Friday 25 March 2011

K&A with Sonny Marvello

How Sonny Marvello have managed to survive this long in Castlemilk busting those moves is beyond me!  Last year, they released their debut EP, the fantastic Pull Me Up.  As we await the follow-up, I asked frontman Stephen Farrell a few questions.  Here's what he had to say about the strange origins of the band name, kidnapping fans, and their exciting, exclusive offer for 100 lucky, loyal people...

Kowalskiy:  Who are Sonny Marvello?
Stephen:  Sonny Marvello are a 21st Century pop band creatively flourishing against all odds. There are people in the band with clothes and limbs, faces and names and instruments that need maintaining, they are thus and so called: Stephen Farrell (voice and instruments and weaver of tales) Craig Douglas (Bass and voice and van) Michael Caldwell (guitar and voice and equidistant to town, members houses and local amenities) Michael Bryans (Drums, percussion and good manners) Michael Walker (Keyboard and comic relief...not the charity)

Kowalskiy:  How did the band get togetther, and what's the story behind the name?
Stephen:  I've told a few versions of how the name came about...but this one is actually the truth, because it's late and I am feeling dangerously honest. I had a dream once where David Bowie appeared to me and told me that I had to change my name to....and then he said a name, and it was the most amazing name for a singer ever. When I woke up I couldn't remember the name so I wrote a few versions of what I thought it might have been...then I lost that bit of paper. In putting together the band I always intended that it would not just be gigs and songs but a show of sorts, with that in mind I had intended to play a character and kind of hide away, I imagined the character as a dishonest travelling magician who rolls into town, gets into some scrapes with the wrong guys daughter, rips some people off and escapes by the skin of his teeth...Sonny is a name that resonates with me of a bygone era and Marvello comes from the side of the Wizards cart at the start of the 'Wizard of Oz' (the scene with the old dishonest but kind travelling fortune teller...his name is Professor Marvel) I originally intended it as a solo stage name then other stuff happened.

Kowalskiy:  What are your main influences?
Stephen:  A deceptively simple question, but really the hardest of all because I hate the idea of comparison, even if it is to something I hold in high regard. People say we sound like a 70's super group but that's only one part of our sound. The first music I responded to was John Williams soundtracks, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman, the guy is superhuman in terms of his command of melody, that music is in my blood and everything seems to flow from it and come back to it. I responded to the Beatles Sgt Pepper in the same way because it was evocative and I saw colours in my head. I think music should be musical, I'm a bit odd that way.

Kowalskiy:  Your debut EP Pull Me Up (available over here) was released last year to a fair amount of praise.  What's been your reaction to that?
Stephen:  I'm pleased with how people have responded, it was just a wee toe dip but if I'm honest, I'm a bit frustrated it hasn't opened more doors.

Kowalskiy:  What'd your sales pitch be for the EP?
Stephen:  An unfairly hard question, stop it, can we talk about Boardwalk Empire instead?...well ok then. The sales pitch is that we are a real band, we don't have rich uncles in the 'industry', we didn't go to a 'talent' school and we're not doing this because we want to be on the cover of the NME as a style icon of that particular London second. We grew up in the same shitehole and fate brought us together, we're a gang. If you don't love us we'll still try to save you.

Kowalskiy:  For the follow-up you've started the Sonny Marvello 100 Club.  What can you tell us about that?
Stephen:  The idea is to create a select group who get first access to releases and events while at the same time providing a cash boost to finish our album, each member puts in a tenner and for that gets a mini album (recorded in a day especially for the club) entrance to a secret gig, a permanent mention on our website and lifelong exclusives. It's just part of creating a fun little world to come out and play in. You should join.

Kowalskiy:  A lot of bands seem to be going down this road, even the likes of Colin MacIntyre.  Do you think in the current economic climate, this'll become the norm?    
Stephen:  It just makes sense, bands need money to make music...and there are people out there willing to support you, you still need to make it worth the commitment though. I think we are embracing the benefits of technology with the access we have to people. 

Kowalskiy:  What else can we expect from Sonny Marvello in 2011?
Stephen:  The album is underway, more EP's in the vein of the 100 club mini album, I have plans that keep me awake at night....things that seem impossible in daylight but being in a band keeps a cloak of magic around you.

Kowalskiy:  What's been your highlight/lowlight of being in the band so far?  
Stephen:  Doing the 100 club mini album in a day...there is a song on it called Fire Went Out, the recording is a live take with everyone playing and I'm sitting with a tiny wee acoustic guitar singing into a rehearsal mic as opposed to a thousand pound deal, the lyrics are balanced on my knee and I don't know what chords are coming next, I look around and see my friends sitting playing this song and thinking the same thing I'm thinking. We go out into the hall and sing backing vocals and it sounds like something from a dream. It's all over in minutes but it's a moment that is as important to me as any in my life, I know I'm loved, I have worth, life is worth living. That was a highlight. The lowlights are all the days not being able to do all of the above.

Kowalskiy:  Having heard Fire Went Out, I can certainly vouch for why it's one of your highlights!  So, what would be your ideal gig?
Stephen:  Luckily we have played a lot of gigs that are ideal. Our 'Shhh Nights', secret location gigs where you had to be blindfolded and put in the back of a van to attend, were a roaring success and we didn't rip the arse out of lives in the memory of those lucky enough to be kidnapped by us. As long as I've got the boys at my side and the guarantee of a few beers, it could be New York (which we fucking rocked by the way) or some freezing road in the arse end of Fife and we are huddling together for warmth, it's always a good time.

Kowalskiy:  You can take the boys out of Castlemilk...  Speaking of which, it's safe to say Sonny Marvello are one of, if not thee best thing, musically, to come out of the Castlemilk/East Kilbridey region.  Based on this feature though are there any more hidden gems you could recommend?  Between me and you... are Sonny Marvello the best?
Stephen:  What I recommend you do is join the 100 club while you still can. I know the band is world class, but that isn't so hard these days... did I just dodge that question?

Yes, yes you did!  I'll let you away with it though.  So, if you fancy the idea of the Sonny Marvello 100 Club and all the exclusive goodies that go with it (free download of Who Needs Somebody, a strictly-limited edition mini acoustic album, club pin badge, access to a special gig, and permanent recognition on their website), then head over here and do your thing!

Upcoming Gigs
14th Apr - Shook to the Bones @ The Commercial Hotel, Wishaw
18-19th June - West End Festival, Glasgow*
14th July - Summer Nights @ King Tuts, Glasgow
11th Aug - Edinburgh Fringe (with Lou Hickey)*

* - to be confirmed

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