Rob Marcus
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Rob Marcus

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Courageous Creativity-September 2011 Issue: In Dialogue With Rob Marcus"

SS – Hi Rob, I just listened to your new CD and really enjoyed it. Congratulations! Tell us a little bit about how
this came about and what it’s been like coming out with your first very own EP!

RM – Hi Shirin, thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’ve been creating songs for quite some time and up until now the only way I’ve been sharing them has been through live performance. Now I have a way to share my music on a much greater scale. The recording process has been exciting and challenging. It’s a completely different process than playing live. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to collaborate with a wonderful producer and several amazing musicians in the creation of this EP and I’m thrilled with how it’s turned out!

SS –You are a self-taught musician and your family has been a major influence on your love for music. Tell us about your childhood and growing up years where you found your love for music growing and taking shape. Do you ever feel like you missed out on having some kind of formal training?

RM – That’s true. One of my favorite childhood pastimes was thumbing through my dad’s massive vinyl collection and cranking some Beatles or Dylan while singing along and dancing around in the living room. Sgt. Pepper’s was often in the rotation. That album seems to have grown with me. My parents encouraged us to explore our musical tastes and my sister and I would spend our allowance at the record store. After a failed attempt at piano lessons for my sister they decided to see if I would discover an instrument on my own and I did. It was a dusty old classical guitar at my Aunt’s house and I couldn’t put it down. She loaned it to me and after cleaning it up and playing it for a year my dad bought me a beautiful steel string for my 14th birthday. I loved making up sounds and found I could play along with my favorite tunes by ear.
I'm happy with my evolution as a musician. I think my songwriting style is somewhat unique and free since I was never taught in a structured manner. My technical abilities on the guitar would probably be stronger had I had some type of formal training but I'm not trying to be the best guitar player in town. I just love playing and writing songs and there's always more to learn and discover.

SS – When and how did you know that being a musician is what you wanted? Can you discuss some of the challenges you faced with your inner as well as outer world when you chose to start answering the question ‘What do you do?’ with ‘I am a musician’? How did it feel to accept and own that about yourself?

RM – It probably wasn’t until college that I began to understand that I could be taught and trained to be good at many things but passion can’t be taught. I was passionate about creating music. As I was prodded to choose a major halfway through, I thought...hey I could major in music! Nope, turns out you had to really know the technical ins and outs of your instrument and be able to sight read music. As a self-taught musician I didn’t fit the bill.
I went on to finish college and got a job but kept playing and singing in my free time. It wasn’t until I was on a leave of absence from work to teach and volunteer abroad that I got really honest with myself about what many described as my “hobby”. I knew pursuing a career in music would be incredibly difficult but I also saw that it was my only choice if I really wanted to be true to myself.
The next day instead of answering the question “what do you do?” with “I work at such and such company...,” my answer was an emphatic, “I am a musician.” While most have been very encouraging about my choice there are always naysayers. It’s true, I may fail miserably, but at least I’m giving it my best. I’m also honest with myself about what it’s going to take to succeed and I’m prepared to invest everything I have to that end. Upon returning from that trip, I took some of the money I had been saving to buy a house and used that to purchase recording equipment, build a website, and print up my first CD.

SS – How do you think the music industry has changed in recent times? What are some of the things that have made things easier and what are some of the difficulties that musicians now face, especially when they want to go out on their own, instead of through major record companies etc.? Why was it that you decided to produce your own music instead of through an established or well-known record label?

RM – Even though I’m reading as many publications as I can on the state of the music industry, I still find it hard to decipher. There’s one thing everyone seems to agree upon, it’s changing more rapidly every day. In the past, major record companies held all the cards. I think the idea of “making it” was a long shot. Musicians couldn’t afford to create a quality recording and market it on their own.
Nowadays, high quality recordings can be made in one’s apartment and shared instantaneously with the world over the internet. Of course there’s a lot of stuff out there to wade through but I believe quality music finds its way through.
I chose to produce my own music because I wanted creative freedom and I wanted to get it out as soon as possible. I also wanted to learn every aspect from inception to CD in hand. I think labels still have an important role in this industry. I love the idea of musicians joining forces with other artists and business-minded people, working together to create really good music and maximize exposure.
The trick is making sure creativity isn’t stifled in the name of higher profits. There are lots of small labels popping up to fill this role. In fact, I’ve recently joined with Critical Sun Recordings, a Seattle based collective of very talented musicians, producers, recording engineers and artists with the goal of supporting each other while navigating this new and ever changing industry.

