An Interview with Mike Marlin

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Mike Marlin & his superb Melomaniacs will soon be in Edinburgh. The Mumble are VERY excited…


Hello Mike, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Mike: I am from London and still live there, but I did spend 12 years living near Kilmarnock in Scotland and I am married to a Scot.

Mike: You’ve supported The Stranglers on their “Black & Blue” tour. How did you get the gig & how did it all go?
Mike: I grew up in the 70s and discovered live music when I was 17. It was an exciting time. I saw bands playing in tiny venues who subsequently went on to great things – The Police, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Souixsie & The Banshees and many more. I went to University and taught myself to play the guitar. I played bass in a band and wrote songs, but I never thought I would end up as a musician or as a singer. I dropped out of University and drifted into a dull backroom job at a little broking business in London. The company bought an early desktop computer and they gave it to see what could be done with it. I automated myself out of a job and left to set up a software business. To cut a long story short, I spent the next 25 years writing code. More from necessity than any entrepreneurial drive, I started various businesses to sell the software I had written. I had some misses and some hits – and found myself running businesses rather than creating things. I was bored. In my late 40s I was living in New York and decided to sell up and move home to become a novelist. I had always written – songs, poems, novels …. and the idea of sitting quietly writing appealed to me. Through a happy series of accidents I ended up making a record instead – and getting an agent – and getting the opportunity to support the Stranglers on their UK tour in 2010. I had never sung a song to another human being in my life, but given that I’d seen the Stranglers with about 12 other people at the Hope & Anchor in 1977, I decided that I could not pass up the opportunity of a lifetime. It went well and the core Stranglers fans accepted me as a member of the Stranglers family. Which was lucky, because apparently they turn their back on support bands when they do not like them … something their manager only told me after my first gig! I have supported the Stranglers on tours all over the UK, Europe and in America. 8 years later and Dust is my 5th record, and I still do not quite believe the strange turn my life has taken.

Can you tell us about AMP Music Productions.
Mike: I started AMP as a creative venture to develop my music as a publisher and promoter. The most interesting thing about AMP is that it is a nested three letter acronym.

What does Mike Marlin like to do when he’s not being musical?
Mike: I have four kids, one wife, two cats and a technology start up. So I am pretty busy one way or the other. But what I love doing most of all is sleeping.

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Who are The Melomaniacs?
Mike: Paul Silver, Kim Murray and I have worked together for 5 years on and off. They are both jazz musicians and have busy lives gigging all over the UK and abroad. At first they were members of my backing band playing my songs, but we wrote Dust together from scratch and now it is an ever evolving creative partnership. Danny Monk is our engineer in the studio and live, so he is also very much part of the band.

This August you are bringing DUST to the Fringe, what can you tell us about it?
Mike: Dust is a film with a live soundtrack. We set the scene and then play uninterrupted for 55 minutes. Everything is played by the Melomaniac trio without backing tracks or tricks. The film is synchronised to the live performance and not the other way round, and the our sound and video engineers are as much part of the performance as the band. We used footage from our journey across America and intercut it with vintage film to follow the mood of the music from the sombre to the humorous; from the fine detail to the majestic. The screen is 10m wide and 4m high and our goal is to take the audience with us on the journey through the good and the bad lands of America.

How did the idea come about, & how long has it taken to bring to fruition?
Mike: Dust was conceived by Paul Silver, Kim Murray and myself. It emerged from a series of free wheeling Monday night jam sessions in late 2016. We found that good things happened when we made things up as we went along. Before we knew it, we had an album. We dropped the ‘Mike Marlin’ prefix from the band name to reflect the collaborative song writing approach. Dust became more of a performance piece than a studio recording project and we decided to record it on the road as a single piece of music. We booked a journey across America in summer 2017, including various stops at studios along the way, including a stint with legendary producer Sylvia Massy. It was a return to familiar territory for us – we had toured America before and somehow it felt right. I have known Jean Luc for about 25 years. He is married to a childhood friend and lives in New York where he works as a professional photographer. We had never worked together before, but when we played in new York, Jean Luc would always come along and photograph the gig. We got talking about the Melomaniacs plans for Dust and Jean Luc volunteered to come along. He has a busy schedule as a photographer but squeezed in our desert adventure between photo shoots. Meanwhile I met Lee in 2009 when we made the video for my first single. Lee has a rare combination of skills – he is both creative and superbly organised – a very unusual combination in my experience! As a result we have collaborated on several videos over the last 8 years. Like Jean Luc, Lee volunteered to come along and film the trip across America. As we travelled, we all talked about how the film, images and the music might become a single experience. We became a six piece band with a shared creative vision. We got back to the UK and spent 6 months sifting through everything we captured to distil Dust into a record, a book, a series of images and a film. It’s this single vision that we are presenting at Edinburgh for the first time on a big screen. It is exciting – and slightly daunting.

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You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show on the streets of Edinburgh, what will you go for?
Mike: Either “If I gave you a fiver would you come to a show?” or “If Pink Floyd and Leonard Cohen had a love child, it would be called Dust”.

What does the rest of 2018 have in store for yourself & the band?
Mike: We have no plans. But something good usually comes along… If all else fails we will write album 6.


DUST

Assembly Rooms – Ballroom

Aug 13-26 (21.30)

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