EOAF recently caught up with frontman Marco Argiro (guitar/lead vocals) of Brooklyn-based indie rock band Marco With Love to discuss the band’s upcoming EP, Townes Van Zandt, NYC inspiration, Slimer from Ghostbuster, and his kick ass band members Subodh Samudre (bass/ backing vocals), Blaine O’Brien (pedal steel/backing vocals) and Peter Landi (drums/backing vocals). The band’s four track EP, Tidal Wave, is slated for release on July 17th.
EOAF: What’s the quick and dirty of how you guys came together (when, where, how, etc.)?
Argiro: I met Peter a few years back when we were both doing live session work for a mutual friend of our’s band. He and I became fast friends and later he ended up playing drums for my British side project The Killing Floor. So when I was assembling the live band that would later turn into Marco With Love he was the obvious choice to be the drummer. Subodh and I met at Ping Pong Tournament some years ago hosted at the Corbis offices in NYC. We bonded over a mutual admiration for 90’s power pop bands like Superdrag and Nada Surf and talked about one day having a jam. Our schedules didn’t line up to make good on that jam ’til a couple years later when I was wrapping up production on the Love LP. We had a instantaneous spark. Together we worked on the music for what would later become Tidal Wave, the band’s first song. I met Blaine at the 11th street bar in the East Village only a few short years back. He was playing pedal steel and harmonica in his band Brothers NYC and I just so happened to be the support act on the bill. I was immediately intrigued by his playing and style having just spent the last couple years exploring the cosmic American music of Gram Parsons. Up until this point I hadn’t seen anyone playing steel guitar up close before, and I was blown away by the sound he was putting out. I remember approaching him after their set and asking if we was a fan of “Sneaky Pete” Kleinlow. Thankfully he said yes, and within a short few months he joined Subodh, Peter and myself at the next rehearsal. The core of MWL’s lineup was now in place, the rest is as they say. History.
What inspired the new EP?
The new EP was inspired by living in the big city, our collective travels around the globe, family, and the need to create our own blend of Jangly Country Fried Rock n Roll music. Visionary artists like John Lennon, Tom Petty, and high energy garage acts like the Sonics and The Troggs really helped path the way for us and helped the guys and I to push the boundaries of conventional modern music. We have also decided to add a fourth cut to the EP. It’s a song called “Leave It Behind” and some folks may recognize it from the Love LP. The original version is in a different key and was recorded back in 2012 in my Bushwick basement studio. The band and I felt the new MWL version far better represented our band’s sonic evolution and captures the intensity of the band’s live show with some added psychedelia production.
Why did you choose to include a Townes Van Zandt cover (Waiting Around to Die) on your EP? How does it fit with the other song?
We decided to include the Townes cover on the EP because we all loved the way it turned out in the studio. The song has a great vibe and truly captured a moment. We also felt that it helped showcase our band’s versatility and ability to explore related genres. Waiting Around to Die is the kind of song we aspire to write ourselves one day. As far as how it fits on this particular EP, we felt the fictional drifter in this particular song is not unlike the character in Poor Young and Gifted and also share similarities to one of the main characters in Leave It Behind. Both had an abusive father and had to endure hardships along life’s journey.
What is your songwriting process like…who is the primary songwriter? How do others contribute?
Our songwriting process varies from tune to tune. Historically I have been the primary songwriter for the band, but with the Tidal Wave single the music has been more of a collaborative effort. For example, during one of our earlier writing sessions Subodh had a really cool riff that he had been messing around with. He shared the idea with me and we quickly started jamming on it for a while until we came up with some other chord changes together and thus the rough outline for the tune was born. I generally record these raw sessions into an iPhone singing a rough melody so they can be further explored at another time and mined for other potential ideas. Once we’ve had a chance to shape them a bit more we like to get the whole band together and start jamming as a unit. We usually then realize what is missing from the arrangement and each member adds the dynamics that are needed in order to fill out the song on the their respective instrument. Every single member of MWL is a multi-instrumentalist and capable of writing songs on their own so this helps tremendously when being objective during a jam or a writing session. In between rehearsals and gigs is typically when I work on lyrics for the songs. Living in Brooklyn, I often write in transit. Mostly on subway commutes or even in the back of cabs utilizing the iPhone again only this time working on lyrics by typing in notes. Though I prefer to write in my home studio in Clinton Hill, you never know when a line will come to you and a potential lyric will be born.
