Dreaming big and dancing hard: An interview with MarchFourth

by Patty Templeton

Holy hot-brass and ass-shaking wow, MarchFourth is the freak-funk soundtrack of your boldest, best dreams. You know the dream I’m talking about, the one where you had to cut a tea time short with Funkadelic to go hang out with The Meters. But, hell and yes, the good news is you don’t have to only see them in said dreams – MarchFourth is playing a show at the Animas City Theatre on Friday, Feb. 16. The bad news? It’s sold out. If you shmooped about and didn’t grab tickets, you’re gonna have to dance to the faded thumps of fabulosity from the parking lot.

DGO spoke to John Averill, bandleader and bass player of MarchFourth, about confidence in creating and living life at a full-tilt boogie. Everyone’s got a secret wish with what they want to be doing with their time. Averill’s wish was for a life of music and, 15 years later, MarchFourth is still going strong. Averill opened up about leaving the job he trained for and jumping into a next-level life.

How do you know a good show is a good show? Being in the moment is magic. That makes a show special for me. If the band is tight and people aren’t making mistakes, it makes for a good show, but really the magic ingredient is the audience. When we put out energy and the audience gives back that energy right out of the gate, it is infectious.

What’s the importance of the performance side of the live show?When the band started off, it was this huge spectacle. The performers bought us time for the band to develop into a really good band. People were so wowed by the spectacle and the energy that it gave the band time to get really good.

We’re nearing a crossroads where the band is developing even more as a sonic experience and it will be interesting to see what we come up with for our performance side … It’s important to me that we are a dance band first that is accented by performance art.

What band would be a dream to open for?You know who would be rad to open for? Red Hot Chili Peppers. Those guys, I met a couple (of them) way back in the day. I lived in LA in the ’90s and used to go see them before “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” when they blew up. I was in college. I started learning the bass. I thought Flea was the bomb.

Is there a new album coming soon?We’re hoping to have at least an album’s worth of material recorded by the end of March. We’re doing this little tour, hopefully going to debut a few new songs, and then as soon as we get back, we are going back into the studio.

I think the plan is to release some singles and maybe an EP this year but release the full-length album in the beginning of 2019.

How do you compose music? What I really love now are voice notes on my iPhone. I have hundreds of them. It’s me going on a 5-minute ramble. I want to write stuff down, but I don’t write as fast as my brain works and, even though I can type quickly, I can’t turn on my computer and compose in the moment all the time. It’s easier just to say it … it’s documenting an idea and a moment. I come up with song ideas and ramble a melody out at 3 in the morning, and without that voice memo, I wouldn’t remember it the next day.

I don’t have a music degree. I don’t read or write music. I learned to play bass by ear, whereas pretty much every horn player in my band went to school and they can all read and write music. For the horn players in the band that are composers, if they have an idea, it comes out much more quickly because they know the theory behind writing for a horn section. For me it takes a lot longer.

What kinda job did you have before MarchFourth? I had a real job before I decided to do this. I was an animator and made good money. That job ended and that was the catalyst for this band. The way it ended, the entire company I worked for got laid off by Fox Television. That motivated me to never want to have a boss again. How MarchFourth came about was a couple different circumstances and one of them was that I decided at age 34 that I was going to jump into music and give up all these things that I had been trained to do and make money from because I wanted to do the thing that I loved the most.

Do you ever struggle with confidence in regard to your art?My confidence is tested every day. Is this band ever going to be successful in the way that I would like it to be? Am I a decent songwriter? What’s happening with us? All those things, but I think the key to the band existing is, don’t quit.

Starting a new career, let alone one in the arts in your mid-30s, would scare the hell out of a lot of folks. What would you say to someone about taking a later leap for a dream job?Well, I enjoy that I don’t have to report to somebody who can tell me whether or not I am employed anymore, but the grass isn’t necessarily greener. Most of my friends are already starting to look at inevitable retirement because they have done All The Right Things. But then I go visit them when we play in their towns and I feel like some seem to be 10 years older than me in terms of energy. I feel like following what I really want to do has kept me a lot younger than I otherwise might be. I feel like stress over time has an impact.

The key is really recognizing your individual self and what you uniquely have to contribute to the world. It’s finding your story, your path. If you want to put in the effort to follow your dream, then you should do it. We don’t know how much time we have left on this planet. I don’t think I’m here to just survive. There’s a lot more going on here about enlightenment and evolution.

Interview edited and condensed for clarity. Patty Templeton


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