Marcie Free – After interviewing Marcie Free, I could only walk away feeling I’ve spoken to one of the nicest and most sincere person from the Rock Music world. Formerly Mark Free, Marcie Free has a newfound lease on life, with her voice sounding as vibrant, harmonious and memorable as ever. Just one listen to the new Unruly Child album, “Worlds Collide”, will support my claim as to Marcie’s vocals being amongst the best in the business. Released back in November of 2010, Marcie and her band have truly created an album of songs that transcends decades of AOR and Melodic Rock goodness.
Marcie Free speaks about “Worlds Collide” and their new music video for “Very First Time”, along with memories of fronting King Kobra and dastardly villains of the music industry’s past. She also touches on living through earthquakes and crazed fans in Mexico. To say Marcie Free is a survivor is an understatement from this writer, Marcie Free exemplifies what it means to be your own person and carry on through life, regardless of what obstacles may deter you. Marcie Free has indeed seen it all and I can only applaud her contentment with life and the music she has created with Unruly Child. Here is what Marcie had to say:
HRH: Hey Marcie, I’m a huge fan of this new Unruly Child album!
Marcie: I’m a fan of it too! The first time I really heard it was on my home stereo. It’s just so great sonically, this album echos really good spaciously, almost three dimensional. The Beatles are responsible for everything we’re doing right now!
HRH: I won’t disagree with you there. That was and still is some band.
Marcie: I remember the whole Ed Sullivan Show appearance and everyone talking about their hair. I went and had my hair cut like the Beatles and all the girls at school were saying, what did you do to your hair! (laughs)
HRH: How much fun did you have recording “Worlds Collide”? I get a vibe from the songs that there was some fun involved.
Marcie: We’re not crazy, we’re serious about what we do as a band. I’m in Ypsilanti, Michigan and the other guys are in L.A., so video phones and skype allowed me to do my vocals in my studio, here in Michigan. Bruce (guitarist Bruce Gowdy) and I built a good studio here together. He taught me how to run my studio, so I could do engineering and vocals at the same time.
HRH: That’s very cool, Marcie.
Marcie: We wrote and recorded World’s Collide in four months. These songs are a gift from God, they just pour out of me!
HRH: Will Unruly Child be touring or playing any dates to support “Worlds Collide”?
Marcie: Absolutely, we’re all committed. I was just talking on the phone with Bruce last night about it. No Nonsense Bookings in Europe handles all the Frontiers Records acts. We’ll wait after the record is out two months, then look over our budget and everything, lay it all out on the table. Jay (drummer Jay Schellen) has commitments with Asia and Larry (bass guitarist Larry Antonio) has the same with Pablo Cruise, so we have to work around that. We’d like to tour in the Summer, write in the Fall and record during the Winter. We’re that serious about it. I never expected all of this, I just go with God and let him take control of the reigns please!
HRH: Are U.S. tour dates in the mix?
Marcie: Europe is where we’re focused right now, for our kind of music is played more over there and popular. There is nobody telling the radio stations what to play anymore in the U.S., it’s just like dogs chasing their own tails with the radio stations in the U.S.!
HRH: I always say, when it comes to the media and Hard Rock or Heavy Metal, Europe gets it!
HRH: “Very First Time” is a standout song on “Worlds Collide” for it’s positive lyrics and energy. What’s the inspiration behind this fabulous song?
Marcie: Well, Bruce and Guy (keyboardist Guy Allison) wrote that one. You know, this song is about what transcends love, gender, age, sex and race… it equals pure love. Being in love for the first time, having an infatuation with life and getting high on everything when we’re together. Guy was inspired on this organ – ‘lighter shade of pale” sort of thing. (laughs)
Marcie: I was surprised we lead with this song, it really surprised us, the record company pulled it out at the last minute. We went from “When We Were Young” to “When Worlds Collide” to “Very First Time”.
HRH: The music video for “Very First Time” is excellent.
Marcie: Thank you. It only cost us five thousand dollars to make it! We did not have a huge budget, so we made use of available natural light, up in a loft, inside a L.A. warehouse. All that natural light came through the windows, it looks like heaven! Devin DeHaven was our director. He has worked with and directed Eminem and Y&T videos as well.
HRH: Check out the “Very First Time” video here!
HRH: “You Don’t Understand” has some progressive keys happening, at the onset and towards this song’s climax. Are you an Electric Light Orchestra fan? Those keys remind me of ELO.
Marcie: Oh yeah, I was a huge fan of The Electric Light Orchestra for awhile. I love the simplicity and overall melodic approach to their music, it was very cool. I liked when Jeff Lynne (vocalist/guitarist of ELO) got together with The Traveling Wilburys. I dig him. George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, were all together in that band.
