Iceni Interviews Mark Morriss from the Bluetones
Hi Mark. Norwich was really lucky to have you visit earlier in the year when you performed at a small gig in aid of two wonderful local charities, but also last year you toured with the Bluetones and made a pitstop here as well.
Tell us what you like about the area.
Mark: You’re right, we have played Norwich a fair few times over the years, and in recent times have made a point of finishing our national tours in the city.
Most of the band and crew are based in London so it’s always nice to NOT finish there, and Norwich is a place we’ve always enjoyed playing. In all our career to date I don’t think we have ever had a duff gig in Norwich.
There is also a lot of hanging around involved before and after soundcheck takes place, and Norwich is a beautiful place to explore during the day.
How have you been spending your time during lockdown so far?
Mark: I moved house just as the social restrictions were imposed, which allowed me a bit of time and space to concentrate on getting my nest sorted out, but since then I’ve enjoyed spending the extra time with my children, helping them with schoolwork and other projects to keep them stimulated and distracted, and above all doing all of the cooking.
I travel rather a lot playing shows up and down the country pretty much every week of the year, so I’ve tried to make the most of the time together that this extraordinary situation has allowed us.
Which song from your back catalogue do you think would make a good theme tune for this COVID19 crisis and why?
Mark: I wrote a song for my second album called ‘This Is The Lie (And That’s The Truth)’ which is a song about the often lonely lot of a travelling musician, but its lyrics apply quite nicely to the gentle chaos that is social lockdown.
Enough talk of the virus… let’s get back to YOU. Which song of yours makes you feel the proudest? Is it the lyrics, the music, the combination of the two or something else?
Mark: That’s a tricky one… I like things I’ve done for all kinds of reasons. It could be a particular vocal take, or the way a solo works, or a line… they’re kind of like your children, your songs. It’s difficult to pick one over the others. They’re all just so fantastic.
We’ve heard rumours that there may well be an EP of new Bluetones music soon. Are you able to confirm or deny this?
Mark: It looks like our plans for that have been set back a bit because of the ongoing situation. We were due to spend a week rehearsing and arranging a batch of new songs at the beginning of April, but at this point we don’t know when we’ll get the chance to reschedule. It will happen though, but like everybody else we’re going to have to restructure our plans.
Aside from Starshaped, do you have plans to tour again when the world returns to normal?
Mark: With any luck we’ll be going to Australia, New Zealand and Japan next January. We should have been heading there at the beginning of May… apart from that I don’t think anyone quite knows how the landscape will look once we emerge from lockdown. Fingers crossed we can return to some kind of safe working arrangement as soon as possible.
Your last tour with the Bluetones, you played ‘Science and Nature’ in full. Is a ‘Return to the Last Chance Saloon’ on the cards?
Mark: We get asked about that a lot, but for some reason it’s never been something that we in the band have too much enthusiasm for at this time. Having just done the Science and Nature tour our mindset has been very much focussed on new music, and a new way of presenting it.
What’s been the highlight of your musical career so far?
Mark: I would have to say the highlight for me is probably the very first time we flew to Japan to play a handful of gigs in 1994. That sense that our little band, which had grown from our little shed in the garden, was actually flying to the other side of the world to a foreign audience who knew our songs. It was all quite surreal, and rather overwhelming. Like the whole trip was a very lucid dream.
If you hadn’t gone into music, what profession do you see yourself having now?
Mark: Masked vigilante. I think I’d still have the need to be written about, but not necessarily known.
Imagine you are playing a festival here in Norfolk. Tell us five other bands you’d love to have on the bill and why you’ve chosen them.
(1): Fontaines D.C. Because they’re hot to trot in 2020, and I’ve yet to see them live yet.
(2): Tame Impala. Again, not seen them/him live yet. I’m not massively into the new album, but this is a festival set so it’d be mostly crowd pleasers, right?
(3): Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood. Can we make this happen please? Maybe get Clinton Baptiste involved somehow?
(4): Pixies. They always bring the house down.
(5): Phil Collins and Genesis… come on!
Finally, we’ve got a few either or questions for you...
Tea or coffee?
Coke or pepsi?
Cats or dogs?
Mic or guitar?
Summer or winter?
Football or rugby?
Band or solo?
Marvel or DC?
Indian or Chinese?
Night in or night out?
And the biggest… Norfolk or Suffolk?
Thanks so much for taking the time out to speak to Iceni Magazine today. We really appreciate it. Hope to speak to you soon!