Philadelphia-hailing rockers Mannequin Pussy have been conjuring music that moves, both physically and mentally, since …
One of 2024’s mandatory listens (and/or purchases, if you’re materially inclined) is Tasmanian singer-songwriter Marcus Wynwood’s Killerbites, an ode to well played guitars and the pitfalls of modern life.
Formerly of ‘core purveyors Captives, Wynwood’s stellar EP runs the gamut from “typical” acoustic singer-songwriter storytelling to pub rock to lo-fi psychedelic folk and back again. A true experiment in pushing the boundaries of what one man can accomplish with a guitar and desire to speak his truth, Killerbites may be one of those rare records that makes sense of a jarring break-up, the loss of a friend, or becomes the soundtrack to a successful move-in with a loved one, the introductory chapter on this thing we call life. We talked to Marcus from his home in Penguin, Tasmania (look it up, it’s a place on the north west coast) about the record, how it came together, and what’s next for this solo wunderkind.
Hysteria: Well, Mister Marcus Wynwood. You couldn’t have picked a better name for yourself as a singer-songwriter if you tried. Well done.
Marcus: [laughs] Thank you.
All that said, your brand of singer-songwriter music isn’t the typical “acoustic guitar and feelings” affair. There’s metal, blues, all sorts on this EP.
Yeah, it’s a bit weird. I’ve gotten a bit of an odd background, I suppose. I started out doing the acoustic guitar singing songwriter typical type thing, I suppose. But I guess just over the years of being a musical at high school and whatever, you play all different sorts of music and in cover bands and original bands and all sorts of stuff. I love blues. I love Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix and all that sort of stuff. But yeah, I was also experimenting as well. One of my favourite bands, probably Radiohead or Queens of Stone Age and that sort of stuff. So I don’t know. These songs have sort of evolved over a year or two, so they’re not all from the same time or place, so I guess that’s probably why they’re all a little bit different.
Which brings us to Left on Read. I mean, that’s just classic singer-songwriter stuff. It’s like Jack & Diane or Paul Kelly’s Joe wondering who’s going to make the gravy. Everyone can relate to the feeling of being “left on read.”
Yeah, well, I’m terrible for that. [laughs] I don’t know whether it’s Millennial anxiety or whatever, but it comes when picking up an unknown number, or if someone messages and you’re not quite sure how to deal with it. That’s just a thing that happens. I tried to get that down in a song as best I could, but I tried to flip it as well. I dunno if you noticed, but the lyrics start off with “I’m leaving you on read” then it ends up with “You’re leaving me on read.” So it’s just bit of a commentary about that. I’m probably classically a little bit bad at replying to people sometimes. We can relate.
Then you have soft songs like Another Coffee, and Lies, which is this down and dirty pub rock song. Was your approach “this sounds awesome, I’ll go with that?” Not much else to it.
Yeah, just sort of follow where the song wants to go, I guess.
I don’t know whether it’s Millennial anxiety or whatever, but it comes when picking up an unknown number, or if someone messages and you’re not quite sure how to deal with it. That’s just a thing that happens.
[ Marcus Wynwood, on being Left on Read ]
Nice. You were in Captives before you set off on your own. Has this given you licence to spread your musical wings? Being in a genre band is fine; but if you want to pursue other moods and textures, you can’t.
Yeah, I played with them for eight years before I did my own thing. We’re good mates still, but I felt it was my time to do my own thing. To do something extra. I released a couple of singles to start with before the EP that were kind of Captives style, I guess you’d nearly say. And I guess that’s not that weird. I guess I was one of the songwriters, but I feel like it was trying to break away from that stereotype of being in that band, what my life had been for the last eight or ten years or whatever. “Oh, you’re the guy from Captives.” So that was good to try other stuff as well. Do an acoustic song, do a pop song, try and mix it up a little bit, and it feels really good. So yeah, enjoying having that little bit of, I guess, freedom. The little bit of ability to stretch outside what might be expected from being in that band.
As for the EP itself, it lends itself to a full listen. I mean, great if you end up on a Spotify featured playlist, but I think it would be doing you and the music a disservice if one track popped up and that was it for a new listener.
I don’t like this whole shuffle culture. It’s frustrating. I really love just to put an album on and listen to it as intended. It’s much nicer. Albums start one place and leave you somewhere else. It’ll stand the test of time. A coherent piece of work.
Will you be releasing an album? Perhaps not a full-blown concept album, but something with a running theme?
Yeah, they’ve got to have a theme. Even like you said, the track order of this one took me ages just to get right because got to flow and it’s going to mean something. I am debating whether to go a full length or maybe drop another EP mid next year or this year. But yeah, they can’t just be like five or six random songs. They’ve got to somehow have a connection to one another.
What are your plans for 2024, considering we’re at the beginning?
I’ve started thinking about what the next release might look like. This is my idea. I’ve only ever talked about this to my wife, but no really clue if this is going to work or not. I’d like to do one EP that’s fully more acoustic singer songwriter stuff, but then I want to do another EP that’s, or even make that an album that’s more a heavier noise thing, more along the lines of Simulation on the EP. I want to take it in two different directions and see how that fits. So have one sort of more chilled, more like Never Change or something like that, and then have a different release that’s a little bit more Queens of the Stone Age or a little bit heavier.
Does it blow your mind that you could shuffle about your home town of Penguin and be known as Marcus who buys milk every Tuesday, but to someone in say, Chile, as this rock star figure? Thanks to the Internet, you can express yourself to the entire world.
Yeah, world’s a crazy place, isn’t it? But that stuff like that can happen. Yeah, I guess you make things, I guess, not that intent, I guess. You just, I dunno. You just make art because art. But yeah, it’s kind crazy to think of it like that. I haven’t thought about that before. Yeah, I don’t know. There’d be 7,000 people live in this little town and beautiful beaches, and it’s just a cool place to exist. But yeah, you’re right. People are making music and it’s going all over the place. It’s great.