Marcus King follows his Grammy-nominated debut with the new album Young Blood out on August 26th, 2022
Plugged into his old man’s dusty amp with a ’59 Les Paul in hand, Marcus King set out to make a rock ‘n’ roll record. He didn’t disguise his ambitions. He didn’t hold back. He didn’t think about anything but writing from the gut, shooting from the hip and playing straight from the heart.
The GRAMMY® Award-nominated artist, performer and songwriter created the kind of rock ‘n’ roll record that makes arenas and asses shake, and it’s called Young Blood [American Recordings / Republic Records / Snakefarm Records in the UK]. Joined by producer and frequent collaborator Dan Auerbach [The Black Keys], he ascends to another level with these 11 new tracks.
“Dan and I wanted to create a record with a big arena rock sound that we don’t really hear a lot now,” affirms Marcus. “We wanted tunes that were as big as the rooms we wanted to play in. We wanted them to be tough, so there aren’t many ballads. I was going through a lot during the album with addictions, breakups, and addictions because of breakups, so I was overindulging in everything. It was good to get it out in this way.”
Marcus was downright destined to play music. Growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, his first memory involved opening his dad’s guitar case and strumming the strings of an Epiphone El Dorado. By eight-years-old, he was performing alongside pops, grandpa and his uncles for the first time, rocking an instrumental rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’.
Logging thousands of miles on the road as The Marcus King Band, this fourth generation artist served up a series of fan-favourite records – ‘Soul Insight’ , ‘The Marcus King Band’  and ‘Carolina Confessions’ . During 2020, he linked up with Auerbach for the first time and cut his solo debut, ‘El Dorado’, garnering a GRAMMY® Award nomination in the category of ‘Best Americana Album’.
In addition to praise from NPR, American Songwriter and more, Rolling Stone christened it “excellent,” and Associated Press went so far as to claim, “El Dorado already stands out as a definite high point of 2020”.
In between packing out venues on his own, Marcus performed alongside Chris Stapleton, Greta Van Fleet and Nathanial Rateliff, as well as gracing the bills of Stagecoach, Fuji Rock, Rock Werchter and more.
His international tour footprint includes multiple sold out headline dates in the UK, EU, Australia and Japan. He’s established himself with unparalleled performance prowess and a dynamic live show, including his signature vocal delivery that’s equal parts grease and grit. Along the way, Marcus caught the attention of Rick Rubin and signed to American Recordings.
In 2021, he holed up in Auerbach’s studio for just six days and cut Young Blood. Under the influence of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Robin Trower, Grand Funk Railroad, Black Sabbath, Free and ZZ Top, he endeavoured to capture a “classic power trio sound”. At the same time, he nodded to favourite films such as GoodFellas and Raging Bull.
“We tried to make the music feel big, like you’re seeing it in a theatre,” he explains.
Meanwhile, Marcus explored his creative stride with Auerbach…
“We knew each other a lot better on this one,” he goes on. “I seldom disagree with Dan because I trust his ears and his approach. This was a whole different vibe for us. We cut everything live, including the vocals and the guitar. Dan works quickly, and the chemistry was there right from the start.”
Auerbach exclaims, “Music runs so deep in Marcus’ blood he might not even realise how born to do this he is. He probably does, but God, he’s the real deal. Marcus has Southern Soul as part of his foundation. If you’re going to play rock ‘n’ roll with Marcus, you have to understand that element. It’s just who he is. This record didn’t take a lot of pushing. We put the right people in the room and let them do their thing. These songs are live performances. The whole damn thing is live – the solos and everything. It’s so rare in this day and age.”
His incendiary playing and soulful singing light up the first single, ‘Hard Working Man’. A stomping riff gives way to unfettered wailing as his voice booms on the hook, “I’m a hard working man”.
“We tour 200-odd days of the year, and even when I’m home, I’m doing something,” Marcus says. “Working hard is just the way I was raised. It would make my grandfather proud to know that I’m a hard working man and that I’ve worked for everything I have. It’s an anthem for the people.”
