Interview with Mark Williams, front man of Wellington band MarineVille, about their newly released second album, ‘Diving the Wreck’…
How has your sound developed since the first album?
I think people heard ‘Ready for the Dance’ as a nice, dreamy, atmospheric thing, I really wanted this to be more on the beat. So I deliberately wrote a couple of really murderous rock songs, and even the quieter songs I think have really pointed dynamics. It’s definitely more lo-fi which has more to do with us recording ourselves and not having a clue what we were doing, but it’s the music that matters, innit?
Who’s playing on the album?
Geoffrey Trail is the drummer, his playing is very elegant, subtle, pointed, like someone who grew up listening to Gene Pitney whilst quaffing his breakfast cornflakes. David Hall plays most of the bass and guitar, he can play it murderous, melodic, textural and has great deadpan backing vocals. John Douglas adds wonderful feel and propulsion on bass. Craig Monk, John White and Francesca Mountfort add sweeping strings… All are open to playing something traditional or strange and take the song somewhere I couldn’t.
How did your relationship with Involve Records come about?
Bevan Smith (Involve) came to our gigs and liked us, when we were looking for a bass player we asked him. Bevan offered to release the album irrespective of whether he joined the band.
Apparently you first recorded the album in 2002, then scrapped it and started again. Why?
They were beautiful recordings but we just weren’t ready to play the songs. A couple of songs I had left too open ended and we hadn’t sorted the dynamics properly, consequently the performances didn’t have any momentum or were just WRONG. So we scrapped all but two which are on the record. It was a good learning experience.
You’ve said: “It almost felt experimental to try and write a really good verse-chorus-bridge rock song.” What do you mean? Who do you think does it well?
I got really sick of bands playing ‘post-rock’ or washy atmospheric music. So much of it sounds like new age music for the 21st century. I went to this lecture once by Graeme Downes on Nirvana versus the rest of grunge music and he pointed out the difference between ‘the songs they write and the sounds they make’, which to me is the problem with all the post-My Bloody Valentine and Godspeed/Mogwai groups, most use pedals and volume as an excuse for dynamics. As for who does verse-chorus music well, Davendra Banhardt is pretty cool, The Timeless Sounds are our local resident geniuses of ‘the song’.
What about schmaltz? Who are your role models of schmaltz?
As a child I remember my father accompanying Dean Martin by wearing Mum’s apron and mime-singing into a spatula. It was a very formative experience I have subsequently tried to forget/recapture by listening to Scott Walker, Richard Hawley and Jacques Brel. Jacques’ schmaltz is pretty poisoned – my favourite kind. Yum.
Tell us about the video for the single ‘Let’s Build a House’…
Now THAT is one sick piece of candy. Thighs… there are thighs. Exposed, pale ones. Lycra, there is lycra. It will be released early November. It was made by Lissa Mitchell. You’ll lose 10 pounds just watching it. I feel sick just talking about it. It’s brilliant.
Plans to tour with the album?
You bet. After being in the studio for a year or more, we’re raring to go. We’ll be playing in Auckland on Nov 6th at Edens Bar and the CD release party is in Wellington Nov 13th at Happy.
(for The package)