I could give you a poorly written intro to Marco. Instead, I’ll get on with the interview. MP3s at the end.
TLG: Your songs have strong melodies. Is there anything you can accredit this to? i.e. a gift for composing singable melodies, a deep-rooted knowledge of music, or something like that?
MM: I do know a whole bunch about different kinds of music from different time periods and different cultures and I’m able to play many of them. And it’s interesting when you look at traditional music how there’s sort of like families of melodies, families of tunes. You can look at a certain group of different songs and you can tell that most likely these songs originated from the same song a century or so earlier. And then it’s interesting to apply that to contemporary music and you can figure out some similar patterns. I guess me thinking about things like that makes me more conscious about melodies.
TLG: Does being a musician help or hinder being a father? and has fatherhood affected your songwriting?
MM: I was really confused after I became a dad. I didn’t want to give up who I was before but I couldn’t really go about things the same way anymore either. I couldn’t be any sort of standard parent. And at the same timeI wanted to be the greatest dad in the world. I came out of that with more solidity and clarity with myself than I ever had before and I think that comes through in the album. I also borrowed my sons xylophone for the track “Go Crocodile”. It’s shaped like a crocodile, therefor the title.
TLG: Tell me more about singing in the subway stations, please…
MM: The New York City subway is one of the strangest places to perform. Anything goes. You do something that doesn’t work, who cares. People get onto the next train and you can start over with a completely newaudience. It also showed me how complex the reaction of an audience can be. I would play a song and 10 people would be really listening, making compliments and throwing bills into my guitar case. They get on the next train and I would play the exact same song the same way again for the new people walking onto the platform and not a single person would pay attention to it. Strangely it can be really intimate too, especiallywhen you play in the evening. People stick around for a while to listen to a whole bunch of songs. Something about the whole experience kept fascinating me and I kept going back. I haven’t done it for a while nowbut I think my music wouldn’t sound the way it does today if I never had that experience.
TLG: Many of your lyrics are veiled, esoteric and profound. Is this the influence of your poetic wife or have you always written in this style?
MM: I used to write in a somewhat similar way when I was around 20. Then I got into writing simple songs. It was clear what each songs was about. Then I met my wife and she has this very unique way of writing. It’svery hard to describe but it’s some of the best writing I ever read. It brought me back to a more complex kind of writing that has hidden and fun layers and connections. I know my lyrics wouldn’t be the way they are today if I had not read her writing. The song “1′s And O’s” I think is where it shows the most.
TLG: I love that you have peppered your debut album with instrumentals. Not many musicians these days have the gall to leave the lyrics in their notebook. Are you a fan of instrumentals? do you actively seek them out?
MM: When I decided I wanted to put out an album I looked at all the things I had and picked whatever I thought was strong enough, regardless of whether it was a song or an instrumental.TLG: Do the songs dictate whether they will have lyrics or not?MM: Yes they do.TLG: Do you get back to that cabin in Virginia often?MM: No. I just moved to Portland, OR. I’ll keep going back to Williamsburg (Brooklyn, NY) though. I lived there for 7 or 8 years.
TLG: I know the album just came out in June of this year but are you working on new material?
MM: 49% of me wants to. 51% of me wants to get this album out there more, get more people to hear it. And somehow I can’t do both of these things at the same time. The mind frames are just too different. I could see putting out a new album next spring.