Marsicans are one of the UK’s most exciting indie-rock bands with over 140,000 listeners a month on Spotify. The four piece from Leeds built an ever growing fan base with songs such as Too Good and Friends making it onto some of Spotify’s top indie playlists.
The Lowdown had the chance to speak to Oli Jameson, the guitarist from Marsicans about the release of their debut album ‘Ursa Major’ and what life has been like for the band during lockdown.
If no one has heard of Marsicans before how would you describe yourselves?
“We’re sort of like Indie - Rock but not the cool version. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re the kind of band you’d take home to your mum, well no that sounded weird but we’re not leather jacket cool we just sort of wear colourful shirts and laugh a lot”.
Ursa Major is a striking title. Is there any meaning behind it?
“Yeah, so James (Lead Vocals) engineered this elaborate plan, he already decided he wanted the album to be called Ursa Major long before we did. He wrote a song called Juliet which is one of the singles from the album and there’s a line in the song that says “it’s time for a curtsy, Ursa Major”. Ursa Major is a constellation and in his flat he has a Juliet balcony that when he stands on it and looks out he can see the constellation, as that is the Great Bear constellation and Marsicans is actually a brown bear there’s a few tie ins”.
Would you say there’s a theme that runs throughout the album?
“There was no intentional theme but we wanted to have a bit of an up and down journey on the record. There’s certain themes around feeling a bit at odds with technology and some of the social anxiety that comes with that. Not to say that any of us have massively struggled in any way but just certain things as we’ve grown up and life in a band where you have to do more things online. Me and James realised once that the journey of the album is like being on a big night out with your mates. It starts off all guns blazing and then when you get to the song ‘Someone Else’s Touch’ where it’s just like where you’re outside catching a breather and having a deep conversation with your mate and then you go back in and that’s when the song ‘These Days’ starts”.
How did you find your sound for the album? Did you try different things or push any boundaries?
"Yeah, it was just a case of trying other things I think. When we decided we were going to start writing for an album, we stopped trying to write singles and tried different sounds and served the songs for whatever they may be rather than saying that’s not gonna be a big radio or Spotify single so it needs to change. There were a lot of songs that had their own quirks and I think we enjoyed just letting them exist as they are. We made an effort to make interludes in between tracks as that’s something we didn’t have the chance to do before the album”.
What was it like recording your debut in the legendary Rockfield Studios?
“The best experience we could’ve asked for especially for the debut album. I never thought I’d be recording in a studio that was so legendary. Coldplay, Oasis and Queen all recorded there and where Coldplay also recorded their debut album there it all kinda feels a bit surreal. It’s not a pretentious London studio, everything is almost basic but does the job so well. It’s just a great place I’ll always remember the time we had there”.
Was there a moment in the making of the album that felt particularly special?
“We had dinner and sometimes we could go back to the studio if we wanted and finish off some recording late into the evening, the song Someone Else’s Touch had to have the right setting and mood as it was a powerful vocal from James and there was a moment where we dimmed the lights and we were all quite chilled considering we are usually quite a giddy band and James gave the vocal that made it on to the album and I think everyone felt some kind of emotion maybe just because of where we were but I think that was a really special moment for us”.
Is there a specific song on the album you’re excited to play live when gigs restart?
“Well we played a couple from the album earlier on in the year at the warm up shows such as J'uliet', 'Sunday' and 'Leave Me Outside' but there’s a song called 'Sleepstart' which is a bit of a curveball but I love that song so I’m really excited to play that one”.
So I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that you used to tour in a Royal Mail van. Can you tell us more about that?
“We still do. That thing needs a lot of work because if it doesn’t get taken out on the road every week it’s battery dies so we’ve had to put a new one in it even though we can’t go anywhere, but that’s still the van we use it’s been all over Europe and stuff so it’s gonna be sad when we have to say goodbye”.
Is there anything you’re excited for when you finally get to tour the album?
“Yeah, just playing the album to people I think which is usually an essential part of an album campaign but now it feels like it will really be a privilege when we do get to do that. With the songs on the album I feel like we can really change the mood of the setup even more now”.
What has lockdown been like? How has it been not seeing the rest of the band?
“I’ve seen them on zoom like we’re doing now but James lives fairly close to me so we met up in a park but there’s not been really any time all together all though we did all meet up in a park fairly recently but not with any instruments”.
Thank you for talking to us here at The Lowdown. Finally what would you like to say to the fans?
“Keep playing Ursa Major and taking it in and listening to it in new ways so although you can’t see us live just spend a bit of extra time and pick out different bits“.
Marsicans’ debut album was released on August 14th via Killing Moon Records.
Listen to 'Ursa Major' HERE
WRITTEN BY FAITH MARTIN