Marcus Foster: Charles Saatchi likes his art, Mumford lovers will like his ‘dangerous’ tunes

Tap Marcus Foster’s name into Google and the usual MySpace, Facebook and Twitter are the first results to pop up – no great surprise for your average 21st-century musician with a wi-fi hook-up. What comes next, though, is something you won’t get if you delve into the joyless online presence of, say, Ke$ha.

As well as your standard social networking sites sits a profile of this junior Joe Cocker on the chi-chi Saatchi Gallery’s website, accompanied by a picture of an imposing steel balloon hand-sewn by Marcus himself. “Saatchi bought it from my degree show and it ended up going in the new British sculpture exhibition,” explains Marcus. Yep, as well as being a balmy blues and gentleman gospel powerhouse, Marcus is also a rising star in the art world.

What we’re most excited about, though, are his immense tunes. Marcus is a member of the Communion crew; Kevin Jones, who runs the label with Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons, plays bass in his band, while his debut album has been produced by their cohort Ian Grimble. “There’s no bullshit,” trills Marcus of their collective’s brilliance. “They just want to listen to great music.”

If you’re worried that, with this kind of backing, the album is set to be a weedy acoustic endeavour, then your fears should be allayed by the raucous presence of a horn section, string quartet and gospel choir. “It sounds quite dangerous,” he admits, “but it’s all old school and dirty. ‘Exile On Main St’ is what we’re sort of going for.”

Before the album hits this summer, there’s his fabulous ‘Tumble Down’ EP (out April 4) to get to grips with, which boasts the blazingly intense ‘Shadows Of The City’. A haunting wedge of nightmare-soul, it’s a south London voodoo jam complete with demonic wails and preacher yelps.

“It smacks you in the face,” says Marcus of his potent blend of classic sounds, which he began trying to pin down as a teenager in thrall to unhinged rock’n’roll greats. “I wanted to combine all my heroes. I wanted to have melodies like Van Morrison but lyrics like Bob Dylan with attitude like Tom Waits.” So far, Marcus, so good.

Leonie Cooper

Need To Know

• Marcus went to school with some bloke called Robert Pattinson and wrote ‘Let Me Sign’, the song R-Patz sings on the soundtrack for some movie called Twilight

• Marcus is making the video for ‘Shadows Of The City’ in Iceland and will be scouring the country for ideas for his album artwork, which he’ll be doing himself. ’Cos he’s an artist, innit

• Marcus once played to 2,000 masked punters at a convention in Dallas. “It was really weird,” he says

This article originally appeared in the March 5th issue of NME

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