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The Mars McClanes: “We’re more in the winter-is-coming mode right now”

How do I describe The Mars McClanes? Based in Portland, I think it’s fair to say that they have a rather unique and eclectic sound. You’re never too sure what you’re going to get from them sonically, but that’s one of the beauties of following this talented band. And follow them we have…for quite some time now.

Keen to get to know them better, I was stoked when they agreed to an interview! Chatting with us about their alternative-country roots, what they’d change about the industry if they could, and who they would love to collaborate with, please give a big welcome to our friends The Mars McClanes!

Welcome guys, it’s great to finally chat with you after having followed your work for quite some time now. Let’s kick things off with an easy one…Who are The Mars McClanes and when did your respective musical journeys take flight?

The Mars McClanes are a band – originally from Dallas – with Alt-Country roots, but we’re easily distracted by other genres. Relocating to Portland, Oregon, did nothing to curb our experimentation problem.

‘Be Still’ was a tune that I really fell completely in love with. Warm, poignant, dynamic, superb! What does the song mean to you and do you remember its “birth” so to speak?

‘Be Still’ is one of those songs we recorded for ourselves, with no intention of releasing it. But it felt like the perfect sonic palate reset to put out in between the dark, Latin-infused confessional of ‘Wild & Green’ and our frenetic take on Garbage’s ‘Only Happy When It Rains’. Someone likened ‘Be Still’ to an interstellar folk song – they were surprised to learn it’s about taking care of a hungover partner. Sorry to bust the illusion.

You’ve described your latest single ‘Until You Lose’ as “the heaviest thing we’ve done since 2022’s ‘The Liar'”. What prompted the shift to a heavier and more intense direction?

The volume-at-eleven cynicism in ‘Until You Lose’ just felt right for this year’s moment. We have a shinier optimistic side – evident on tracks like ‘Wherever You Go’ – but the news feed this year made it hard to mine that particular vein. So we’re more in the winter-is-coming mode right now.

Who would you put down as some of the band’s biggest musical influences?

Top of the list: Old 97’s. Every record since the late 90s has been a masterclass in songwriting. And the sound is unique but very Texan, so it hits our roots. Honourable mention: Bob Schneider, Radney Foster, The Samples, boygenius, and the coolest band everybody forgot…Chagall Guevara.

What is one thing about the music industry that you would change if you had the power to?

After spending some time in Nashville…session musicians should have more long-term compensation for their work. Half of the songs we all love would have sucked without them.

Which of your lyrics would you like to see printed on a T-shirt?

Referencing the track ‘Wherever You Go’, we’re playing with the idea of a shirt that says, “We’s Up, I’s Down.”

If you were allowed to collaborate with any musician or band, who would you choose and why?

Andy Sheldon of The Samples. Listening to ‘The Last Drag’ taught us how to play bass in a way that propels the song while supporting the other elements. And his lyrical perspective is pure originality…check out ‘Prophet of Doom’. After catching him live with The Samples in 2023, I can confirm he’s still killin’ it.

Thanks so much for chatting with us guys! It’s been so great getting to know you a bit better! Just before we let you go, what comes next for the band?

Thanks! We’ve been writing our faces off recently, and can’t wait to drop a bunch of new oddball tracks in 2024.


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We also write about the music industry, the creative process, and modern culture. We tell stories and occasionally have strong opinions about art.


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