Marshall & The Fro
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Marshall & The Fro

Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia | SELF

Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia | SELF
Band Blues Rock


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Marshall & the Fro have an electrifying debut album. Released in August 2007, the thirteen track album encapsulates the essence of Australian Roots Rock music.
Marshall and the Fro have released their 2nd Album "Friends for Life" recorded and produced by renowned Producer Anthony Lycenko at 301 Studios Byron Bay.



Marshall and The Fro are a household name these days, on the roots festival circuit and in their home, the North Coast surfing mecca of Lennox Head, NSW. They are known for their powerful, pulsing roots/rock music, the soundtrack to the summer for many a carefree festival freak.

Their songs feature on cult surf films like David Bradbury’s Going Vertical and in Billabong ads. Having played virtually every big festival in the land, they have also had tracks on Australian TV shows ‘East of Everything’ and ‘No Way San Jose’. They have just released a new album, ‘Friends For Life’, that already looks set to eclipse these landmarks.

Marshall Okell, driving force, guitars, vocals and songwriter, recently recruited his newest member, Luke Ferguson, Fergo, on bass. The big, affable redhead also has a five-octave range that lifts their dual choruses into deep space. Their drummer, Jacob Mann, known affectionately as Poodle, is a hugely likeable unstoppable force, who pummels the kit like it’s his little brother and has done so previously for the likes of ARIA Award winner Pete Murray. Marshall reckons they are one of the hottest rhythm sections on the planet.

The sleep deprived trio have just spent three months hunkered down with producer Anthony Lycenko (ARIA Nominee, Pete Murray, U2, Beautiful Girls, Xavier Rudd) at 301 and Rocking Horse studios in Byron Bay. Together they have garnered an enormous tempered and timely record that reveals an artist and band in permanent progress.

The band’s first, self-titled release was a party record, the sound of young bucks on the hunt. ‘Get Up (raise your head)’ and ‘The Player’ were aimed smack bang at the heaving throng in the Far North Coast, the epicentre for grooving grommets and geishas. Yet even on tracks like the much-covered ‘Thongs’, a bouncing, full-blooded tribute to the surfer’s footwear of choice, OKell sang like he meant something else, something important.

On the 'Friends For Life' Album Marshall establishes his intent beyond doubt, with a potent collection of songs that defines an artist and band in a blazing trajectory – but still firmly anchored to their roots. The title track ‘Friends for Life’ is the breakthrough, a life-affirming festival romp bound to be a massive hit on the circuit. The anthemic chorus, "We came here with an open mind, we leave here, friends for life", will be on every summer pilgrim’s lips come November.

Revealing the bands rock edge the chunky descent of ‘We've All Got Something To Say’ owes as much to heavy rock as the Chilli Peppers’ staunch funk attacks – this is the kind of onslaught that fans of the band are itching for. In the big drums and gospel chorus of ‘Crocodile Tears’ there’s a measured lament laden with cracked emotions - one of the album’s truly soaring moments. ‘Bleeding Hearts’ is an epic ballad with deft touches of mandolin and bittersweet harmonies that underscore a radio-friendly regret for lost innocence.

Back to business as ‘I Don’t Mind’ features OKell’s trademark blizzard of slide guitar reinforcing the urgent refrain, “You took too much, it ain’t ever comin’ back”. Then the funk-on of ‘White Collar Thieves’ co-opts hip-hop cadences as a call to arms against the depredations of gun-happy goons with monied credentials – there’s no roots music festivals in Iraq, kids.

Meanwhile ‘Tall Poppies’ is another formidable radio ballad with a tactile melody that winds itself around the tongue. It evokes the classic beauty of superbly handled slide guitar against a declaration of artistic and emotional sovereignty. OKell's vocals are extraordinary – powerful and commanding, chiming with restless, taut guitar and over-the-neck slide virtuosity which the band meets, blow for blow.

Press reactions for Marshall & The Fro’s first disc were effusive, with Sam Fell of Rhythms magazine declaring the album ‘infectious as hell’ and Brisbane’s Courier Mail embracing "a stunning display of musicianship from the tight-knit trio." Three years down the line, Marshall OKell is a different animal to the man who roared, “I’m a player and I share it around, I take a dollar when I’m bringing you down …”

The band has toured hard, playing 200 shows in 2009 alone. Three East Coast Blues and Roots Festivals bookend a whole swag of festivals, tours and altered states. Festivals including Peats Ridge, Woodford, and Queenscliff festivals, and the miles have left their marks. “This album draws on different experiences and emotions to the last one” he admits, “it touches on heart-break, loss… being broken down, and bouncing back up”.

Steeped in quieter, contemplative moments, it also buckets and roars like the progressive roots and rock music of say, Ash Grunwald or Dallas Frasca. “It goes from straight thumping rock to deep organic ballads. There are up tempo festival songs, songs about heartbreak and injustice, and songs about friendship. In the studio we used Marshall stacks and Fender twins on 10, as well as