HRH: Are the lyrics to “You Don’t Understand” meant for someone that was or is close to you?
Marcie: Yeah, it’s personal. I interjected some personal memories of how hard it is to go through what I went through. It destroyed my marriage. Lyrically, it’s about how some people just don’t get it. These lyrics were written metaphorically and not in your face. I was sitting at my computer one day, I picked up my acoustic and wrote this song. I made the demo that same day, along with background vocals. I played it for Bruce on skype and I started crying. Bruce loved it and did all the arrangements.
HRH: “Love Is Blind” flat out Rocks! How did you come about including such memorable chorus moments in this song?
Marcie: Bruce and Guy wrote this. I first heard it when I went out to L.A. to shoot pictures for the album cover. Bruce played it for me and it grabbed me, it spoke to me. This song does have an amazing chorus. There are Doo-wop answer style, background vocals. It’s a really strong song.
HRH: What’s missing in the music industry today, that existed back in the 1980’s?
Marcie: Well, it’s always been kind of soulless and cruel, with lot’s of crooks. In lot’s of ways, it’s sweet justice to see record companies brought to their knees now. Too many cruel things have been done to artists over the years by them, still, no one wants to see the industry decimated. Technology has given power to the artists to make their own records and sell their own music. There has always been a monopoly with the larger labels. With all the downloading of free music, I hope it’s run it’s course for the masses. Illegal downloading would put us all out of business. Just because you can download music, doesn’t make it right.
HRH: I couldn’t agree with you more on that, Marcie.
Marcie: At the end of the 80’s, the country was split up into four main sections, with four main guys, that handed down and dictated what to play on radio and MTV too. They were known as the four cartels, the four cartels of radio programs and they pulled the plug on all Metal acts in the early 90’s.
HRH: Whoa, Marcie, that’s nasty. What a shame, that these four cartels could control the media with so much power.
HRH: I miss going into a record store, that feeling you had back in the 80’s.
Marcie: I miss the record stores too! Especially back in the 70’s. I would take an album home and put it right on the turntable. I would polish and cherish the album!
HRH: I know that feeling, Marcie.
HRH: When you sing, your emotions are so non-pretentious. Does it disgust you when you hear another vocalist force emotion on a song?
Marcie: Disgust might be a strong word. It’s instinct, people can tell when it’s forced or not. It’s got to be real and if it’s offensive, just don’t listen to that vocalist ever again. I grew up on Motown, that’s where I learned my singing chops. Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops, Aretha Franklin, all of them. I grew up in Flint, Michigan, where there was a lot of blue collar work and music.
HRH: So you were living right next door to Motown, surrounded by it.
Marcie: My junior high school was eighty percent black. Seventh through ninth grade, Motown was big part of that culture I was living in.
HRH: “Worlds Collide” is an album of songs and no filler. Each song carries it’s unique accessibility for me. How many songs were tossed out during the entire creation of this great album?
Marcie: None were tossed out. Actually, we had two more songs that were not finished for the record and we are planning to have them on the next Unruly Child record. We were on a roll, we were saying, we got to stop! (laughs)
HRH: (laughs) There’s nothing wrong with that, Marcie!
Marcie: The acoustic version of “Talk To Me” will be on the Japanese version of “Worlds Collide”.
HRH: How come Japan always gets the cool bonus tracks?
Marcie: It’s not up to us, it’s not our decision, you’ll have to talk to Frontiers Records executives about that one.
HRH: Unruly Child displays a dark side with “Life Death”. Can this song be summed up in these two words: reality check?
Marcie: Well, it’s interesting too. With life, death, it kind of goes to death in the verses and with the chorus, it’s almost like there’s life, there’s the light! Bruce and Guy wrote this song. When I first heard the riffs, I knew it was a heavy song.
HRH: Which band or artist has been ignored the most, by The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?
Marcie: I really don’t know who’s exactly in or who’s not these days, so I don’t want to be non-factual or slight anybody.
HRH: How about KISS?
Marcie: KISS is not in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?
Marcie: I would say KISS then! Gene (Simmons) and Paul (Stanley) are the coolest and most giving guys I’ve ever toured with. They were so great with King Kobra. Gene and Paul gave King Kobra perks that were not normally given to an opening band. They let us use their lighting and gave us free reign on the stage. We toured with KISS in 1986, I remember it being on the Northeast leg of the tour.
HRH: Not counting your own music, what album could you not live without? Regardless of Rock genre too.
Marcie: I’d probably say, any Motown 60’s stuff. Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin. All the Soul and Rhythm and Blues!
Marcie: Led Zeppelin would be awesome! That would be a real fun thing. We all owe them a lot. I was a huge fan of Led Zeppelin through my teens and early twenties, they played a big part in my life, Bruce and Guy’s as well.
