At glance value singer/songwriter Eil Marchini will have you fooled. Long haired, olive skinned and travelling with guitar in hand, he has just about every trait of the Gold Coast surfer dude Aussies can’t get enough of.
Marchini hails from all the way across the seas in Italy, where he recorded a portion of his debut LP SMILE. The record puts that acoustic guitar to damn fine use, throwing in a healthy dose of electric Californian tones while he’s at it.
Surfie-tinged Australiana hits a sweltering peak on SMILE, the gleaming, guitar-driven debut album from Italian born songwriter Eil Marchini.
Opener Don’t Wanna Waste Time wears Marchini’s Jimi Hendrix influence on its sleeve, combining blues progressions with a reverb-tinged solo and lyrical references to Castles Made of Sand.
We spoke to Marchini, hoping to gain some insight into the other rock legends who fed into his debut output SMILE.
That being said, Marchini also found no small information from musos down under.
“I have to say that I mostly referred to the John Butler Trio throughout the recording of this album. I saw them live in Italy the summer before I started to record SMILE and they blew my mind! John Butler’s been a great inspiration to me, especially for his huge musical variety and his independent artist/political activist persona.”
Appreciation for countercultural masters like Butler and Hendrix is a common thread throughout SMILE, Marchini obviously favouring and preaching a life closer to nature, far from the burdens and strains modern society can weigh us down with.
Million Dollar Hippy is perhaps the most direct tribute to this ideal, spinning a tale of a mysterious, anonymous hippy who wanders the lands spreading his wisdom. A surprise inclusion of organs in the choruses lift the track to reverent heights, expanding upon its already mystical feel with heavenly vigour.
You won’t find many Aussie artists who boast the experience of recording their music in Italy. For Marchini, this presented itself on the eve of his move to Australia.
“When I finished high school I moved to England to study music but I wasn’t really sure if songwriting was something I would have pursued. I recorded a few demos with the band I was playing there and I made my way through. I didn’t like England and I wanted to move to Australia for the waves and the weather.”
“So I came back to Italy and I had a few months to hit up some friends I knew where running a home studio and ask them if they would have liked to produce my album. Although they do a completely different kind of music (Italian Liscio) they were keen to produce my album and they made me come over in their spare time.”
“I asked some of my friends I used to be in a band with if they could have helped me out with drums, bass and keys and we got in the studio! We had such a little amount of time to work on seven tracks but we did our best. It was such a great experience.”
Special attention needs to be paid to Alba, which sits dead centre in SMILE. At seven minutes long, it’s Marchini’s Odyssey, a spiralling instrumental track which eats its way through several turns of phrase across its run length. Winding over and over through hypnotic strum sequences, it handily brings to mind Eric Johnson’s guitar ballad Cliffs Of Dover. ‘
The breadth of Marchini’s experience shines through his debut record like the sun through transparent fabric, warming the tracklist with a cozy familiarity and evident worldliness.
“Some songs are my really early ones. I wrote them when I was 15/16. Some were written in Australia with a completely different approach. There’s a story behind every song, from travel tales to lost friendships, from breakups to issues of the modern society.”
The rich backdrop of experience, influence and savoir-faire knowledge is where SMILE gains its greatest strength. A true wanderer of the world, Eil Marchini bears all the marks of a true songwriter who simply wishes to transmit his wisdom to the world, as so many musical luminaries have done before him.
Smile is out May 1st.