The cruel trials of life nearly derailed them, but finally the Yorkshire noisemakers are back and they are smarter, stronger and, above all, stranger...
In 2014, two sets of siblings skyrocketed out of the Yorkshire market town of Bingley and raised the bar for heavy and challenging rock music. Armed with a debut album that was as versatile as it was volatile, it seemed like nothing stood between Marmozets and a set-in-stone place as one of Britain’s – nay, the world’s – biggest new bands.
That was, however, before the quintet’s intensely fierce frontwoman, Becca Macintyre, was faced with what would be the most tormenting physical and mental challenges of her life.
Forced to have surgery on both of her knees at the start of 2016 before undergoing painstaking physiotherapy to essentially learn to walk again, the medical attention that Becca needed forced Marmozets to cancel a US tour, bringing the globe-trotting cycle for that first full-length record, ‘The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets’, to a grinding anti-climax.
“I think that period was like a massive trial,” says Becca, whose younger brothers Sam and Josh play guitar and drums respectively in the band. “You have to go through things to then step out and go further. You can always try and move forward, but it can go so terribly bad if you don’t fight the insecurities and the demons within.”
Despite the fact that she is on the phone to Dork to talk primarily about her band’s eagerly-awaited second album, ‘Knowing What You Know Now’, being bed-bound for several months and wrought with claustrophobia and self-doubt almost pushed Becca to the point of quitting Marmozets entirely.
“I’m a fighter inside, but everything was just closing in, and I would literally be fighting with myself,” Becca explains. “I’d be feeling so sorry for myself and thinking I’m not capable of doing anything, and then on the other side I’m watching TV, and I’m seeing Paralympians and people with their legs fucking blown off, and that’s just like a wake-up call in itself.
“I just had to keep saying to myself, ‘I don’t have it as bad as other people, and look what they’re doing’. If they can do it, I can do it. It’s as simple as that. You have to not let in that insight or darkness or the lies that you feed yourself.”
Eventually, Becca learnt, with the support of her brothers and other bandmates – bassist Will Bottomley and his sibling/guitarist Jack – whom Becca names as ‘my biggest role models’, that she would be able to get back up on her feet by ‘taking the little steps’.
“It was something that I had to completely go through, and you know what?” Becca says cheerily. “This is the best I’ve ever been, I’ve got just a new lease on life. I think it’s important for people to share their story and testimonies and not hide it because if you hide it, you can’t show a little bit of light for other people to be able to do the same thing.
“I care about people so much. I don’t know why, it’s just the way my mind works, but I want people to be able to get out of their situations. That’s why I do what I do!
“It’s amazing what you’re capable of as a human being, and the power that you have to change it around.”
And what Becca does on ‘Knowing What You Know Now’ is deliver her most introspective vocal performance yet – not necessarily through as much of the banshee-esque wailing that we’ve come to know and love from her, but also in her displays of fragility on songs like ‘Habits’ and ‘Insomnia’.
The outstanding moment for Becca on the album – and maybe even in her whole career – is ‘Me & You’, a tender and expansive number which offers a near-transcendental experience not only for its listeners but for its performers too.
When they were halfway through the extensive touring cycle in support of ‘The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets’, the House of Macintyre was left shaking at its foundations with the passing of Becca, Sam and Josh’s dearest grandmother. Becca will go on to explain just how integral a member of the family her nan was, but how she and her brothers were given barely any time to grieve, as two-thirds of one of Britain’s most in-demand musical propositions.
“Her name was actually Faith, and the woman had a lot of faith,” Becca lets off a bittersweet chuckle. “She empowered me and my two brothers and the rest of the family a lot, even though she never understood the music with how heavy we used to be. She just knew something, and I knew my nan wouldn’t have wanted me just to stop and be still because we were at such an important time within our career. We were touring the world; we were living the actual dream.”
As if the rehabilitative process following her surgery wasn’t staggering enough, being hit with the long-delayed bereavement of one of her closest family members hit Becca with devastating force. As you’ll be able to tell from the track, she felt compelled to take her grievances and use them to fuel the most introspective performance we’ve heard from her yet.
She says: “I was just reminiscing [about] my nan and writing a list of all the things my nan had done in my life instead of thinking, ‘oh my gosh, she’s not here, what am I gonna do?’. I kept trying to write lyrics about all the good things that she’s done, but there was just too much cheese, and I already understand and know what the woman’s done in my life.
