MARMOZETS – ” Knowing What You Know Now “

Posted: February 2, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Marmozets may be in demand, but it doesn’t stop them being punctual. Guitarist Jack and frontwoman Becca turn up promptly for our chinwag at a noisy north London pub, fresh from numerous photoshoots. They’re cheerful, bundled in winter layers and perfumed with cigarette smoke. “We quit for two weeks, and then we went to Paris,” Becca offers by way of explanation. “It’s impossible not to smoke there, because everyone smokes there,” adds Jack. The pair, it transpires, are a couple (“a new thing”).

Quitting nicotine may be a hurdle for Marmozets’ frontwoman – a whirlwind performer with major lung-power – but this rising rock quintet, who have supported the likes of Muse and Royal Blood in recent years, are disciplined where it counts, says Becca. “We’ve been doing this since 2008, so we’ve had our share of ‘fun’. We plan to be around for a long time.” No “live fast and leave a beautiful corpse”, then? “No, no. We want to age beautifully,” she says firmly.

“I don’t,” smirks the band’s guitarist Sam, who wanders in slurping a pint. “It’s over-rated, life.” “Sam’s too cool for school, aren’t ya?” Becca shoots back.

There’s an affable antagonism between the two, Sam playing punk scamp to Becca’s den mother. But when the 25-year-old frontwoman’s health took a nosedive last year, jeopardising the momentum the band had built leading up to their 2014 breakthrough album, The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets, playtime was over. Marmozets consists of two sets of siblings – the Macintyres (Becca, Sam, and drummer Josh) and the Bottomleys (Jack, and bassist Will). The two broods grew up in neighbouring villages near Bingley, West Yorkshire. In the same secondary school class, surrounded by football and rugby jocks, Jack and Sam bonded over guitar music. Their respective siblings were drafted in, and Marmozets was born.

Working out of a rehearsal space in Keighley, the scrappy teens gigged around the UK, earning a reputation for full-throttle live shows and loud, spasmodic, math-y rock. Their 2014 debut charted at 25 in the UK albums chart, and No 3 in the rock & metal chart. Kerrang! named it as album of the year. They were one of the few female-fronted acts to play Reading and Leeds in 2015, and the sole one to share Metallica’s main stage – a fact thrown into sharp relief via the doctored lineup poster that went viral that summer, near empty after removing the all-male bands.

Becca has hypermobility syndrome. The condition, in which joints accrue disproportionate wear-and-tear from moving far beyond the normal range, meant her knee would frequently jolt loose from its socket. Easy enough to dismiss in the whirlwind of touring, boozing and partying, when she would “just pop it back into place”. But when a rugby tackle from an old friend in the press tent after their crowning shows at Reading and Leeds put her good knee out of action, too, it was time to face the music. The last leg of their debut album cycle, a triumphant US tour, was axed and Becca began a series of operations. Everything hinged on the elasticity of her tendons, post-surgery, and physiotherapy: too loose, and she’d buckle; too tight, and she’d lose her ability to bend and jump – far from ideal for this very physical performer. 

Bedbound for months, and groggy from painkillers, a crushing depression took over. Recovery became an extended dark night of the soul, a carousel of physical pain and mental panic. “I was like: ‘I’m a rubbish singer; I’m not gonna be able to dance any more; we’ve got no money!’ I had all this energy inside, but I couldn’t release it.” Along with this angst came a rush of delayed grief over the death of her nan in 2014, a formidable Jewish matriarch.

Box sets and binge-eating helped, but it was the unwavering support of family that pulled her through: “It was my boys, telling me how amazing I was, every day.” How did they cope, while the band’s future hung in the balance? “Oh, they were fine,” Becca guffaws quickly.

There was never any official OK from the specialists about whether she was fit to resume frontwoman duties, says Becca. She just did what she could, throwing herself into a painstakingly slow regime of swimming, dieting and excruciating physiotherapy between low-key jamming sessions. “I had to learn to walk again, literally.”

There is no guarantee for Becca’s joints, looking ahead. Nevertheless, she is grateful for it all, parsing the episode as a blessing in disguise. “It was meant to be, cos I had to learn how to be still, and patient. It renewed me, body and mind. The whole process meant I had to deal with these thoughts, this anxiety, the pressure that was on me. And I learnt to rejoice in it, to laugh at the darkness. I used to wake up every morning and kiss my knees – really. I’d say: ‘We’re gonna get through this’, and I know it sounds weird, but it worked. The brain is an amazing thing.”


Surging, stadium-sized new album Knowing What You Know Now is an electrifying testament to that renewal; Marmozets’ sound has always been wild and spasmodic, but there’s a groove to it now, points out Becca. “When your body changes, your music and your pace changes with it. And there’s freedom in dance, ‘int there? Some people live for the weekend, when they can go out and dance and get drunk – there’s freedom in that.”

As frontpersons go, Becca is a curious breed. She inspires her young female fans to start bands of their own, but has none of her own musical role models, female or otherwise; she doesn’t follow her own press, and therefore has no knowledge of how she might be perceived or the fact she’s been framed as a saviour of stale, male, British rock; she says it was “exciting” to be in the middle of the Reading and Leeds lineup debate, but has no interest in debating the gender play gap herself. Yet for all that, their fans are mostly male, says Jack. “Girls are just … I think its going to take a little bit of time for the girls to understand what I’m about,” Becca says, tight-lipped.

As the #metoo and #timesup movements galvanise the music world, have the band been privy to sexual misconduct in the rock scene? “We’ve heard a lot of rumours, yeah,” they say, exchanging dark looks. “We’re just happy that people are so respectful [of Becca] at our shows,” says Jack. “I remember there was this gig in London where Becca went right into the crowd. And Sam said: ‘Leave her be, don’t take the piss’, and everyone just circled around her, protectively. She just went bouncing into the crowd, doing her thing, and there was no grabbing or groping. There was so much respect in the room.”

Marmozets are touring the U.K to 12th February


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