There were a lot of whispers within the company about Marcus King before his London Islington Assembly show, a gig where Orange founder and CEO Cliff Cooper embarked on a two hour journey to introduce himself and say hello before the show, and where I had countless phone calls, messages and emails from various colleagues around the globe pre interview, making me aware of how.god.damn.important. this 22 year old guitar prodigy was for the future of music and how they’d send me home on the first flight to Norway (not really…) if I didn’t make a good impression – so no pressure there.. During the interview I found out more about his love for the charismatic frontman, and that he started playing guitar at the age of 3, an age where I personally was still trying to grow a full head of hair. To get back into it, ladies and gentlemen, the ever so clever, Marcus King.

Finding someone like yourself playing this sort of music and playing it as well as you do at 22, really makes me believe there’s hope for future generations. I assume you must have been young when you started playing, may I ask how young?
Marcus King:
I first started playing when I was about 3 or 4, and I’ve been playing professionally since I was about 11.

I’m guessing music’s been a natural part of your upbringing as you come from a strong blues background with your dad being fellow blues man Marvin King. Apart from that, there are such strong elements of soul, funk, and even some latin grooves in your playing, what other types of music did you listen to when growing up and learning to play?
Marcus King:
I was really inspired by guitar players such as Clapton, Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn from a young age, another early discovery was The Allman Brothers Band, as well as The Marshall Tucker Band and a bunch of other great Southern bands. Later on, I got really intrigued by “the frontman”, and artists such as James Brown, Otis Redding  and Aretha Franklin – anyone who had that certain attitude would really speak to me. What really changed the game for me was when I started studying jazz theory, and discovering Miles Davis and John Coltrane was really life changing to me, a clear game changer.

You got your band with you, The Marcus King Band, here tonight – how do you work when you make music, do you write the most of it on your own and bring it to the band, or is it done as a unit?
Marcus King: Most of the songs I write and bring to the band for them to add in their flavour, and that’s what creates a Marcus King Band song, a collaborative effort. To those of you who don’t know, The Marcus King band is:

Drums: Jack Ryan – 6 years in the band
Trumpet: Justin Johnson – 5 years in the band
Bass: Stephen Campbell – 4 years in the band – Uses an AD200
Saxophone: Dean Mitchell – 4 years in the band
Keys: Deshawn “D-Vibes” Alexander – 1 year in the band

Now to put you on the spot in front of founder Cliff Cooper, how have you been finding using Orange on this past tour?
Marcus King: I’ve loved every second of it – I’ve never had a mishap using an Orange, which is one of the things I love the most about them, how dependable they are. Plus, you can play ‘em straight outta the box! Tonight I’ve got a Rockerverb 50, which is my favourite Orange head, and a 4×12 cab. I’ve also always been a reverb guy so when Orange’s Pat Foley in Nashville introduced me to the Rockerverb, I was sold on it. Pat’s great, and he’s become close friends with my dad as well.

So you’ve heard these questions before but when did you start playing guitar?
Well my grandfather was a guitar player and my father is as well. My great grandfather played the fiddle. I just grew up playing music.

So, your father played professionally?
Yeah. He still does. He was on the road his entire life.

Does he play a similar type of music to you? I mean has your music evolved out of what you heard from him?
Yes and no. It’s like a lot of it’s from my grandfather. He played a lot of Country Western, and like Chuck Berry and the Ventures. My dad played stuff like Allman Brothers, Foghat and Wishbone Ash.

Like what we now call Classic Rock?
Yeah, and he was into those bands in the early 70s late 70s and he also played in some country bands in the 80s and 90s as well. So there was a lot of that influence. My dad is also a big blues nut, so I used to go through his blues collection at the house and he would always be teaching me, you know.

So, did you cop any of your guitar style maybe from some of those records?
Well, I was digging through anything I could find. I would say my guitar style is mostly attributed to fact that don’t listen to guitar players specifically. I stopped listening to guitar players consciously at a young age so I could focus on trying to have a different sound and not sound like a watered down version of someone else.

