Daughters’ Alexis Marshall talks 10 songs that inspired his debut solo album
Daughters vocalist Alexis Marshall releases his debut solo album House of Lull . House of When on Sargent House this week (pre-order). Two songs are out from it now (and a non-album single), and as you can hear on those songs, House has a similarly gothy vibe to Daughters' great 2018 comeback album You Won't Get What You Want, but Alexis takes things in a few different directions too. To get a feel for the vibe Alexis was going for on this album, we asked him about the music that inspired it, and he made us a list of 10 songs, from Nick Cave to Scott Walker to Nico to Swans to Suicide and more. Read on for what he had to say...
10 SONGS THAT INFLUENCED ALEXIS MARSHALL'S DEBUT SOLO ALBUM
Nick Cave ‘Avalanche’
When I spoke with my producer, Seth Manchester, about music references, ‘Avalanche’ was the drum sound I was looking for. The messy, wet-paper-bag vibe was the primary motivation to create a rather ugly Frankenstein’s monster drum setup. I genuinely prefer Cave’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s classic ‘Avalanche’ to the original for several reasons. The most striking being Cave’s ability to take Cohen’s tale of the wounded man and, with vocal delivery alone, darken it to the aggression of a vengeful, venomous serpent. The protagonist goes from sympathetic and lovelorn to terrifying and dangerous.
Consumer Electronics ‘Condition of a Hole’
“Repetition, repetition. Condition of a hole.” That line runs through my head at random times. There is something striking there. The misplaced rhyme at the entry of the second line is brilliant. If unintentional, so be it. I thought a lot about that particular line while writing the lyrics and it was quite motivating. So much about Consumer Electronics captivates me. Everything feels direct and deadly sharp.
Giancinto Scelsi ‘Aion: IV-‘
I found Scelsi quite unintentionally. I think it was related to some Schnittke piece I was listening to, but I can’t be sure. The song became another reference point I sent to Seth and was especially useful during the writing of ‘Drink From the Oceans, Nothing Can Harm You’. There is a wondrous feeling to this song that tells me: everything is perfectly fine in its wrong place.
Scott Walker ‘Bolivia ‘95’
Walker is, more than any other, the one artist who makes me feel comfortable writing whatever it is I am thinking / feeling. ‘Bolivia ‘95’, to me, is a long journey through night, into day, back into night. All false hope. The death of altruism. No saviors. I snuck a variation of a line from this song into ‘House of Lull’ as a tribute to the man.
Nico ‘Ari’s Song’
The staggered fluidity of this song fed me throughout the writing and recording process. Gently reminding me nothing needs to be perfect. The songs do not need to be a comfort. My voice does not need to be in tune, on time, appropriate. A true manifestation of grace. Nico has likely inspired me far more than even I realize.
Einsturzende Neubauten ‘Ich Bin’
Although I enjoy the studio version of ‘Ich Bin’, their live performance for Rockpalast in 1990 fucks me up. The performance feels vastly different than the recording, particularly giving off a strange sense of physical space. The space for my fingers to dig in and become involved. I do not know how else to describe it. Clearly the work of EN is prevalent throughout ‘House of Lull’.
Swans ‘Right Wrong’
‘Filth’ is arguably a masterpiece. Punishing, pummeling, unrelenting, fucking ferocious. Thankfully absent of the heavy metal bells and whistles one associates with “heavy” music. Perhaps day three of recording, during breakfast, Jon, Evan and I were listening to ‘Right Wrong’ when I commented on the power of the song. We finished eating then put down the base for ‘Hounds in the Abyss’. A direct example of the ability of art to inspire art.
Suicide ‘Frankie Teardrop’
It takes all of ten minutes to tell us Frankie, who works in a factory, shoots his wife and kid because “things are just too hard.” Minimal song structure. Few changes. Simple story telling. No fat. No hullabaloo. Alan Vega takes what could be a loss, in less capable hands, and creates a disturbing, intense narrative over a droning backdrop of distant, yet impending calamity. This is a song that reminded me I can do a lot with a little.
Glenn Branca ‘Symphony Number 6: Third Movement’
The moments when I felt disconnected and unsure of the work I was doing, when I thought I was stuck vocally and / or lyrically, I played this song in my head. There is something here that prepares me to run through walls. The drive of the drums and guitar. Not even suggestive, but demanding. The minor changes give the impression something else is lurking, then leaves you. I was very interested in creating that feeling myself. Create a space, lurk within, imply a destination, but keep the listener in one disquieting place. Probably the worst way to make popular music.
Public Image Ltd. ‘Banging the Door’
My desire to sing with the drums, as opposed to having any consideration for melody, can likely be traced to my love for PiL’s album ‘The Flowers of Romance’. I am a rotten salesman, but believe me when I say: if you like the Sex Pistols more than you like PiL, you will not like ‘House of Lull . House of When’.
House of Lull. House of When drops July 23 via Sargent House.