Better known for playing rhythm guitar and being the brain behind the music and business end of pop punk giants COWABUNGA!, Ian Marsh from Reston has been working on getting back to his roots with a genre far from his pop punk project—county music. Raised by his step-dad on cowboys and southern twang, Marsh always admired country even as his band was at the forefront. Now, he is making his own path on the dusty trail and venturing to new musical grounds where he feels more at home. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Marsh about the ‘little things’ that inspire his music and his outlook on life.

How would you describe your sound?

I like to keep things simple. I don’t try to do too much. It’s just me and my guitar. It’s different, but its what I like to listen to so I try to emulate that. I try not to try too hard, its basically just me talking (laughs).

What country artists do you like to try to emulate?

Well I grew up listening to a lot of ALAN JACKSON, and when ERIC CHURCH came on the scene, I have been really focused on his way of doing things. I also incorporate any country songs i like that I hear on and off the radio.

How did you originally get into country music?

My step-dad pretty much raised me on it. Whenever we were driving in the car, it was on. When I got older, I got into hardcore, pop punk, and metal, but country was always universally appealing to me. Now, it’s my jam (laughs).

What is it about country music that makes it ‘universal’?

It’s not abrasive, and it doesn’t offend. Well…it doesn’t offend most people anyways (laughs). Also, it’s easy to relate to, and you can actually understand it, unlike some metal and hardcore music. I have always said that the most important thing in any good song is that someone can listen to it and instantly relate too it. Those are the songs that I like the best.


How would you describe your songwriting process?

It’s kinda evolved over time. I started writing songs when I was 15-year-old, and then it was based on the music first, and then the lyrics would follow that. In COWABUNGA!, I wrote both the music and the lyrics and then brought it to the guys, and we tweaked it as needed. Now, I start with an idea first, then I progressively write down ideas for riffs. Next, I come up with the lyrics, and then I write the guitar parts based off my ideas.

You have released four songs so far, but do you plan to record and release a full record or another EP any time soon?

Well I have eight new songs now that I’m still fine tuning, and I want to do another EP or two of four tracks each. The good thing about being a solo artist compared to playing in a band is that there is no pressure to get something out quickly, and I don’t want to rush it either.

Which of your songs has the most meaning to you, and why?

Of the stuff that I have put out so far, I like “Little Things” and “It’s All Good” because of the people they are about. I also have a new one that I wrote about my step-dad that’s pretty cool.

In the chorus of “Little Things”, you sing, ‘It’s the little things in life that stay important.’ What are the ‘little things’ that Inspired this song?

It’s basically about having someone there for you at all times, to text, call, go out to the eat, and just spend time with. I wrote it about my girlfriend Suzy.

I know that in the past year, you played your first show in Richmond, but do you plan to play any more shows in the near future?

Yeah some opportunities have come up, but it’s kinda nerve-wracking for me to play on stage by myself so I would really like to find a full band to play with. I also want to build up more material.

What venues in the area would you like to play?

I think Jammin Java would be possible, but I need to figure out where it would be appropriate because I don’t just want to play before pop punk and hardcore shows for the rest of my life (laughs).

Are there any other bands or solo artists from Virginia that inspire you?

I really like BRIAN GLENNON‘s solo shit. He used to play in COWABUNGA! and when he left to play his own music, he made it look pretty easy. We are still good friends, and it would be awesome to play a show with him.

For more updates on Ian Marsh’s music, follow him on Facebook and check out his self-titled EP on Bandcamp.