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The Mariannes : Burning Down the House

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: February 19, 2003

The Mariannes
w/ Simon Joyner, The Golden Age
Feb. 21
9 p.m.
Sokol Underground

13th & Martha


The Mariannes aren't asking for much from a musical career.

"If we don't attract big crowds, it won't terribly disappoint us," said bassist Robert Little. "Bands that want to become huge rock stars aren't in it for the music, necessarily."

Still, the trio hopes people show up for their 7-inch release party Feb. 21 at Sokol Underground with Simon Joyner (who's also celebrating a 7-inch release) and The Golden Age.

Called "Your New Life on Medicine," the three-song single was recorded in lead singer Matt Stamp's mid-town living room by drummer Steve Micek. The sound is Midwestern art folk on Valium. The title track begins as a soothing jangler with Stamp sweetly singing about "arms outstretched making snow-angel puddles in the grass," before shifting gears into a weird, guitar-driven jam-rock anthem. "Sword of Damocles," on the other hand, would sound right at home on a Mountain Goats CD, while the mostly instrumental closer, "Truth," feels like early, laid-back Pavement built around a repeating guitar line that you wish would go on forever.




Stamp began The Mariannes as a solo project three years ago, putting the current, permanent line-up in place a little over a year and a half ago. Micek previously played with Real Time Optimists and has done a tour of duty with Bright Eyes, while Little has played in Son, Ambulance. The musicians on the recording also included guitarist Dave Hawkins, who has since left the band.

"We met each other playing some eclectic shows at The Book Station, that old, lesbian-run bookstore and coffee shop on Leavenworth," Stamp said. "Since then, we've been playing small, hole-in-the-wall places like Shock, Ted and Wally's and Newells."

The band was unable or unwilling to describe their sound. "We don't play any specific type of music," Stamp said. "It would be easier to say what we don't play. Steve won't play blues songs."

Micek, who was busy during the interview packing gear in preparation of working as the soundman at Sokol Underground that evening, didn't look up. "I won't play blues," he said. "It's so boring. What's a drummer from a blues band got to do? Play back beat for five minutes?"

"When I played by myself, I had a few blues songs," Stamp said. "Those were the first to go."

With the single's release, the band hopes to hit the road on a tour of house shows, with a couple club dates thrown in for good measure. "House shows are a tawdry affair," Stamp said. "It's usually a lot of drunkards who may or may not pay attention to what you're doing."

Little, who used to live in a house that hosted shows, said the vibe is much better than in a club. "On average only about 15 or 20 people show up," he said. "Some of the shows are amazing. It's fun to play in a house because you're closer to everyone."

"House shows are disarming because there's no stage," Stamp added. "You're in a basement and ultimately, no one cares what happens. Still, it's the best way to go."

Little said the house-show network is a tightly knit community made up of thousands of people who share a love for eclectic music. "House shows are an investment," he said. "You catch the attention of a few people who are really into music, and they tell more people and it builds from there. If we ever generate a big following, I want it built on our music."

Stamp said the band plans on following up the single with a full-length later this year.

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Published in The Omaha Weekly-Reader Feb. 19, 2003. Copyright 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



"House shows are a tawdry affair. It's usually a lot of drunkards who may or may not pay attention to what you're doing."