Brian Marquis '01: Making His Own Luck
Whether it’s picking up a new instrument to join a band or talking his way onto the Warped tour as a producer, Brian Marquis '01 has a knack for creating his own opportunities. With a grounding in grade-school band and all-state chorus, Marquis learned to play drums and guitar with bands in a variety of styles.
His wide diversity of experience brought him to Berklee in pursuit of a career as an engineer. “But once I got here,” he says, “I discovered that my real love is songwriting and performing.” He also made a lot of friends, adding that “The best part of Berklee was the people I met there.”
Indeed, Marquis made enough personal and professional connections that he was able to return to the college as a staff member after a brief stint in L.A. “Berklee is a unique place to work,” he says, “because there aren’t too many jobs that are understanding when you need to take time off to go on tour.”
Marquis continued to grow his performing resume, recording and touring internationally as the lead singer of Boston-based quintet Therefore I Am, which played on the Vans Warped tour in 2009.
After the band broke up, Marquis met with Warped tour founder Kevin Lyman for career advice. “I’d done a lot of entrepreneurship for the band,” says Marquis, “like booking, accounting, and marketing. But on paper my resume just looked like ‘band guy’ and I wanted some advice about what kinds of jobs I could apply for in LA. As we talked, an idea came to me for an acoustic stage on the Warped tour, and I pitched it to Kevin [Lyman].” Lyman was initially disinclined to try it because of past attempts that hadn’t worked well, but Marquis convinced him that he had the personal network and professional acumen to pull it off. Lyman agreed.
Marquis launched the “Acoustic Basement” side stage on the 2012 Warped tour, and soon the crowds were so big that Lyman devoted double the tent space and sound support to it. The project was even more successful in 2013, and Marquis took several of the artists on the road after the Warped tour wrapped up, extending the brands of the Acoustic Basement, the Warped tour, and Vans alike.
Recently Marquis approached Equal Vision, the label that had supported Therefore I Am, and proposed they sign him as a solo artist. Unsurprisingly, they agreed, and Marquis’s debut album Blood & Spirits will be released in May 2014. “It’s been a long road,” said Marquis, “but I make music for a living and pay my bills. I’m a professional musician, and it feels really good to be able to say that.” If Marquis seems lucky, that’s because he is. And that’s no accident.