With songs like "Gasworks" and a video shot at SeaTac and in Pioneer Square, Hey Marseilles is clearly a Seattle band. But since the release of their 2008 album "Travels & Trunks," the group has been working to grow their audience and expand beyond the Pacific Northwest. Now on a national summer tour, Hey Marseilles is coming home to Seattle to play the mainstage at the Capitol Hill Block Party.
Founded by vocalist Matt Bishop and guitar player Nick Ward in 2006, the band includes more instruments than it does musicians. Presently, Hey Marseilles numbers six members -- in addition to Bishop and Ward, there's also Philip Kobernik, brothers Samuel Anderson and Jacob Anderson, and Colin Richey -- which, Bishops says, is just about the right figure.
"The logistics of touring and hotel rooms make it necessary that we keep it at six or seven," says Bishop, adding that it's more fun to tour with a slightly bigger band.
"You also have more people to hang out with."
Hey Marseilles isn't shy about letting the fans in on their hanging out, either. One of ways the group has managed to drum up so much attention is through their strong social media presence, which includes Instagram photos of tour stops and Twitter updates about their news and daily goings-on.
"The nature of the music industry these days relies on having a good relationship with your fans," says Bishop, "and there aren’t as many barriers between fans and bands. It’s a lot easier to connect -- so we really need to rely on the hardcore support of people who follow us."
Support from fans is also part of what helped Hey Marseilles bridge the over four year gap between their two studio-length albums and, after the release of "Lines We Trace" in March of this year, garner critical and media attention outside of their hometown.
"We’re on the tour for the rest of summer, and it’s really just us trying to establish an identity beyond Seattle. We’re trying to get a lot of new markets and kind of grow our presence in places we’ve played before," says Bishop.
"Prior to this, we’ve really only toured on the West Coast and East Coast, and even then, only really in short bursts."
But being from Seattle, Bishop says, has been a huge benefit for the band, whose success he calls "pretty accidental."
"We didn’t really know what we were doing," he admits, "it was really kind of born out of demos that Nick and Phillip and I made in basements. We added the string players, Sam and Jacob, for shows, and people kept coming to our shows and people kept buying the record, and we weren’t really planning on being a band. We didn’t really know anything about the music business."
"I don’t think that that could have happened in any other city," Bishop admits. "The infrastructure for music in Seattles -- the venues, the music blogs, the radio stations -- that’s how we found success. And that doesn’t exist in the vast majority of cities."
"Without that, I think we’d still be at our office jobs and wouldn’t have pursued this with any interest, really."
This is Hey Marseilles' first time playing Seattle in a while, but not their first time at the three-day Block Party, which also includes big acts like the Flaming Lips, GirlTalk and Purity Ring.
"We played Block Party once before and that was a huge deal for us, but to be playing on the main stage in a pretty awesome slot and doing it in the midst of all the support we’ve gotten in Seattle, we’re really excited to kind of see how Seattle feels about us now. Because we haven’t played many shows in Seattle lately," explains Bishop, adding that the city itself is built to make great music.
"There’s such a committment to music and the arts, but it’s also a small community, so it’s easy to network. It’s also easy to see how bands find success -- we’re friends with the Head and the Heart and a lot of other bands that are really doing it. And we can look to them."
"Seeing the success of bands like Sweet Talks and even Macklemore...you know, we know a number of the people who play in his band. So when you see that kind of experience and you know who these people are in their day-to-day selves, it makes success a very realistic possibility, and it shows you all of the hard work that you know is necessary. There are a lot of good models."
After Block Party, says Bishop, the band has a full schedule, including more festivals, an international tour, and hopefully, another album.
"Immediately, we really want to make sure our third record doesn’t take four years to come out! So we’re trying to focus our sound and prepare for a third album to release with the next year or year and a half."
The Capitol Hill Block Party runs from Friday, July 27 until Sunday, July 29. Hey Marseilles plays the Main Stage at 3:45pm on Saturday. Ticketing information is here.