Look for Atlanta based folk rock artist, The Tin Man (Marshall Seese), to release his forthcoming EP, Too Many Lines, in March and listen to the current single "Please Don't Let Me Go".
What got you interested in music and why choose to leave the corporate world for music?
Marshall Seese: Well, let's see, where to start. As far as what got me interested in music, I grew up in a semi-musical household, meaning my mom was a vocal major in college and always sang in church and made sure to get me involved in piano at a very young age. That led to church musicals and chorus in middle school and music's always been a part of my life and that just continued to mature into other instruments and, eventually, songwriting. As far as why I left the corporate world, it's one of those things where you reach the breaking point and, at first, it seems like it's so hard to leave and you're clinging to what's familiar and then you reach a point of just knowing it's not what you're supposed to be doing and, all of a sudden, it becomes almost impossible to continue doing what you're doing and, once it hits that point, you gotta pull the ripcord.
Obviously there's a Wizard of Oz tie-in, but where does your moniker, The Tin Man, come from?
I've written songs and played music for a long time; it's always been my professional hobby, even when I was in the corporate world, but the songs were always lacking something and you can almost say they were lacking heart. I think I just wasn't connecting with my own music in a really powerful way; that didn't stop me from writing, didn't stop me from playing, but, eventually, in early 2014, I went through some corporate and romantic trials and tribulations that I think rocked me at a core deeper than I'd ever been rocked before and it started bringing up music unlike anything I'd written before. It was certainly darker, from a lyrical perspective, but it was some stuff that I was connecting with at a level I had honestly never connected my own music with before. I was so passionate about it and even my friends could see the difference, so when I started to want to play those songs out at the clubs I played and I didn't want to do it under my name, which is what I'd been performing under before, because it felt like this was something new and I wanted to reinvent myself a little bit, because I basically had reinvented myself, and I knew I wanted a moniker that wasn't just my name. It's also kind of very awkward when people ask you what band you're in and you have to tell them your name [laughs]. So, I was just trying to think of something that I felt represented the music and would give people a hint of what it might be.
I've always thought the greatest band name in the world would be 'The Lions' and it's mind-boggling to me that there's not a band out there called The Lions, but I think every musician respects the fact that, if you're going to call yourself The Lions, you better be the best damn rock band that's ever graced the face of the planet. So, I was thinking about the word 'lion' which led me down The Wizard Of Oz path and I was like, 'oh, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, Dorothy, and holy shit the Tin Man'. I was like, 'I embody the Tin Man'. I felt like I was on a quest for a new heart and I felt I found that in this new music.
Which artists or bands have you been influenced by?
Reaching deep into the archives, I grew up on The Beach Boys. A lot of my friends' parents had record collections they really envied, my parents did not have a record collection I really envied [laughs] but for some things in particular; Paul Simon and The Beach Boys, which they had a lot of and I looked to a lot growing up. So, melody and harmony have always rung true to me as something that I look for in all the music I listen to, so those are huge early influences. I then got really obsessed with R.E.M. through the majority of high school and owned all of their records up to a large point in time. More recent, John Mayer came out of Atlanta and so I knew about him - as did most folks here - well before he had any sort of notoriety and that definitely played a role. Today, if you listen to my Spotify playlist, you're going to hear a lot of folk, a lot of folk rock, a lot of ambient stuff. My tastes run the gamut, but it always kind of comes back to melody for me.
Is there an artist you're hooked on now?
Yeah, there's a few. I would say that the one I'm really into now is RHODES, from the UK, and he just released his first LP called Wishes a few months back, but it's really just emotionally powerful stuff.
Which words would you use to describe your own sound?
It's almost like anthemic folk [laughs]. I think most people, when they think of folk, they think Bob Dylan or acoustic guitar, singer-songwriter, folk festivals, and my stuff is driven primarily by hollow body electric guitar however, I think it still holds true to the folk roots and the emotions and the stories that come out in the lyrics, but the production gives it this epic, anthemic quality to it.
What was the inspiration behind your single, "Please Don't Let Me Go"?
So, when I went through the business and romantic trauma, I went to Northern Spain and I hiked the Camino de Santiago for a couple weeks, which was an amazing life-shifting, perspective-shifting experience. I brought my backpack guitar with me thinking I was just going to be a songwriting machine for two weeks and, in reality, I only ended up writing like one and a half songs and "Please Don't Let Me Go" was one of them. I remember it was kind of in the middle of the trip and it was one of those beautiful cities I'd been to called O Cebreiro, the highest point on the Camino - you can see, literally, for many, many, many miles and it's a 360 degree view - and I was sitting on top of this mountaintop playing with these chords and I tuned my guitar into an alternate tuning I never really used to play with and just came up with the groove. A lot of times when I'm writing, when I have a musical groove like that, I'll just start singing gibberish and the reason I sing gibberish is because that's when my subconscious starts to speak and so "Please Don't Let Me Go" came out; I just started singing it and when I examined that it was very clear that that was my heart kind of talking to the girl who had broken up with me. We were still kind of talking, we were still in touch, and it felt like there was a chance that it wouldn't completely end and it was a plea to her to not let me go because I felt her doing that; I could feel it emotionally, even though I was in another country I could feel her really letting me go. So that's what inspired the song.
That's off your forthcoming EP, Too Many Lines, could you tell us more about that?
Yeah, so I'm not one of those artists where every song sounds the same, if anything I battle the exact opposite problem [laughs] where every song sounds different and I think Billy Hume, the producer, did a really phenomenal job of taking five songs that could sound wildly different and really kind of create these beautiful, intertwining elements, either sonically or tied in by my voice and the harmonies that really makes it work as a cohesive EP, despite the fact that each song really has its own personality. Each song is going to stand out for different reasons, but it will all be tied together by my guitar sound - which is a very particular tone that I've crafted over the last few years - my voice, the harmonies, and you'll hear a lot of strings on it, again with that anthemic, epic. You're going to be imagining some movie scenes when you listen to it [laughs].
Do you have a favorite track from that EP, one you're most excited for your fans to hear?
Ooh, I am really excited for people to hear "Already Gone", which will be the next single that we put out. It's interesting because I think it's one of the most relatable, I think it's a situation that every single person in the world has been in and, from an artistic perspective, I took a song that has its own pop catchiness to it and it just felt like it needed this intro; there's actually a one minute long instrumental introduction to the song that, on the album, will be one long track but, on iTunes, you will be able to purchase the single separately, too, just in case you want to cut to the chase.
What do you hope your listeners are able to take away from your music?
I hope that they take away a sense of hope and a sense of acceptance for whatever pain or struggles they might be going through in their own lives. One of the things I learned when I was in Spain that changed my perspective is, I used to think that happiness was eliminating all the struggle and all the pain from my life and what I realized after 14 days of my feet never getting used to walking 13 miles a day, it was that the pain in life is a part of life, it never goes away and there's always going to be some type of pain there, but you can't let that distract you from the incredible beauty that we're surrounded by everyday. Hopefully people hear that in the music.