Grand Island native featured on 'Today,' on tour and headed to Ireland
By Danielle Kenedy
There are particular artists whose musical background shines through in their artistry. In the case of Marc Scibilia, that could not be any truer.
Music has been a large part of his life. Scibilia comes from a long line of musicians with both his father and grandfather professional musicians, and his brother a drummer who often works with him. This, in combination with his honed talent, has made him a force to be reckoned with. Scibilia's cover of "This Land is Your Land" was used in Jeep's Super Bowl ad earlier this year, giving Scibilia major exposure across the U.S. He recently performed on NBC's "Today," fielding a surprise phone call from his mother, Jeannine, following the song.
Though Scibilia is now based out of Nashville, he was born and raised on Grand Island. He graduated from Grand Island High School in 2002 and was a regular on the Buffalo music circuit, performing alongside those much older and more experienced. In those settings, Scibilia never failed to hold his own musically, whether at the piano or playing guitar.
Those local roots influence his approach to music. On Oct. 30, Scibilia released his newest record, "Out of Style," which was produced by Los Angeles-based Butch Walker. The album has a modern style with hints of classic American rock 'n' roll. It was a highlight of the young musician's career and marks an evolution in his songwriting.
NFP recently spoke with Scibilia about his latest release, current tour, and his approach to music.
For those who aren't familiar with you yet, how would you describe your sound?
I've been describing it as "pop music for people with jobs."
That's a pretty accurate description! You just released "Out of Style." Would you say that release was one of your favorites to work on so far?
Yeah, totally. Working with Butch Walker was like a dream come true. I've always wanted to work with him. He's a legendary artist and producer, and he's really just an amazing guy. So, to have the accompaniment of someone like that alongside was a dream come true. He taught me so much - so many things relating to music and making records, and just doing what I do. Y'know what we're really trying to do when we say, "pop music for people with jobs" is, well, you could listen to it if you don't have a job, too, but there are influences of old-school American rock 'n' roll in it - like Jimi Hendrix or Bruce Springsteen. The record is made to have every appearance of a modern record; it pulls from a lot of older influences at its heart. And Butch kind of bridged that gap.
Right, and would you say that working with him, and his influence, really directed the music on this record more so than anything else?
Musically speaking, he was a big influence on this record. Y'know, I am always trying to be aware of the world that I am living in, and we are living in pretty desperate and dark times, and they make people feel fear. And I feel a lot of fear. Probably one of the biggest influences for me on this record, just inspirationally speaking, was just living with a disregard for fear. And doing things in spite of being afraid. And that's really what this record is about thematically: Facing fear.
And, for this record specifically, was there any standout track that is a highlight? One that you would say is a "must-listen"?
Well, the record was done, and I was writing with a friend of mine who is 20 minutes from a town called Jericho. We were writing another song, and when we were done with that song, he said, "I got this idea for a song, not really much for it, but just call it 'Jericho,' and here are the chords." And I was like, "That is the coolest thing I've ever heard."
I just got the chills listening to the chords. So, I wrote the lyrics, and I couldn't sleep after I wrote them. I woke up at 5 in the morning and I went down to my basement and I recorded the first demo of the song. ... The record was already done, and we went into the studio with it and convinced our label for more money and did a version of it. It's probably my favorite track on the record.
Watch "How Bad We Need Each Other":
I know that your first release was called, "Fixity." Would you say the newest record is similar to that style and stays true to that original sound? Or, has it evolved into something different entirely?
Honestly, when I play shows now, and people ask if I could play those songs, I don't really remember much about that, because I was, I think, 17 of 18 at the time, and I am not 17 or 18 anymore. So, in a lot of ways, I am actually disconnected from what I was doing there. But my career and my artistry has been a slow, kind of steady, gradual build. I think that everything affects everything. I'm always learning, and that's what I love about being fortunate enough to be an artist. I am really involved in making my records. I actually produced a couple of the songs. I am always growing in life and all the things I learn are a part of that record-making process.
Was producing it what really made you more connected to this release rather than the others, or at least having that option on some of the tracks?
Yeah, definitely. I am super connected to it. Some of these songs started as demos that the band did, and then at the studio Butch kind of helped and moved things around. Moved bridges in songs, and made it grow. I am super connected to all of it, really. I am not the type of artist that comes in when it is done, and just sings a melody over it. I am pretty involved from the beginning of it. I will make the demos and really spell out as much as I can of what I am trying to do with the song before a producer even touches it.