SS – You have travelled extensively and your experiences through visiting various places have been a source of inspiration for many of your songs. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? What were some of your favorite destinations and what were some insights that you gained from your travels?

RM – I think it’s important to get out of one’s comfort zone to really know what you’re capable of and to find inspiration. What better way than to drop yourself in the middle of a foreign land. I’m also kind of an adventure junkie. My first travels abroad many years ago included two places that really influenced my music, not so much in style, but in demeanor. Those were Morocco and Ireland.
The thing that struck me about these places was there was no pretense around music. It was a part of daily life. Sure we listen to the radio and go out and see shows but this was more raw and there was very little formality about it. I loved it and I wrote a lot on that trip both individually and in collaboration with local artists. More recently I was traveling throughout Southeast Asia and that’s where most of the music on the EP was written. On that trip I was completely inspired by the people and my experiences with them. I find that travel- ing as a musician is especially thrilling because there’s no language barrier in music. When words can go no further, let the instruments do the talking.

SS – I see on your website that you are partnering up with other bands for a benefit for Music Aid Northwest to help fund music programs for public schools. Tell us what you think about the importance of music in the life of kids and how it can be really great as a creative outlet for them.

RM – I could list so many reasons I think artistic creation should play an important role in all of our lives. Whether it be writing, drawing, singing, or playing an instrument. What better time to start than as a child. It’s a wonderful stress reliever and for me, writing songs has been my way of processing what’s going on in my life, like a journal. Music in particular has strong links to math and science and studies have shown when music classes are taken along with these subjects, students get significantly higher grades. Music is unique in that it taps into so many parts of the brain at once. The more neurons we can get firing in children today the brighter the future will be for them.

SS – Thanks for talking with us! Good Luck with the new shows and performances coming up! RM – Thank you. It’s been wonderful talking with you.

Interviewer: Shirin Subhani - Flying Chickadee

"Rob Marcus EP Review"

It’s significant that Rob Marcus grew up loving Northwest bands like Mother Love Bone and Alice In Chains because there is a direct link between those influential bands – most notable for being groundbreaking acts of what would eventually be termed grunge music – and the sounds that Marcus now creates.

A lazy journalist might well describe Marcus’ music as acoustic grunge or grunge-lite. That would not be fair. However, at the very minimum, such descriptors are at least starting points. Marcus sings with great, sincere emotion, as do/did grunge guys; he just doesn’t vocalize like a caveman, as so many grunge bands were prone to do.

Similar to popular bands from the Seattle area, Marcus dearly loves guitar music, and each of these six songs feature beautiful guitar playing.

Marcus’ vocal style, while clearly inspired by rock & roll, also has a breathy, jazzy tone to it, too. The way his voice bends and slides during “Exit Left” is a beautiful thing. Marcus also counts Jeff Buckley as an influence. While his singing is not as smooth and tricky as Buckley’s is, one can still hear a little of his influence on what Marcus does. Let’s call it a vocal intangible.

The jazziest moment on this EP is “Elephant Island.” The song sports a downright funky bass line, snappy drum work, echoing female vocals and an upbeat Marcus vocal. On it, Marcus sings, “When you hear the music play you feel no pain.” The same can be said about listening to this specific track. It is a happy, upbeat song that expresses the joy that only music can bring.

Another EP highlight is “Marie.” The song exists as an invitation to form a romantic partnership, “Take my hand Marie,” Marcus begins its lyric. This song also contrasts with the projects more rock or jazz moments, and goes for something much more folk-y, instead. Marcus is joined by a female vocalist, for just the right feminine touch. There is also a folk/country fiddle part, which nicely colors the tune. The drumbeat skips along, like a stone across the lake, for a different sort of feel-good song. “Bee” also features a bit of a folk vibe. Its percussion stands out, as it utilizes a stripped down bongos and/or conga sound, rather than a full-on drum kit.

Marcus’ best acoustic guitar picking is heard on the song “Exit Left.” His guitar playing is upfront in the mix, while supportive cello compliments his singing. In this example, Nick Drake is the closest musical relative to Marcus’ tune. There is an underlying sadness to the track, much like a lot of Drake’s work. Within its mix, Marcus also effectively layers his own voice in for the background vocal.

