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It takes a lot of effort to set up a band with as many people and instruments as Hey Marseilles brought into the WERS studio this afternoon for On the Verge, but the hard work definitely paid off. The Seattle band’s set filled the room with beautiful and unique sounds that commanded the attention of everyone listening. Their latest and second full-length album, Lines We Trace, was released March fifth.
The first song Hey Marseilles performed was “Heartbeats,” an inspiring mid-tempo sort-of love song. Lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Bishop’s voice was warm and easy to listen to, singing lyrics such as “Your heart beats for another day/I still believe you love me/But in a different way.” For a seven-man band, the group seemed perfectly in tune with each other. Samuel and Jacob Anderson, on cello and viola, provided strings that rose and fell, adding a layer of drama to the piece. Patrick Brannon and Colin Richey, both on drums, provided a steady marching beat, while Philip Kobernik’s piano line tied the whole song together.
Creating one blended sound out of so many instruments might sound difficult, but Bishop explains the band has grown together to master the process. “We’ve been playing music together for six years, and it took a lot of learning. We each have our own interests and skills and weaknesses.” Though Bishop writes the majority of the lyrics, he claims the music writing process is collaborative. “We certainly are really interested in tones and how varying instruments interact with each other. We’re definitely intentional about sound and how all of our layers compliment and build off each other to make a collective sound that’s unique to who we are.”
The second song the band played was “Bright Stars Burning,” which features an rocking cello solo and also happens to be the first single off Lines We Trace. The lyrics seem to revolve around the idea of home and what that means. Bishop explains that this concept is an overarching theme on the album, and in fact the album title is even a reference to this idea. “The lines we trace, or the trajectories we hope to find ourselves on aren’t necessarily the ones we find ourselves on. It’s about realizing that where you’re at is where you need to be, and that in of itself is an accomplishment that should be applauded.” He describes the band’s first album, To Travels and Trunks, as an opportunity to explore places different from where they really were. Lines We Trace is an ode to where the band is right at this moment.
Everyone at WERS was enjoying Hey Marseilles so much, the band decided to play us a third song just for fun. They choose to play “Elegy,” a plucky and optimistic sounding tune that will undoubtedly be stuck in everyone’s head for days.
One of the many aspects of Hey Marseilles that sets them apart from other bands is there universal appeal. No matter your taste in music, Hey Marseilles’ elegantly crafted melodies will draw you in. Their music is hard to place in one genre, something ever Bishop laughs about. “We joke about creating our own series of adjectives that could describe our music. Genres are such a weird thing, but I like to use the phrase ‘orchestral folk pop.’ We also like to use the word ‘folkestra’.” Hay Marseilles may be indefinable, but they are definitely not a band anyone would want to miss out.