Within a duration of a person’s life, problems and trials are a given. It’s almost like an unwritten contract that you agree to. Taking the good with the bad. Iron sharpening iron. On Marmozets‘ second full-length album, Knowing What You Know Now, showcases a band who has been through the fire, battle-tested, and have been made a better version of themselves because of it. The album borders on a rock/dance party to exercise some needed aggression and emotional points of reflection.
We talk to lead singer Rebecca MacIntyre on the road to Knowing What You Know Now, the songwriting processes of some of the album’s stand out tracks, and her own personal metamorphosis within recording.
Substream: So, you are coming off your first album, 2014’s The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets. From there, you sustained a bad knee injury and the unfortunate loss of your grandmother. Was there any point in-between albums where you second guessing or thinking about calling it quits?
Becca MacIntyre: Yea, there was definitely a moment. To be like, bed bound and to learn how to walk again, it had a huge impact mentally. I kinda got in a state of depression where I was like, “I don’t think I can do this anymore because my knees are gone.” I didn’t see a future carrying on because I knew how bad the knees were. I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m not going to be able to dance the way I used to.” I just felt that it was kind of taken away. Now, I look back, and there has been way worse things that have happened to people. I kicked my ass back into gear and now, everything is good.
S: Your first album, you recorded when you were 18. Now as an adult, you mentioned, going through the process of grieving and knee surgery. Is titling the album, Knowing What You Know Now an accumulation of everything you’ve gone through up to this point?
BM: Even before I hit 18, with the album stuff, we did many years of touring. I guess, with Knowing What You Know Now, it’s just knowing everything that you know about. It’s the situations that we’ve been in with the reputation of rock-n-roll and stuff going on. I guess most of the creative comes from crazy backgrounds. Not necessarily the best backgrounds, but it adds the ability to what we have and that’s to write music.
Especially, with this album and the way that we are moving forward is that we are in a really, really good space. It’s one of those things where we’re not just a rock band getting an opportunity. We are really serious about it. We’re just trying to push and do everything we can to make a bit of money, eventually and follow on with the rest of the dreams that we have. Being in a band for ten years, for some people, we’re a new band. We’re still sluggin it and loving it.
S: You guys worked with Gil Norton on this album. He’s worked on albums from The Strokes, Foo Fighters, and the Pixies which is one of your favorite albums. How was it working with him because listening to the album, it feels like an aggressive dance party and then it progresses into the heavier, emotional songs towards the latter end.
BM: Working with him, there’s no question about it. We really believe in timing and everything coming together to work. He was someone that has been watching us for a while and was asking about the first album. We look to work with people who are passionate about the band and with a person who is just like “we want to work with the next big band.” We like to work with people who pull themselves all in like we do. I guess make it a family vibe, but at the same time, the discipline that comes with it. It was a win/win situation at the time recording with him. He was really excited about our songs. His roster is insane. All bands that we look up to and appreciate in the music world.
S: I wanted to talk about a couple of the tracks. “Major System Error” was a song that I had on repeat. That chorus stood out to me a lot. How did that song come together?
BM: The boys were in Brixton. We would individually have ideas as we were living around the country. Sam and Jack went down to Brixton to get their ideas out. That song just literally came out all natural. Jack was sitting on the phone with his accountant and his accountant said there was a major system error within your bank.
It stood out to me when we wrote it down because there are some people who you befriend or fall in love with and you’re like “oh my gosh, there’s a major system error.” Your not the person that I really thought you were or who you were going to be. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t gone through that. It was relatable and random. I ended up sitting with a bunch a lyrics that we already had. When we write, even if we do little solo parts, we can end up building the songs together because we’re all going through kind of the same things individually in our own weird ways.
S: The next song, “Insomnia” is a break from the energy. It has this psychedelic vibe to it. It feels like your experiencing Insomnia. Were you guys conscious of that with sequencing because up until that point, it feels like your listening to a big narrative and this feels like a taxation of everything?
BM: Basically, I was living not in the best conditions before we were writing. My mom and step dad had moved back down south. I needed to be up north because it was near the studio with all our gear and stuff. You know, you gotta do with what you got. I was heavily smoking a lot of marijuana because it was the only thing that would help me out. Every night, I just couldn’t go to sleep without having a smoke. I just had so much crap going on in my head. Jack had this riff which is the guitar part in “Insomnia.”
We went to the studio and I just got behind the mic. Jack started playing the riff and I was like, “let’s record that.” I had that going through my ears and that song was done literally in that voice. It’s crazy to think the situations and experiences that you get into and it ends up being parts of writing. I don’t smoke now. I feel so good not doing it. Some people may think because it’s legal in some places, it does make people feel better, but in reality, you get messed up. I didn’t want to live that life anymore.
S: “Start Again” feels like the rallying cry for this album. It starts with the big drum beat, you come in with the guitars. With other acts that I’ve interviewed in terms of their second album, there’s talk of that sophomore jinx. There’s a lot of confidence in Knowing What I Know Now. There’s aggressiveness, but song writing structure got a lot better. Do you feel that this album is a new page?
BM: For sure. Even from a young age, that’s how we always wrote. When we were teenagers, we were in the space where we wanted more for our lives. The confidence is completely there. I found my voice. “Start Again” is a moment where we were like, let’s be comfortable in our role and be confident about what we do. Our music has a really strong foundation with a strong fan base.
S: The song “Me and You” is probably the most heartfelt and emotional song on the album. Is that the song that you wrote about losing your grandmother?
BM: Yea! That was my grieving note. We had got off tour and I was like, “I need to write about her. I need to put something on paper.” I just closed my eyes and was just thinking about her and started crying. I just thought of all the memories of me and her together with this white light around her and she was so happy. It was the best I had ever seen my nan. From there, the lyrics started coming out. I started singing the lyrics to Sam and he started crying. Then he started putting some chords over the top. The boys added their magic on top of it.