Spotlight on Leon Marshall [interview]

This week we chatted with UK-based singer-songwriter Leon Marshall about a lot of our favorite topics at Concert Archives like first/favorite concerts, bucket lists, etc.

Leon Marshall playing guitar

Leon Marshall’s Past Shows

Backstage Pass: What’s the first concert you went to?

Leon Marshall: The Barenaked Ladies. My girlfriend at the time got me tickets for my birthday. They were playing in Birmingham and it was the last UK tour they did while Steven Page was still in the band. It was incredible. I’ve been to see them every time they’ve been in the UK since…I’ve got tickets for them at The Royal Albert Hall next year with KT Tunstall supporting. I can’t wait! It was supposed to be in April 2020, but, you know…

BP: What’s the first show you ever played?

LM: It was at a little local Folk Club in my hometown Harrogate; I think I was about 16. I remember playing one of my songs ‘Don’t Be A Stranger’ (which I later added to my EP ‘Feel The Rain’) and by the second chorus the whole room was joining in. It was the most amazing feeling for my first gig and it got me completely hooked.

BP: What’s your favorite concert you’ve ever been to? Favorite concert you’ve ever played?

LM: My favorite would have to be that first Barenaked Ladies one. I was just blown away. However, seeing The Beach Boys in Edinburgh for their Pet Sounds Anniversary tour is a close second!

It’s tough to pin-point my favorite show I’ve played…the ones where the crowd join in with one of my songs are always brilliant, probably the festivals are my favorite.

BP: What’s the first “big” show you’ve done?

LM: I’ve done the Yorkshire Food Festival a few years in a row, and there’s always a massive crowd there. People camp for the weekend, and they’ve always got celebrity chefs like James Martin, Gino D’Acampo, and Ansley Harriet (pretty sure that’s what draws the crowd, not me, but the crowd seem to stick around when I start playing so I’m not complaining!)

I’ve played the Saturday night headline spot a couple of times and I love it. Actually, yeah, those might be my favorite!

Current/Upcoming Shows

BP: Have you done any live streams yet during quarantine, or plan to?

Leon Marshall: I haven’t done any. I should have done some, but haven’t! It’s one of those things that starts the day at the top of my to do list and then gradually works further and further down. To be honest, it’s probably a little out of my comfort zone and I’ve been putting it off!

BP: How have you been passing the time at home?

LM: Well, I bought a piano in February before we all went into lockdown so I’ve been trying to learn the piano. I learned for a while when I was a kid but it’s not coming back as quickly as I thought it would! Other than that, I’ve been writing a lot – it’s not all great but I’ve really tried to stay creative.

And then there’s the usual lockdown stuff: decorating, cooking,
baking, cleaning, gardening… made a bird table, but it’s not very good. I might have to chuck it before people can start mixing households again, as nobody needs to see that!

BP: How has COVID impacted you as an artist?

LM: Just like everyone else I’m sure. It’s been tough. I’ve found it difficult to be creative and write naturally. Previously, ideas and lyrics would just come to me but recently I’ve really had to work at it which has been a bit unfamiliar. It’s probably not bad to try things differently, though.

I think aside from the financial implications, the time has been quite positive for me really, in terms of having time to sit and play guitar, play
piano, write. It has made me realize that as an artist it’s important to make the time to work on your craft, and I know now that I wasn’t giving myself enough time to do that before.

BP: Favorite song to play live?

LM: I think ‘Chainsmoking’ which I released last year is my favorite to play. It’s quite catchy, and people often request it at gigs which is pretty cool…

I’m really looking forward to start playing my latest single ‘Going Nowhere’ a bit more. I’ve had really positive feedback on it so far, so I’m hoping that people will enjoy it live too!

BP: Favorite venue to play?

LM: My local Blues Bar. It’s a small venue, only about 100 cap I think, but the atmosphere is incredible.

Leon Marshall’s Upcoming Concerts:

BP: Any exciting plans for playing shows or touring once it’s safe to do so again?

Leon Marshall: 2021 is looking pretty healthy in the diary, that’s what’s exciting me! I’m so desperate to get back out there playing again. I just want to get back in the swing of it. I really miss it, as I’m sure everyone does!

BP: Do you have any upcoming releases planned? If so, which tracks are you most excited to play live?

LM: Well, I spent some time in the studio getting some new tracks done back in October, and there is one in particular that I’m looking forward to playing to people. It’s one about grief and dealing with grief. I wrote it back in April when the death toll due to Covid was just starting to slowly come down. It’s a bit of a different sound to the stuff I normally write so
I’m looking forward to seeing what people think… of course if nobody likes it, it’ll be a different story!

Bucket List/Fun questions

BP: If you could tour with any band, who would you love to tour with?

Leon Marshall: Barenaked Ladies, but with Steven Page too, I’d love to tour with them!

BP: Any festivals/venues on your bucket list to play?

LM: Pretty much any festival that will have me! I really enjoy playing festivals!

BP: Favorite snack/meal when on the road?

LM: Now, I like a full belly so snacks are important to me and there’s a different favorite for each meal so stay with me!

Breakfast on the road: McDonalds breakfast wrap with extra hash browns

Lunch on the road: Ginsters Buffet Bar and a banana (so that when the other half calls I can tell her I had fruit). Unless it’s December, in which case lunch is always some sort of Christmas themed sandwich: any combination of Turkey, Stuffing, Bacon, Cranberry, or maybe a bit of Brie.

Dinner on the road: Burger King, Bacon Double Cheeseburger.

That sounds like I’m heading for the same fate as Elvis, but when I’m at home, I’m a healthy eater, I swear!

BP: Favorite “crazy tour story” to tell?

LM: I’m not sure if it’s a crazy tour story, moreso an embarrassing story! I was booked to play for a 60th birthday party. I’d had good correspondence with the customer in the lead up and everything was sorted, but I’d not been told it was a surprise party. I arrived at the venue early to get set up, but the car park was already full, and I had to park a fair distance from the door. I loaded my shoulders with speakers and bags trying to take as much as I could to reduce the trips back and forth. I clumsily pushed the door open with my gear and stumbled into the room, dripping with sweat, hair all over the place and, as a smoker, gasping for air, and as I did, the lights turned on, the DJ played “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang and the whole room unloaded their party poppers on me. It was like a bad film; I was so embarrassed! The birthday boy arrived shortly after and thankfully found it quite amusing.

Thank you to Leon Marshall for taking the time to chat with us! Be sure to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for updates, and listen to Leon on Spotify or wherever you get your tunes!

Are you in a band? Visit our ‘Contact Us‘ page to find out how to send us your tunes and be considered for an interview!

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