Jeshua Marshall interview
Jeshua Marshall is a Canadian songwriter with a history in playing and writing songs since his career was launched by an acoustic guitar gift at the age of 9. He set off to play in bands (Larry and his Flask, with his brother Jamin) and share stages with folks like Joshua Ray Walker, Willy Tea Taylor and more. Jeshua has a new album, The Flood. We had the chance the chat with him about the project and other ideas like the inspirational aspects of the elements we live with.
Americana Highways: On your solo debut, Shoot the Moon, the sound was a bit esoteric though it was still rooted in your punk-folk past of Larry and His Flask, the band you co-founded with your brother Jamin. For this new album, The Flood, your path seems a bit more jammy, digging deep into grooves. Is this style more of your own individual preference?
JM: Shoot The Moon was in all essence a studio album. I am very rooted in live performance but Covid and the lock down forced me to get more comfy in the studio and collaborate more than I have in the past. I leaned super heavily on Todd Rosenberg’s production expertise and musical direction. The Flood is much more a live band record. All the musicians on the Flood are the live band I’ve been playing with for almost a decade. We’ve had most of the parts and arrangements and energy for the songs written for years so it just naturally flowed out that way. We only took a couple takes per song for most of it.
AH: What were some of your inspirations for the new album, both songwriting-wise and in general?
JM: Years of life lived to be honest. Loss of friends and family, heart break, betrayal, addiction and big life changes. Some of the songs on this album I wrote almost 20 years ago. Some of them I wrote more recently. When I write I usually just sit and let whatever song is inside of me come out and then try to make sense of it later.
AH: Is guitar or upright bass (which you played in Flask) your first instrument?
JM: I played guitar a little before learning upright but I feel most comfortable behind an upright for sure but I love the freedom and challenge in playing guitar.
AH: What guitarists do you most admire?
JM: Honestly I just really dig simple rhythm guitar. Understated guitar playing is a neglected art form in this day and age. I am a fan of Johnny Cash’s simple guitar playing. For flashy innovative players I look to Django Reinhardt, Jimi Hendrix, Angelo DeBarre, Bombino.
AH: How about upright players?
JM: Esperanza Spalding, Edgar Myer, Charles Mingus, Ray Brown, Ron Carter.
AH: What bands?
JM: Gogol Bordello, Flogging Molly, The Devil Makes Three, Murder By Death.
AH: There’s a “water” theme throughout the album with 4 of the 10 song titles (“Water” “The Flood” “Agua Es Vida” “Wave”) invoking water-based imagery and the radio single “In a Dream” espousing the line, “Underneath the sea, I wait for you. In a dream.” What draws you to the majesty of water?
JM: Water is life. We don’t exist without it. Water both gives us life and can destroy. I was raised in a very Christian/doomsday style church that was all emphasizing on “The Flood” and the end times so that biblical wrathful god theme and imagery is ingrained in me.
AH: Why does it permeate the album?
JM: The album became an accidental concept album. I think I am going to continue the concept of elements into the next 3 albums. Fire being the next one I am working on.
AH: You co-produced The Flood with Todd Rosenberg. How did the collab work?
JM: Todd is a good friend and musical collaborator who I’ve been playing with for a few years now. He is a founding member of Mad Caddies, we originally met while doing shows together in Canada.
AH: Who did what?
JM: He engineered the entire album, mixed it and played drums on it and helped give musical direction and ideas.
AH: Were any songs written on the spot?
JM: Nothing was written in the studio but I wrote “In A Dream” after we thought the album was complete and called everyone back to the studio to record because I felt it needed to go on the album.
AH: What’s your favorite song on The Flood?
JM: I really love the energy of “Unbound,” “In a Dream” turned out incredible. I love what Davey Hemm brought to the table with his bass lines.
AH: Do you want to produce other artists in the future?
JM: Yes definitely. I have co-produced a bit and love helping folks turn an idea into a real thing.
AH: You wrote all of the songs on the new album with the exception of “Water,” the Willy Tea Taylor song. What drew you, to not only cover his song, but then have it be the lead track?
JM: Willy is like family to me. I have looked up to him as a song-writer since we met at an open mic in Stockton, California in 2008. I learned this song directly from him while playing bass on tour with him in Sweden.
AH: On your recent Western U.S. tour and Cascade Equinox Festival appearance, Jamin joined the run on drums/percussion which brought back some high-energy Flask magic. Any plans to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of LAHF this year or plans to do more shows with your brother?
JM: It’s so good to be re-united musically with him! I’ve had the honor to play with some amazing drummers over the years but there is just something so special about playing with family. Especially the drummer I learned to play music with. We will definitely be doing more shows together. As far as more Flask stuff we will just have to wait and see.
Thanks for talking with us, Jeshua Marshall.
Find his music here: https://orcd.co/erln0y6
Enjoy our review here: REVIEW: Jeshua Marshall “The Flood”
And our previous interview here: Interview: Jeshua Marshall of Larry and His Flask