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The Rock Train Goes to Marseilles and Gets All Arty

Written by on 4th February 2012

Well when I say we went to Marseilles we actually meant we went to Grimsby. Why Grimsby? The Rock Train went to see the world famous Neil Buchanan from TV phenomenon Art Attack. But what has Marseilles got to do with Grimsby, i hear you say. It turns out that Marseilles is a band that Neil Buchanan formed with school friend Andy Charters and 3 other friends way back in 1976.

They were playing at Yardbirds in Grimsby and we had arranged to talk to the band backstage before their show.

Marseilles started out playing alongside bands such as Def Leppard, Saxon, Nazareth, UFO and enjoyed equivalent success in the early years. Whlist on tour in the USA Marseilles’ record label and management went bust and the lads found themselves without any equipment and endured a 2 year legal battle to clear themselves from the mess that ensued.

By this time the bands that they had risen with (UFO, Saxon, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden etc) had gone on to bigger and better things and Marseilles found themselves forgotten about by the music press and so the lads all went their separate ways.

Neil told the Rock Train, ‘We weren’t as much left on the perch. The perch was taken away from us’.

Andy Charters went to live in the States and Neil Buchanan found himself working in TV. He went on to devise and star in Art Attack! which became successful around the world and won 2 BAFTAs. After taking Art Attack! as far as he could, Neil left the TV world behind to concentrate his time to his own art and his main passion, rock music and of course, his band Marseilles.

Andy and Neil tell us how they got the 5 original members back together for ‘an old boys reunion for a laugh’. The other 3 enjoyed the brief get-together but Andy and Neil tell us how they ‘had been bitten by the bug’ and decided to continue with Marseilles and see where it would take them.

They recruited Nige Morris, founder of Extreme Radio as lead singer. Nige was himself a Marseilles fan back in the late 1970’s and they were the first band he ever saw play. He tells us how it felt to meet his heroes and ending up joining their band.

To set the scene for the interview, Yardbirds is a rock club and many great bands play there all year round. Backstage there is a generous sized dressing room with a door leading to what can only be described as a dormitory with half a dozen beds and bunk beds for tired rockers to kip after their shows. The interview took place with Sam and Kev sat on one bed, and Neil Buchanan, Andy Charters and Nige Morris sat on the bed opposite.

Phil Ireland (from band Exit State), the guest bass player, was sitting on the floor at the end of the bed and a voice you will hear near the end of the interview is drummer Ace Finchum who admits he had never heard of Art Attack! before meeting Neil.

So when you listen to the interview, imagine the surreal situation of Siren FM’s own Kev and Sam sitting on a bed with a global TV superstar and his bandmates.

Would Marseilles  have been as big as Saxon and Iron Maiden if their record company had stayed trouble free? We will never know. But having spoken to Neil and Andy their passion  for Marseilles is as strong as ever. Their gig was amazing. They can really rock and Neil Buchanan is a lead guitarist who can shred it with the best of them.

Marseilles released an album called ‘Unfinished Business’ which shows that they can still write and play great rock songs. They are working on new material and will be playing more shows and festivals in 2012. Check them out. You won’t be disappointed.

Check out their website  here.

The extended interview which includes some great tracks from their album ‘Unfinished Business’ with Marseilles goes out on air during Show 10 of The Rock Train Thursday 9th Feb 2012 8pm til 10pm and repeats on Saturday 11th Feb 7 til 9pm.

Marseilles when they were starting out

Sammy from The Rock Train with Neil Buchanan

Reader's opinions
  1. Sam   On   7th February 2012 at 12:08 pm

    A fantastic write-up and something that our young journalists will be following up with an article too.

    Will you be able to send a copy of the full audio interview to us. If we pull some quotes from it we’ll of course link back to this page/your website.


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