Words by Keane Fletcher
You’ve heard the saying ‘can’t keep a good man down’. Well now apply it to a band. The Marlon Hoffman Band in fact, a band who — despite the apocalyptic nightmare that was 2020 — have found a way to keep on keeping on with their brand of feel-good Americana, led by their fearless namesake Marlon Hoffman himself.
‘I’d been in bands since I was 12,’ says Hoffman. ‘…this one I put my name out front cause I was tired of bands breakin’ up so I knew if I had it this way, it would keep a-goin’, as long as I kept a-goin’. And its all still a-goin’ strong and furious!’
Never one to let a little pandemic stand in his way, instead of hitting the road like they would usually be doing this time of year, Hoffman and his band have taken to a little live streaming, teaming up with company Alert The Globe as well as venues like The Old Coach House Inn in San Juan Capistrano, CA to make sure the music doesn't stop just because the tour dates have. Here's to the future y'all!
We recently sat down with Hoffman to talk all things music, inspo and going strong in the face of a pandemic. Check it out below!
1- Where in the world are you based at the moment?
I’m in the Santa Monica Mountains just off of Malibu Canyon Road better known as Las Virgenes. We - me and the band - are from Los Angeles.
2- How did you first get into music? What are your musical influences?
It got into me. Probably born with it. Did you ever see a baby dance? All my folks played records and sang to me and the television had it on non-stop. My influences were Fess Parker, Ernie Ford, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Matthis, Patti Page, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Guthrie, Mitch Miller, all the Disney Singers including Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Then of course it was Tennessee Ernie Ford, Elvis Presley, Chubby Checker, Lesley Gore, The Kingston Trio, The Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and everybody up to now. Everybody is still influencing me… Galaxie 500 and Andersen Paak.
3- Talk us through the genesis of the Marlon Hoffman Band. How did you go about forming it? Is there a core team or does the lineup occasionally change?
I’d been in bands since I was 12, that was a long time ago and this one I put my name out front cause I was tired of bands breakin’ up so I knew if I had it this way, it would keep a-goin’, as long as I kept a-goin’. And its all still a-goin’ strong and furious! This time, the band formed and keep forming naturally. It’s whoever shows up and sticks around. I just keep playin’. Everyone is core and special. I gotta say, love and care keep us together. I’d like to do a shout out to members and former members and current friends and well wishers; the list is awesome! Here goes: Jody Daley Lovett (from the land down under), Sean Lacefield, KrisCadle, Mark Grueninger, John O’Kennedy, John Harjo, Jon Poli, Nick Massie, Jessica Garcia, Major Wynn, Jeff Gartenbaum, Kimzey McGrath, Davey Johnstone, Martin Flores, Bernard Fowler, all the folks at The Village Recorder, Alert the Globe, Anita Lee and the most special person in my life, Angie.
4- How does the songwriting process usually work for you and the band? Do you have a set routine when it comes to writing and recording, or does inspiration usually take you by surprise?
My friend Paul Zollo could better answer that. He’s a singer/songwriter, author of some wonderful books on songwriting, and senior editor of American Songwriter Magazine. My process takes inspiration from Jack Kerouac and the Naropa Institute of Disembodied Poets. I have volumes of poems I’ve written (in loose leaf and spiral notebooks, on my phone and computer, coming outta my pockets on napkins) that I can call on, as well as my current feelings and the news. I’m always happy when something goes down. And I’m ecstatic when it joins with music, anyway it can.
5- A lot of artists are really suffering at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its ramifications. How has it affected you and your creativity? How has the band been forced to adapt?
That is the latest question. It seems these times have restricted us in many situations to take on a cocoon lifestyle. We get to be with ourselves more and end up doing what we do more alone. I play more, I write more and -- with a little social distancing and mask -- I rehearse more. Thats what happened to me and how I met the people at alerttheglobe.com and streamed a couple of concerts with great audio and 7 cameras at the Old Coach House Inn.
Check it out here: https://vimeo.com/471919630
6- How do you feel the internet has affected your career? Do you believe streaming services like Spotify and Soundcloud are making things easier or harder for artists?
If you keep at it and stay open minded, new roads and friends appear. Take the roads and say, ‘How do you do!’. It gets easier with practice.
7- What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given, musical or otherwise?
‘You are good enough to be criticized’
‘Don’t take yourself so seriously’
‘Keep a goin’ and...
‘Don’t cha know? Everything’s Gonna Be Alright!’
8- What's next for you?
More songs, world tours. Thank you, Keane and Hipland. Love to you all.
Thanks for stopping by Hipland!