HRH: Do you stay in touch with Carmine Appice?
Marcie: Carmine and I haven’t stayed in touch over the years. I wish him well with whatever he’s doing.
HRH Note: Carmine Appice was the founder and drummer for King Kobra.
HRH: What moment, on a personal level, do you reflect on from touring with King Kobra?
Marcie: I was watching on You Tube, just last night, things about me. There’s this one video, of a fan standing in line one day for a King Kobra in-store signing at Kamelot Music. A lot of fans were out there that day. This video was filmed by the fan’s perspective, of getting in line and getting up to us as we were signing autographs. As I watched this video of me, I was wondering of what it felt like? What was I thinking? Back then, I was not in tune with the present at the time. I remember of always having to be “on”. There was no partying, I always had to keep my voice. It was cool seeing that video.
HRH: Which do you prefer, playing arena’s or club’s?
Marcie: Years ago, it was different to play clubs. Clubs always got too smoky for me. It’s hard on a singer with smoke in the air. It may be different today though. There’s so much fun about arenas! You have a larger stage to move around on and you can have a bigger stage show.
HRH: What band that you have toured with, was your favorite?
Marcie: It has to be KISS when I was with King Kobra. Gene and Paul gave us so many privileges, it was because of their relationship with Carmine (Appice) and our manager, Alan Miller, was associated with their manager. They gave us full monitors and a light show that helped us out tremendously.
HRH: Where is the greatest place King Kobra had ever played?
Marcie: Hands down, it was back in January of 1986, at the Mexican/American Friendship Festival in Acapulco, Mexico. This was a one time festival, it never happened again. We went out onstage before Quiet Riot. We flew into Mexico City to perform at this festival just eight or ten months after this area suffered a major earthquake. Our hotel was falling apart! There were tent cities everywhere. We did take in some sights and saw the Mayan Pyramids. When we flew into Acapulco, we met the mayor of Acapulco. We just signed for everything once we got there! The gig was on a Saturday and it was a great gig. This festival was on a balmy and beautiful night, on the beach, facing in at thirty five thousand people!
HRH: That sounded like a great time Marcie.
Marcie: We had the fans going crazy! At the end of our set, we saw the fans wanted more, so we came out for an encore and made them more crazy! Riot police were pointing automatic weapons at the fans! We had Mexican security take us through a back exit, away from the fans that were going crazy for us. We never made it to our bus. It felt like we were the Beatles!
HRH: King Kobra were the Beatles of Mexico! (laughs)
Marcie: (laughs) We got inside an old ambulance that drove us through the jungle! The driver was taking all of these remote back roads through this jungle back to our hotel to avoid the fans! There was no air conditioning in the back of this old ambulance either, it was really hot and humid, so we were kicking the backside of the ambulance and shouting at the driver! (laughs)
HRH: (laughs) Wow, Marcie, you guys were lucky to get out of there alive!
Marcie: I was living in North Hollywood during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. I’ve been through many of them between 1979 and 1995 and the one in ’94 was the worse. I was living in an apartment that was on stilts, with parking underneath. This earthquake knocked everything down in my second floor apartment and everything went pitch black. I went outside and buildings all around me fell down, mine never fell. People were frightened to go back into their homes that were still left standing.
HRH: What would the title of your autobiography be?
Marcie: I am the king kobra!
HRH: What does that mean?
Marcie: It’s all about me, not about the other guys. And, it wasn’t really all about me. In Mexico City, where King Kobra played, there was this fan who took me aside and said to me… you are the king kobra!
HRH: Would you like to rant about the BP Gulf Coast oil spill?
Marcie: It’s a tragedy. I really had a problem with a lot of the politicians blaming the company for this. BP had to do something that they were forced to do, by being told by the government to go out that far to drill in the first place. The Obama administration took so long to get their shit together. This administration had well enough time to get anything done and corrected with what happened in the Gulf.
HRH: Is “Worlds Collide” a launching pad or exclamation point for Unruly Child?
Marcie: A launching pad! It’s a rebirth for us, certainly I as well. We came out with a bang with this new album. “Worlds Collide” is a huge statement for me, it’s a coming out album for me as well. This is the first album where I’m being Marcie, after being Mark for so long.
HRH: What do you feel is your greatest musical accomplishment of your career?
Marcie: It is yet to be done and to be determined. I do expect some really great things to come from this new record!
HRH: What is your proudest moment?
Marcie: A really exciting time for me was the first time I saw my dad really proud of me. I almost felt guilty for I was so used to him not being proud of me. It was Christmas of this particular year and we went to a local mall in Saginaw, Michigan. I had long, bleached white hair with streaks in it and my dad was saying to everyone, “hey, that’s my son”! I was on a major label, with a big time band and my dad was proud of me.