Today is the first day of the 2014 Downtown Sounds summer concert series, and we’re starting with a bang. Our intern Sam Sunderland interviewed March Fourth Marching Band and got the scoop on their band history, favorite shows, and why they’ve played in their underwear.
MarchFourth Marching Band, Br’er Rabbit and the Galactic Cirque Troupe kick off the 10th annual Downtown Sounds on July 9 on the 1300 block of Bay Street downtown. If you love some good old Folk-Stomp Americana music, you will have a blast during Br’er Rabbit’s performance. If you’re wondering “What the heck is Folk-Stomp Americana music?” trust me, you will still have a blast. Once you’ve gotten the hang of stompin’, stay tuned for the Galactic Cirque Troupe’s mesmerizing dancing and hooping routine, where after you might be inclined to pick up your son’s or daughter’s hula hoop and give it a whirl. Next up the electrifying and never dull, MarchFourth Marching Band will take the stage for the second half of the show with their impressive theatrics and eccentric costumes! Read their interview below, then come join us for Downtown Sounds for beer, food and live music. Did I mention it’s free? Doors open at 5:30, Br’er Rabbit takes the stage at 6 p.m., see you then!
John of March Fourth Marching Band on past and future endeavors and why you may have seen them in their skivvies before
Q: M4 has had a pretty busy June, what are your plans for the rest of the summer?
A: Staying busy. We only have a few days off between July 3 and Aug 10. A ridiculous amount of our yearly income will be generated during that time, so we can’t afford to not work our butts off.
Q: M4 has performed with some pretty legendary acts, who has been your favorite performer to work with?
A: I think having (legendary New Orleans clarinetist) Charlie Gabriel solo on our last album was probably the most amazing collaboration I’ve experienced. As far as live shows, we recently had LA saxophone ace Scott Page (Pink Floyd, Supertramp) join us on stage at the Echoplex, and he played some crazy stuff. The thing in our old bio that says we played with Kiss and No Doubt was just early PR hype; I mean, we played before them, out in the crowd, and I have little doubt (!) that those bands probably didn’t know we were even there!
Q: This year marks your 11th year together as a band, how does that feel?
A: Well, it just feels weird to me, in many ways. For one, there are only 4 of us remaining from the original band, which means that most of the people playing with us now have joined the band within the last few years. So, it’s really a new band, but it’s a better band and I’m grateful for that. Another weird thing is that after 11 years we’re still living hand-to-mouth in a sense, meaning that we haven’t had our “big breakthrough” moment yet. I was hoping that moment would have come years ago, so in the meantime we will continue to grind it out on the road in order make some kind of living.
Q: Out of all the festivals you’ve performed at, what has been your favorite? Why?
A: High Sierra Music Festival is one of our long-running favorites. The most epic music festival in terms of the quality of lineup and unique location is Jam Cruise. We appreciate music festivals where the emphasis is on live bands, as opposed to the electronic music festivals that feature live music as some kind of side show.
Q: What is the best part of performing live music?
A: It just feels good. I love music, playing music with other people, and sharing that with people. With M4 no two shows are ever identical, so as an art form we’re really creating a moment with the audience. This band in particular is interesting because there are so many moving parts. As the bass player it’s my job to glue the groove together, and it’s really challenging to do that sometimes with 5 drummers (instead of one kit player) trying to lock in together and then lock in with 7 horn players. There’s no “phoning it in” for me onstage: I really have to be paying attention all the time because the grooves shift around sometimes and I have to figure out if my note should be on the beat, or behind it, or pushing it. To be in the rhythm section in M4 means that you have to keep moving, because that’s where you find the pulse of the groove. There’s no standing around.
Q: What is the most memorable costume you all have worn?
A: Probably the two times we played in our underwear. The first time was in NYC in 2007 on our first national tour playing at the Rubulad (a filthy, packed underground party loft with no AC). It was just gross, but we were dying in there. The second time was in Bellingham in 2010 at the Wild Buffalo (I have no idea why it was so hot in there that night). Otherwise, as far as real costumes go it’s all a blur of multi-colored marching band jackets, crazy hats, epaulettes, stripy tights, sequins, feathers and God-knows-what. It has been 11 years, you know…