Flying Solo: Gazz Marlow Interview

gazz-marlow-ep-coverI’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to anyone going by our previous posts, but we here at Musicscramble are big fans of InMe. The band is an extremely well oiled machine in both recorded and live formats, but like any machine it’s only as good as its constituent parts. Lucky then that all the cogs and wheels of this particular contraption are all pretty damn good musicians in their own right.

Following in the footsteps of singer Dave McPherson, guitarist Gazz Marlow has recently completed a solo acoustic tour armed with little more than a vehicle, a couple of guitars and a good mate. He was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the tour and his solo work.

Many thanks to Gazz for taking the time to answer our little Q&A.

You’re best know as the guitarist from InMe and have been with the band for a little over two years now. What made you decide to embark on a solo tour?

Well if you love music, you just want to do it all the time, right? Dave is off around the UK all the time and I wanted to do the same. I just love getting out and meeting people and performing. I guess that’s the thing about being a musician – it’s a bit addictive – the more you have, the more you want.

How long have you been writing and recording your own material? Is there a huge back catalogue of unreleased material held somewhere?

Way before I joined InMe I was a singer/songwriter anyway… previously I did a band called Dry Rise and towards the end of that I’d started messing around on an acoustic and some of the songs just didn’t “fit” with the vibe of the band. So I started mucking around with those and eventually called it a solo project once I’d started InMe and Dry Rise had faded out. I’ve got loads of old demos, some really bad, but people are probably going to get to hear those soon too. I started actually playing around with song writing as of around 1995 when I formed my first “band” called Fallacy. It was me and my best mate but we never did any gigs, just some scruffy tape recordings.

Who or what influences your own material? Does your writing come from personal experiences?

Some of my songs are about girls and love. Some are about being an utter arse. And others are about mortality. And a couple aren’t really about anything in particular but they sound nice 🙂 Sure there are some personal experiences – I wrote a song about a seagull getting hit by a taxi! That’s an interesting one, despite the rather blunt title, people still choose to find their own meaning – I’ve had fans make up these wild interpretations of it being about a failed romance between two famous people, all sorts. When in fact, it was a dying bird.

What is your song writing process like? Do you concentrate on one song at a time for instance, or float around with lots of ideas?

I’m dead slow at songwriting! I bang out a few a year if I’m not under pressure. I like to concentrate on songs for ages and play them live for ages too. That way you gradually learn all the little inflections and the emotion in the song becomes more convincing. For example, the song “Situation No. 4” was started 16 years ago! I wrote a chord arpeggio riff in an altered tuning that I really liked and just remembered it last year and built a whole song around it. If an idea is good, it’s good – never worry about it being “old”… too many musicians worry about that kind of stuff.

In our interview with Dave he gave you a great deal of credit regarding your technical skill on guitar. Do you try to bring that to your solo work? Do you have to change your style to suit acoustic guitar?

I think some of my solo stuff is technical in terms of chord complexity, picking patterns and tunings. But I try to let the songs do the talking to be honest, though there are some show-off moments in “Too Far Away” and “Seagull Samaritan”. My style has to change to a point, especially because when doing shows completely on my own, the guitar and voice have to do all the work. So it’s finding little ways of popping in gaps, little percussive things, dynamics etc to really keep it interesting.

What’s been your favourite song you’ve written so far and why?

That’s a hard one. I am very keen on a song called “Dreaming” I’ve written. I think it’s got some really nice harmonies and guitar work. Plus the lyrics deal with the issue of mortality, and being remembered, which is something I think about a lot. “Seagull Samaritan” is very popular with fans, and I’m currently loving singing my new one “Everything She Never Wanted” – that one was me trying to write a quick filler song using really easy chords but it seems to have caught on, partly because it’s so different from all the others I do.

What does the typical set entail? Do you stick to a regular selection or mix it up every night?

On tour I do the same set each night, perhaps with songs added or removed depending on desired set length. I think it’s better that way (it’s how InMe do it too) as you really learn the flow of the set and get into the swing of it. I try to mix up the songs in terms of speed, feel, content etc so the set doesn’t go off in one direction for any more than a song or so. Again, it’s all about trying to keep people interested – and that’s massively important when you are a new solo artist fighting for recognition.

How does touring solo compare to touring with the band? Are you actually on your own or do you tour together with support buddies? Is there a Marlow entourage trailing around with you?

295209_430713286974863_1131637113_nIt’s totally different but equally enjoyable. With InMe it’s big crowds and great hospitality. But it’s high stress – lots of stuff to go wrong, a hell of a lot of work to do, and a group of up to 16 people all depending on each other. You’re tied to the tour bus, if it’s planned to leave at 1am, you ain’t partying. Whereas with solo stuff I can just go do whatever I like as there’s no tour manager/bandmates etc to answer to. This is why on my solo tour I got messy every single night and I don’t think I went to bed before 4am 🙂 I don’t have an entourage but I did take a driver and very good friend and musician Matt Bonner as support.

How much kit do you take on tour? Can you give us an insight into your choice of hardware such as guitar(s), amps, pedals (if any), etc?

Really minimum at present, a Tanglewood Acoustic (Matts, his is better than mine) and my old one as a spare. Other than that, picks, cables, spare SM58s in case of dodgy ones in venues, RotoSound strings and good old Boss TU2 pedal. When I start doing full-band shows the gear will get a bit more complex as you can imagine.

Dave is a veteran of the solo circuit. Does he give you valuable advice and assistance, or is he a pest?

He’s a pest! Nah, he’s more an oracle to be honest. He works harder than anyone in music I know, and is more passionate. He advised me to sell my old EP on tour – I wasn’t keen on it because I’m not happy with it anymore, I’m a lot better now… but I took it on his advice. He was right, it sold really well and people like having the older tracks, so they can say they heard the original and see how the songs have progressed.

Are there any plans to tour together? All or most of InMe on tour yet not actually being InMe would be pretty cool.

I doubt that personally as we are all very busy and getting the 4 of us together even for InMe is difficult! That said – Greg is going to play bass for me and Simon Taylor is doing the drums. So you’ll hear them on the record and ultimately, at some live shows. Though I’m still going to go out and do little acoustic ones on my own, it’s easier, more economical and pretty fun too.

You have an EP available on Bandcamp. Should we expect to see a full length release in the future?

Hell yes. My debut album will be released in the first part of 2013 hopefully. I’m running a campaign with PledgeMusic to raise the funds for it and its promotion. It’s called “Situations”. You should start seeing the first bits of info about it in the very near future… subject to confirmation I intend to launch the album on my birthday, 9th October. So just buy my album as a present yeah?

You can keep up with Gazz’s activities on Facebook and Twitter.

Paul Mitchell

Co-founder, (mostly) retired Editor and original member of Musicscramble and Moviescramble. Gamer, Gooner, listener, consumer, and writer who can't quite tear himself away from all things 'Scramble'.

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