Hey Marseilles tours third album at High Noon Saloon

When Seattle comes to mind, images of rainy days and fish markets may also come to mind. For the members of Hey Marseilles, their thoughts are of home.

The band is on an extended van tour to promote their forthcoming self-titled album, of which two tracks have already been released: “North and South” and “West Coast.” Matt Bishop, lead vocalist of the group, was able to take some time to talk about the car ride. When asked about the tight space and the long journey, Bishop said: “I was raised in a family of five kids, so it kind of just reminds me of traveling across the country in that way, and we have been a band for 10 years, so it’s essentially like we are brothers.”

Ten years ago, these musicians pulled together their talents and began playing and recording in the Seattle area. Seattle is known for its musical scene, and the fantastic environment and the growing number of encouraging fans spurred the band upward. “We kept playing shows, and people kept showing up,” said Bishop.

Their first album, To Travels & Trunks, was as versatile and lovely as their surroundings, swinging from almost lament to beautifully sunny tracks. Dreamily it crept along, delighting the indie-music scene. Then, to the distress of fans, there was silence on an album for five years, building anticipation until Hey Marseilles burst back onto the scene with Lines We Trace. Thankfully, this time it hasn’t been five years, only two, and their third studio album will be released in February.

“Really in terms of the songwriting, we just wanted it to be more concise and focused, we wanted the sound and production to be a bit more accessible and contemporary in terms of what’s happening now,” Bishop explained about the third album. Judging by the singles that have come out, they have achieved just that.

One of the most intriguing things about Hey Marseilles’ sound is how the beautiful string melody and soft, familiar lyrics can instantly turn into something to rock out to while doing dishes in your underwear. Through “West Coast” we hear these vocals shown off with familiar strings, a new touch of production and the addition of new pop sounds, complementing the existing voice and showing the new skills featured on the album.

Bishop described their sound as orchestral pop. “We used to call it orchestral folk pop or folkestra, but we don’t really have that folk grounding anymore with the new record, although I don’t think the songwriting has changed that much.”

Part of molding that new sound was getting out of the familiar and working with new faces, specifically producer Anthony Kilhoffer. With a résumé that includes Kanye West, Rihanna and The Black Eyed Peas, Hey Marseilles and Kilhoffer isn’t the first collaboration that comes to mind. The pairing seemed to work fine, working in a tough-love way to move the album to a place the band was happy with. “We’re all songwriters, all five of us, and sometimes there is just too many cooks in the kitchen and he was a good kinda captain of the ship telling us what was good and what wasn’t worth pursuing. He would do that with very particular turns of phrase.”

Even with the change and polish of a new album, the band didn’t lose sight of their sound, keeping the haunting strings and comforting vocal tunes perhaps with a new twist, but the same core ingredients. “We really just wanted to be and a little pop-ier and more effective while still retaining the things that make us who we are.”

With a list of tour dates that span several months and across the U.S., Hey Marseilles will have anything but a restful time following the production and release of their new album. Bishop expressed that the stresses of not having a place to call home for months at a time were a drag for touring, but making up for it was “meeting people for the first time who are really excited about your music and telling you how much of an effect it has had on them and how much they relate.”

Hey Marseilles will be performing at the High Noon Saloon Thursday Jan 28.

A previous version of this article noted the author as Ellie Herman. However, the actual author is Eli Radtke. We regret this error. 

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