Despite forming in 2015, Buffalo natives Marquee Grand have already played some of the biggest stages their home town has to offer. Between opening this year’s Alt 107.7 Birthday Show and being the first local band to sell out Rec Room in Buffalo, the boys in Marquee Grand have proven that they can hang with the heavyweights. With a solidified line up consisting of Matt Lawniczak (drums), TJ Luckman (Bass), John Richter (guitar/vox), and Josh Owczarzak (guitar), Marquee Grand is ready to take 2020 by storm. I was lucky enough to catch up with Marquee Grand before they performed to a sold-out crowd at the Rec Room. Check out the full interview below to learn about the band’s roots, show experiences, and 2020 plans.
Interview/Intro: Chandler Poczciwinski
Photography: Haley Sousa
Chandler: So, let’s just start right from the beginning. How did you guys get together to form Marquee Grand? Was it childhood friendships or did things just happen to fall into place?
John: It was honestly a bit of all of that, Matt and I met in 5th grade and we have been playing guitar and drums together ever since. We met Josh three or four years ago through a mutual friend, and that’s when we became Marquee Grand. Then we met TJ about a year ago actually, so it has been a bit of meeting people and playing with friends, but now it’s just playing with friends.
Chandler: It is funny to see how much success you guys have had in the short amount of time since we last saw you. The last time we saw you was at the Welles show and I believe that was the first show that you played with TJ. Ever since that show I have seen you everywhere, how does it feel to have had so much success in such a short amount of time?
John: Honestly, it’s unreal and so much fun, it never ends and there is always a next step. We take every opportunity we can, and understand that there is always a next step and we never want to stop stepping.
Chandler: Speaking of opportunities, you guys played the Alternative Buffalo 107.7 birthday show not too long ago. It was so amazing to see a local Buffalo band play a stage that large. How did that show come about?
Matt: Yeah so, we had played a You Saw Them Here show with 107.7 and after playing that at The Tralf, we followed up and formed more of a relationship with them. At the same time, they were booking the bands for The Birthday Show and they asked us to play.
Chandler: How does it feel to walk on a massive stage like that? Were you nervous? Excited? What was going through your mind?
John: It was a little bit of everything, nerves and excitement all mixed together. But once the music started flowing it was like any other show, just awesome.
Matt: We had prepared so much for that show, practicing three times a week, so by the time we got on the stage we felt so prepared and just wanted to have fun.
Josh: It was a whole day endeavor, we got there at like noon and left at midnight, it was an unreal day.
Chandler: Playing a show like that is a major stepping stone for a local band like yourselves, what do you think was the most important thing that you took away from that show as a band?
Matt: I think it’s just the idea that we have a little bit of weight now, we aren’t spring chickens anymore. We have paid our dues around Buffalo but we aren’t complacent, we always want more.
Josh: Yeah, I think we proved to ourselves that we can “hang” with bands of that size, and we are “worthy” of playing with bands like that. Obviously, we were nervous at first, it was the most amount of people that we have played for and we didn’t know how we would handle the crowd. But we learned that we can perform well even in front of that many people.
Chandler: Do approach shows like that a different way or do you approach it like any other show?
Matt: I mean we always want to be ourselves and do our best no matter how large the crowd is.
John: The most important thing for us is always connecting with the crowd, so if you can connect with five people the same way that you connect with 5000 people then that’s the goal. It really goes both ways, you think that with big shows you would want to act differently, but you treat every show the same and just do your best to connect with the people in front of you.
Chandler: Well speaking of holding your weight, you guys sold 320 presale tickets to a 325-capacity venue for tonight’s show. How does that feel?
John: So Close!! I’m just kidding haha, but no, it’s our first show of 2020 and we are taking this year more seriously than any other year. We want to be very strategic this year, calculate our moves and keep pushing the bar.
Chandler: Let’s talk about tonight’s show, we have Johnny and the Man Kids, The Burkhart’s, Canetis and obviously Marquee Grand. How did tonight’s bill come about?
John: Well we have past relationships with all of the bands, we have either played shows with them or played shows with past versions of these bands in some way. Like Canetis used to be The Riffs and a few other guys. So, it was a little bit of who was available and who wanted to play the bill with us. We obviously have say in who plays the bill, but it’s a little bit of who is available.
Chandler: Tonight’s show is really a celebration of the release of your new self-titled EP. How does it finally feel to have an EP to share with your fans?
John: It’s really nice, singles only go so far and so it’s nice to have some more tangible songs to play for our fans. An EP is more cohesive, where a single has to stand on its own. We want to do more like the EP so just keep a lookout during 2020. We don’t know what we are going to do yet, it could be an LP or another EP so just keep an eye out for that.
Chandler: Did you have a specific theme or an overarching idea in mind when you wrote the EP or was it more just a collection of your songs?
John: It was really a mix of all of that, some of the songs had been written for a while, so they weren’t written with this EP in mind, but, some of the songs were old tunes that we wanted to bring back to life, we thought they deserved a second life.
Matt: You know TJ is so new to the band, it was great to work with him on this record and now we have a solidified line up. Even though we have been a band for 5 years, it feels like we have been a new band during the past 12 months.
Chandler: How has the response been so the EP so far?
John: It has been pretty good, we did a 107.7 in-studio interview/song walkthrough this past Sunday. As I said before some of these songs are older, so it is cool to have that they have new life and some people will already know them which will be fun. But I guess we will really see tonight how people react to them.
Chandler: Like you said before, 2020 is a new year with lots coming, so what can fans be on the lookout for?
John: Well nothing concrete or major yet other than new music so get ready for it! We aren’t going to sleep on this year, in the past, we might have been slow getting things out but that won’t be the case anymore, we want to get as much out as we can and keep it fresh!
Chandler: Thank you guys so much for talking to me today and have a great show tonight!
Josh/John/Matt/TJ: Thank you!
Find Marquee Grand Here!
Spotify: Marquee Grand