So how did you end up becoming involved with Marrow?
Me and Macie [Stewart] used to be in a band called Kids These Days, which we started in high school together. It sort of took off … While all of our friends were going off to college, we hopped in a van and toured around the country with the band. After they broke up, I wanted to keep playing music with Macie. We were both songwriters, so I thought it would be an interesting environment.
Also, I heard you participated in some pretty well known late night comedy shows in the past, like Colbert, Conan … How was that? What did you do?
Yeah, I’ve played a lot of them now. Me and Macie did Conan with Kids These Days, but I also played with Jeff Tweedy and Wilco and his son in a band called Tweedy. With that band, we did [Jimmy Fallon], Colbert Report Conan and Austin City Limits.
Just being like a live band on the set basically?
Yeah, you know how like at the end of the night a band plays a song …
Getting back to what Marrow’s been up to, how did you go from the sound that you guys had with Kids These Days to Marrow? Or what did that transition look like?
Getting out of Kids These Days sound was easy. That was the type of band where you needed all the people in the room for it to sound like that. The time that [Macie and I] had to spend together wasn’t so much losing the Kids These Days sound but finding common ground writing wise. That took a little while, and we’re probably still working on that. We took some time to think: What do we sound best doing together? What’s the center of this Venn diagram and how can we push ourselves to explore that area more?
How would you describe your band style wise? It sounds like you guys have a lot going on in terms of scope.
Honestly, I just think of Marrow as being a four-piece rock band. That’s just easiest for me. I’m more interested in what instruments are in the band. That’s sort of what I ask people too, and you know sometimes you get a weird one. “It’s a three-piece, we have a bass, drums and a saxophone player.” And then that gives me some idea. That’s typically how I like to quantify it: what the people in the band are playing, as opposed to what exactly does it all sound like.
Would you say that you personally or the band as a whole has had any major influences?
Yeah, I would honestly put David Bowie right up there for us. We’re really into a lot of British bands: the Kinks, the Beatles, David Bowie of course. We’re actually working on another record right now and that stuff is really influential … but it’s interesting, because you can be influenced by someone for a lot of different reasons. You can be influenced by someone you don’t necessarily like, but you like the way they do this one thing, and you say, “I want to grab that.” There are people that I really, really respect, but I don’t take a lot of musical influence from them, but I take a lot of influence from them as a musician and as a person — like Bruce Springsteen. I just really respect his work ethic. So, I think, “Oh, I’m going to take a little bit of that, and a little of Ray Davies’ song structure ideas.” And then you put it all together, and hopefully your own voice comes through.
You guys are celebrating the release of your first full-length album right now. How’s that going?
We’re really, really excited to have it out. We’ve worked on it a long time — probably longer than we should have — but we were a new band, and we also recorded it in my studio, which was brand new, and we were learning how to use it. So, now it’s out and we’re really excited to be able to tour around the country. It’s been a nice reception — being able to meet people who like the music, and hit some new cities and hit some old cities.
Is this the first time you guys are touring as a band? I know you and Macie have before, but collectively?
Yeah, it’s the first time Marrow has really gone out and done some substantial touring … We’re excited to not be in Chicago for a few days; it’s like six degrees outside. And we’re starting off in New Orleans, which is always a good time. It’s a pretty simple love affair for us … We love the whole thing that is touring, and I can’t wait to do it every time.
I got really into “She Chose You,” which is also coincidentally your most popular song on Spotify and I’m assuming in general. I’m not a music expert, but it has that sound that’s really persuasive. In your mind, what do you think makes a great song?
Everything is derivative, right? Everything’s taking a little bit that’s already been done before, and hopefully doing it a new way, but I think a great song has at least one thing that is truly unique. You can reuse the song structure, you can reuse melodies or lyrical content, but I think a great song needs one truly honest, unique moment. It’s got to add something new to the collective consciousness.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.