Then there’s ‘Rescue Me’. The ominous guitar snakes around a simmering beat as Marcus opens up about a season of darkness and despair.
“It was a tough one to get through,” he sighs. “I was struggling and coming off some heavy days. I don’t think I’d slept for a week. I was concerned with how I felt, I needed someone to help me. I even called a doctor. I think I had a shot of Four Roses, and we finished the tune.”
Co-written with the legendary Desmond Child [Aerosmith], he confronts the darkest of thoughts over an organ-laden beat during ‘Blood On The Tracks’…
“It’s not a big secret to my friends that I was in a real rough place for a while, but I’m not now,” he confesses. “‘Blood On The Tracks’ symbolises getting on the train and leaving everything behind – or jumping in front of the train and leaving everything behind. Either way, it’s an escape.”
The opener ‘It’s Too Late’ storms out of the gate with a punchy riff and a swinging groove as he assures an ex, “I don’t have anything bad to say about you, but I don’t have anything good to say about you either – if you want to come back, it’s too late”.
Elsewhere, ‘Lie Lie Lie’ shuffles between towering riffing, wild soloing and a head-nodding hook.
As far as meaning goes, he reveals, “A lot of the songs are informed by a past relationship. It went very wrong, and it’s in my rear-view mirror now, but it was a source of inspiration”.
The album concludes on the raw guitar and vocal exorcism of ‘Blues Worse Than I Ever Had’.
“We have a soul, I think it’s located right in the pit of your stomach,” he muses. “I wish it was like a fish bowl so you could look in and see whatever my soul looks like that day. At the time, I’d changed medications. I was trying to process the death of family members because I was on the wrong medications. I was coasting through life like a zombie. When I was off them, I’d feel things that happened six months ago for the first time and just crash down.”
In the end, it’s this level of honesty that makes Marcus King’s rock ‘n’ roll as real as it gets.
“I always try to make a record you can clean the house to or demolish a house to,” he leaves off. “With this one, I hope you feel like you can fucking bulldoze a house – or bulldoze your ex’s house. I want you to feel like you’re ready to take on the day. I want you to feel absolved. I want you to feel ten pounds lighter and ready to make some good decisions. Or, hell, if you’ve made good decisions your whole life, maybe make a couple of bad ones. I want you to feel liberated like I did after I made it.”
Auerbach adds, “When I was 14, whenever I saw somebody play guitar in popular music, I was really interested no matter what. I can’t imagine being 14 and hearing this record. If you hear it, I hope you go, ‘Goddamn, this kid is amazing!’ I hope you go see it, because he will be in your town. It’s just a matter of time.”
GRAMMY® Award-nominated artist, performer and songwriter Marcus King was downright destined to play music. By eight-years-old, the fourth generation Greenville, South Carolina, native was performing alongside pops, grandpa and his uncles for the first time.
Logging thousands of miles on the road as The Marcus King Band, he established himself with unparalleled performance prowess plus a dynamic live show.
During 2020, he linked up with Dan Auerbach [The Black Keys] to cut his solo debut, El Dorado, garnering a GRAMMY® Award nomination in the category of ‘Best Americana Album’. In addition to praise from NPR, American Songwriter and more, Rolling Stone christened it “excellent”, and Associated Press went so far as to claim, “El Dorado already stands out as a definite high point of 2020”.
In between packing venues on his own, he performed alongside Chris Stapleton, Greta Van Fleet and Nathanial Rateliff, as well as gracing the bills of Stagecoach and more with one seismic show after another. Along the way, he caught the attention of Rick Rubin and signed to American Recordings.
Plugged into his old man’s dusty amp with a ’59 Les Paul in hand, Marcus set out to make a rock ‘n’ roll record in 2022. He didn’t disguise his ambitions. He didn’t hold back. He didn’t think about anything but writing from the gut, shooting from the hip and playing straight from the heart. Joined by Auerbach, he made the kind of rock ‘n’ roll record that makes arenas and asses shake, and it’s called ‘Young Blood’ [American Recordings / Republic Records / Snakefarm Records in the UK].