Jorma Whittaker of Marmoset
Published Jul 26, 2009Formed in 1995, Marmoset have spent their career under the radar, but it's always seemed to suit them. Their modest success isn't because they haven't released some cracking albums - 2001's The Record in Red was one of that year's best, while their last album, 2007's Florist Fired, was criminally overlooked. Psychedelic without ever losing themselves to indulgence, the trio have found a signature sound centred around spaced out vocals and cutting lyrics, hovering overtop of carefully considered rhythms and hypnotic melodies. Having recently left their long-time label Secretly Canadian, the band have found a new home in Joyful Noise. Tea Tornado is the first record since they lost former member and regular contributor, LonPaul Ellrich, last year, and it finds the band still half-asleep and immersed in lo-fi rock and psychedelia. This is their most undemanding listen yet, and an affirmation that a change in labels hasn't affected their ability to keep moving forward. Front-man Jorma Whittaker answered some questions via email.
Having formed more than 14 years ago, what keeps Marmoset going after all this time?
I'm not really sure. Availability, perhaps. We all still live in Indianapolis. Recording is rather easy, convenient!
What made you leave Secretly Canadian after a decade-long relationship?
Basically, we needed a younger label to spend more time on us. The SC guys are very busy people with a heavy roster of artists.
Was there a point after you left the label where you considered calling it a day?
How did you end up with Joyful Noise?
Karl had released Florist Fired and The Record in Red on vinyl and was quite interested in us. It seemed quite natural since he lives here in Indy.
Obviously losing LonPaul would have been hard for you guys, but how did it affect the band's dynamics?
LonPaul hadn't actually played with the group since 2000, so that aspect wasn't so dramatic. He has indeed either recorded or mixed/edited several songs from Tea Tornado and Florist Fired, something he was quite good at.
Was it hard trying to get back to the band after he passed?
We slowly eased back into it. Trying to be positive, rehearsing songs he wrote and such.
Was there anything you were trying to do differently than Florist Fired or even any of the previous albums?
I believe we did try and make something accessible this time round.
I've found Tea Tornado to be your most immediate album. Would you agree with that? If so, how did it become that way?
It is. I think the idea was to have our sort of party album where all the songs would be hot! Some of it works, some of it may not!
Was there as much division with this album as far as songwriting goes? (The lack of liner notes leaves me hanging...)
It's the same as it ever was. Dave writes three here, my boyhood friend and hero Joe Shackelford gets covered by us. I write the rest. A lot of help from band members on arrangements/lyrics.
You took five years in between Mishawaka and Florist Fired. And now you're back after two years, like it was before Mishawaka. What brought you back to a two-year gap between recordings?
Ha, ha. We hope to have another recording underway here soon. Next decade.
On MySpace you joke that "the album's contents will be exactly what's musically in style in August of this year." Does that sort of thing ever cross your mind?
Hmm! Not at all and then again absolutely, yes!
Finally, do you ever plan on following up your 2003 solo effort?
I recorded several solo albums since that one. None quite as elaborate. I'm waiting till I rack up ten before I release them all at once!