Brad Marr’s DIY approach to all things Massive is slowly reaping rewards. Rushonrock Editor Simon Rushworth caught up with the multi-talented Aussie ahead of the band’s latest run of British shows.
Rushonrock: You’re the booking agent, tour manager, driver and frontman again on your 22-date UK headline tour – do you find it a daunting prospect?
Brad Marr: I’d like to say it gets a bit easier every time but that’s not strictly true! If every tour we had a bigger team in our corner backing us from day one then it would become easier. I think. Then again we live and die by the old adage that if you want something doing right then you have to do it yourself! Each year I start booking the next tour while we’re still finishing the current one but that way I know things are sorted. There are always new challenges but for us the reward is that if it works then it’s down to us. And we didn’t die trying. We always manage to stand out the front after a gig and talk to our fans and people generally leave a Massive show with a smile on their faces. And if it ever gets to the point where the members of Massive are buying their own mansions in cash then they’ll deserve it – we’ve done all the hard work ourselves and we haven’t thrown a million bucks at a tour. We win or lose doing it our way and that’s not a bad place to be in.
ROR: As the multi-tasking TM, van driver, booking agent and PR man is the time on stage at the end of the night the reward for everything else you do?
BM: That’s the best – and the easiest – part of what I do. We’re a pretty tight band and we don’t really rehearse any more. So when we’re on stage it’s so relaxed and so much fun. It’s all about switching off from all of the stress that’s part and parcel of being in a band!
ROR: Describe a typical day in the life of Massive’s main man…
BM: Well on the last tour I did all of the driving for starters so I’d plan the routes and cost up the petrol – that sort of stuff. We have a lot of friends all over the UK now and they give up their couches for us when they can. Once we know who can accommodate us where we check the hotel bookings. We play almost every day so there’s no time off – most of this stuff is done in the van on the road. We’ve been known to do 15 shoes in a row if it works with the schedule! So a typical day will start at around 10am and we’ll drive three or four hours to where we need to be. During that time we’re probably confirming all of the ticket sales and guest lists for that evening’s show. We’ll normally soundcheck at the venue around 4pm and try to grab something to eat around the same time. One of the guys will probably go to the hotel, check in and grab the keys if we don’t have a couch that night. Someone will be in charge of checking the gear, someone will be setting up the merch stand and someone will be making sure everything’s ok with the venue. We’ll basically be working from 10am until after we load out at the end of the show. We never get the sleep in between cities that you’d get on a tour bus or if someone was driving us. It’s a full-time job but, like I said before, it’s our full-time job and we’re not relying on anyone else to get things right. Everything’s on us.
ROR: Do you expect more bands to go down the DIY route?
BM: A lot of bands are already doing it. And doing it all. But our situation is different because we’re an Australian band looking to make it big in the UK. If we didn’t do everything ourselves then we couldn’t afford to tour. That’s the truth. I’m living in Germany but the other guys are still based in Australia so every time we want to get together there’s a cost involved. But more bands should follow suit. It’s always best to be the master of your own destiny if that’s possible. Whatever you do for a job you should make it a priority to understand the ins and outs of your industry. If you’re leaving the daily grind to a manager then things will be tough when that manager suddenly ups and leaves. But if you know what the job of a tour manager and booking agent entails then it will stand you in good stead however big or small your band may be. But if you’re only interested in playing an instrument then there’s trouble ahead. My advice to anyone in a band is to learn the industry inside out. If ore musicians did that then the music industry would be in much better shape.
ROR: What’s the story behind the Rebuild Destroy album title?
