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.