Lion Heart

13 March 2014 | 10:19 am | Jazmine O’Sullivan

"We basically got together because one of the guys who played in [my previous band] The Fro left, which was really brutal."

Those in touch with the blues and roots scene will recognise the name Marshall Okell from the numerous musical acts he's been involved in over the years. Reflecting on the origins of his latest ensemble, Marshall Okell & The Pride, Okell reveals, “We basically got together because one of the guys who played in [my previous band] The Fro left, which was really brutal. When we finally got a new drummer we figured we should probably use a different name, and from there we recorded a new album together.”

While the new line-up may be the result of unexpected circumstances, Okell believes it's worked out pretty well. “The new drummer is just a total groove machine and has a really good vibe. All the guys are quite young too so they dance around a bit, it's not just me up there on my own. [It's also great] having another guitar player in the band. I've got a friend of mine who has spent heaps of time in Canada playing with a reggae band helping us out now as well and we've got really different styles, so it's good to work with him. You can't pull off the exact sound we made on the album with just a three-piece, so it's been good to have the extra hands.”

A year since his latest LP, Birdy, Okell says he and the band are about to head into the studios to lay down some new material. “We want to release three EPs over 18 months, and they're all going to be quite different. The first one is really just quite hillbilly, Alabama rock, I suppose, and then we've got something that's just really funny – we went a little bit stupid with that one,” he laughs. “Then we've got just some straight-out blues as well, so we should have a couple of new songs at our upcoming gigs.”

One of the first of his forthcoming gigs is an appearance at Brisbane's new blues and roots festival Mojo Burning, which Okell is keen for. “I know a lot of the bands on the bill, which is looking really great so far. I know Transvaal Diamond Syndicate have had a fair bit to do with putting the festival on as well, and they're always loud, in your face and cool. It's at the New Globe Theatre and I've never played there so I'm pumped!”

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Then in April, Marshall Okell & The Pride are set to play Bluesfest in its 25th anniversary year, which Okell admits is a real honour. “[Bluesfest] will be one of the highlights of the year. We've played the festival a few times and the crowds are always great, they sing along and make it special. The line-up is just incredible this year so we're over the moon to be a part of it.”