Well, you’ve got that…
Thank you. What I would mainly listen to was like pedal steel players and I listened to a lot of tenor saxophone players, because that’s really similar sonically, in my opinion, to the guitar. I mean you can emulate some of the saxophone sounds and some of the runs that they were doing, they had to breathe, you know. So that taught me to, kind of take a breath in between phrasings and not just ramble on. And a lot of organ players as well. I would listen to Jimmy Smith and to Chester Thompson. I Was all over the map, but I was really into it.

For someone your age you have not only the physical ability and dexterity but a very deep musical well to draw from. I just don’t know how to describe your playing. Anyway so you’re recording a new album. What can you tell me about it?
Yeah, the record is called Carolina Confessions and it’s kind of a thematic record looking for some absolution. It’s kind of the concept of the record, it’s taking the concept of confessing your sins and getting them off your conscience.

There’s an element of that in a lot of blues music. So that’s pretty heavy stuff. So, you worked with a new producer on this album?
His name is Dave Cobb and that was a really great experience because Dave’s really got his thing going on and it was great to work with him.

So when did you discover Orange Amps and what turned you on about them?
One of the first times I heard an Orange Amp it was an AD30. I heard my friend playing through it and I couldn’t understand how this much sound was coming through such a small cabinet. That’s when I really fell in love with the Orange sound. My dad, same story, he used to talk about Orange amplifiers when I was a kid. He still loves that little AD30 combo. I think Wishbone Ash used Orange, didn’t they? Anyway he used to say that one day maybe you’ll get yourself an Orange amplifier, that’s insane.

So you’re currently playing a Rockerverb 50 MKIII. How do you like the sound of that?
Love it man. I love reverb. I’m a reverb nut. I’ve gotta have it. So when the Rockerverb 50 MKIII came along and you introduced me to it I was like wow this is like, this is it. This is my bag so, it has worked out really great!

And then you’re off to Europe, well after you finish tonight at Red Rocks with the Tedeschi/Trucks Band. But you are back to Europe at some point this fall, right?
In October we’ll be going back to Europe for the third time this year.

Well, I know that our friends in Europe and across the US are looking forward to hearing you. Thanks For your time Marcus, all the best.

Check out Marcus King online

Interview by Pat Foley, Orange Nashville Artist Rep

My name is Mary Spender, I play the Orange Rocker 32 and most recently, the Rocker 15 head with a 212 vertical cab. I started playing guitar when I was 12 because I saw some boys at school with a Squire and I was very envious because I was doing classical music! Although i was enjoying it – being in orchestras, playing the viola and singing, playing violin – I found it restrictive in some ways because I wanted to write songs. I was listening to pop music (if I can be honest) as my mum introduced me into things like Jodie Mitchell and I just wanted to sing and accompany myself so I played guitar. I started on electric and bought a Yamaha Pacifica 112 and it’s kinda just gone from there.

I chose the Rocker 32 because of the stereo features but I’m totally guilty of not having stereo pedals right now! I also chose it because of the 3-band EQ on the dirty channel. Aside from the set-clean tone, it’s useful to change between the two channels for my style of playing. Orange was a strange choice for my style of music but then it’s very complimentary in the same way… it’s just cool having my Rocker 32 on stage. It was on stage for my UK tour most recently and everyone just said how good the tone sounded so I’ll take that as a compliment!

My Vigier GV Rock in revolution green is my favourite guitar. It’s short-scale, I love it, it has a very slim neck and it’s just beautiful. I’m a singer/songwriter and I’d describe my musical style as intricate, slow guitar playing with a little chicken-picking… but not quite… there’s a mixture of influences such as Mark Knopfler… so that sort of style… but sort of failing at it… so I just came up with my own thing!

The Rocker 15 Terror was released in January,  so seeing the Rocker as a head (rather than a combo) was great… and to be honest, It’s all down to the bedroom/headroom switch. Being at home, you don’t want to annoy the neighbours… too much! Although I love the Rocker 32, especially those 2 stereo speakers, I just loved the idea of having a vertical cabinet and a head!

I first saw the PPC212V at NAMM and Charlie (from Orange) actually told me it was lightweight. I tested it, and obviously carrying amps is bad for your back if they are too heavy. That’s why I chose the Rocker 32 rather than a cab and head before hand… but picking up the 15mm ply-wood vertical cab was better… it was so light. Now I just need to buy a bigger car!