“I knew we had this album to write, so I closed my eyes, and I just got this picture in my head of me and her dancing in heaven. To describe ‘heaven’, it was just bright light, and we were floating and looking at each other and being so thankful that we’d got each other again. It was absolutely beautiful, and the lyrics just came straight out.
“I was sobbing while singing it, and I remember Josh came into the room. He’s a genius on the computer and a producer himself, and he was like, ‘Becca, are you alright?’, and I was like ‘Yeah, I’m great, I’ve got this song, and I’m just having this moment, and I think we need to work on it’.”
After playing chords off Josh’s laptop in Becca’s room, the pair took the framework of ‘Me & You’ to the rest of Marmozets, and it was immediately agreed that it had to be a part of the album which eyes and ears around the world were eagerly and impatiently set on.
Becca says in a far jollier manner: “It was a defining moment, and I love the fact that it’s [about] having hope in death. Some people can completely disagree with that, but there’s no harm in hoping that, if it gets you to the next level and out of that horrible situation of never seeing someone again, I think imagining that you are gonna see them again is a great way to live.”
For those of you worried that Marmozets may be toning things down, there’s more than your fair share of firebrand rock ‘n’ roll – see the rollicking recent singles ‘Play’ and ‘Major System Error’, and the slicker, sexier album tracks like ‘Suffocation’ – on an album which only proves further that this is a band you can never second guess.
“There’s always that unknowing with us,” says a confident Becca. “This is a new thing for [the listeners] completely, and you’re probably gonna have to listen to it a few times to understand it. “I think it’s just gonna give some excitement back into people, and maybe make people think a bit differently towards the music industry and what it’s known for.
“It’s so important not to try and push the boundaries that are not of you at all, and it’s so easy in this industry to [make] what you think other people want,” she continues. “We’re capable of doing a lot, but I feel like with the world we’re living in at the moment, people just need a bit more realism, and the right kind of realism which is just to be like, ‘this is who we are’.”
With Becca recovered and the band’s batteries fully recharged, Marmozets headed to Monmouthshire, Wales to get cracking on album two. You would think, after months of confinement, that Becca would be hesitant to work in such a remote location, but the idyllic intimacy of the valleys was all the more liberating for the frontwoman.
“Before we went into the studio, I think all of us were suffering from isolation within our own lives,” Becca sighs. “It was quite shit with our living conditions and stuff like that, especially for the Macintyres.”
“When we got to the studio it was almost like freedom, even though we were in the middle of nowhere. We could just be us and watch movies and play pool and have a drink and sit around the table to eat together.
“We just wanted to be with each other so badly – that was exactly what we needed, to be a family in a beautiful countryside house. I think this album might be a new era for us to be able to relax and enjoy it completely, and just keep writing songs that we love.”
Marmozets weren’t alone in pushing their wheels back in motion, with legendary producer Gil Norton sat behind the desk at Monnow Valley Studios. Having played a vital role in creating some of modern rock’s loudest and most pivotal records from the likes of Pixies, Foo Fighters, Twin Atlantic and Funeral For A Friend, Marmozets met their match in Norton.
“He’s like an angel,” says Becca in an almost swooning tone upon hearing his name. “We believe in perfect timing, and Gil was the perfect guy for us in that time and place.”
Striking up such a producer-band relationship may prove fruitful still, with Marmozets already in talks to take their next batch of demos to Norton once again.
“We’re onto something, and he doesn’t just move on,” Becca explains, “Deep down we have this love which is unconditional, so it was amazing working with the guy. Looking back is a blur, but it’s like, ‘how did this even happen?’ We’re lucky bastards!”
With a sharper sense of identity and an album which continues to shove the boundaries of alternative music to their very limits while being outrageously catchy, Marmozets are once again threatening to become a mainstay on the biggest stages and occupy the airwaves in broad daylight. The question is, now they have a second crack of the whip, are they ready to step up and reclaim the mantle of Britain’s most exciting band?
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so ready for it,” says Becca on the prospects that potentially lie ahead. “I always thought I was, but it’s completely different when your body and mind are connected, and you know who you are, where you stand and what you’re capable of.
“We’ve fought a lot already, probably more than most people have done, so I think it’s come to a point where we can just completely live in the dream of what we’ve always wanted. We’re the kind of people that work great under pressure, we live on the edge, and we always have.
“If that is the way, then I’m ready to do it.”
Marmozets' album 'Knowing What You Know Now' is out now. Taken from the February 2018 issue of Dork, order a copy below.