University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Say hello to The Duke

The Badger

ByThe Badger

Mar 16, 2009

It’s a splendid thing, the Scottish music scene. Home to the humble kilt, the slightly less delectable haggis and, err, the bloke who played long-suffering Little Mo‘s deranged husband in EastEnders a few years ago (I jest; Scotland is also responsible for many of the superior things in life, including the completely mesmerising Irvine Welsh, but that‘s probably a story for another day), the country has also produced many an unforgettable band.

I’m not entirely convinced too many people would be inclined to agree with the line of thought that Biffy Clyro are plausible contenders for such a category, but I like to think they’re pretty good all the same. It would be foolish of me to hail them as the finest of Scotland’s musical exports. But if you’ll let me discount some of their commercial success for a moment, I do believe they’re overlooked to some extent. It would be far too easy to write them off as average; if nothing else, Simon Neil boasts an impressive strand of talent and aptitude, which is always worth writing home about.

So with Simon Neil firmly in mind, it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Marmaduke Duke. Yes, they’re a side-project, borrowing members from both Biffy Clyro and as the lesser known Sucioperro. But they’re an interesting, exciting side-project; none of this indistinctive shit initially raved about but far better suited to a metaphorical scrap heap in the sky. Take for instance Probot, a collection of throwaway tracks channelling Dave Grohl’s not-so-secret penchant for heavy metal… boring. Marmaduke Duke are anything but boring. They take to stages draped in rubber masks, headscarves, coloured tights and feathers, for gods sake! But this isn’t just about their aesthetic choices. Marmaduke Duke are doing something completely different to what you may expect; for one, they’re not a Biffy Clyro mark two, and that in itself is undeniably delightful.

I’m not sure I know the words to effectively persuade you to seize any opportunity that may present itself to you to witness Marmaduke Duke live. But know this: if you do get to see this band, you won’t regret it. There is something strangely enjoyable about watching Simon Neil, albeit masked and unrecognisable, hurl himself into a swarming crowd of fans again and again; you can even draw a perverse sense of satisfaction from the predictable huff of security as they exasperatedly tug him back towards the stage for the umpteenth time amidst a tangle of microphone wire and sweaty palms. And musically, of course, Marmaduke Duke aren’t too shabby either. Their imaginative mix of post-hardcore and dance is not only infectious, it transforms the band from mere side-project to well-defined ones to look out for. So there you go; without doubt another success story for bonnie Scotland, methinks.

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