Mollie Marriott’s first solo gig didn’t quite begin according to plan.
“I was absolutely terrified,” remembers the daughter of Small Faces and Humble Pie legend Steve Marriott. “It was at the Half Moon in Putney, which was the last place my dad played before he died, so it was such an iconic place for me.”
The singer’s backing musicians had convinced her they’d start performing before she joined them on stage, to show the audience she wasn’t just the singer in a band.
“So they all walked on and left me in the dressing room,” Marriott remembers. “I could hear them playing, but when I went to open the dressing room door it was locked and I couldn’t get out,” she laughs.
“So I went into this massive panic and started banging on the door until an audience member opened it for me. I just fell apart laughing, because I realised it was hilarious, and ran on stage and started singing. It was such a good thing to happen because it got rid of my nerves, and we had such a good laugh on stage after that.”
The nerves are still there.
“It’s terrifying,” she admits of performing live. “The more I’m doing it, the more nervous I’m getting, because the more I’m doing, the bigger the venues are getting – and there’s more people to judge you,” she laughs again.
“A really good friend said he’s now starting to see me fear success, rather than fear failure. I think he’s right, but I’m not going to let it get to me.”
That resolve has helped Marriott make the move from backing vocalist, for the likes of Oasis and Joe Brown, to solo artist – and finding her own voice along the way.
“Being a backing vocalist, you show up, you sing, and you leave – it’s the best of all worlds,” admits Marriott who, as a child, fell in love with the backing vocals on Joe Cocker’s ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ and The Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’.
“But if you step out to the front, you’re extremely exposed, extremely vulnerable. You have to deal with all the rubbish that comes with it and, obviously, with the backstory that I have, I knew it was going to be something that I’d have to deal with.
“I hadn’t emotionally dealt with that yet. So it took me some time, and then I had a real crash – properly hit rock bottom – in 2012, when I had to deal with literally everything in order to move on.
“When I did, I realised: ‘Now’s the time, because I can take it. I’m ready, I’m focused, and I want to write about all these things.’”
Inspired by Alanis Morissette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ and singers like Stevie Nicks, who favour pain and emotion over technical perfection, she did just that.
“I decided I wanted to write from the heart, and passionately, and honestly, even if it makes people judge me in certain ways, or makes them uncomfortable. I don’t just want to sing any old thing,” says Marriott, whose new single ‘Control’ begins with the lines “Haven’t you heard the word? I’m taking back full control.”
“I think there are people who sing for the fame and don’t care what they’re singing, as long as they’re being seen,” she continues. “And then you get people who need to do it on a cathartic level. It sounds incredibly graphic but it’s almost like cutting yourself and bleeding in front of your entire audience.”
But there’s a lot more to Marriott’s live shows than what she describes as “honesty and raw emotion”.
“My band and I have fun on stage,” she emphasises. “That’s important to me – I wanted a band that move and enjoy themselves, and completely get lost in it. Their energy’s very infectious, so when we have a good time everyone else does as well.”
And Marriott, who releases her debut album ‘Truth Is A Wolf’ later this year, hopes to carry on sharing the good times.
“Success to me,” she muses, “would be being able to play my music with the people I love in some fantastic venues. It’s not about money, it’s not about fame – if I’d wanted that, I’d have sold my soul a long time ago and rode off the back of my father many years ago.
“To me, it’s just about being able to play and people appreciating it.”