INTERVIEW – Phil Marsh of The UMA Talks to Us About Their New Single ‘Fire’

Pop-rock band The UMA Have just released their brand-new single “Fire.” Not only that, but the 3-piece also treated us to a music video alongside the release which can be watched below:

We loved the band’s last release “Wake Up” and wanted to have a chat with them about this next single and any other plans they may have. Frontman Phil Marsh was more than happy to tell us anything and everything The UMA related! Here is what he had to say:

You have a new single out which I’m going to be talking to you about in a moment. But I wanted this to be like an introduction piece for you guys as well so, why don’t you start by telling us how the 3 of you came together? How did you all meet?

Well, me and Dan – who’s the guitarist for The UMA – we ended up in bands together years ago. Initially, when we first met, I was actually his boss at Build A Bear Workshop! Well back in the day! And we just kind of had the same mutual love for music and stuff. You know when you connect with somebody and it just kind of feels right? Me and Dan just kind of connected, it was really really nice.

So, we just talked music every day and we didn’t think we’d play together at any point. It’s really weird right, I don’t know if you get this but, do you ever meet people in your life and when you see that person again later, they’ve almost been highlighted to remember that person? I basically met Ben – who’s our bass player a good few times through Dan, because obviously, he used to come to meet him at work and go and hang out and stuff, because they were in a band together at the time. It was really funny because he just stood out. I never really got pally with him but, we became Facebook friends, and felt like it was enough of that friendship. But then eventually, Dan started playing in another band with me, and Ben went off travelling I think for a few years.

Then, when that band ended, we literally just decided, me and Dan have this passion just to create something that we love, and we had a few writing sessions. It was just me and Dan with a few friends. Started heading down to London and working with a friend down there. We wrote the first song “Fire” – which is out today (1st July), and at the time it just felt like a really good demo. We didn’t know what was going to happen. So, we just decided to make this into a project. Let’s do this.

We’re like, right okay, so we’ve got me and we’ve got you, we need a drummer. Originally Ben was going to be our drummer – he’s one of those multitalented buggers. But, one day he was he just said “I think I’d be more suited on bass.” He wanted to play bass and guitar rather than drums. It felt right, as a 3-piece.

So, that’s how we all met. And then it was the point of the name. What are we going to call this thing? We texted back and forth with multiple, stupid ideas. A few escapes me right now but bonkers things! But then, Dan just texted me and I think he was watching Kill Bill or something, he just went: “Dude! Uma is like a really cool name!” and I was like: “Yeah! It’s sick!” It’s got like a sexy feel to it. We were just going to be called UMA. Then our management was just like: “guys, we’ve got a problem with UMA because if you put it in Spotify, it’s going to come up with a lot of people.” So, I was thinking, okay let’s just put ‘the’ before it! It worked out perfectly! Thus, The UMA was born!

That’s good! Well, at least nobody has the name so it will only come up with you on Spotify!

This question is more directed to you personally. What made you want to become a musician? Did you always see yourself in a band?

I think, from an early age, anybody in my family will tell you that I’ve always wanted to be the centre of attention. My sister used to hate me for it! I think it’s different these days, but back in the day when I was younger, there was no real platform. If you wanted to sing and stuff you spent your time singing into your talk boy, and doing karaoke on Spanish holidays, wearing Elvis wigs – but that’s another story!

I just found that I love singing. I got to an age where I found out that I could go to college and do it. I lived with my grandparents at the time, and they weren’t exactly helpful in relation to guidance in the music industry! So, I went to college and I sang my way through auditions and stuff. Then, I had to continue with that BTEC thing. Then I ended up doing vocals at university. I mean, I’ve been singing since I could make a noise. So, to now be in this band. I’ve done old bands and we’ve performed at shows and stuff but, to be in this band now where everything feels so magical and special and like, to know I’ve followed that path to be a singer. And I’m still learning! There’s a great quote. I can’t remember the musicians’ name but there’s a violinist, and he’s a classically trained violinist, and in an interview when he was in his mid-80s, they said to him, “why do you still practice every day?” he said, “I think I’m making progress.” You’re forever getting better and I think that’s part of this journey of being in this band. I want every record for my vocals to step it up. Steven Tyler’s the aim you know.

That’s a good attitude to have though because then you can always improve. You’re only as good as your last single.

