Rare Candy got the chance to speak with Will Marsh of Gold Connections after their show at Trans-Pecos to discuss songwriting, college radio, and the Replacements.
By Ramisa Murshed
Rare Candy: You guys played a really great show tonight! So how does performing in front of people differ from recording?
Will Marsh: There are the technical ways. We usually don’t do a full live take when we’re recording. It’s not the whole band recording everything at once. Usually, when I’ve recorded, all the instruments have always been isolated. Some other times, tracking is just different, with more overdubs. Maybe my recording style is changing? At first, we tried to take advantage of the studio environment and create a different sound than we did live. Now, we’re carving out a vision for a record, and it’s less like a performance, which means we have to play differently because we can’t overdub or change the mix. The stuff I want to record in the future will probably have a warmer, more immediate, or more spontaneous kind of sound.
RC: How does the songwriting process work for you?
WM: It differs. Sometimes, I’ll have a progression and then words will come. It’s something that I would have been thinking about in some way. Sometimes, I just think of phrases and then try to play with different progressions. Every song is different. Some people probably do have a formula or a distinct method, but I don’t.
RC: What made you decide to continue to pursue music after you graduated from William and Mary?
WM: I just felt like giving it a shot, because it’s something that I have always done growing up. It's that post-college feeling of "you can do anything you want," so I was taking advantage of that.
RC: As a college student, I find myself being able to relate to many of the lyrics of the songs on your EP, going through the general anxieties of everything and experiencing loss. When you write lyrics, do you consider the universality of them, or do you focus more on writing about your own personal experiences and turning those anxieties and feelings of loss into art?
WM: The songs that are on that EP were definitely just me writing about my own stories and my own feelings. I’ve been working on some songs that are a little bit more generational or broader in scope, but most of my songs are just my experiences, and I’m not thinking too much about the universality of them.
RC: A lot of artists forego writing about personal experiences and write from someone else’s point of view. Could you see yourself writing from perspectives other than your own?
WM: I could. I don’t really see that in the near future, though. I’ve never thought of doing that. Like I said, I’ve been working on songs that are more about groups of people and everyday struggles, but I don’t think I’d write from another perspective.
RC: The songs from your EP were written and recorded while you were still at William and Mary. How do you think your full-length album is going to differ from your EP now that you’re out of college?
WM: When we recorded that EP, we had a really basic setup. In the professional studio, there’s a different sound. I think my first record will have a bigger studio sound.
RC: The cover art for your EP is someone who appears to be jumping headfirst into a large body of water. Why did you choose this particular image?
WM: [Laughs] Well, I actually just saw the piece. It was a collage. It wasn't my idea, someone else had created it, and I saw it and liked the image itself. There’s the falling person, reminiscent of the song “Icarus.” I get that it looks like somebody jumping in, and that works too.
RC: So from your perspective, it’s more like he’s falling.
WM: Yeah. He wasn’t trying to do that.
RC: Do you think cover art influences the way people consume music?
WM: Yeah. Probably.
RC: Should it?
WM: Who’s to say? Cover art is cool. I appreciate it, and I think it has its place. You should try to have good cover art. I think it matters. [Laughs]
RC: You’ve played a lot of shows with Car Seat Headrest, and you've known Will Toledo for quite a while now. How has your friendship as artists developed over the years? How is playing shows together now different than when you were both in college?
WM: When we were in college, we were spending a lot of time together because we were in the same space. But now, when we see each other, it’s more like we're passing ships, just by nature of touring. It’s not worse. It’s just that we’re in different places. The fact that we’re both in the music industry makes it seem, I don’t know... Maybe we’re - I don’t want to say that we’re like professionals now, but that’s kind of what it looks like, you know what I mean? It seems like we’re in a more professional sphere and we’re colleagues or some shit.
RC: Speaking of Will Toledo, you mentioned that you met him through WCWM, William and Mary’s college radio station. Pitchfork released an article questioning whether college radio still mattered today. What are your opinions on college radio and the state that it’s in right now?
WM: When I was a DJ, the antennae were always broken, so the station wasn't incredibly functional as something that broadcasts music to the world because it literally didn't do that a lot of the time. WCWM did provide a community, though, and it fosters the small music scene in Williamsburg. I can only really talk about the one college radio station I know because it mattered in my life. WCWM provided a structure for the scene and helped percolate that sound of music. College radio is still important as a source of community more than anything else.
RC: A lot of artists cite their friends and family in helping them curate their music taste throughout their lifetime, generating some musical influences along the way. Did you have any friends or family who helped refine your influences?
WM: The first person I started paying attention to or taking advice from was my dad. He was basically the source of all the music I listened to in my childhood, which is a formative time for people's aesthetic tastes. When I turned fourteen, he let me choose 50 of his records. I got all the big bands' records but also, specifically, 80's college rock records, like R.E.M. and the Replacements. So that played a big part. I also got into music I had never even heard of because of friends in college through the radio station. The first bassist from my band showed me a lot of psychedelic music, like Spacemen 3. I recorded the EP right after listening to Spacemen 3, so I think that really changed the sound and what I prioritize in music.
RC: Do you have any modern influences that you found on your own?
WM: No, not really. I've always found modern music that I like through a friend. Deerhunter was probably the most important contemporary band that I had growing up. I remember listening to Deerhunter records and buying them right as they came out. And Kurt Vile, too. I had the same experience with him, where I felt like he was making his best records while I was right there to buy them when they came out.
RC: Other than Deerhunter and Kurt Vile, what have you been listening to lately?
WM: I've been focusing on the Replacements a lot recently.
I've been reading this biography about them, called Trouble Boys, and I also got this box set of their CDs. So I guess I've been studying them recently. [Laughs.]
LISTEN HERE: https://gold-connections.bandcamp.com