For those of you who don’t remember, Andrew Marks is a touring acoustic singer-songwriter with an big touring schedule and an even bigger college fan base. From appearances in coffee shops and clubs across the country to features on college radio/television – even having one of his songs in the indie film The White Year – Marks’ emotionally valid lyrics and musical depth have made him more than desirable.
With desire comes demand, and with that demand comes long hours driving in the car, as I learned when Marks settled onto one of the couches in the Cougar’s Den, a hot cup of tea in his hands. Just the night before his performance at Misericordia, he had played a set in New Hampshire, and the exhaustion was just beginning to show. In spite of how tired he seemed, the entirety of touring and traveling remained very important to him.
“I know there are a lot of things that are really good. Personally, it’s the ability to play music in front of people at all the different places. Um, I mean, just the whole experience as far as the time you spend by yourself traveling. It’s really inspiring in itself and meeting people is great,” he said.
However, it isn’t the ability to play in front of people that he finds to be the most rewarding part of touring as I later learned.
“Just being able to mix it up a little bit, play songs that people know, then I try to slip in my own songs. Just the chance that you play your own music and hope that somebody’s listening – somebody’s maybe getting something out of it. You know, having an effect on somebody”. he said “When you write a song, you kind of put yourself out there. It’s like a piece of you and to see that somebody’s like… That they take that and they listen to it, and they’re into it. Or they just hear it once. It’s kind of interesting to have a piece of you seen or heard by somebody else. It’s a neat feeling.”
What a neat feeling it is. Marks, who originally began as a drummer in high school, only turned to playing guitar and singing leisurely over the last few years. This experimentation naturally turned into more as he started to write his own music, an endeavor that he gets a great deal out of emotionally.
“I try to capture the way that I feel like when I listen to somebody’s music – artists I’m really into. I want to have that effect, like, on somebody else.” He said “I don’t know if I accomplish that or anything or not but that’s what I want. When I listen to music that I’m really into, that I love, I get a lot out of it. It can be overwhelming, it can be very sad.. And it’s that feeling. And I just kind of chase that feeling when I write something, and it might have that same effect on someone else.”
Just like his music has an effect on others, his writing has a similar effect on him. Marks often draws on personal elements in his writing – some more emotional than others – as he went on to tell me.
“[I identify with] One of the more recent songs I’ve written and it’s called “Come Home”. It’s a very short and it’s a very simple but it’s.. for me, you can listen to it, but it has that feeling where it totally.. it can overwhelm me, and I don’t think any of my songs have ever done that. And I’m not saying that it’s worthy of being overwhelmed but.. it’s definitely a very personal song about losing somebody. I say by far it’s my song that I have the biggest connection with, I’d say.” he said
With his own personal investment in his music, Marks emphasized the importance of other musicians be true to themselves, which is a lesson that he continues to learn regularly.
“The most valuable thing I think I’ve taken from playing is, um, you really can’t worry all that much about trying to – now this sounds cliché – please everyone. You can’t really worry so much to try to appeal to every single person,” he said, “You’ll never, and I’m still learning this, you’ll never really find what kind of musician you want to be, what kind of artists you want to be. You spend too much time trying to be what you think other people would really be into. You can drive yourself crazy. So, I’m still learning to kind of stay true to myself as far as if my music doesn’t reach certain people. It’s okay, you know? And I think that’s important. You can spend a lot of time trying to be someone who can please everybody, or appeal to everybody.”