Fresh from his performance during HMV Next Big Thing and from his album launch party Who's Jack caught up with Mike Marlin about how he went from being a computer programmer to a singersong writer over 25 years, gaining Romeo Beckham as a fan, fighting personal deamons and how as a 40-something year old man Mike is finally making waves all of his own...
Hi Mike. Can you start by telling any of our readers who might not know much about you a little bit of history about how you got in to the music industry?
I was in a series of bands as a student, but back then I was playing bass guitar and standing very much in the shadows. We never made much progress in the 'industry' - though I absolutely loved it. Things then went a bit pear shaped for me and I took an extended leave of absence from music (and the world). I ended up working as a computer programmer for 25 years, though I always had a secret songwriting hobby. I would get friends (or anyone who was willing even if not so able) to sing them and I would record them on to four track cassette tapes. About two years ago, through a friend, I met my producer, James Durrant. I played him my songs and he rejected everything - until I played him some demos with me singing. He immediately latched on to my voice and told me that I had to sing my own songs. I then made the album, put a band together and now I am on the road playing my songs! I still can't quite believe it. I certainly don't see myself as being in the music industry - I'm just doing what I love doing.
What sort of thing can they expect from your music?
Honesty, experience and a sense of humour. At my age, these are my best (and some would say only) attributes.
It was your album launch party a few nights ago. What did you wear?
A dressing gown. You should always be ready for a good night's sleep!
How long did it take you to make the album?
All but two of the songs were written for the record, so including writing it took about 18 months from start to finish. I needed the time because I was feeling my way and finding my voice. It was a fantastic experience and I really enjoyed it.
Is it about anything in particular? Does it follow a theme?
The recurring themes are age related: I look back on things lost and things learnt; on regret and on redemption - all with a strand of humour (I hope). I do not do teen love songs or rock posturing - you have to be 25 years younger than me to do that well!
You recently played a HMV Next Big Thing show alongside Josh Weller. How did it go?
On stage - it went very well! You can never tell how it went front of house, but the response was great. In some ways Josh is also a man out of his time - he is a showman and his songs are far cleverer than the average indie band offerings - he reminds me of Elvis Costello. So I think the combination made sense to the audience, in spite of the age gap!
Josh told us after the show in an interview that he loves your music. Do you have a message for him?
"Thanks, Josh. The £10 I promised you is in the post." No, seriously, my message to Josh is that his songs and his stage presence knock the socks of lots of current big big name artists. His name absolutely deserves to be up there in lights.
When is the next London gig you’ll be playing?
I am playing on March the 11th at the Hammersmith Apollo supporting the Stranglers! It's just a small, low pressure gig for me ......
What is your favourite thing about London?
What is your least favourite thing about London?
The underground in rush hour. Actually, now I think about it, the best thing about being a musician? No more commuting!
If you could write a one line review of yourself what would it be?
"I love his music, and my parents like it too!" - Romeo Beckham
... Thanks Mike!