New Interview + Song Debut: Whit Murray and Thomas Galloway of Maradeen September 15, 2015 13:09
We recently caught up with Whit Murray and Thomas Galloway of Maradeen, one of Nashville's hottest young rock groups. In just their second year, the band has quickly progressed from small local bars to well-known music venues across the Southeast. The band's debut album, Mirage, drops next Tuesday (September 22nd), and we couldn't be more excited to debut the albums opening track, "She Treat Me Like a Real Man" here in this interview.
Let’s start off by talking about the recent birth of Maradeen. Did you guys have much experience playing together before then? Tell me about that first gig.
Whit: Thomas and I were in a band called Mama’s Love out of Athens, GA from 2009-2012. I left the band to pursue a music degree up in Boston and Thomas continued on. We used to exchange shows with this band Afro out of Nashville. Their keys player Kaitlyn and I started jamming in Nashville and she brought Sterling along to play bass. I had met our drummer Russ Garner at a local jam in town and when the 4 of us linked up, the music came together really quickly.
Then Thomas moved to Nashville in October and he and I started writing songs. After about 3 months, we had written an album's worth and I invited him to sit in with us at one of our shows in January and he’s still coming back! Having two guitars, three lead vocalists, and three part harmonies really brought what we’d been creating to life and added a whole new level of excitement.
There was no denying that the first full gig we played, we sounded like a real band. We recorded this catalog of material in March and it's set to be released on Tuesday, September 22nd. We’re calling it, Mirage.
Listen to "She Treat Me Like a Real Man" by Maradeen
Deciding on a band name can be tricky. A lot bands run through a couple before the right one sticks. Where did you guys come up with Maradeen?
Whit: Before Thomas entered the picture, the four of us recorded a three-song demo and booked our first gig at South here in Nashville. Before we could announce the show and release the music, we needed to come up with a band name. I had a buddy visiting me for the weekend and we made a huge list and kept coming back to the word Meridian.
By definition, meridian can mean: a point or period of highest development or greatest prosperity, splendor, or success. We thought this could be applicable to both the music itself and the original mantra of the band. The name would serve as a reminder to always reach as far as you can in anything you pursue.
But rather than just call it Meridian, we changed it to Maradeen to give it some originality. After settling on it, I noticed a billboard outside of my apartment for Nashville’s Mayor, Karl Dean. That must be where the name entered my subconscious and so it stuck.
The Nashville music scene is second to none, with an endless amount of music being played on any given street corner. You guys obviously know how this works from your days in Athens. How vital has the band’s progression been calling Nashville home?
Thomas: There is a credibility and seriousness that comes with the town of Nashville. I feel the same way about Athens, GA. Great artists and bands have come out of both areas. I still consider Athens an integral part of my musical growth, and now Nashville has become my new home and the center for the music business machine in the South. There is such a saturation of songwriters here and opportunities to collaborate. Everyone I've met in town has a creative drive and willingness to work hard and play hard.
Who have been some of your biggest influences over the years? Are there any particular guitarists who you have modeled your style of play after?
Whit: I grew up to classic rock and the likes of Hendrix, Clapton, and the Rolling Stones. In high school and college, Phish and the Grateful Dead and their two front men (Trey Anastasio, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir) were a huge influence.
When I went to music school, I spent a lot of time studying jazz and blues. Players like Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, and George Benson, then Duane Allman, Albert & Freddie King, Hubert Sumlin are among some of my favorites. Too many list!
And the amazing teacher’s I’ve had the privilege of studying under. My mentor at Berklee, Richie Hart, is one of the most amazing musicians in the world and he really stressed the amount of work and commitment it takes not only in effort to be great but to merely survive as a musician.
Thomas: The people I've played with have honestly been the biggest influences. I've had the privilege of playing with incredible players and writers over the years, all of whom I consider part of a connective musical family. When I was 15, Classic Rock became a huge influence for me with bands like The Beatles, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Boston, The Doobie Brothers, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Later I dove deeper into bands such as The Grateful Dead, The Band, Old and in the Way, and Little Feat. Every one of these artists inspired me with their ability to write with integrity and still reach a wide audience. Prime examples include Neil Young, Robert Hunter, Willie Nelson, Gram Parsons, Waylon Jennings, & Tom Petty. These early classic rock and country influences still guide my writing today.
What has been your approach when writing new songs? Do you typically start with the chords or the lyrics? How has the songwriting process worked within the band?
Thomas: I rarely try to force or plan anything when writing a new song. I will usually hear a musical phrase at some point, with at least a rough melody and/or lyrics that inspires me enough to make a quick note or recording of the idea. That initial cryptic influence is usually "the gift" and will be the fuel for the rest of the process to evolve. From there it's a matter of adding context and color, turning it into a full story and a complete song. In Nashville, co-writing is such an integral part of the scene. Right when I moved here, Whit and I got together and co-wrote a handful of tunes. Our goal of these collaborations was to develop and complete a full song in each session from a blank canvas. I think Whit and my approach to songwriting have complemented each other well in the writing room. We were both pleased with the results, and once they were filtered through the talent of the band, they were taken to a whole new level.
Much progress has been made with the band in a short period of time. Maradeen has quickly broken out of the Nashville scene and made its way into the Southeastern circuit. Not many people understand how much goes into the business side of a band, much less a new band. How has that worked for this band thus far?
Whit: When I joined Mama’s Love in 2009, they had already released a full-length album 2 years prior and had been touring pretty extensively, especially for a college band. I had no idea how much would go into getting this thing off the ground a year ago when we first started.
Fortunately for us, we’ve all been at this for so long and have had amazing support from old friends, fans, and mutual connections. We’ve been doing a lot of the booking ourselves which requires a tremendous amount of patience and persistence. We’ve taken old markets where we had previous success and just kept hitting them every 2-4 months. We’ve still got a long ways to go, but the progress has been astounding and we’re all really proud of how far we’ve come in the past year.
It’s also been refreshing to start over have the freedom to implement what worked in other projects and try and avoid things that didn’t. I feel like I’m constantly learning new ways to try and make our music more viable and appealing from a business standpoint.
How is the rest of 2015 shaping up for the band? What has you guys most excited? Have any major goals/plans for 2016 been laid out yet?
Whit: 2015 has been an amazing first year for us. We’ve recorded and are releasing our debut LP, gone from opening to headlining some of our old favorite venues, and gotten to share bills with some of our old friends who we’ve been coming up with since we first started 8 years ago.
I’m most excited about sharing our first album with our growing audience, having one of our tracks included on the October/November issue of Relix Magazine’s sampler, and playing the Blueberry Jam with our old friends in Earphunk and the Revivalists! We have yet to play with the McLovins but are excited to link up with them too!
Our biggest goals for 2016 are continuing expanding into new markets, supporting larger acts, and signing with a booking agency eventually. We also hope to break play as many festivals as we can next Summer!