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INTERVIEW: Brian Marquis

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Brian MarquisSituated beneath the town’s mascot Tilly, Asbury Park’s Wonderbar is a favorite venue for locals and benny’s as well (that’s a tourist for those of you not in the know). As with the rest of the shore town, it’s got a not so secret soft spot for The Boss, but lately it’s been playing host to new acts that are just as talented. Tonight its guests are Brian Marquis and the rest of the Acoustic Basement Tour. Before the show I met up with Brian and discussed his upcoming album, the current state of Warped Tour and a some Jersey Legends. 

Infectious Magazine: So, first things first, you’ve got a new album coming out. What should we expect?

Brian Marquis: It’s going to be a lot more full band stuff. Recording wise, I wanted to do a lot more textures and a lot of things I couldn’t do on my own. So I’ve got a drummer and a lot of other people to play on it. Since it’s full band it’s got some piano on a few songs, some keyboards, some banjo and upright bass, a regular drumset and hand percussion. Just a lot of stuff.

IM: Do you think that will translate well to the Acoustic Basement Warped Tour Stage?

BM: I think so. I write all my songs to exist in their most bare form. I write it in that way so it can be expanded upon, but its not like it’s written as a full band song so when you take all that away it’s not as good or doesn’t work. You have to write it the other way around. I wrote a lot of upbeat tunes on this record as well as some nice mid tempo and slower songs. A lot of upbeat, grab your attention sort of songs so that’s more Warped Tour kind of stuff.

IM: So we’re seeing a lot of guys from punk bands or like Dave Hause or Chuck Ragan take on solo acts like The Revival Tour or other more folk like endeavors. You yourself have sited Dallas Green as inspiration for breaking off on your own. Do you see that folk revivial movement as a lasting trend?

BM: I think it’s always been around. I think it’s always been “a thing” so I don’t think it’s something that will go away. As far as people in the punk or alternative scene gravitating towards doing side stuff or doing solo acoustic stuff, I think it’s just a natural necessity for not only another creative outlet but also for economy.  A lot of people like Anthony Ranieri (Bayside) for example, he’s got a kid now and he realized he could go out and work between his bands tours so that becomes a necessity. You know? Artists have to work extra hard. They have to work more and it’s easier for some songwriters to just grab a guitar and go. But it also appeases a different means of that creative means of doing their songs. It’s different for the audience as well. So yea, I definitely think it’s something that’s not going away any time soon. It will always be there, but as far as people doing more and more in the scene I think they’re attracted to the raw-ness of it. I grew up with a lot of folk music and blues from my father playing music as well and folk is the ultimate originator of punk. That spirit, that attitude of just doing whatever you want and doing it with community and with purpose…I think it’s a natural gravitation. Wether it’s happening more? I don’t know. Maybe in our scene you just see it stick out a little bit more even though it’s always been there. There’s plenty of people doing singer-songwriter stuff in the pop and rock world but for our world it’s gonna be a lasting thing.

IM: So you’re a northerner, right?

BM: Yea, I grew up in Connecticut then I lived in Boston for most of my adult life but now I live in LA.

IM: So then where do all your southern influences come from? I mean you handled a Lucero cover flawlessly. 

BM: It’s actually from my dad. It’s all the ’70s singer-songwriters he listened to when I was growing up. I never really thought of it as a southern thing or a country thing. I was never really much into the country thing but I think Lucero is really a true Alt-Country kind of band. But my sound definitely comes from having a range of influences that are older; Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Van Morrison, James Taylor…a lot of Jackson Browne.

IM: Will we hear those influences on the new album?

BM: I think a little bit. Not so much directly. I really think I meld a lot of my influences. I have influences from my father playing music and all the music I listened to growing up but then I started listening to grunge and bands from the early 90s. Then there was punk and hardcore, then metal. Then I went to music school and I started getting into jazz and I just really love it all. I really take bits and pieces from all the stuff I’ve listened to over the years until I really can’t site any one reference. I’ve heard people say I kind of sound like Ryan Adams sometimes, who is a really prolific writer with a ton of great stuff. I personally just always want to be able to do different stuff. Likes that’s one thing I’ll say about my new album is that it’s very dynamic. There’s a lot going on and then it all comes back down to just a guitar. There’s some very different songs for me on there. There’s an upbeat drinking song thats just a fast and fun rock and roll song. Then I have one of my most epically sad and slow songs. It’s just really big and really cool. It’s nice to have lots of instruments and layers.