Did you all grow up in NYC or just live there as adults? If not, where did you grow up and how was music incorporated into your lives?
Like most people living on this island we all originally came from other places. My father and his family immigrated to New York from Italy back in the early 60’s, but he and my mom ended up moving to South Florida where they raised my sisters and I down in Fort Lauderdale. From a very early age music became the driving force in my life–started bands with my best friends, made records, and submersed myself in the local punk music scene. The only member of the band that actually grew up in the New York area is our drummer Pete Landi. He grew up out in Sag Harbor and like the rest of us music played an integral part of his youth. Subodh, our bassist and his family ended up settling in Virginia Beach, Virginia after living all over the world. He grew up playing in bands in the early post hardcore emo scene in Virginia Beach then continued to make waves playing and touring with various bands in Richmond, VA. Blaine, too, called Virginia home, only his town was Roanoke. I think it’s safe to say we all got the musical bug pretty early on in life which helped shape our trajectory.
What types of things/events/experiences inspire you to write?
Various subject matter tends to inspire our band’s material. While some songs tend to lean more towards abstract thought and points of view, others are more direct chronicles of the lives of family and friends. Tidal Wave could very well be about turning over a new leaf as much as it could be about the ridding oneself of poisonous people in our life. We consider ourselves socially conscious, but not overtly political. To quote Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy, “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dream. Wandering by lone sea breakers, and sitting by desolate streams. World losers and world forsakers, for whom the pale moon gleams. Yet we are movers and the shakers of the world forever it seems.”
How has living in NYC influenced your music?
Living in New York City has kept us street smart and continues to inspire all of us on a daily basis. Getting just about anything done in NYC is just a little bit harder than most other places we’ve lived. Though the city is almost too fast paced and often can prove to be logistically difficult, the people and the rich musical history help keep our heads in the clouds.
Why type of venue/music event do you enjoy the most? (listening room, bar, club, festival, songwriters session, etc)?
Every stage we get up on has its perks. There’s something about playing to an intimate room where people are listening to every lyric and really engaging, but of course for us rockers playing a big festival or club show with a packed room is pretty darn cool. Regardless of the size of the audience we always aim to make every last person in the room leave the venue with a smile on his/her face. Ideally they will remember their MWL show experience and bring a friend to the next one.
What do you enjoy the most about performing live? Any specific experiences that stand out from your shows?
I love it when the show all comes together, it’s really rewarding for us to work hard on writing the material, rehearsing it with the band and then the big pay off comes when we play out for a live audience. It really is a symbiotic relationship between the audience and the guys and I. It’s always nice to return to a city or venue and looking out into the crowd only to notice people are singing along or even just smiling. There was one time that we played the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn with a couple bands from Detroit when the guys and I noticed that there was a guy dressed up in a Slimer costume from the Ghostbusters movie.
How has social media helped your music career?
Social Media is a blessing and a curse. On one hand it has helped us reach music fans in far off lands as well as down the road from us in Brooklyn. On the other hand, I feel it can take away the mystique that musicians once had. People end up knowing way more about artists these days. As a musician it can sometimes seem like a chore. I think overall I’d prefer to just make music rather than worrying about telling everyone what were doing at that particular moment. That being said, I bought into it early on and saw the potential and reach that it could provide independent artists.
Tell me a bit about your upcoming touring schedule…how are you going to promote this EP on the road?
Well, we plan on having an EP release party here in NYC, in addition to a few dates in Nashville, San Francisco & Los Angeles. We will be getting our new record into all the mom and pop and independent Brick n Mortar record stores that we possibly can around the states and across the pond in the UK/ Europe.
What do you do when you aren’t writing or performing? Any other interests or charity work?
When I’m not writing or performing you’ll likely find me behind the bar slinging drinks, however I like to spend time with family, read, and watch documentaries with my dog Layla. I’m also a volunteer member of Musicians On Call here in NYC. We do our best to brighten the day for sick kids and their families. Subodh is a Creative Director and Art Director for Advertising, a rock ’n roll photographer, music composer and is always busy producing art projects with his design company ‘Make Things Awesome.’ Peter works in a record store and also fronts his own grunge rock band, The Glazzies. Blaine designs websites, is a honky-tonk DJ, does kickboxing in addition to session work for other groups.