The post Marcus King Breaks Down Dan Auerbach-Produced Album Young Blood Track by Track: Exclusive appeared first on Consequence.
With his new record, Marcus King doesn’t hold back — and the same can be said for how the artist discusses the album, too.
Young Blood, available today, August 26th via American Records/Republic, is a deeply personal body of work. It straddles the line of outlaw country and pure rock & roll, with each song being tethered together by King’s reflective spirit. Things haven’t been easy for the young singer-songwriter, who’s just 26.
The album unravels stories of addiction, terrible loss, and personal tragedy, and somehow comes out the other side still feeling hopeful. King explains that many of the demons plaguing him were left in his past. He’s in a new chapter; this album is the crux.
“It was important to me to leave something that was a hundred percent and unapologetically me,” King tells Consequence. Referring to some of his collaborators, like Desmond Child and producer Dan Auerbach, he shares, “Everyone came in with a completely blank slate, ready to listen and create something together.”
King will be hitting the road for a tour beginning in Philadelphia in September, stretching through the end of October, when the trek will wrap in New Orleans. Tickets can be secured via Ticketmaster.
Below, King breaks down the stories behind each song on his new album, Young Blood, track by track.
“It’s Too Late”:
“It’s Too Late” is a perfect way to open the record. It immediately showcases the musical prowess of the rhythm section and gives you an idea of what this record’s gonna be about. I honestly don’t remember writing it, as I was in such a bad place. Let’s just say I think this was the first tune I wrote with Angelo, and I love him terribly as a person and a writer. I’d been listening to a lot of hip-hop artists and I was inspired by some of their phrasing with the verses.
I wanted to do something a little bit different and that’s kind of how the groove was born. Also Hendrix, Cream, any of the groups with the power trio sound, that part came naturally and is part of this song.
“Lie Lie Lie”:
“Lie Lie Lie” started out as a tune called “heavy metal heart attack” that I wrote during the pandemic. We were playing it when we were out doing drive-in shows and socially-distanced shows and just wanted it to be this large riff type of tune. And I brought it in to Dan [Auerbach] and Dan said, “I really love it. Let’s give it a hook,” and Dan’s really good at putting hooks on tunes so that’s how the song was born.
Then we shifted it around a little bit and “Lie Lie Lie” is what came out. I think this is one of the least metaphoric tunes on the record, and probably the most I’ve ever gone straight for the jugular on my lyrics. It’s a little aggressive, but it’s how I was feeling, so you can hear a little bit of anger in the tune.
I was really not doing well when I wrote “Rescue Me.” I was hurting pretty bad and I was partying a lot, hadn’t slept in a few days maybe. I think we had written another tune earlier in the day when I was in a little bit more of a manic state. Then, when I kind of fell off into a depressive state, my hangover was a little bit worse than I’d usually experienced.
I thought maybe there was something wrong, medically, so I called a physician friend of mine and asked him about all the substances going through my system. “How should I go about this?” He advised me to take it easy and try to go slowly and not stop everything all at once. I went in and had a drink and wrote “Rescue Me.” I felt pretty helpless at the time.
I seem to remember when I came to the studio that day to write with Dan that it was just him and me, and it was early on in the writing process. He was like, “What are we writing about today? What are you feeling?” I was feeling a lot of pain at the time. Somebody referenced a song on a previous record of mine called “No Pain At All,” and this is the complete opposite of that.
Pain seems to be a recurring theme in my writing and in my life, up until now. I’m not experiencing it anymore. I’m thankful, too. It’s nice to be able to play that song and relive it and give all of myself to the audience through the song, but when I get off stage, I’m happy to be back in that positive place. It’s nice to have a reminder where you were. It makes you appreciate where you are.
“Good and Gone”:
This is the former to the latter that was “Rescue Me.” I was in a really manic state. It was earlier in the day, 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. I was like really riding whatever wave I was riding. As those two tracks were written in the same day, sonically, you can really hear the different energy.
I’m still kind of riding that manic feeling — you have this false arrogance, this false sense of energy. It’s allowed me to tap into that alter ego that I tap into live. I named him Leroy. Leroy allows me to have some confidence and this was more chemically influenced, but I was writing from that perspective. It was a little different. It was metaphoric, and an homage to the old blues artist that we loved. The story of “the back door man” is nothing new, but something about that swaggering idea of being somebody’s back door man is like this false sense of confidence like I mentioned.
At the same time, “Good and Gone,” I think that was the idea I’d been carrying around with a completely different meaning — the idea of not being around anymore, at all.
“Blood On The Tracks”:
This was the first song I wrote for the record, and it’s the first time I met or wrote with Desmond Child. Desmond is quite a personality, a character. I really loved the guy right from the jump, and to be honest, I wasn’t completely aware of his tenure or his track record. I became a fan of his from writing with him, cause he’s so on the money with his ideas. He is really particular with the way he works.
