'We’re really excited to have Oscar onboard': Cannock rockers Marquis Drive work with Ocean Colour Scene drummer

Being managed by one of their musical heroes is an opportunity most band members could only dream about.

Marquis Drive
Marquis Drive

But for Cannock-based Marquis Drive it’s actually real life as they are now working with Ocean Colour Scene’s drummer Oscar Harrison.

The seven-piece indie band are signed to the record label of music industry executive Alan McGee – the man who first signed Oasis.

“We’re really excited to have Oscar onboard, he’s always been one of our heroes, and he brings with him 30 years worth of knowledge and wisdom of life spent in music,” says keyboard player Mat Drury.

As well as Mat, the group is made up of Mark Hillier, 48, on vocals and acoustic guitar, Chris Eardley, 35, providing rhythm guitar and vocals, drummer and vocalist Conal Saha, 48, bassist Mal Flynn, 45, Ed Thomas, 34, on guitar and vocals and Oscar’s son Leon Harrison, 35, providing vocals and percussion.

When the first formed the band was playing their own material but it wasn’t long before they realised they had “to give the people what they want” and they switched to 90s covers.

“We started, like most, playing those gigs where even the old man and dog had better things to do. It’s like all bands, you have a moment, and at some point in the nine-minute guitar solo, you realise you got to give the people what they want, so the band started to do 90s covers,” explains Mat.

Having built their strong reputation up and down the country and earning a small army of loyal fans along the way, they decided to take a chance by playing their original songs – and they’ve never looked back.

They estimate they’ve now played just under 500 gigs which has included supporting major acts such as The Farm, Reverend and the Makers, Stourbridge aces The Wonder Stuff, Shed Seven and many more.

Marquis Drive released their first single Movin On in August 2018 to much acclaim and last year more success followed when the band was snapped up by McGee’s Creation23 label.

“A headline gig at Mosborough Festival to 4,000 people paved the way for us as an originals band and getting signed to Alan Mcgee’s Creation23,” Mat tells Weekend.

They released their first single, Proud, with the 7-inch label in February and were delighted when it reached number 2 in the UK vinyl charts and was played on the Chris Moyles breakfast show on Radio X.

“I think Proud is the song that fans connect with instantly, even people who’ve never been to a gig before will sing Proud back at you. That’s pretty special,” says Mat.

It was followed by their latest song Truth Don’t Shock which has been released digitally with a 7-inch to follow in the not too distant future.

“Covid has caused a back-log on the pressing, but we’re aiming for late August,” 33-year-old music teacher Mat tells Weekend.

“After the success of landing the number 2 spot in the UK vinyl Charts we’re really excited about that. We’ve also got two more songs to release in September/October time which will also be supported with new music videos and vinyl releases,” he adds.

Each band member brings their own musical influences to the group and Mat explains that his dad used to wake him up in the mornings with The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again blasting out at full volume. “That’s an experience you don’t forget,” he says.

“I think most of the band have been hooked on music from an early age, and all seven of us share the fact we were brought up on the music of great bands.

“Some of us would say The Beatles, some of us The Clash because of our parents, but the music of our youth was also just as rich – The Stone Roses, The Wonderstuff, James and OCS to name just a few.

“The thing about Oasis, Blur, the Roses, The Clash, is that they not only sang great songs about culture, they actually created it. They tapped into the zeitgeist and made songs that were fun, generally brought people together, and wanted you to have the same experience,” adds Mat.

They are all looking forward to getting back on the road and playing to fans again. At the moment dates in the diary include two gigs at The Station in Cannock on November 20 and 21.

“We’re a hard working band, so we’ll be out gigging as soon as possible. We are lucky that we’ve just signed up to some huge festival gigs next year, and, although we can’t say much yet, we will be playing the biggest gig we’ve ever done, and we will be supporting a major British band. We will tell everybody when the gigs get officially announced,” says Mat.

For anyone wondering what it’s like to be part of a band playing gigs and recording tracks, Mat attempts to explain: “It’s a bit like The Matrix, you just “have to see it for yourself”.

“It isn’t something that’s easy to explain, for anyone who’s been part of a sports team who cares more about the social side than the performance on the pitch, it’s kind of like that.

“For football fans, it’s like having an away day every weekend. For those of a religious persuasion, dare I say it, there can even be moments of transcendence and spiritualism – although purgatory is a real place and it’s being stuck on the M6 on the way to a gig!”

To listen to their music go to https://open.spotify.com/artist/59fBONippTgxeUlR7iQ4YD or see marquisdrive.com or www.facebook.com/marquisdriveuk for more information.

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