I know that you have been surrounded by music pretty much all your life, and that obviously assisted in your ability to adapt to musical styles. Is that something you took for granted when you were younger? And is it something you are thankful for now?
That's interesting, because I was thinking about it the other day. My grandfather was a bass player and an orchestra bandleader. He had his own orchestra and, back in the day when really big artists came to town, they used to have a house band. My grandfather was a part of a lot of that, and a lot of people that I end up gravitating to in music nowadays are people that have a long history either in their family or of some sort of artist expression.
I've come from a long line of people that have been doing this, and I am really thankful for that and that's definitely a part of who I am now.
When my grandfather passed away, probably eight or nine years ago, and yeah I definitely think I took it for granted when I was a kid, but I certainly would not be where I am now. My dad is a guitar player, and my brother is about a mile and half from me in Nashville and he plays drums with me and tours with me, so, it's cool to have that all line up that way. I am really thankful for it.
Do you think that change in scenery to Nashville really launched you into your career you have now?
Nashville has been a great place to live. It took a while for me to make a record that I felt was the record I wanted to make, and Nashville has a way of doing things that I don't necessarily subscribe to. There is a certain speed or a certain core that, if you are going to do it the Nashville way, you have to kind of get into it. I have a lot of friends here, for sure. Working with Butch, who is a Los Angeles guy, and I spending a ton of time in New York City, most of the people I worked with are in New York, and I guess it actually took getting out of the Nashville scene in so many ways to make the record that we made.
But, Nashville has some of the most beautiful people you could ever be friends with. My best friend in the whole world is in Nashville and, also, some of the most talented people I have ever met in my life are there. It is a big influence on me, for sure.
You said Butch was a huge influence on you for this record, and I know that you toured with Gavin James for this tour. Did he also influence you as well?
I love Gavin. This tour was amazing. So much synergy with Gavin, because we are in somewhat similar places in our career. Every night we close the show with "Dancing in the Dark" by Bruce Springsteen, and he would have me back on stage for it. He actually invited me to go with him to Ireland, so in about one week I will be flying out to Ireland for his tour there.
We just became very good friends, and I am very thankful for that. I got off a two-month tour when I was asked to do that one. My first thought was, "I don't know if I want to tour again." I'd like to go home and see my friends, but I just got to do it. You can't replace making a new friend that has a similar thing that you're doing. He's one of the best singers you could ever listen to, as well.
Are you excited for Ireland now?
Oh, yeah, definitely.
How many shows are you doing there?
I think it is, like, eight shows? We do six Christmas radio shows, which I fly out for tomorrow morning, I fly home for, like, 15 hours, and then I fly out for Ireland for about 10 days.
Do you know what cities you are playing?
I think it is Dublin, Cork and a few others. But, lots of Guinness and beer.
Any other tours after Ireland?
I know we are touring in the spring, but I don't know with who yet. That's also in the works!
A bunch of your tracks were featured through different media outlets. They were featured on "Bones," and that Super Bowl commercial, as well. Are there any other placements that are to be expected in the future?
I think those things kind of come spontaneously, and I know there is always possibilities that it will wind up in something, but at the moment it's all in the works.
And can we expect any new albums or tracks from you soon?
Probably the best way for any hints is for people to follow me on Instagram. We are going to start posting a bunch of stuff on YouTube, like covers. I posted a video of a song that I wrote this morning when I woke up, just a little piece of it, because I am always making music. The record release cycle is there, but there is always creativity happening.
Do you think there will be a possibility for collaboration with Gavin?
I hope so. I love him. I think he's amazing. I think that would be cool.
I know you just gave away a signed Fender. Do you plan on doing something similar like that again for the fans? Maybe a cover contest or something similar?
Yeah, Fender sent me two guitars to give away. I've given away one, so, there will be another guitar given away! I just don't know when, or why, or what we're giving it away for.
Is there anything else you want people to know?
The one thing is, I just got my first ear piercing.
Which ear, and where on it?
Left ear, lobe. The least painful part. I just want people to know it's not painful!
Well, try getting the cartilage pierced!
I've heard it's bad! (Laughs.)
Marc Scibilia is currently on tour with Gavin James. Afterward, he will fly to Ireland for another short tour with James.