Reviews & Dunn – How did you get your start in music?
Marlon McClain – In grade school, like many students, I learned how to play the recorder or flutophone. I eventually graduated to the clarinet, and in the 7th grade I became fascinated with the guitar and asked my mother to get me one– she surprised me with one for Christmas. I would listen to James Brown & Jimi Hendrix records constantly to learn the guitar parts.
Reviews & Dunn – What can you tell us about the collaboration with BD3 for your upcoming song Ain’t No Stoppin’ Now?
Marlon McClain – It was awesome to work with BD3, his personality is infectious. It came about through me reaching out to George Littlejohn. I had finished the track for Ain’t No Stoppin Now and for some reason, I was hearing a rap on it, instead of a lead vocal. I asked George if he would recommend someone from the east coast that he liked. George sent me some of BD3’s music which I thought was awesome – his flow is very organic and real. We got on the phone and talked and we connected immediately, like we had been in a band together.
Reviews & Dunn – When did you earn the nickname “The Magician”?
Marlon McClain – Donald Hepburn of Pleasure gave me the nickname The Magician in the early days of the formation of the group. He liked how I played the guitar and started calling me The Magician. Donald was an awesome musician and songwriter – so I was always honored that he looked at me in that way.
Reviews & Dunn – In 1981 you released “Changes”, what was your recording process like for your debut?
Marlon McClain – On Changes, I worked with the producer/engineer Phil Kaffel. He had also worked with me on Pleasure’s “Future Now” album. He is super talented. I wanted to branch out and work with other musicians, so Phil connected me to some great musicians in the bay area, including bassist Randy Jackson and Steve Smith from Journey and I also worked with my good friend Jeff Lorber.
Reviews & Dunn – You joined the Dazz Band in 1984, how did you end up in the group?
Marlon McClain – I had moved to Los Angeles from Portland, Oregon. After I got settled in my place, I called Reggie Andrews, who I knew from the group Karma. At the time he was producing the Dazz Band, and he told me that the guitarist had just left the group and that I should give Bobby Harris a call. He gave me Bobby’s number and I called him. Bobby said “hey man I know who you are. Do you want to join the group?” It was crazy. I moved to LA, then the next I know, I am on a plane flying to Cleveland to join the Dazz Band! #goodtimes
Reviews & Dunn – I loved the groove of “Say Love” feat. Eric Benet from Jeff Lober’s 1994 album. Was that your first time working with Eric?
Marlon McClain – I had been introduced to Eric by Jeff when he was in the group Benet. I love the song “Say Love”, which we co-wrote with the songwriter Jeff Pescetto.
Reviews & Dunn – You also spent time in the band Pleasure. Were you surprised that Will Smith sampled Pleasure’s Future Now for his 2002 song “1000 Kisses”?
Marlon McClain – No I was not surprised that Future Now was sampled. Pleasure has had our music sampled since the early days of the West Street Mob. https://www.whosampled.com/West-Street-Mob/Let%27s-Dance-(Make-Your-Body-Move)/
Reviews & Dunn – Did your chemistry with En Vogue member Terry Ellis on her 1995 solo album Southern Girl lead to you later writing for the group?
Marlon McClain – I met the producer Denzil Foster of Foster & McElroy at Fantasy Studios in 1993. We became friends, and over a period of time he would fly me up to Oakland to play guitar on some of the projects that him and Tommy (Thomas McElroy) were producing, which is where I met Terry Ellis. That lead me to writing and producing on the Southern Gal album, and I also got to be a part of her band in supporting that release.
Reviews & Dunn – How did Tim Bowman, whom you currently manage, come to your attention?
Marlon McClain – I met Tim through “Guitar & Saxes”, a jazz touring group that included Jeff Golub, Kirk Whalum, Gerald Albright & Tim. I was in the backup band along with Nathaniel Phillips on bass, Ricky Lawson on drums and Arlington Jones on Keys. Tim and I became fast friends on that tour, I am a big fan of his talent.
Reviews & Dunn – If we ever get a Dazz Band biopic, ideally who would you like to portray you?
Marlon McClain – No I cannot act at all (haha)
Reviews & Dunn – Is there anything you would like to add and where can fans find you on social media?
Marlon McClain – Thanks in advance for spreading the word on my latest release “Ain’t No Stoppin Now” feat: BD3. I am so excited for people to hear this record.
You can find me on Facebook: – https://www.facebook.com/marlon.mcclain
Instagram: – https://www.instagram.com/macmanmusic3/
YouTube: – https://www.youtube.com/c/FunkyFridays/featured
We have much more music coming out from myself, as well as Tim Bowman, Whitney McClain and Brando. 2021 is full of music and possibilities! All the best – Marlon