WE RISE – New album release
A couple of years ago, Darren Morrissey and Greg Marshall arrived in London from Dublin with two acoustic guitars and a headful of shared dreams. They set about hauling themselves up the hard way from the rough and tumble of street corner busking and open-mic nights to playing at some of the best venues and recording studios in the city. Now it’s all about to kick off with the release of their second album, We Rise, a hard-hitting, high-kicking, rock & roll band production that reflects this period of profound personal and musical growth.
“We had a roof over our heads when we arrived but we were almost starving,” says Morrissey, the wild-eyed, long-haired singer, guitarist and songwriter. “You get to learn that the world is a big place,” says Marshall, the neater-looking, more contained harmony singer and lead guitarist. “You start with nothing, which is a great way to learn your trade. And really, it’s been the best time ever!”
For Morrissey & Marshall it’s all about the journey, literally so in the video to their anthemic single “Love and be Loved” which finds the pair taking a ride in a black cab through the London night. Their voyage begins in Queen’s Park, where they recorded their first album And So It Began (released in 2014) and its amazing successor We Rise with producer and drummer John Reynolds (Sinead O’Connor, Damien Dempsey). The ride progresses through Camden where the pair played their first London gig; through Trafalgar Square where in 2016 they played their biggest gig, at the St Patrick’s Day festival in front of 20,000 people.
The pair have indeed been known to take a drink, and are unlikely to be the first to leave whatever party is going on. But Morrissey & Marshall have in fact spent the majority of their time in the capital honing and harnessing a range of classic musical influences to produce a live act and album of timeless pop-rock appeal. While their debut, And so it Began, won them plaudits as the finest pair of harmony singers to have emerged on the circuit for decades, Morrissey & Marshall have now upped their game with a new collection of songs to rival those of the very greatest groups.
“My introduction to rock & roll was seeing Oasis as a young lad at the Point Theatre in Dublin in 1997,” Morrissey says. “I remember thinking, to quote John Lennon, ‘That looks like a good job.’ Liam was swigging out of two bottles – both clear liquid – and I couldn’t figure out, in my innocence, why he needed two bottles of water. I realised later, one was obviously spirits. Gin and tonic, I’d imagine.”
“Cold November Sunrise” was an early harbinger of the move back to their rock & roll roots. “The first night we tried it out was in the Barbican supporting Sinead O’Connor,” Morrissey recalls. “It was an amazing night. Our best concert at the time and that song was the turning point. It’s about every topic that was frustrating me –anti-gay attitudes, racial prejudice, war, religion – all crammed into three minutes.”
“Play On” is another full-on production, with a Happy Mondays-type dance-rock groove written by Marshall, and a lyric that finds Morrissey “contemplating superstardom” as he waits impatiently in the wings. “I’m not egotistical,” the singer explains. “But I got so excited when I heard Greg’s backing track. It’s an absolute banger. And the fact is, the wheels are well and truly in motion. You’re not going to stop us now that we’ve got started.”
“We don’t want to play safe,” Marshall says, firmly. “You might as well go for it.”
“Hangin’ Around” is the most sonically unusual track with processed guitar sounds in the verse, building up to a chorus of multi-layered harmonic riches that the Beach Boys would be proud to own. “It’s a song about knowing when to leave the pub and go home,” Morrissey says with a wry chuckle. “It’s about rejecting the fear of missing out that leads to you staying for just one last pint. Which can be great…until the next day.”
“The Light Breaks” a short, beautiful, acoustic coda rounds off the album with a sense of calm and closure. The band has left the stage. “It’s just Greg and myself, to finish it off,” Morrissey says. “Back to where we started.”
Musically, We Rise is a big step up to the top table of pop. And with international release and touring deals in place across Europe and as far afield as Japan and Australia, the words and sounds of Morrissey & Marshall are spreading rapidly.
“Some bands think that because they are working in an industry which is based on pretence that they have to pretend,” Marshall says. “But we don’t give a shit about the industry or where it’s going or who’s involved or what’s cool on social media and all that stuff. We love playing music and singing. To make a living out of it…that’s magical. From the name of the band, to the writing, to the live performance, the whole thing has always been honest.”
Following their captivating ‘full band performance’ of the intriguing ‘Cold November Sunrise’ LIVE on the legendary Late Late Show, M&M have been inundated with show offers and 2017 is promising to be one memorable year ahead for the musicians.
As well as putting on exhilarating shows as a full band, Morrissey & Marshall also perform as a harmony duo and have toured with celebrated acts such as The Magic Numbers, Sinead O’Connor, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott and Damien Dempsey to name but a few.
I’ve watched them from afar for some time… I’m a big fan.
– Ryan Tubridy (TV personality)
I love this tune
– Cillian Murphy (actor)
People are drawn to their song-writing, the clever melodies and in particular the sound of their voices singing in unison – simply beautiful.
– Louder Than War
It almost seems impossible that two voices can compliment one another in such a relaxed and seemingly accidental way, quite frankly, they’re built on sounding perfect.
– It Sounded Sweet
Morrissey and Marshall are fantastically engaging and have a remarkably large sound for only two people