Arts

Arts Q&A: Former Island Records boss Marc Marot on U2, Led Zepplin and Iain M Banks

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Marc Marot, former boss at Island Records and co-creator of The Danger Tree exhibition, currently at Titanic Belfast

Marc Marot (right) and artist Scarlett Raven, creators of The Danger Tree

1. When did you think about a career in music? What were your first steps into it?

I was at art college, joined a band and decided I could cure the world with my weeping guitar. Then reality bit, so I got a job at a record label and 10 years later I awoke as the managing director of Island Records managing the recording careers of bands like U2 and the Cranberries.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to?

First place has to be Led Zeppelin at Earl’s Court in 1975. A close second would be Nine Inch Nails at the Astoria in London in 1991. I’d signed Trent Reznor’s band to Island Records and had taken a huge risk in underwriting the European tour.

I was blown away – he smashed every piece of gear on stage in a stupefying angry show which was the most dynamic thing I'd seen up until that point. I’ve still got a piece of the DX7 keyboard as a souvenir.

In third place it would be U2 opening the Achtung Baby tour. I'd taken the helm of Island Records and that album was my first worldwide responsibility. They didn’t disappoint.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Bob Marley and The Wailers.

4. The record you’d take to a desert island?

Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful contemporary classical music and would remind me of everything beautiful in the world I’d left behind.

5. And the book you’d take to a desert island?

I’m a bit of a science fiction nerd. I’d take Iain M Banks’ Feersum Endjinn. It’s a very dense read and would take time for this dyslexic reader to get through.

6. Top three films?

Blade Runner, Jean de Florret and Deadpool.

7. Worst film you’ve seen?

Dunkirk. I think it’s over hyped and too dogmatic in its studious avoidance of CGI. In reality, there were over 100,000 men on a totally chaotic beach desperate for rescue, but in this film they looked like a bunch of public school boys on a stag night queueing to get into Stringfellows. Wasted opportunity.

8. Favourite authors?

Iain M Banks gets my top vote.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

My family have always been into Formula One and I had the privilege of managing F1 driver Max Chilton for three years.

I’d branched out into sports management from music and it gave me a chance to get really close to another industry which was fascinating.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Mauritius. The land of my father who was a Mauritian - hence my French name.

11. Pet hate?

Negativity. I am the world’s most daft optimist and I’m always looking for the opportunity in life. In a way it’s how I started The Danger Tree art project. I was approached by painter Scarlett Raven and came up with the idea of forging fine art with augmented reality.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? Rougaille – a tomato based Mauritian sausage casserole.

Dessert? Coconut ice cream.

Drink? A cold Green Island Rum with Coke, sipped slowly overlooking Pereybere Cove in Mauritius.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

My manager Andy Frain whom I met aged 13 in boarding school. We’ve worked together on and off for 40 years, such is the trust and quality of our friendship.

14. Is there a God?

That’s a theme that comes up again and again in our work. In fact it’s the subject of one of the paintings featured in the Titanic Belfast show.

I’m an agnostic really but, had I been in the position of those soldiers, I’m certain I’d be praying alongside them.

:: The Danger Tree, a ground-breaking visual arts exhibition marking 100 years since the end of the First World War will be on display at Titanic Belfast throughout August. The exhibition comprises a collection of original paintings and prints and uses augmented reality software to bring each piece alive through poetry, animation and music. More information at TitanicBelfast.com

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