ICON: Let’s start from the beginning. Where did you develop your love for music?
Marcus Catanzaro: “I guess most people’s love for music generally comes from their family. My earliest memories are lying in bed with my mother listening to ’60s and ’70s tunes in the morning and singing along. Later in life, both my brother and sister played in bands and were involved in the Sydney music scene. From the age of 10, I remember going to watch them play punk shows in community halls and places like that. When I was in grade 5, my friend Dan (who’s brother also played in a punk band) asked if I wanted to start a band. Ridiculous to think now that while other kids were out eating dirt and playing soccer, we were inside drafting band logos and writing songs. That band actually formed and did really well so in turn I spent the majority of my teenage life touring Australia in and around school breaks.”
You’ve toured the world with the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Childish Gambino. What does a performance day look like for you? How do you prepare?
“As a guitar tech, we roll in around 10am after the sound and lights are in and we set up all of the artists equipment on stage then begin maintenance and servicing of the different instruments/amps/pedals etc.”
MC: “This changes from artist to artist really. With a band like Gang Of Youths or DMA’S, we have to tour on drastically lower budgets, so it generally means wearing more hats. I’ll often be driving between cities, tour managing and advancing the shows, guitar teching during the performance then doing it all over again. On the flipside, with a band like Fleetwood Mac, we have 80+ people on the road, each covering a very specific part of the show. As a guitar tech, we roll in around 10am after the sound and lights are in and we set up all of the artists equipment on stage then begin maintenance and servicing of the different instruments/amps/pedals etc. For me, I have 19 or so guitars on tour for Neil Finn and each day they are in a completely different climate, from freezing below zero temps to heat and humidity, so I’m generally working on them right up until doors open in the venue. We then do the show, pack it all down, load trucks and get back onto buses around 2am which then roll to the next city while you sleep.”
Do you have a favourite past performance?
MC: I have so many! Working with Gang Of Youths on the ‘Go Farther’ tour was really important to me. They are some of my best friends and I (among many) put so much work into bringing that show to life, so to see a sold out Hordern Pavillion sing along felt really special. More recently we have done some huge shows in iconic venues with Fleetwood Mac, and as a boy from Western Sydney, I never ever thought I would have the chance to even see these places, let alone stand on the stages. Wembley Stadium in London and Madison Square Garden in New York were two big moments for me.
Speaking of Childish Gambino, in your personal opinion do you believe he is done with music like the media has speculated?
“I can’t imagine a talented dude like Donald to ever stop creating music.”
MC: “You know I can’t imagine a talented dude like Donald to ever stop creating music. I’m far from knowing what he will do next, but i guarantee he has a very detailed plan.”
When on the road, do you miss the creature comforts of home?
MC: “I do, a lot. I really love to cook, drive, clean … all of those mundane every day things you regular humans take for granted! On my tour bus, I always have a slow cooker so that I can at least make everyone food on days off. When I’m in Australia I have been living in Perth, so I miss the ocean and the community a lot too.”
What has been your biggest career lesson to-date?
“With music especially, we are thrown into this tiny bubble with a bunch of strangers, then forced to live, eat, play and work together.”
MC: “That you don’t have to be the best at something, but you have to be the best version of you while doing it. If you can be really good at your job whilst being a team player and a good hang, you will forever be employed. With music especially, we are thrown into this tiny bubble with a bunch of strangers, then forced to live, eat, play and work together. There is NO room for egos and attitudes. I guess we can all use this as a life lesson right?”
Do you have a crazy or wild story from any tours you’ve embarked on before?
Talk to me about the final Fleetwood Mac show in San Fransisco. I’ve been told David Beckham and Emilia Clarke were backstage watching. While you’re always surrounded by some incredible creatives, do you ever get star struck?
MC: “I try to remember everyone is just human, and most of the celebrities that are at our shows are there on a rare night off with their families or friends, so respecting their space is imperative. I’m lucky enough to be really close with the Fleetwood members and even after all this time I still have moments of, “how on earth am I standing here casually talking about my favourite recipe for pasta with Stevie Nicks and Neil Finn?”.”
Coming from Sydney yourself, what is your response to the recent lockout laws being lifted? Do you believe that this will assist the re-growth of live music in the city?
“It’s great news for Sydney but unfortunately the damage is done.”
MC: “It’s great news for Sydney but unfortunately the damage is done. The incredible humans who dedicated their lives to running live music venues have either moved on, or are far too hesitant to get back in, knowing that some government official will take it all away again. I grew up nurtured by that community. I learnt about business, friendship, family and responsibility whilst standing on the sticky floors of places like The Annandale Hotel. I can say I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for those people and that community, so it makes me sad to know that so many kids won’t have the chance that I did. Maybe I’m wrong and it will quickly be back to full force, but I think unfortunately it’s an uphill battle for the people of Sydney.”
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The Sydney music community raised me. From stages in pubs, parks and community halls to theaters, arenas and stadiums, I learnt about life, business, respect and friendship. 19 years later, I’m lucky enough to travel the world, still working in the industry I love. All of the opportunities I had are no longer available thanks to a complete disgrace of a government system. @gladysb , it’s time to start thinking outside the box you and your government seem to be stuck in. The state of NSW has been suffering from your parties poor decision making for far too long. If you haven’t already, follow @dklmaustralia #dontkilllivemusic and @keepsydneyopen to help the cause.
Do you believe coming from Australia as a help or hindrance when trying to join the US or UK music industry?
MC: “Both for sure. Australian’s working in music around the world are very highly regarded. We naturally have a ‘get in and get it done’ work ethic that is often rare in other cultures. The downside to being from Australia is that we just aren’t exposed to the level of touring that exists in those larger markets. We can’t go out for 8 months at a time with one artist and really get settled on the road, it’s like 6 shows and the tour is over!”
What’s next for you? Where can we see you next?
MC: “There is a lot of exciting things booked for next year. Coming home to Australia for Bluesfest with Crowded House will be a pretty special moment for sure. Then lots more touring and a few new artists will see me in LA for the foreseeable future.