What makes this EP so wonderful is the way it continues to reveal itself to the listener each time it’s played. On the surface, it may at first sound like an acoustic, folk-y collection. It’s only after repeated listens that Marcus’ musical variety starts to come through. You may think of him as one thing -- say, an acoustic rock singer/songwriter. Yet there is so much more to what Marcus does than just that. He takes songs and, instead of giving them predictable folk-ish arrangements, goes the extra mile to provide them with slightly different colors, each and every one. None of this musical spice would mean a thing, however, if Marcus weren’t such a solid singer and guitarist. His natural talent is the glue that holds it all together.

Extended plays, if created by truly talented artists, almost always make you want to hear more music. Such is certainly the case with Marcus. This EP is a small taste from a talented man that obviously has a whole lot of musical goodness in him.

Review By: Dan MacIntosh

Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)

Dan MacIntosh is a contributer to, Chord, Amplifier, Paste and HM music publications.
- Dan MacIntosh

"Inaugural Band Crawl"

Walking into the Ballard Loft at 11AM on a Saturday morning kind of makes one reflect on priorities. I had to question why I was attending a “Band Crawl” beginning at 11AM anyway, but all reservations immediately swept themselves under the theoretical rug when I witnessed Mr. Rob Marcus and crew sound checking. His presence held weight, and his demeanor was sincere. His guitar, a Takamine; I play a Takamine. I liked this guy from the start. As Rob began to play, he thanked the lookiloos and passersby for coming in, he knew he was the Genesis and what was to become a day filled with firsts. Mr. Marcus revealed himself to be quite a proficient and technical artist. With Matt Nathanson’esque feel, Rob hooked you in with feel good tones and heartbreak lyrics. By the time he had finished, I was ready for the mid set conversation, but…band crawl, the artists were allotted only half an hour at each venue, thus packing up and moving on to the next, but not before he and his band belted out “Marie”, his Swan song to his set at Ballard Loft, and off they went. I caught a ride, I was literally William Miller and getting on the bus for a journey I would never forget. - Seattle Night Out Radio


Rob Marcus EP

Released March 3, 2011



Rob Marcus offers a fresh sound that touches on a remarkable array of influences. Inspired by his travels abroad, his music incorporates elements of folk, rock and world beats. As a self-taught musician, Rob Marcus’ unconventional melodies satisfy a desire for the new, while his introspective lyrics explore themes both intimate and universal. His seductive vocal style is complimented by the weaving of traditional instruments with modern sounds, creating a smooth and rhythmic experience.

Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Rob has been surrounded by a thriving music scene from an early age. Some of his earliest memories are running around the house, singing along to his dad’s Beatles and Bob Dylan records. He also recalls eagerly awaiting Seattle’s summer festival season. A brilliant Flamenco performance he witnessed at the Northwest Folklife Festival planted the guitar seed in his mind. At the ripe age of 14, his interest in music was fueled by the gift of a dusty old nylon string guitar from his Aunt’s attic. He learned to play by ear, often plucking out the melodies of his favorites at the time, including Mother Love Bone, Alice In Chains, and on a tamer level, The Samples and The Indigo Girls. As his music collection grew and morphed, so did the sound and complexity of the music he was creating. Elements of some of Rob’s favorite musicians and vocalists can be heard in his style including Marvin Gaye, Neil Young, The Grateful Dead, Jeff Buckley, Ben Harper and Galactic to name a few.

Rob has traveled abroad extensively, always with a guitar and the goals of making new friends, creating new music, and making a difference. He often speaks of his travels to Morocco where he learned to play the djembe. During his travels he was involved in international aid, teaching, guiding, and sustainability efforts. The songs on his new self-titled EP were written or inspired while volunteering and adventuring throughout Southeast Asia immediately following the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

While Rob still loves performing solo in intimate settings, he feels right at home in larger venues and thrives on collaborating with other musicians and performing in a variety of ensembles. Currently, he can be seen performing solo, as a trio with cello and percussion, or as a full band, adding drum kit, electric bass, and additional vocals. He is celebrating the release of his debut EP, performing throughout the Northwest and working on a full-length album.