t’s a long way from Dublin to Los Angeles. It is further still from the shop-floor of British Home Stores to the set of Friends. Marc Caroll’s career path has mapped these and many other co-ordinates, its peaks, troughs and occasional curve-balls furnishing him with a worldview we might loosely term ‘philosophical.’ “Not much fazes me”, he says, smiling. This is our rebel MC: a warm-hearted and reluctant outsider who also happens to have an acute song-writing gift.
His albums Ten Of Swords (2003) and World On A Wire (2005) (A rarities album All Wrongs Reversed was issued in 2004), were much lauded in Mojo and Uncut. They were also records on which his song writing grew to encompass a broad seam of transatlantic influences, reviewers mentioning The Byrds, Dylan, Neil Young, Brian Wilson and more. But for all the glowing notices, neither of these albums was widely heard. Indeed, Ten Of Swords only saw the light of day on Evangeline records after ownership of the recordings were wrestled back from Universal, the company for whom he’d originally made the album after signing to them in 1999. The new album Dust Of Rumour is released on his own High Noon imprint.
“I have a punk ethic with folk roots. Everything I do or have done previously is very deeply rooted in the Folk tradition, whether it is noticeable or not is irrelevant but I know it’s there in the music and always will be. That spirit was put into me. Whether it’s playing with a band or out there on my own, that is the basis of what I do. I could live anywhere and that would still be my starting point.”
He left Dublin in the late 80’s and headed to London. He was 16.
“It was like a two year bad storm that never let up. It seemed to be grey even on a summer’s day. Socially and economically it was apocalyptic almost. I don’t like to talk about it.”
He worked at –and was sacked from –various dead-end jobs. One of the upsides of moving to London was that he could now attend gigs by bands he’d previously only read about in the New Musical Express in Ireland.
“I was in and out of a few bands and jobs. Just trying to survive. I was growing up more than anything.”
Then, in the early 1990’s, he moved backed to Dublin, Scouring the ‘musicians wanted’ ads in various Music magazines, Carroll found himself at odds with a prevailing musical climate. Reacting against this, he formed Hüsker Dü-influenced trio Puppy Love Bomb, signing to Rough Trade and putting out three singles, who blasted into the mid 90’s Irish scene and imploded soon after.
“I don’t think I reacted against anything but it was a very youthful and vibrant experience…it was a good 12 months. I mean, we just arrived out of nowhere like a meteor, but it was destined to be short lived. It had to be. Somehow the end is in the name alone, That label released some records and that was that. I moved on.”
After a tour of Europe in support of Bob Mould’s subsequent band, Sugar (Mould subsequently joining the band on stage for renditions of ‘Ticket To Ride’), In 1995, Carroll returned to London, drew breath, paused for thought. No one could have predicted what would happen next. It was in May ’98, while he was fronting his next band The Hormones, (signed to the V2 label but dropped the day of their album’s intended release) that things got really weird. The producers of Friends had heard the band’s instrumental B-side “Tired Old Souls”, and now they wanted the group to play it live on The One With Ross’s Wedding, Part Two.
“It just happened. They took a song and then asked me to write something else for them, which led to appearing in the show…I couldn’t really relate to that. I’ve never seen it, it’s in the past.”
His new album, Dust Of Rumour was written in Los Angeles, where Marc now lives.
“I had been traveling across America. I drove all the way down south to Mississippi, to Clarksdale, back through Memphis and Nashville and ended up in California. I wrote the songs for this record there, It’s an interesting place. I feel uninhibited there….that may change, who knows.”
Recorded in the UK, working in close conjunction with friend and long-trusted recording engineer, Adi Winman and Mercury nominated mixer, Graham Sutton. His Irish roots are still obvious on the exquisite, timeless-sounding ‘Against My Will’, but ‘Now Or Never’ and ‘You Just Might Be What I’ve Been Waiting For’ perhaps owe more to Tom Petty via The Byrds and Bob Dylan. The songs on Dust Of Rumour encompass varying yet compatible styles, resulting in a record of almost effortless continuity.
“I think I could live in the Himalayas and still come back to that music, it goes back to what I said before about Folk music being some sort of spring board for me. I love those Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young records as much as I love Hank Williams records. I wouldn’t want to even attempt to replicate a sound like that, I mean, how could I?”. I’ve never had a set style or form. I don’t have limits or restraints. I’m restless by nature and if anything is reflected in the songs I write, it’s that restlessness.”
He played pretty much everything on his aforementioned solo albums, and save for some strings and the odd drum-track, that is also the case on his new album Dust Of Rumour, which is out June 29th on his own imprint, High Noon.
“I didn’t plan anything out. I rarely do. I don’t think I could be so disciplined. I work quicker by myself and more instinctively too. All I need is some sort of understanding of the songs before I record them, then it’s just get them down before they are killed. I didn’t want to sing them over and over again or they just die slowly. I think we understood that on this record and didn’t allow that to happen. I need the element of risk and surprise. It’s necessary for me.”
Other standouts on Dust Of Rumour include the shimmering, almost dream-like ‘Illusion And I’, the passionate and poetic ‘What’s Left Of My Heart’ and the wonderful, often blissful, ‘A Dark and Lucky Night’, which draws the album to a resounding conclusion. These days, Marc Carroll has been around the block and he has nothing to prove.
For photos updates and more information visit his myspace here
or his official site here