BM: It’s very much a story of the band from start to finish. It all relates to what we’ve just been talking about. In 2016 we had a big team of people promising us the world. We were told we’d be touring with Clutch and Steel Panther and gigging across the US. That all went to shit straight away. It fell apart on day one when the first two weeks of our shows were cancelled. We bought a van and that broke down. We just didn’t have the money to have a two-week holiday before we’d even done any work! It just snowballed from there. We’d told everyome back home that we were going to relocate to Europe but within 60 days we were looking at flights back to Oz. We headed home with our tails between our legs and just didn’t do anything for a few weeks. But the only thing that saved the band was that we started getting offers to play shows in Europe and the UK and we couldn’t, in all fairness to ourselves or our fans, turn those shows down. We started writing songs and came back over and that tour – which was the first we did ourselves – was so good for so many reasons. We’d had all of these people supposedly in our corner but as soon as we took over everything seemed so much better.
ROR: Are you disappointed with the way it worked out with Earache?
BM: I have nothing against Earache. We were just victims of circumstance. The press for the first album was huge but for the second record it was nowhere near. First time around we were front page news at Classic Rock Magazine and then suddenly we were a footnote on page 50. The promotion around the second album just never got going. Naturally the second record didn’t sell as well. At the same time our release was sandwiched in between new records by Rival Sons and Blackberry Smoke and so they were always going to take priority as far as the label was concerned. Our booking agent didn’t have time for us any more – and why would he – and so it all just fell apart. But for both ourselves and Earache a fresh start was the best thing. We’d signed a five-album deal with them but splitting after two records was the right thing for both parties. It was time to go our separate ways.
ROR: You’ve found a new home with Off Yer Rocka – the team behind the Hard Rock Hell festivals – and how’s that working out?
BM: We shopped around but in the end who do you trust? We went with the people who are fans of the band, first and foremost. Off Yer Rocka are a small label but they’re rock fans and they’re fans of Massive. That means a lot. It’s better to go with someone who’s in your corner because they like you. It’s simple enough. They’ve helped us out a lot already.
ROR: Of the new songs which are in the running to make the live set on the UK tour?
BM: We did 15 or 16 shows in Australia – a few of our own and some supporting Living Colour – and that was a chance to road test some new tunes. We’ve learnt how to play Rebuild Destroy live and although that may sound pretty trivial it’s very different playing songs live compared to laying them down in the studio. We’re figuring out the songs that work better live and those that don’t. Including the European dates, the summer 2019 tour is around 40 dates and I’d say that within the first five we’ll have nailed the new songs which belong in the live set. It looks like we’ll be kicking things off with Generation Riot as it’s a perfect show starter and after that…come along to the show to find out!
ROR: What song means the most to you on Rebuild Destroy and why?
BM: They’re all my babies but I guess Roses is particularly special. It was one of those songs that when I wrote it I just went ‘shit yeah, this is what I like’. Musically and lyrically it just all fitted with how things were at the time. All of my lyrics have a story behind them and Roses is no different but it’s a very special story. We played the song on tour last year and it felt really good live. It’s been a staple of our set for a while already.
ROR: You’re settled in Germany and you’re a first-time father – has that changed you?
BM: It’s definitely changed my attitude to a lot of things. Anyone who says that fatherhood doesn’t change them is a liar. I have more of a determination to do things and do them well. Now there’s a reason to succeed instead of just playing music. If I don’t succeed it’s not just me who will be affected. And I can’t just go out on the road for a thousand days without considering the implications and the impact. The last tour was hard because my son was only six months and it seemed like he changed so much every time I saw him. I’m a first-time dad so everything is a learning curve. But I think I’ve found a good balance.
ROR: And how is life in Germany?
BM: It’s a nice country but of course it’s hard to relate to the culture. I do my best. And I’ve gone back to school. The original plan was for all of the band to relocate here but then everything happened with the label and the other guys went home. But I met a girl, we had a son and the rest is history. Germany is my home now. There are some kickass bands on the local scene and I’ll still go out and watch live music when bands come over here from England or wherever. I’m still a music fan at heart and wherever I am in the world that doesn’t change.
Massive’s UK tour kicks off at the SOS Festival this weekend before a string of headline shows