by Avalon Lee
Thank goodness for those rowdy college keg parties high school seniors anxiously await and teary-eyed parents nervously send their children off to. What they say is true: you never know who you will meet at college. As Matt Bishop stepped into a University of Washington party, fate was at work making sure he met his future guitar player, Nick Ward.
Ward was a radio DJ at the time, and it didn’t take long before he and Bishop were transferring their musical energies into one harmonious blend. Eventually, each piece of the band puzzle began to fall into place, with the addition of the piano, cello, trumpet, accordion, viola, percussion and whatever else they can entice their charming melodies and rhythm out of. And so, Hey Marseilles was brought to life.
On March 5th, Hey Marseilles released their sophomore album, Lines We Trace. Slathered with heartfelt ballads and upbeat folk tunes, this album shows how much the band has matured since their debut album, To Travels & Trunks, was released in 2010. According to Bishop, the development of fresh songs and the ability to collaborate within the group has become smoother over the three years between albums. Bishop explained that throughout the duration of writing new music as a group, everything boils down to compromising. When you fill a room with seven extremely creative individuals, you’re bound to have varying opinions. It’s the way these opposing views are worked through that defines Hey Marseilles’ chemistry and spectacular flow of orchestra-folk compositions.
Bishop enthusiastically says he “always had a passion for words” and how “you can use words in precise ways to make an impact or tell a story in a very small space”. Being that he was studying contemporary poetry when the formation of Hey Marseilles was set in motion, it is evident that Bishop’s love for words and storytelling helped steer the band into its folk roots. The romantic sound of a professionally trained orchestra is due to the fact that a few members are, in fact, classically trained. As far as inspiration for individual songs? “I wish I knew,” chuckles Bishop, “because I’m not always satisfied with what comes out. If I knew the source, then I could modify it.”
With the release of Lines We Trace, Hey Marseilles began their national tour on March 1st. In less than a month, the band has already seen their fair share of misfortune – as Bishop briefly lost his voice, resulting in the cancellation of a few shows. All is well, however, as Bishop was able to seek medical attention from some of Los Angeles’ top doctors.
Although their latest album was just released this month, Bishop assured me that he and the rest of the band never stop coming up with new material. They have already begun sketching out ideas for new songs that could possibly be the foundation of a third album. When I asked Bishop what his favorite step in the entire process of creating an album is, he laughed and responded with, “being done with it”. Don’t get him wrong, “the creative process and possibility of new songs is fun,” Bishop explains, but “getting the masters back and getting a release date – at that moment it feels like a relief”. And it was a relief for their fans as well, especially for those eagerly awaiting a new Hey Marseilles fix after three years of neglect. However, the heavenly tunes that resulted on Lines We Trace compels any delay to be forgiven.