Since moving out of their homes in Reno, Nevada and setting out on their two-month stint on the road began back in May, Marion Walker’s tour has experienced a couple of unfortunate events. For starters, an electrical issue that forced them to cancel the first out of town show. When they finally diagnosed the problem, they were able to do enough to get them rolling again. During a stop in Austin, Texas, the members of the band came into the town unaware that they were entering in one of the most torrential thunderstorms in the city’s history. While the group was able to leave town before the worst of the damage, they had friends of friends that weren’t so lucky. One of the members of the band, vocalist/guitarist Kyle Akins, spoke about a story that involved a group of teens staying out late due to it being their prom night. The steady rainfall started to grow more intense on the road; trapping one of the teens inside her car. Frightened and unsure as to what to do, the young girl calls her father for help. As he instructed his daughter on what to do, he sees the line drops. The young girl’s phone dies and went missing. When retelling the story, you can hear the suffering that Akins still has lingering.
“So tragic”, he says softly.
While most would start to consider this being a sign to pack on up and cancel the rest of the shows, Marion Walker have an unwavering desire to continue on. The 3-piece ensemble had about twenty minutes left to drive before they’d stop for the night. Tonight’s set will be performed at Tree House Lounge in Washington, D.C. In the meantime, the band have stopped at a nearby rest stop when we began our conversation. While the tour as a whole has been going well, the beginning stages of it tell a much different story. When explaining it, Akins summed it up by referencing a quote from the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre:
“Mercury has just went into retrograde.”
In 2012, Akins was throwing around the idea of doing experimental dance music when he was introduced to Jessie Smith by one of his musician friends. When she was a kid, Smith mentions that she would get ribbed by her parents because she would climb all over everything. Once she got really into dancing in high school, she knew that it was something that she wanted to be serious about long term. After seventeen years of dancing, Smith’s resume is full of accolades; owning her dance company titled Dead Bird Movement, choreographing for Seattle art/theater group Saint Genet, and dancing with Seattle choreographer Dayna Hanson. The duo immediately hit it off and soon began putting some music together. Smith choreographed the group’s recent video “We Won’t Be In Love Much Longer.” Filmed with no crew in the foggy Florida forests, Smith and Akins had to discover different ways of thinking about making the video.
“It’s all photo stills…we had to figure it a way to make the shots interesting using a tripod,” Akins explained. “In each frame in the video is actually four or five seconds of movement. We had the shutter open and we were experimenting with light exposure. If you watched the video in real time, it would be about thirty minutes long.” Akins added that 36,000 photos were taken during the video shoot, while only 2400 are used.
Musically, the early recordings of Marion Walker showcased a folksy sound; focusing on the music being pushed to be intimate. Now with their upcoming EP Serious Picnic was released on June 23rd, the band switches gears towards exploring a more psychedelic rock sound. The 3-song, 11-minute and 11-second EP is a machine that is heavy on the reverb and features a beautifully interwoven mixture of Akins and Smith’s vocals. The writing sessions began back in June of last year in Asheville, North Carolina while Smith was performing a dance show. The tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri with the death of Michael Brown navigated Marion Walker into a collective stream of consciousness. Now meant to be consumed in its entirety, the opener “Seriously,” a haunting fuzzed out opus. Straight into the churning “Silver Drone”, “Volunteers” finishes the EP strong.
In the later stages this summer, Marion Walker will start prepping for what could possibly be a full-length. With a few weeks left to go on the road, Marion Walker will spend some time with family down in Florida once their latest leg comes to an end. Time that they deserve to have, no question.