There are singers who are old souls and others who sound like old souls. For singer/guitarist Marcus King, it’s definitely a bit of both.
King, leader of The Marcus King Band, has three albums to his credit, each recalling all that is good about the ’60s and ’70s southern blues and soul. And with the band’s latest Carolina Confessions, that “old soul” description is something the 22-year-old finds a little strange.
“I don’t know man, I think maybe it’s taken a couple more trips around the sun than my physical being has, it’s a possibility,” King says prior to a stopover in Maine. “But for me, I just feel like I love doing what I do and I’m glad that the music comes across that way.”
The Marcus King Band, who plays Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre on Monday night (Nov. 26), has garnered fans with solid songs and an impressive live show which brings the studio versions to a completely different level. King says the band had no vision for their new album when they started making it.
“I knew we were going in to do a record and the vision kind of took hold of me about a month prior to the album,” he says. “I started connecting the dots of all the songs that I had written. All kind of having some similar underlying themes. So putting all that together, we went into the studio and we really started building as a group. It really came to fruition.
“I feel like the things I needed to say I was able to say a little bit more articulately this time around. I was able to really explain what I wanted to get off my chest in the right words. And also as a band, we really grew musically.”
King says producer Dave Cobb was also instrumental in getting what the band had in mind sonically onto the album.
“His approach is really a fantastic one,” he says. “He understands the fact that we’re a group and he lets us work with each other just as much as we’re working with him. He’s a really laid back cat, we got along immediately. We have very similar upbringings and he’s just a really phenomenal person to have in the studio with me.
“He also cuts the song with you in the cutting room. So it’s like having another member of the group in the studio with you. To me, I love it because it adds another sense of intimacy, a little sense of being all in it together instead of someone being on the other side of the glass.
The album opens with the fantastic “Goodbye Carolina,” the current personal favourite of the album for King despite the circumstances behind the track.
“That song came to me almost in a sort of dream,” he says. “It came to me as an apparition from a friend of mine who is no longer with us. It was written from his perspective.”
Perhaps the strongest aspect of the album is how each song sounds fully fleshed out with plenty of room to grow in concert. It’s something King almost knows instinctually, not micro-managing but seeing the much bigger picture.
“We really don’t like the idea of overproducing something that we care so much about,” he says. “So we try to leave it to the nuts and bolts of it. There are some situations where we wanted to do some things in the studio that maybe we couldn’t reproduce on the stage at this time.”
The shows on this current North American trek have been “great” according to King with the group “firing on all cylinders.” The shows also have resulted in King thinking of making a live album somewhere on the horizon.
“These songs have really kind of taken off and grown into their personalities if that makes any sense,” he says. “It’s really been received well by the fans and that means the world to us. We’re very proud of this one.”
The band plans on touring well into 2019 and King says there are some “good news” which will be announced soon. But for now the band will celebrate being on the road and for the time being, celebrate the American Thanksgiving holiday in Maine.
“We have a really dear friend of ours in Maine and his wife and he has a beautiful home and they’ve invited the band and I to have a home-cooked meal,” he says. “So we’re all going to cook and listen to music and have a bandsgiving. Just hang here in Maine and sit by the fire.”