Always room for improvement! No matter what you do.

So, what are your main goals for The UMA then? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Collectively, the whole point of this band is to have fun. We’re 3 best friends and we have our session drummer Alan, can’t leave him out bless him. The UMA is a 3-piece and we’re best mates, I think our first aim is to enjoy this as 3 mates that share this experience. It’s beautiful you know, I’ve met people through the industry and to share this and building it together and having our team and stuff like that, that’s one part just meeting new people and creating something.

Number 2, like every unsigned band I want to sign a good deal where I can make a living and play music every day. I have a 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter so to be the ultimate cool dad! It would give me the pre-school kudos.

It sounds quite a cliché but we would love to play the O2. I’d love to play an arena. I just want to live the dream. I want to bring back rock star! I don’t think there’s any rock stars anymore. Actually, tell a lie, Yungblud, he is breaking the mould because, if you look at most musicians today, my favourite bands are Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, you know, real rock stars. And I think it all went a bit clean. So, I want us to live our dream, do some crazy things, put out some fantastic music, and do it as best mates.

 What would you say is the best advice you’ve been given as a band so far?

Best advice as a band so far oh god…Do you know what? I think through the years I’ve been given a lot of advice. I feel a bit like a superhero where I’ve got a utility belt full of advice and I can pull out one at any point. I think the only advice really is quite cliché it’s more a case of just stay humble. I think that’s the biggest thing. The number of people that are in any kind of industry, and they gain some success, they forget about the important people and they forget about how to be. I think being humble is important. No-one’s above anybody in this world. We’re all one race, we’re the human race. We’re not above anybody. You’ve got to stay humble and enjoy what you’re doing. Even if you’re not in the entertainment industry, it doesn’t matter what you do. If you’re good to people, they’ll be good to you and I think that’s important.

Yeah, that is important. You don’t want to go, diva, do you!

 No! People might think that of me but no haha!

 A bit of a tougher question but what’s the worst advice you’ve been given?

 Ah, the worst advice I’ve ever been given…oh god that’s hard on the spot. I don’t think I’ve got an answer to that one. I tend to be the kind of person that cuts that stuff off straight away. So, any negativity I cut it off. Actually! Here’s a little story for you! So, years ago, I was in a really old band. I won’t get into it because I was like 15/16 it didn’t matter. I sent a demo CD to, I won’t say any names, but to a certain management company who managed a big band. Said management company rang me from the other side of the world and told me to give up. I was 15 and said person told me to give up because I was no good. And I’m glad I didn’t take that advice!

That’s honestly the worst advice you could give to anyone. That’s mad!

 So, let’s talk about your new single then. You’ve just released your new single “Fire.” The music video only just dropped about an hour ago. What can you tell us about it? What’s it about?

 You know what, it ties in quite nicely with what we were just talking about. “Sometimes they make me, sometimes they break me” are 2 core lyrics in the chorus. If you believe in yourself and you believe that you can do something whatever that may be. It’s a motivational song. Don’t let anyone put you down. Don’t burn out this fire in life whatever that may be. I think we live in a world where internet trolls, and people in general that get a bit jealous, and then people that don’t believe. I mean, we’ve all had people in our lives who we’ve told our dreams and aspirations to and they’ve kind of laughed it off. I think we’ve all been in that situation. This song reflects the attitude to have and to never give up ever ever. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re no good. You’re one person, and everyone has a part to play on this planet. Everyone makes a difference. It doesn’t matter who you are, if it’s someone who’s, unfortunately, going through a hard time and sleeping on the street, to someone who, I don’t know, is working at Halifax or Bank of Scotland. We’re all on this planet to make a difference in our own right. And that’s what the songs about. It’s about not giving up and believing in yourself.

That’s a good message. Maybe you could send a link to the management that told you to give up! Last year you supported WSTR on their UK tour. What was it like performing your songs in front of a crowd?

Haha! Yeah, it was the most amazing thing because we didn’t think we were ready to be out there as a band. Especially Dan. So, Dan our guitarist – the handsome one with the nice chiselled jawline – he basically is a perfectionist. We all are, but he is THE perfectionist and he was like “dude I don’t think we’re ready yet.” And we just kind of went with it. Anyway, Alex from WSTR was round my house because he lives local and we like to have dinner and a few beers and stuff. He came around one night and we were in the garden, we had the fire lit and he was like “ah dude, put on some of The UMA.” So, I put some songs on and he listened to a demo of Fire and he was like “right that’s it. You’re coming on tour with us lads.” I was like “dude we can’t” and he said “leave it with me, I’ll call Dan and you’re coming on tour with us.

