Roy Marchbank, guitarist and composer


Roy Marchbank, guitarist and composer. You are welcome on Gitarvilagok.com. Thank you very much for accepting our invitation. As I hear your music, there is a great balance between the composition and the way you play. You have a way of putting something beautiful into your music. I must say, your musical world has astonished me and the Hungarian fans. Please say something about yourself, who is Roy Marchbank?

Thank you it’s my pleasure. Ok so a brief background. I am a 48 year old Scottish guitarist and composer. I am originally self taught, learning to play by ear. However, from 1988-90 I spent 2 years at Perth music college Scotland where i advanced my music theory, reading , live band performance, recording, production and sound engineering. I started  work as a professional guitarist when I moved to Dublin, Eire. I served my time in theatre pit bands for  the shows Godspell, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Jesus Christ Superstar  plus many more. I also performed  live for  many different bands and solo artists in the studio, on TV and radio . A more recent highlight was being asked to play with Dweezil Zappa when he performed at The Royal Festival hall London and working with Atma Anur and Tony Franklin on my latest e.p. Well of Heads and before that on my e.p. The Grand Design. I have toured extensively through Germany, France, Italy, Finland, Ireland, UK and Spain, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and some of the USA. Maybe I should come to Hungary next? I am also  interested in performing in India and further east. After the first 25 years spent playing many genres and touring I decided to spend the next 20 years focusing on my own music and development as an artist.



How does the classical music influence you?

In a word “discipline”. Classical music is extremely demanding. It is more than just learning the music of other composers or Classical techniques. Classical form demands the very best of your focus. I first transcribed some of Paganini’s Caprices for guitar when I was 19, later Sarasates Hungarian Gypsy Airs. I have always loved to study world culture through music, it is a great way to understand and connect with people where otherwise there may be a language barrier. With all I had learnt there came a point I needed to express myself, to write and play what is in my head. The process of self-actualization and enlightenment was the real start of my learning, everything that came before was simply preparation but absolutely necessary.

As I hear your playing, the change of intonation, tone and the speed are combined wonderfully! Can this be learnt or is it exclusively down to feeling?

You must give yourself to it 100% to make the magic happen. Some people have a burning passion for music others just go through the learning process, there is a massive difference and you can feel it. That is something that I believe can’t be taught, you either need it like the air you breathe or you don’t.

Could you advise me what makes a good shredder? What is the secret to overcoming your own barriers?

I can only speak for myself here, but all of the playing and life experience I have related to you has been important.  Self-actualization   is without doubt the way to feeling freedom in music and life generally but the groundwork must be in place also. Some music doesn’t require that discipline. We see in the music industry where 3 chords and some lyrics are often all that is required, it just happens my vision and choice of how I create and play is far  more complex.

Roy, you can  play really fast! Even though you play so fast I can  hear and understand every note of your music! What does playing fast mean for you?

Velocity is not everything, it is only useful if it is used in the right context where it can be both descriptive and exciting. Again it is about balance. Speed is just another tool in the box, great to have to express yourself and have fun with. It is rarely, if ever, asked for in a session situation, yet curiously it gives me an audience that thankfully appreciate what I do.

Your sound very, very great. I really like your clean one. Tell us how you get your sound and something about  your instruments!


Thank you, it was important to me that I achieve the sound in my head. Many guitarists prefer overdrive, distortion or both, I have tried many amps and simply haven’t found one yet that I liked for that purpose. Although I like rock and metal music and have played in bands performing in these genres, I have always found that tone too abrasive for my own compositions.
I strive to make the dynamics and tone of my playing as natural as possible. The clean sound I favour allows that to happen in a similar way to how it sounds using an acoustic guitar.
I play both acoustic and electric, all my guitars do very different jobs, they all add a specific timbre. Currently I enjoy the Byrd Avianti and the gypsy jazz guitars I own. At the moment I use DiMarzio pickups and I am experimenting with the Eventide reverb as part of my effect pedal chain.  I am finding some amazing sounds for my new tracks which will complete the Well of Heads e.p later this year.



I would like to talk about when the guitar is missing from your hand. What do you spend your time doing?

After decades of practicing up to 20 hours a day, I like to spend time away from the guitar quite frequently now. I am getting married in July and I enjoy spending time with family and friends. My Fiancée and I have 4 children between us and they keep us busy! Simply living well is far more important to me than any status attached to music. After all, what kind of depth are you going to write with if you have never really lived? I am grateful for the life I have had, both the good and bad experiences. Now when I spend time alone without the guitar I can concentrate on evoking my feelings and thoughts on to manuscript. Perfect relative pitch is an absolute necessity for this. To be able to hear intervals clearly and dictate to paper is of paramount importance to me now. If I have a guitar in my hands and I am composing it will always be tuned to an open or alternate tuning I don’t know or have not used often, so I avoid playing what has been learnt already. It makes me think outside the box and find my way around a new musical landscape. I suppose it is a way of keeping things always challenging and interesting. I am glad to say my listeners enjoy it too! 







Roy, finally, how about your plans for the future?


To keep doing what I do for as long as I can. I must work other jobs to subsidize what i love to do, a situation most self funded musicians find themselves in. Realistically the kind of music i play will never be popular on a massive scale. How do you define it? Jazz fusion, Prog Rock, World Music? It generally refuses to be categorised. Whatever it is, it is not main stream. To date I have worked as a Mechanic, Archaeologist, Builder, Tiler, Electrician and Carer, often alongside being a session guitarist, although I prefer not being someone else’s musical mule! i do on occasion teach advanced guitarists or do the odd session, however its rare i really enjoy such gigs unless i am able to contribute in some meaningful musical way. The Well of Heads video is to be released next month and features some great photography from Scottish photographer Les Johnston. We are developing ideas for a collaboration using his images and my music, perhaps through a tour.  I am working on my Truefire series which will introduce the use of my “Phat Bhoy” pick along with instruction on angle picking and other insights into my technique. I am enjoying life, I have never had anything to prove to anyone other than myself, I just concentrate on creating my music and hopefully that is evident in what you hear in the finished product. For me that is being successful in music, that is the real reward. Music is a spiritual journey for me, to compromise myself or dilute it for the masses is out of the question. The music industry faces many challenges, some of which it has imposed upon itself. It is good that there is still a strong demand for well crafted, original music.

Roy, thank you for talking, and best wishes for you in the future,

Thank you very much. 


Megjegyzések

Vincze László basszusgitáros, Front zenekar

Hendrix project