Neil Stopforth speaks to Marquis Drive singer Mark Hillier and guitarist Chris Eardley about the band and their new single, 'Truth Don't Shock'
It’s often all too easy to label 90s British bands as Britpop but that’s like labelling all types of sport as, well, sport. Or saying every car is the same because it’s called a car.
There are so many varieties that one term can’t possibly describe the many types of sound that came out of that defining decade. After all, Oasis, Blur, Pulp and The Verve, couldn’t have been more different. Some were focused on pop, others rock ‘n’ roll and some firmly in between.
What they did have in common though, is the ability to write memorable, catchy hooks and songs that related to people. Tunes that were played everywhere from Radio 1 to dive nightclubs. They wrote songs that got stuck in your head for days that somehow you ended up knowing all the lyrics to without ever trying to learn them.
The 90s are long gone and the days of stadium-filling British bands seem a distant memory. It’s even been said that guitar music is dying. So what do you get in 2020 when a group of seven guys from the West Midlands come along, grab the 90s by the scruff of the neck and drag it kicking and screaming into the present day?
The answer is Marquis Drive.
Their debut single, ‘Proud’ was picked up by the legendary Alan McGee, the man behind Creation Records who were the first to sign Oasis.
Now, the seven-piece outfit consisting of ‘two Wolves fans, two Villians, one blue nose, one baggy and one sky blue’, are back with their follow up single, ‘Truth Don’t Shock’. This is a hard-hitting rock song which, like their debut, features another anthemic chorus that they waste no time getting to. This is clearly a talented band who are channelling all their energy and influences into producing memorable, knockout songs.
“It’s a banger,” said Mark, “a big song. This is more in your face rock ‘n’ roll. We have to keep stepping the mark up."
While Britpop sounds and 90s bands are a clear influence, Marquis Drive aren’t just copycats. “We’ve also got a lot of psychedelic influences”, added Mark. “We’re all big fans of the 90s but we’re not a 90s band. We write authentic indie rock anthems. We come together through our musical tastes and backgrounds. We’re all 90s boys and we carry a lot of that into the music”.
Despite the current lockdown, both Mark and Chris are positively upbeat and are clearly excited about the new single and the direction the band is heading in.
“Our last single, ‘Proud’ got to number two in the official vinyl charts”, said Mark. “We even knocked David Bowie down to number three!”
The energy and enthusiasm of both Chris and Mark is something that both they, and the rest of the band, certainly channel into their songs. None of that energy has been lost during lockdown. If anything, they’ve been working harder than ever.
“We’ve been in the studio all weekend”, said Chris. “Socially distanced of course! We’ve made the most of lockdown. We’ve got our heads down and been working hard.”
“Lockdown has been good for us!” added Mark. “We’ve passed ideas to and from each other and come up with loads of songs. We want our songs to organically shine that way.”
With seven band members, I was curious to know if it was difficult to write songs with so many people in the band.
“No, it’s great, we’ve got a massive sound with seven of us!” laughed Mark. “The percussion section is really busy, they’ve also just done an endorsement deal which is great”.
“Having the extra drummer is great”, added Chris. “We’ve got Leon Harrison, Oscar Harrison from Ocean Colour Scene’s lad with us. The sound is brilliant.”
‘Proud’ was a real foot stomper, in line with the band’s description of writing anthemic songs. Their new song is even bigger.
“It’s about keeping hold of that momentum,” added Chris. “There are no brakes on this train.”
If their first two singles are anything to go by, their album, due out in September is on course to be a cracker. Marquis Drive aren’t just another run-of-the-mill Britpop band. Nor are they just another guitar band riding on the success of their 90s influences. This is Britpop with balls, anthemic rock ‘n’ roll by a band who already ooze confidence, swagger and style by the bucketload. They’ve arrived with a bang.
Marquis Drive are already getting snapped up for next year’s festival scene. They’ll be in the line-up at next year’s Creation Festival alongside Primal Scream, Black Grape and Echo And The Bunnymen. An album is set for release in September and they’re clearly revelling in their work. Both Mark and Chris are incredibly down to earth and are loving life at the moment.
“We’re doing stuff we never dreamed of doing,” said Mark, the passion in his voice evident. “It shows you don’t have to be a well established band to be living the dream.”
‘Truth Don’t Shock’ is out now on all major digital platforms.