The days went by and fast forward a few weeks and we get everything ready and we’re on this tour. I think it was 200+ capacity a night sold out. Every show we were just do well received. We’re not a pop-punk band. WSTR is a pop-punk band. The other supporting band on before us are a bit more gutsy. We’re quite poppy and we’re proud of that. We write a song and it feels right. It’s like The 1975, there’s no real consistency, they write what they want and that’s amazing. So, we didn’t know how it would go down until the first night in Brighton. Our producer was down who’s one of our best mates, and Jack from Fickle Friends. We were at the backstage door, and me and Dan were like, “you go first” “no you go first!” You know what? Every night was amazing. Every night we felt like a billion pounds. It was just incredible to be out there.

We released our first single “Wake Up” before the tour and we already had people singing the words! It was crazy! Then people were asking for photographs and autographs and it was just weird. It was great though! People connected. There’s one song that’s going to be one of our next singles to be released actually, and lyrically it surrounds mental health. There were quite a few people that came up to us at each show actually and thanked us because that song is highlighting what they’re feeling right now. That was amazing. I think we went down pretty well.

I bet it’s given you a taste of what it’s like to perform live as well.

Honestly, it’s like oxygen to me! There’s nothing better. Just being on stage and singing is just incredible. I’m a typical, moaning, creative frontman. I’ll always worry about my vocal. I’ll always worry about whether I’m good enough. But, when I’m up there, I’m having the best time. And you just know that you’re following the footsteps of the people that you aspire to be. It’s a journey you know? It’s part of our story and I think every show ticks off another page of our story.

The band was supposed to be performing at the Great Escape Festival, that’s had to be postponed. But, sort of following up from the last question, what would be your dream festival to perform at?

Reading and Leeds would be good for us because I think we’d go down well. I mean I love Download Festival, that’s a huge one for me. I know we’re quite pop but, I think maybe we could get away with it. But yeah, I think Reading and Leeds. You know what, I’d love to play Coachella!

Who else would be on the line up with you?

Okay so, I’m not going to pinpoint one festival. Whatever it may be, we’d be on really early. I’m not even worthy enough to say who we’d share the stage with now but, that’s just me being non-believable…if that’s a word. But, The 1975 would be incredible, Yungblud – that would be insane. Even artists like Lennon Stella, I adore Lennon Stella so much! I watched Nashville and I fell in love with that girls’ voice. Let’s throw some country in there as well! Some Luke Combs, why not? Let’s put Aerosmith on there. And put Motley Crue on there as well. There you go, I’m happy. So, a country/pop festival. I think the tickets would sell well!

That’s quite the mixture. Just start your own one and have all those people!

This is my last question for you, what’s the next step for the band? Can you tell us of any plans?

Yeah well, I mean, obviously with the world how it is at the moment, I think the most important plan for everyone is to stay safe and to get healthy and make this world normal again. But for us, we’re quite lucky. We’re in the position where we’ve recorded and have two more singles ready to go. So, we’ve got new songs to put out. We’ve also done a cover, that’s going to be out at some point but we’ve got enough to tide us over at the moment. Then we’re just getting back in the studio and writing more! Because we’re always writing. I’m the kind of person that always writes better in the situation. I’m probably not alone when I say this but, with this whole lockdown thing, I have found myself quite tired and uninspired. I’m looking forward to just getting back in with the guys and just bouncing some ideas and writing some more songs. And hopefully, we’ll have some show dates to end on! That would be nice for next year. So, stay healthy, get this world back to normal, and keep releasing music for lovely people to listen to.

Massive thanks to Phil for taking time out of his day to talk to us! “Fire” is now available to stream on all major streaming platforms here. Make sure you’re following The UMA’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more updates! Definitely a band that you don’t want to miss.

About the author

Book lover. Concert Freak. Band nerd...that's basically all you need to know!

Head over to my Twitter where I talk about music and pretty much nothing else! - @em__media

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