Last Thursday, the Isis gig night at Cellar did what it always does, and pulled in the biggest names Oxford’s music scene. Dot’s Funk Odyssey, Garfunkel and headliners Marvellous Medicine were the three top names, and while my friends queued for me I had a few words with Marvellous Medicine – or at least as many members of Marvellous Medicine as would stay in place at one time. The band were buzzing before their set, and not only was it nigh-on impossible to keep them on topic, but it was pretty hard to hear what they were saying, as Cornmarket was packed with Oxford Uni’s koolest kidz.
Jamie, the guitarist, is very laissez-faire about the whole band, sarcastically claiming to be “very serious about music”, telling me all about their time at Truck Festival when they got back to their campsite and their tent was gone (“We would have been so angry if we hadn’t been completely fucked”) and mocking bandmate George for describing their music as “innocuous”. George and his love for Roald Dahl is the reason for the name, and he founded the band with Rob, who, as they quickly realized, “was quite keen on reggae”. The band only truly formed when more musicians including drummer Holly arrived at the university.
Marvellous Medicine have clearly done their research on inspiration Roald Dahl, telling me all about how “he had his nose cut off the first time he drove a car” (“it was pretty gnarly man,” remarks Jamie), and was blind for six months during the Second World War.
Musically, George tells us that the band is keen to “pull together as many diverse genres as we can”, and this is evident during their show – they play a couple of songs from their upcoming EP which sound more like folk than the ska reggae which they usually produce. The EP is as yet unnamed, though George and Jamie are delighted when I suggest ‘Patronus’ as the name, as they’ve just been telling me what their Patronuses they would be.
Jamie explains the natural gap between “Brookes bands, town bands and uni bands”, and George announces that they’re “trying to bridge that gap” with a gig they’re doing soon with “a massive Brookes band”. The genres explored by bands at Isis’s night are far from ordinary, spanning funk, rock, soul and reggae, and Jamie thinks this is because of the pedigree of Oxford music students, who know so much about different genres. This knowledge isevident as soon as Garfunkel take to the stage, and the crowd love it.
Apparently the band’s biggest wish for the future involves “getting more on our riders”. They’ve not thought too far ahead, but with the new EP coming out, and the fact that half the band have finished university not damaging their output, there is clearly more to come from Marvellous Medicine.