Bumbershoot 2010: Catching up with Hey Marseilles’ Jacob Anderson

Good times with Hey Marseilles. (Photo courtesy of Shurui Sun)

Seattle’s own baroque-pop outfit, Hey Marseilles, is gearing up to perform at Bumbershoot for the second year in a row, bringing their hodgepodge of instruments—accordion, cello, shakers, etc.—with them. After playing an acoustic mini-set at the Toyoto/KEXP Tent Saturday afternoon, Hey Marseilles’ viola player, Jacob Anderson, gave the lowdown on new material, Ultimate Frisbee and what it’s like to play in a band that has more instruments than people. Hear the band’s full set at the Broad Street stage tomorrow at 2:15 p.m.

Treeswingers: You were a University of Washington student, correct? Did you ever go to Bumbershoot?

Jacob Anderson: Oh yeah, I’ve come most years—the times I’ve been in Seattle.

T: What has been your favorite performance in the last few years?

J: Favorite Bumbershoot performance… I saw Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground last year in a tent. I can’t even—see I’ve been to Bumbershoot so many years I can’t even remember who I’ve seen. It’s like every band that I’ve ever known has played at Bumbershoot.

T: It’s a pretty good deal. So your music, to me, is very uplifting and emotional.

J: Thank you.

T: So I’m curious, what kind of brings Hey Marseilles down? Like what are your pet peeves?

J: Everybody wants to play altogether at the same time, which with seven people that doesn’t work, you know. It’s a struggle for us to try to keep it simple, keep it enjoyable, rather than a bunch of stuff all going on… Well, everybody else hates it when I turn up my viola too loud on the monitor because I need to hear myself.  Nobody wants to hear that.

T: But I’m a big fan of viola.

J: Thank you. What else brings us down…Work.

T: What’s your day job?

J: I’m a bank regulator.

T: Ok that’s not too bad.

J: I mean we all have day jobs, so that kind of brings us down.

Show me your brass. (Photo courtesy of Shurui Sun)

T: You guys have a lot of instruments, obviously, but what is one musical talent you’d like to recruit?

J: Woodwinds, banjo… Nick [Ward], the guitar player, has been messing around a little bit with the string bass, which we’ve done a couple shows with and now we’re not doing anymore. But we’d like to bring that back in. Samuel [Anderson, Hey Marseilles’ cello player], my brother, he also plays mandolin. And I think we want to start incorporating that a little more.

T: It’s been almost two years since To Travels & Trunks was released the first time. How do you keep the live show fresh?

J: We keep changing up the songs and a lot of stuff we play live isn’t from the record. So that keeps it fresh. We’re constantly getting bored with the songs and adding new things. We all want to make another record.

T: Are you playing any new stuff tomorrow?

J: We do some instrumentals. We didn’t play it [at the Toyota Tent] but tomorrow we’ll play some fairly new songs and some instrumentals—they’re easier to write. We’ll keep it exciting.

T: On to some serious business. You guys on your Twitter are always talking about Ultimate at Ravenna Park. So if all seven of y’all are on the line, how good is the Hey Marseilles team?

Don't be fooled, he's quick on the Frisbee field. (Photo courtesy of Shurui Sun)

J: We’d be very good. [laughs] No, we would take on a pretty decent team. When we’re touring, we’ll stop at a gas station—we get out and throw it around. It keeps us getting fresh air and stuff like that.

T: Who do you think is the team MVP?

J: Samuel and Philip [Kobernik on accordion and piano]—they’re taller.

T: Better targets.

J: I think that I’m a pretty good addition to the team. I like to move around a bit on the inside—be the fast breaks. When it goes up for the like, jumping, I’m not that good at that since I’m not as tall as other people.

T: You can box them out.

J: Yeah. So I think we’d actually do pretty well as a team. We should try that. We’ve never actually all seven of us played on a team.

T: Lot of leagues in Seattle.

J: If we have time, I think that’s the next thing we’d do.

T: Will you be recording any new stuff soon?

J: We’ve been doing some demos. We will be recording—we’re still kind of in the process of just coming up with ideas, melodies. We’ll sit down and play different versions of some melody for hours a day. We’re just in this recording these little snippets, seeing where are heads are going. So we’ve got a few demos, which will probably be changed a lot.

T: With the songwriting process, how do you step back and say, like, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t do the extended thumb piano solo?’

J: Yeah, I don’t know, it’s pretty collaborative. That has its drawbacks—a lot of opinions. And some strengths. The theory is that if everybody’s ideas are there, we’ll end up with a good one. Yeah, it’s definitely a battle. We’ll see how it goes. We haven’t really started recording tracks for real, like what’ll actually end up on CD, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how that’ll go. We’re excited about it, that’s the bottom line. We weren’t really a band even, per say, when we made that record—I mean, we’d played together a few months. The new record, we’ve played together for a few years now so that’ll make it easier some ways.

T: So who are you guys looking forward to this weekend?

J: Bob Dylan.

T: Definitely, he sold out today.

J: I think we’ll be able to get in with our passes, but we’ll see. Hole probably. I suppose Weezer. Edward Sharpe.

Hey Marseilles- Goodbye Versailles (download)

A version of this review will appear in The Stanford Daily on Sept. 27, 2010.

One response to “Bumbershoot 2010: Catching up with Hey Marseilles’ Jacob Anderson

  1. Pingback: Bumbershoot 2010: Saturday Recap | treeswingers

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