Room Thirteen would like to introduce you to Mike Marlin. Why? Because he has done something really rather remarkable. Only a week before hitting the big five-oh he played London's Jazz Cafe with the prestigious accolade of being named as one of HMV's 'Next Big Things'. What an introduction to the music scene as you release your first album. Just as most guys his age are starting to consider those Saga adverts for next year's getaway and perhaps looking forward to the glimmering light of retirement getting ever closer down the tunnel of their careers, there is no doubt that Mike is only just getting started.

We caught up with him at Gibson Guitar Studios, a suitably fantastical location for an album launch he never realistically dreamed could happen. As he cracked open a celebratory bottle of wine, he said "I never thought I would be doing this, so to find myself at my own album launch is just so unlikely. You've just got to roll with it, you've got to love it. If you don't love it then you're thinking about things the wrong way." We couldn't agree more, particularly given that said vino had Mike's face on the label for promotional purposes. Does it get more rock n roll than that?

To be honest, it's taken a while to get here, but Mike himself is the first to admit that. For a man who claims to operate on a policy of having "very high standards and very low expectations", he is thoroughly appreciative of his chance to get his music heard. After a tumultuous youth that saw him drop out of Oxford University in pursuit of "oblivion", twenty-five years of this gifted musician's life were spent in a much less glamorous career. "I'm a computer programmer. I recovered into a really solo world of creativity which was programming computers, which something that involves no human beings and therefore ideal for a manic depressive. So I dived into the machine, if you like." That is not to say that this transition to music has been a bolt from the blue. Over these years, Mike would be continually writing and allow his everyday life to influence his work. "It's like the video for 'Play That Game' where I smash up the office. I've been in that office. I know what to do!" he laughed, "I'm not a musician pretending to know what it means to smash up an office. I'm a guy who's spent many, many years in an office and I've always wanted to do this."

As you will come to see, 'real' experience becomes the definite flavour of Mike Marlin's music, and it's also what sets him apart from other artists. "I work with fantastic musicians which is great. But what I bring into that is the world of not being a musician, the world of not being passionate about what you do, and that's the real world. Most people, most of the time don't really give a shit about what they do, and that's terrible, but also true." So, it would seem that it is these years of experience that has made him the artist he is today. He went on to say, "I couldn't have written these songs when I was twenty. I really didn't have anything to say thirty years ago now I look back on it. The annoying thing is now I have plenty to say and expect no-one to be listening." He was swift to add, "I just sing it anyway. Give me that megaphone, and I'm off!"

Whether it be a product of his background or just his personality, Mike Marlin appears to be an incredibly grounded and self-aware individual, which he in turn applies to his attitude to music. It's really quite commendable given that reviews for his debut album, 'Nearly Man' keep seeing the name 'Bowie' feature as a comparison. "My influences from back in the day are kind of obvious", he laughed, "it doesn't take a genius to work that out! My biggest criticism is that I sound like Bowie? That'll do because he is a genius!" When asked who he would most like to draw parallels to, he quite rightly pointed out that "its not just who, it's when- it's a question of time and place as well", as he reminisced being able to see bands like The Police and The Jam as they became legendary to their own eras. However, when pushed to indulge in a little vanity, he conceded that "I would have loved to have been there with Bowie and Lou Reed, chipping in to 'Satellite of Love', that would have been good." With one listen to a Mike Marlin track you would easily be able to see how, gifted with a time machine, this could have been an entirely feasible venture.

On the subject of fantasised scenarios with heroes from his youth, it seemed the perfect time to ask about his upcoming tour, supporting The Stranglers. If Mike Marlin could go back in time and tell his teenage self that he'd be touring with them in the future, would he have believed himself? "No. I would not have believed it! If I'd said 'one day I'll be on stage with The Stranglers!' [anyone I knew] would have turned to me and said, 'Mike, you are, insane. This is happen.' And if I'd said I'd be going on tour with The Stranglers a week after my fiftieth birthday? That would have been even more insane. So yes, it is absurd." It may be absurd but it is fantastically so. As Mike points out, it is such an opportunity that he has literally nothing to lose. "It's like I've already won! So what the hell could go wrong?! Saying that, I'll probably now get electrocuted on stage and die, which would actually improve album sales, so that'd be pretty good."

This good humour and vibe of positivity is one that radiates from Mike Marlin, the man. In this one short conversation it felt as if he offered quite a wealth of sage advice to approaching life and all it's intricacies. He has a few core principles he wishes to get across in "Nearly Man" which has left him hungry to develop further in the next album. He even has a song, 'Give It All', which is so steeped in meaning for him that it's the first in queue to get on the next record. Mike explained that it continues the message of "Nearly Man" and the philosophy he has come to discover as he turns fifty. "There's a key line in that song where I say 'I'll never make the same mistakes again'. That is a cliche, but the point I'm making is by the time you get to fifty, what you realise is you would give anything just to have the chance to do it again; and make the same mistakes again the second time round and actually enjoy it, and appreciate it, and be there. Rather than always thinking that its about the next thing you're going to do, or 'if I do this, I'll get that', forget that. Focus on what you're doing now."

It was a truly refreshing experience to meet an artist with so much to say and with so much talent to back it up, and undoubtedly we will all get to learn a lot more about Mike Marlin with each new release. From his music, you will be sure to gain a slice of affirmation about what it is to be alive through the medium of good old fashioned rock n' roll. But what about coming to see a Mike Marlin show? "The way I think about it is, if five hundred people come and see me, I want the hundred people who get it, to really get it. The other four hundred people can fuck off. It's no holding back. This is what it is, if you don't like it, good. Let's get that conversation over early. If you do, then this is what it is. It's a strong flavour and it's particular." We dare you to give it a go.

You can catch Mike on his UK tour with The Stranglers throughout March, and "Nearly Man" is available now. If you want to know anything else, just pop on over to