Rocker Marcus King’s latest album, “Young Blood,” features lingering angst from a difficult childhood.
Marcus King Has Always Known Pain Far Too Well
The unquestionably soulful rocker had his mother leave his life when he was a young child. And then his young love was killed in a vehicle accident.
He soon lost his beloved grandfather, uncle, and brother-in-law, which led him to eventually become severely alcohol and drug-dependent.
And in 2020, It All Became Too Much
According to King, 26, in a recent interview with PEOPLE, “my ex and I were staying downtown Nashville at the Bobby Hotel, and we got in a screaming match.”
“I was walking and I saw what appeared to be a homeless person, but as they turned and looked at me, it appeared as if they had a hood on, but there was just this blank of light. It really terrified me out, and I took it in my heart as an ominous warning to get my s— together.”
The sorrow that still resides in King’s soul is undoubtedly audible on his new album Young Blood, particularly on melancholic songs like “Dark Cloud,” which the South Carolina native wrote in the days following his unsettling encounter in Music City.
King recalls the frightful event that served as the inspiration for the song he co-wrote with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and Greg Cartwright: “At the time, I felt it was more of a Grim Reaper-type of circumstance.” If you continue living the way you are, it will happen soon, according to the sign.
Young Blood, however, also shows tangible traces of a guy struggling to climb out of a terrible pit and seeking the light he used to feel in his heart, particularly while spending time with his cherished grandfather.
He introduced me to Waylon Jennings, The Marshall Tucker Band, Merle Haggard, and George Jones, recalls King, who today resides in Nashville. However, we also listened to many blues greats, including B.B. King and Muddy Waters.
But as he grew older, King claims he became “just another high school pariah,” fixated on the music of rockers like ZZ Top, Black Sabbath, and the legendary ’70s rock group Free, whose famous guitarist Paul Kossoff ultimately lost his life as a result of drug misuse.
In high school, King claims, “I was kind of a stoner, and I wore tight t-shirts and Birkenstocks.” “All I wanted was some new music to listen to and something to play it on. I’m happy that I had music as a release because Lord alone knows what I would’ve been getting into if I hadn’t had it.”
In fact, King was a high school student at the time and kept himself occupied five days a week by performing music with a band.
In order to return home in time for school the following morning, King adds with a chuckle, “I would go just as far from where my folks resided.” He pauses before saying, “I was out there making money, playing gigs, and creating a reputation as an artist from the time I was 14 and 15 years old.
People will want to take advantage of you when you’re 16 because you grow up so quickly. It gets very surreal out there.
King’s solo debut album, El Dorado, was published in 2020. It was a compilation of profound songs that started to shed light on the nascent talent. But just like so many other times in his life, the gloomy cloud soon started to gather once more.
When King and his girlfriend of four years broke up around the time the 2020 COVID lockdowns started, he adds, “I had my heart broken extremely terribly.” “I was truly lost,” said the man who had long struggled with abandonment issues and other problems common to codependent men.
King, Though, Was Preparing to Start Work on A New Record at The Same Time
According to King, who received a Grammy nomination for El Dorado back in 2020, “I believe it was lucky as far as creativity because it allowed me to truly suffer.” I had been tango-dancing with drug and alcohol abuse on and off, but that’s when it really turned into a tango for me.
But once more, King overcame his obstacles and continued writing Young Blood, which, by all accounts, has the potential to alter the course of his entire career. He didn’t, however, act alone.
King, who credits Auerbach as a sort of personal savior, reflects, “Still water runs deep.” “Dan is a great constant friend to have because he always keeps things real. He was incredibly helpful, not only as a producer to help me get this music out but as a buddy. I was really thankful to have him and the other guys to keep me from completely going off that cliff into the deep end.”
The same was true of his recent fiancée, Briley Hussey, his girlfriend. (The pair intend to wed in February of 2019).)
Hussey, in the words of King, “is just so grounded.” “She really whipped me into shape and I’m very thankful for that,” she said. “She’s just incredibly warm, really humorous, and really crazy.”
Even better, she might inspire him to compose a joyful song.
I might need to figure it out, he quips.