Walk Off The Earth is a Canadian rock band that found massive success on YouTube in 2012 with their cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know.” But they were always more than a cover band, and have since proved that with their record deal with Columbia Records and their first release with Columbia, R.E.V.O., in 2013.
Their newest album, Sing It All Away, will be released on June 16. We talked to Marshall, one of the three lead vocalists and a multi-instrumentalist. That doesn’t mean he just plays guitar and bass. He says he plays all brass instruments, most stringed instruments, and, well, “if you put 50 instruments in front of me, I could play a song on all of them.”
The wildly talented group is also at the beginning of their tour that will take them all over the United States and Canada.
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SB: Tell me about this album, what did you guys do differently for this one?
M: When we did R.E.V.O it was just after our big Gotye YouTube video and it was rushed in a sense that we wanted to get something out really quick. We started writing this album from the minute R.E.V.O was released. So we were able to pick from about 30 demos instead of just writing 11 songs specifically for an album. We are ecstatic about the album, it has a really big feel. We continued with the gang vocals. We have always had three lead vocalists. We are really happy about it and very pumped to share it with our fans.
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SB: Is it difficult to write songs with three lead vocalists?
M: It can be, but the one good thing is that we really don’t have a lot of ego. No one is trying to push themselves onto a song. We just write a song and if it’s about a girl or a guy we just let it go where it has to go. We don’t think about who is going to sing it while we are writing it. We let the song go where it needs to go.
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SB: You didn’t start playing guitar until you were 19. Does it ever blow you away when you consider how far you’ve come as an artist and a band?
M: The biggest thing that blows me away is being able to write a song or sing a song in front of 10,000 people and have them sing it back to you. That’s the most goosebump-inducing moment as an artist. It’s an incredible feeling. When you’re 19 and picking up a guitar for the first time and learning chords on the internet, it’s not something that you think will happen.
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SB: There are plenty of cover acts on YouTube. How did you guys set yourselves apart and prove that you were more than just a group that did amazing covers of popular songs?
M: It’s funny the way it happened with us. We were into YouTube before most people. We had built a lot of followers on YouTube so when the Gotye song came along it blew up in a way that was new to people. A lot of bands have become famous off of singing other people’s songs. The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan, they all did it. For us it didn’t matter. We had done plenty of covers before that song. All of our videos, whether they were originals or covers, started getting lots of views. That’s what helped us realize that it wasn’t just a one hit wonder. When R.E.V.O came out and was successful it helped us realize we should keep doing this.
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SB: You guys got your big break on YouTube, but you didn’t stay there. How did you take advantage of your big break and turn it into a successful career? What advice would you give to others about handling a similar situation?
M: We were all really experienced in the business. We toured the world, we had our tour legs, we had been in vans and buses and cars and toured across Canada and the USA. There was a history of work. There were already almost 30 videos on our YouTube channel. We were able to develop a following through that. That’s one of the biggest reasons we are able to continue where we are today. You’re going to get a break at some point. Where you are in your career is going to determine how that break will go. If you have a history of work then that break will benefit you. If you get a big break early in your career then you have to prove yourself immediately and if you don’t people will move on from you in a few weeks.