Marsicans are the indie quartet you need to know about. With their harmony-laden songs and overarching sound of addictive pop, it’s no surprise the band is quickly becoming one the rising faces of UK indie pop. Just before Marsicans are due to kick off touring with Fickle Friends, SlantedPress had a quick chat with the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, James Newbigging.
I started the interview with a question focusing on the inspiration of the band’s unique name. “There's nothing too exciting about the inspiration to be honest,” James told me, “we were looking at a list of animal names and we liked the sound of 'Marsicans’, an endangered Italian bear. I remember being on a night out with Cale (the band’s drummer) and he was undecided on the name. I pestered and pestered him until we agreed on it at a cashpoint; it’s your classic origin story really.”
Marsicans are not afraid of labels, in fact, they seem to embrace them. Across their social media platforms, you can see the band confidently labelling their genre as ‘upbeat indie meeting dirty pop’. While these labels have been freely associated with the band, I ask James whether the indie scene was something that the band naturally gravitated towards or whether it was a conscious decision to create music from that genre. “We've not really thought about what music we want to create. We kind of just do it,” James said, “we're all indie fans and grew up in the mid-noughties indie boom. I guess that's rubbed off on us but so have various other influences along the way.” Every band has their influences, but it was nice to hear how Marsicans pay respects to the music that helped shape the band to make them the artists they are today.
With the current growth of the indie genre, I ask James how he felt about the contemporary indie movement and how it’s interacting with Marsicans. “It can't be a bad thing that more bands are on the up,” James says, “we always like to try and work with bands to try and build a scene. Sometimes it feels like bands have a 'band vs band' kind of attitude, but really, we're all in it for the same reason.” While the industry, as James says, can be competitive, it hasn’t stopped Marsicans by any means. In 2016, they released their debut single and from then onwards the band has continued to flourish. I question James if he feels like the band have learned any lessons during their evolution as musicians. “We've learned to write and write and write. It's kind of the only thing that matters,” he tells me. “We enjoy dipping our toes in other genres to challenge ourselves, and also to keep things fresh. As musicians, we try and not let each other get away with the same tricks song after song, again to try and keep things as fresh as possible.”
Talking of keeping things fresh, Marsicans recently released a brand-new music video for their single ‘Pop-Ups (Sunny at the Weekend)’. I ask James about how you describe how the music video and the song work together. “Lyrically, the song started because of a pop-up ad I got on the internet, offering false promises of money and an easy life,” James explains, “the song became a tongue-in-cheek jibe at real life people who try and manipulate you in that way, but it's rooted in a world of larger than life pop-up characters. The video kind of felt like the obvious thing to do. We wanted it to almost be an 'anti-video', covering up the bits of the video you'd want to see the most, at the most annoying times.” If you haven’t seen the video already, well you can take James’ word for it. There’s video takes a simple concept that works incredibly well with word play in the track title and as an entertaining music video.
Last of all, I ask the question we all want to know about – can we expect any new music, maybe even an album? “We've got our sights on the album, but it won't be for a little while,” James admits, “there'll definitely be more new music beforehand. We've also just released our latest single 'Suburbs' which we're all buzzing about. The video for it, which we shot ourselves when we were over in Toronto and New York, will be out very shortly.” Whatever Marsicans have next we will definitely be keeping an eye out for it!