Walk Off The Earth's Ryan Marshall on Their YouTube Fame and Taking Kids on the Road

Erin Blackwood
Walk Off the Earth photographed in 2015.

Walk Off The Earth multi-instrumentalist Ryan Marshall talks about the band's hot-selling debut album Sing It All Away, and how they took their careers into their own hands.

Your major-label debut, Sing It All Away, enters at No. 45 on Top Album Sales and No. 71 on the Billboard 200. As a group best-known for YouTube covers, is it hard to shake that stigma when releasing original music?

We definitely didn’t view it as an obstacle. I don’t think Walk Off was ever a cover band. At times, just because of YouTube, people will think that. People would search for [other artists’] songs and then find us, whereas if we were putting an original song on YouTube, they wouldn’t find us. It just kind of worked out in a way that allowed us to introduce our sound and style to a lot of people, and that brought them into the world of what Walk Off the Earth is.

Columbia signed you after your YouTube cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” went viral in 2012. Do artists have to take matters into their own hands to get a record deal these days?

Yeah, 100 percent. Even the role that a record label plays nowadays is completely different. They used to break bands, build careers and create the idea of what that artist was going to be and work the hell out of it. Now, it’s almost like the record labels are taking artists that already have some sort of fan base and an idea of what they’re going to be as far as style, and they just make it bigger.

Many of your bandmates have kids. Is it difficult to be on the road all the time?

All of us have been in different bands and playing for a long time. Walk Off has really only been together for about for five years, but we’ve all been touring for 10 to 15 years. With this group, it’s more like a family. We travel with 15 people. Our crew are our friends. [Lead singer] Sarah [Blackwood] brings her son Giorgio on tour, and it’s great because Giorgio has 13 uncles to hang out with every day.

This story originally appeared in the July 4 issue of Billboard.