I lost my pen privileges, working with him, cause I fidgeted a lot and I was really manic. So I was clicking my pen a lot and he took my pen away from me and I said something and he said it was corny and that made Dan laugh and made me laugh. And it kind of set the tone for the record. I think starting with Desmond was completely intentional, from Dan’s perspective.
In terms of the theme of the song, it’s about how you could get on the train, leave town, get on the train or maybe just ahead of the train, lights out. It’s not the first time I’d alluded to suicide and suicidal thoughts. At the time, I was struggling with suicidal thoughts, really heavily. So, it’s good to be able to write. It is important to talk about it. Something like 73% of people in music or in the arts community struggle with some form of mental illness. I’m thankful to have music as an outlet, and I’m thankful to be talking about it openly and de-stigmatizing it and letting people be open and free to talk about it.
“Hard Working Man”:
I know we wrote that with Angelo, and, for me, it’s always been important to be hard working at whatever you do. If you love what you do, you should be willing to break a sweat for it. You should be willing to die for it. I think I’ve always really loved that. I thought it was a really romantic thought: To be so passionate about something that you’d be willing to die for it, because that’s how you feel about the love of your life. That’s how I feel about music.
If I couldn’t have music, I wouldn’t have any desire to be here. There’s nothing really, with the exception of my wife to be and my family, but if I couldn’t have music the trees wouldn’t be as green and the sky wouldn’t be as blue. So being a hardworking man is basically about getting home to your significant other or whoever I was seeing at the time. But if my grandfather was around today, he’d be happy to know that I was working hard.
Written during the pandemic, I initially wrote it with the original title “Calamity Jane.” Calamity Jane was one of the few Western gunslingers that was a woman. I started writing this song at a hotel room in Los Angeles in West Hollywood. I was with my girlfriend at the time and she had a way of using words in such a destructive way — they felt like a bullet. I think that analogy has been used a million times, but I’m like, “If you’re gonna shoot me down, you should aim high, so that it takes me out completely. Don’t let me lay here and bleed out. That seems even more sadistic. So if you’re pointing your gun at me, aim high and gimme right between the eyes. Make it quick.”
There’s definitely a Cream influence, and if you’ve got a Cream influence, there’s certainly gonna be a blues influence. I think Clapton may actually have a doctorate in the blues. I mean, he has a PhD as far as that’s concerned. That riff was a tip of the cap to Hendrix.
A few months before I started on the record, me and my girlfriend at the time were downtown standing at the Bobby Hotel right off of Printers Alley [in Nashville]. We went out drinking and we came back to stay and it was supposed to be a readmission of lust, or love, or whatever you want to call it. It was supposed to reignite some type of flame with a staycation in our hometown, and it really had the opposite effect. It reminded us of why this wasn’t working.
We got into a huge blow-up argument and I left to clear my head, and it was still pandemic-time. So it was midweek, nobody was out, but all the lights were on on Broadway. I was walking around Printers Alley and having a cigarette or two and clearing my mind, and when I came back up, I saw this faceless person. It really freaked me out — they had on a green hoodie, and I thought it might have been a homeless fella and I looked across the street, but when he turned his head, there was no face in the hood. It was just really freaky.
I think it was entirely a foreboding presence that was put into my life. I now know it was put into my life for a positive reason to kind of scare me into straightening out my act, but it had the opposite effect at the time. I saw it as an omen that death was coming soon, so you better live it up while you can.
The breakup happened shortly after, and once that happened, I was just like, fuck it, I guess I’m gonna lean all the way into this path. because death’s coming anyway, I saw it the other night. It was just me and this faceless figure. After that, everywhere I went, I’d hear “Free” on the radio or I’d watch a show and that’d be playing “Free.” Why the fuck do I keep hearing Paul Kossoff everywhere? I did a little bit of research and he died at 25. I was 25. I saw this presence that I knew was death and it all just felt very eerily serendipitous. It freaked me out. But luckily I found a beacon of light that pulled me out of that and reframed my way of thinking about that.
This song is pretty literal lyrically. I used to love somebody that didn’t love me back. She went out and she spent my money running around late at night. It’s basically just a good old tune about being with somebody selfish or somebody that didn’t really care about you. I wrote that from an angry place. I guess being the whisper is like just remember me as a memory because I won’t be here anymore in the physical, but it’s just another one that kind of alluded to where I was at emotionally. Dark thoughts all over this record.
“Blues Worse Than I Ever Had”:
This was written with Greg Cartwright. He came in and he had this whole theme about the blues, and me and Dan fell in love with that concept immediately and jumped on it. I wrote it on slide on the acoustic guitar, even though I usually steer away from “blues” at the fear of being pigeonholed. This song was too good to pass up — too natural.
A modern element is there, too, so you have some kind of stamp that allows people to know if they don’t know who you are. They’re like, is this an obscure artist from the seventies or is it someone I can buy a ticket for right now. To me, my only stamp that allows people to know that it is modern is lyrically, and the subject matter, I think with the exception of Hendrix, not a lot of people were talking about bipolar disorder or suicide — or maybe not as openly.