set us off chatting, we realised we had quite similar music taste.

“Tom Spray joined after uni and we met Lennon Hall at an open mic. Will Sabey is the most recent addition. He's lived two minutes away from me my entire life and yet I’ve never seen him before. It’s funny how it’s panned out this long till we’ve met.”

Which position would he assign to everyone in his own fantasy football team? “Can't I just put them all in goal? Play it literally five-a-side and I'll go midfield?” 

Playing it safe is not in their game plan – their most recent single Monkey In The Middle is a freefall into tender timelessness. Distorted expositions round out each sporadic drum fill, executed to a minute degree by the weighted guitar riffs. There’s a fragility to the vocals which complements the boisterous nature of the track, curating this liminality between genres; you’re truly taken on a journey through this audio space, one that translates into the songwriting itself.

Brown remarks: “It’s probably one of our oldest songs, it’s been around since we were thirteen.

“It used to be just a straight up, heads down beat, but when Tom came along that’s when it became a bit groovier because that’s how he interpretated it. Once that happened, we realised that we could change our older songs and that they evolved with us as we grew up, and it’s become a larger breakdown of a song to show off our talents.

Every member gets a chance to shine on it – there’s a big guitar solo at the end, the drums shine throughout, the vocals do their own thing. As musicians, we’re alright, so why not show us all off. I think it works well as a lead single.”

Is there an artist leading the way in influencing the band? “We used to be quite niche when we were younger. Think Oasis meets The Stone Roses, that's what we wanted to be at fifteen. Now we’re more fully fledged as musicians, we all bring our own influences to the table. I'm more for The Doors, early sound of The Verve; Joe’s into Led Zeppelin and The Who. Lennon is anobvious tell for the 60’s vibes and Tom is massively into Radiohead. You can’t say we sound like a particular band.

“We played with Tom Hingley the other day from Inspiral Carpets and he said we sounded like the Stranglers, which we’ve never had before. That must be Will’s influence.” Brown is adamant that their latest five-piece status hasn’t changed the dynamics of the band, yet it’s clearly changing the sound.

Following the eclecticism of their latest single, Marseille will release their highly anticipated EP GODIVA in September. The title boasts of maverick surety with the frontman himself confident of its contents. He says: “We’re trying to be a bit more groundbreaking; we think the groups of Manchester would be such a good fit against the walls of sound that shoegaze has built. The grooves and bass lines would mix so well, so we’re trying to fuse those genres together, and in turn trying to make something new.

“We actually have a whole album unreleased and it’s been in the bank for about a year. I'm still not bored of playing those songs and still enjoy jamming them out every time, which I’d say is a sign we’re on the right track.”

Marseille’s knack for taking the ‘shoe gaze’ approach literally is evident in the practice, practice, practice technique. Emerging from the shadows of the lockdown era, the Derby group are hardly 
in the shadow of their 20th century counterparts. “We never got round to a Battle of the Bands, because we were coming straight out of the pandemic with all these songs we’d written, and we just needed to get them played straightaway. So, we rehearsed getting tight on these songs and kept gigging as soon as we were allowed.

“Of course, we still had that awkward phase – competition in a different sense as we played to rooms with no one in them sometimes. We forced ourselves to get out of the East Midlands and although we initially would play to a pub crowd, now we’re in a position where we’re booking gigs to a room of nearly a hundred people.

“It’s a good place to be! Any gig we could get to, we’d go to! It used to be pubs with a crowd of just beer lovers, now it’s pubs with a crowd of music and beer lovers alike.”

From pubs to parks to people, Marseille will be returning to Y Not Festival this summer before embarking on their biggest headline tour to date in the autumn. We were curious whether Brown preferred the sonically bigger stages or the smaller sweatboxes to perform at, he said: “Intimate shows are great for meeting people and that’s my favourite part of being a musician.

“Having the opportunity to chat with a stranger who connects with your work, it’s great to hear you’re reaching out to a new audience.

“I went to see Ride at Rough Trade and gave Andy Bell our CD after his set, and he’d already heard of the band! A few days prior when he was down in London someone had recommended us and fingers crossed he does check us out. He might’ve been recommended a few Art Attack episodes to watch though, you never know.”

You can buy tickets to see Marseille live on tour here: https://www.echobassmusic.co.uk/marseille/tour

We have a favour to ask

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion

Please note, we migrated all recently used accounts to the new site, but you will need to request a password reset

Sign in using

Or using your

Forgot password?

Register an account

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.

Forgotten your password?

Reset your password?

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.