There’s a common challenge faced by bands on the regular; make it or break it. Resulting either in soaring success or the stomach-churning plunge of failure, many creative experiments can fall either side of the knife edge. That wasn’t the case here. Far from being faced with a definitive fork in the road, Marmozets instead found themselves lost without a map, faced with both extremes at once. Eventually, breaking through to the other side, they painstakingly built their second album - ‘Knowing What You Know Now’ - out of the broken fragments of their lowest lows. “Ours was the break and make,” Becca Macintyre grins in agreement.
Press the rewind button, and whizz back to 2015. Still riding the shockwaves of ‘The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets’ almost a year after releasing it, this tight-knit rabble of Bingley upstarts found themselves in the sort of surreal, pinch-yourself-situations that few bands ever reach; let alone off the back of a debut record. After years of graft, gradually inching up festival bills, Marmozets graduated to Leeds Festival’s gargantuan main stage, casually sharing a bill with, erm, Metallica. During the show, however, lead vocalist Becca sustained an injury and Marmozets’ unstoppable high hit a literal stumbling block.
“I broke my knee,” she explains. “We were supposed to go on that huge American tour straight after that, but we had to cancel. We had to go, ‘right, that’s enough’. I need to sort my knees out ‘cos this is ridiculous, or else I’ll be traumatised for life,” she reasons.
“That took a while, being in the pain I was,” she adds. ”Having two operations over two years, walking again, and then at the same time…” she sighs comically, “writing the album. I felt like everything was falling apart, and it almost did. The one thing that kept us together was the music, actually. That says something. We’re supposed to be doing this, we’re family.”
Accordingly there’s a fight-back to ‘Knowing What You Know Now’, from its defiant title, to the ‘it’s us against the world’ mentality which quite literally peppers the chorus of reset-button whacking monster ‘Start Again’. “It’s fighting back for everything,” Becca nods. “Fighting for us to even have the resistance and a place. This is what we’ve given everything to. Marmozets is so personal, and that’s something we’ll always carry.”
“It’s almost like it goes into some sort of generator machine,” ponders her bandmate Jack Bottomley. “You put all this shit in,” Becca picks up, “and it comes out positive,” Jack finishes.
“I felt like everything was falling apart, and it almost did.”
Just like the band’s weird and wonderful debut - so weird and wonderful, in fact, that both words made it into the title - ‘Knowing What You Know Now’ pushes the boundaries to their limits with little care for convention. Veering from the gargled lullaby of ‘Insomnia’ to the isolating menace of ‘Lost in Translation’ a song later, Becca’s very much at the helm the entire way through, stepping things up to a whole new level. The rest of Marmozets follow, and the result is a brilliant, batshit album that leaves no bizarre line of enquiry unturned. ‘Major System Error’ and ‘Like A Battery’ are privy to fearsome, high-reaching yelps that would leave Minnie Riperton quaking in her boots, and in more reflective moments, deceptive softness lends Marmozets a new method of attack.
“A lot of confidence came from the first one,” Becca reckons, looking back on making Marmozets’ debut. “I never stepped into the room like ‘I’m the shit’,” she reflects. “I’d take a back seat in a way if you know what I mean; I had the ideas and I’d write and perform, but I’d never give my 100%. Then I thought, I should be up the front doing my thing,” she adds. “I’ve always done different stuff, from pop-punk to screamo, to what it is now. I’m always experimenting. I feel more at one with myself,” she smiles, “but I still have that same Becca side where it’s like, ‘I wanna punch someone’.”
“We are perfectionists,” adds Jack. “We want it to be unreal. Listening back, we’re so happy with it. There’s exaggerated lights and darks on this record, there’s a lot more room for everyone to have their stamp. Becca and the vocals is the key focus, as it should be.”
“We want it to be unreal.”
Newly empowered by the sudden “splurge of inspiration” that followed Marmozets’ almost-undoing, the band decamped to Wales, setting up shop in the decidedly idyllic surroundings of Monmouth with producer Gil Norton. Though the Welsh accent bears few similarities to this lot’s Yorkshire twang, the quartet felt oddly at home regardless. ‘A lot of people are like, do you go insane in the middle of nowhere,” comments Becca, “but actually that’s what we needed. We just wanted to be back together doing our thing. For all of us to come to this beautiful country house - and we all come from small towns - well, villages actually - surrounded by nature - that was just us!”
“It was just an exaggerated version of where we live,’ Jack chips in. “Tranquil, and also sort of funny when you go in the live room,” he adds, mimicking the almighty racket the band created, “and it’s like, bleaughhhhrahghhhh”
”You feel like you’ve gone back in time,” Becca adds. “There’s no transport, and only one taxi person called Randy. You couldn’t use mobiles, just landline. That’s me all over.” “Yeah,” concurs Jack, “there’s no distraction there at all.”
“Apart from ourselves,” Becca cackles. “But oh well, what can you do?”
“Money and fame: it’s all fake, darlings!”
Looking forward, Marmozets are bursting with a quiet confidence; clearly holding the reins and excited to take on moments even bigger than that milestone Leeds set three years ago.
If they’re set on one thing, it’s keeping things grounded and focused on what they consider to be a priceless relationship with their fans. “It’s not so much us performing for them as it is a big exchange of energy, together,” Jack observes.
“It is cool,” he adds, changing tact, “playing a show in London and driving back, and then the next day you’re walking about Keighley with a Greggs and a coffee!”
“Money and fame, it’s all fake, darlings!” Becca hoots. “I want to think about the next generation of artists and give them a chance, get a buzz again. I want to take over the world,” she decides, “and do great things.” The best thing is, she’s not even exaggerating.
‘Knowing What You Know Now’ is out now via Roadrunner Records.
Taken from the February 2018 issue of DIY. Read online or subscribe below.
Photos: Jenn Five / DIY