IM: So the Acoustic Basement Tour started out as a stage on Warped Tour. Lately the tour has been catching some flack for abandoning it’s punk roots. Knowing that was the feel of a lot of the community towards the tour were you nervous about bringing a more low key aspect to the venue?

BM: Not at all. Not at all, becuase like Kevin Lyman (Warped Tour owner) says, “Bullshit”. Look at the first couple of Warped line ups,  there’s L7, No Doubt, Sublime. Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, Blink 182, even Eminem. Then there were all the punk bands and all these hardcore and metal bands. It’s always been a variety of genres. It’s just people tend to focus on that side of it. Yea there were a lot of them back then, but that’s also because there were a lot of punk bands doing that stuff. The scene has shifted and the scene has changed. I mean the youth have changed. The music changes. I mean it’s tough for Kevin because a lot of those guys are in 30 year old punk bands and 13-19 year olds just aren’t aware of that anymore. It’s nothing bad about them, they’re just as relevant as ever, but the kids are so young that they just don’t grow up with that stuff. They don’t know about it. So, I think doing an acoustic stage is even more of a continuation of what Kevin has always wanted for that variety. He’s always had ska bands, he’s always had reggae bands. He’s had so many different kind of bands, but people just like to call it their own thing. Kevin has never said, “this is a punk tour. This is punk rock”. No. But I think in essence Kevin is the most punk rock by going, “This is music. This is punk rock wether you like it or not”. You know? He does what he wants and he books a lot of great stuff to expose kids to a lot of great music.

IM: I think that’s proven by bands like Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band gaining notoriety on Warped Tour.

BM: Yes! Those dudes are fucking awesome. Larry and His Flask were great on Warped Tour, Flogging Molly…all sorts of different bands that people may not have heard of. I think the acoustic stage was just another continuation of the “Fuck it!” mentality. Its another opportunity to put a different thing out there.

IM: You’ve said that artists have come to you and asked to play the acoustic stage as a way to step away from the full band for a moment. Are there certain individuals we should be looking out for?

BM: Oh yea! The first year I did it John Nolan (Straylight Run) would come and watch the acoustic sets and asked if he could play. He’d play some solo stuff, which is great, and some Straylight Run songs. So that was really special, it was really cool. I convinced Matt Embree of RX Bandits to come out and he’s amazing. He’s really great acoustic. It took a little prodding to get out there and try it out. And of course, having Chuck Ragan out there was just really awesome. He’s so inspiring and we started a friendship because of that. There’s been a lot of people who have come out of the wood work to try and be a part of what I’m doing. Anti-Flag came up to me and wanted to play. It was awesome. It was like a comedy show and great music and some really awesome covers. Yellowcard came up to me and it’s just really nice when it’s through artists. It’s not through booking, or agents, or managers. It means a lot when artists think that what I’m doing is really cool and want to be a part of it. That’s really special for me.

IM: Alright, the last and most important question! You’re here in Asbury Park where people are fiercely proud of their incredible music scene. You’re surrounded by (in)famous venues like The Wonderbar, The Stone Pony and Asbury Lanes. The question is, who is your favorite Jersey Band? 

BM: Oh man! It’s hard to even think of all of them!

IM: You don’t have to say The Bouncing Souls just because you’re in Asbury Park.

BM: No I like The Souls, but I think my favorite Jersey band would have to be Dillinger Escape Plan. I used to see them in lots of hall shows down here. I lived in Connecticut and I’d come down here for shows. They definitely came to mind first.

You can catch Brian Marquis on tour now, and purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here.

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Angela Mastrogiacomo

Founder of Infectious Magazine & Muddy Paw Public Relations. Lover of passion, ice cream, and books.

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