I Say Marvin are off to a fine start, garnering plaudits from all across the musical spectrum. Hotly tipped by Gigwise, Steve Lamacq and Zane Lowe, they have also found fans in touring buddies Feeder and the drummer from Razorlight. Not bad for a band who walked out of university after only one lecture. On a rare sunny day Gigwise sits down with singer and lead guitarist Sam Power to talk touring, bitching and the perils of being in an unsigned band. The band were formerly known as ‘Marvin and The Gayes’, but changed it for legal reasons, but were they actually about to be sued? Sam says, “People said we’d get threatened by Marvin Gaye’s people. We didn’t want to go to far away from our name and it says ‘I say marvin’ in one of our songs.”
Things have happened quickly for I Say Marvin, with a fair bit of hype surrounding their current debut single ‘Powerdown!’ In today’s climate of bands moving in and out faster than the Generation Game conveyor belt it seems a hard task for a young band to deal with. Sam responds, “It’s exciting. It’s nice when friends come up to you and say ‘look you’re in the NME’. We take it with a pinch of salt. People build you up and knock you down just as quick”. School friends from Penzance, Sam Power, bass guitarist/vocalist Tom Weeks and guitarist/keyboard player Ashley Matthews met up with keyboard player Jonny Halliday and drummer Jim Preston-Evans when they attended Truro College. Over the next few months they went from playing pub gigs in Cornwall to the Ripcurl Unleashed festival with Feeder and The Automatic. That autumn they all packed off to Brighton University, but quickly left to concentrate on the band.
Sam describes, “I went for the first day, sitting in a big lecture hall, thinking is this really what I want to do? Being in a band is so much more fun. We were playing a gig in London and coming in the taxi back we said is their any point going back?”. He continues, “Tourings what it’s all about really. We just want to tour constantly. The My Space tour was good for exposure”.
After sharing a stage with new talents Pull Tiger Tail, Ali Love and Hadouken on the My Space Bleep Bleep Tour they are back on the road again with anumber of dates including an appearnce at the Great Escape Festival. Describing Pull Tiger Tail as the "nicest people you’ll ever meet" Gigwise is keen to find out what Sam makes of the other bands in the current music scene. He says, “I’m listening to a lot of old music at the moment. Quite a lot of new bands aren’t that inspiring for me”. He expresses a fondness for Postal Service and LCD Soundsystem "They nailed every aspect of music". Adding, “I like Bloc Party, LCD Soundsystem, the idea of making synth pop with guitars. The way we play guitar is influenced by Gang Of Four”.
Keen to break away from the current labelling trend that has them down as indie-disco, new rave and emo in equal measure Sam explains, “We’re trying our best not get tagged. It’s lazy journalism to lump everyone into one category”. He continues, “I understand why its quite damaging to bands. We just write music that we like really. That’s what’s around at the moment. It makes no sense to try and distance ourselves from it. We consciously tried to distance ourselves from it and it ended up sounding rubbish. As long as you know that you’ve written it independently. Music is best when it’s pure”.
Moving from Cornwall to Brighton at young age seems to have affected the members of I Say Marvin’s point of view. Sam explains, “It’s not about a change in place, it’s more about a change in attitudes, the way we think. If we were to have this conversation months from now my opinions might have changed again”. Having to grow up quickly in the 3 months the band spent ‘playing constantly’ around Cornwall has brought the desire to write an album and play bigger venues. Sam explains “I’d like to record an album as soon as possible. Just for myself. To see what it would sound like. Playing at Reading would be the ultimate. I went to school with Ashley and Tom. Tom’s big dream was to go on a tour and play Brixton Academy. So we’ve kind of done that. It was the best experience of my life!”.
As for future plans it appears the skies the limit, although they’ve been lucky to get on the bill at the Great Escape Festival they are finding it hard to get on other big stages without label backing. Sam however remains optimistic, “We’ve got the single and Great Escape and we’ll work out where we go from there. Hopefully they’ll be record label interest”. Sounding obviously elated, he continues, “All we want to do is play and play and play. Go to everywhere in the world. That’s the beauty of music, that you get to travel all over”.
Gigwise asks how the relationships in the band have held up when they spend so much time in each other’s company. Sam responds, “We bicker about stupid things. We’re friends and a band. It’s better than when they try to throw a band together. We have a certain bond. I’m surrounded by people I love to bits”.
He mentions his love of Sunshine Underground who he is off to see later than evening and giggles about how he and the boys love a good bitchfest. He complains, “Nobody has good bitching sessions anymore”. Realising the conversation has ambled off course he wraps things up, saying how much he loves interviews and talking to new people. “Half an hour ago we would have never have spoken. It’s great.” Rounding off excitedly, “That’s the dream!” and with that he saunters off to catch the last rays of the Brighton sun.
Set for big things and with a great year ahead of them, I Say Marvin are a band who really are living the dream.