'Cooky, Quirky, Marizane-y’
The Los Angeles based indie-rock trio of Marizane have managed to revive classic 70’s glam-rock without watering down their retro quirkiness for the modern masses. After more than a decade of performing together, Marizane announces the release of their debut full-length album, Cosmosis.
Musically, Cosmosis is an experimental, sparkling gem of an album juxtaposed alongside organic, honest and whimsical lyrics and melodies. With the new album, Marizane has birthed the love child of Queen, Elton John, The Beatles and David Bowie. In the crazy mad lib style description of Marizane’s own Debbie Shair “[It’s] avant-garde theatrical pop-rock giraffe opera!” Whatever that means.
Exclusive Magazine recently spoke with Marizane about the new album, their unorthodox approach to music and what fans can expect from the zany group next.
Your music has its roots in classic rock and experimental indie pop. Who were your musical influences growing up and how many still factor into your music today? Debbie: "Todd’s influences were primarily both well-known and obscure 60’s and 70’s pop and rock bands. My early influences were albums that my parents had, such as Best of Simon and Garfunkel, Revolver, Carpenters, and the soundtracks to The Sting, classic Disney movies, Grease and Star Wars and lots of show tunes, to name more than a few."
"They had an amazing collection of 45’s primarily from the 50’s and 60’s, but had an oddity now and then, such as the Theme to Shaft. I danced around the living room a lot to that one. Later on I became an 80’s new wave girl and then a progressive and classic rock junkie. We were also both into classical music. I think it’s safe to say all of these things still factor today, which probably explains our eclectic and eccentric style."
You just finished your new album ‘Cosmosis’ which is available for download on iTunes. For someone who may be unfamiliar with Marizane, how would you describe the sound and style of your music? Todd: "It’s really hard to describe what something sounds like without comparing it to something that exists. You’ll definitely hear our influences, but it’s pretty unique to us. I mean, people tell us we sound like Steely Dan for example and although we take that as a big-time compliment, we don’t hear that ourselves. It’s safe to say that if you like bands like Beatles, Queen, Bowie or modern bands like Of Montreal or Dr. Dog then you’ll probably find us remotely interesting."
Debbie: "How about sci-fi retro whimsical avant-garde theatrical pop-rock giraffe opera?"
Marizane’s story begins all the way back in 1992. How did you integrate your artistic talents together to form the band in Los Angeles and how has Marizane grown as a group over the past 17 years? Debbie: "I’d just moved to Los Angeles and was looking for a music project to get involved with. I didn’t see anything in the local music magazines that seemed very interesting or appropriate at the time, so I put in my own ad, which read something to the effect of “Hyper NY female seeks band for therapy and gigs.” This peeked the curiosity of Todd, who probably called to see what kind of wingnut I was."
"But we talked on the phone for quite awhile and found we had very similar musical interests. So I met him in the garage he was living in, which was set up like a cross between a vintage equipment store and a science fair experiment gone wrong. His demos blew my mind and he was pretty jazzed about my keyboard style, so that’s where the collaboration started."
Todd: "To answer the second part of your question, in the early days, I would kind of put forth material and Debbie would complement it whereas today it’s more of an actual collaboration."
The release of your debut album, ‘Hypercube Sideshow’ was shelved after keyboardist, Debbie Shair, sustained a wrist injury that prevented her from playing. Tell us a little about this disappointing turn of events. Debbie: "I was working ridiculous hours on a computer at the time without taking breaks and realizing there is such a thing as ergonomics, and to make a long story short I developed a nasty painful case of repetitive stress injury. It actually interfered with things as simple as brushing my hair, writing with a pen, and eating with a fork, just to name some examples."
"But I couldn’t use a computer or play piano for 2 years as a result. Eventually when it calmed down to be manageable, I realized that the only way I could play piano without pain is standing up, which continues today and makes for more interesting live performances!"
Marizane wrote, produced and performed the title track to ‘Mayor of Sunset Strip’, the 2003 Rodney Bingenheimer biopic. Describe this opportunity; how did you get involved and what was the experience like? Debbie: "Chris Carter, the producer of the movie, was manager of our friends’ band “Wondermints” at the time. He approached us because he originally was having the theme song to the movie written by Joey Ramone, but unfortunately Joey passed away during this time. So, knowing that we had a “glammy” type of style and the fact that Rodney liked us and played us quite a bit on his show, he asked if we’d be interested. We recorded it at Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood, which was one of the last remaining full-tilt analog studios in town with a large group of musician and singer friends. It was a blast to do!"
You began working on ‘Cosmosis’ in 2003. Six years in the making, what are you most proud of in releasing the album? Todd and Debbie: "That it’s released!"
Speaking of music festivals, do you have any new shows or tour dates lined up? Where can fans see you play next? Todd: "Nothing as of yet, but we’re definitely open to opportunities. It’s a bit tricky coordinating with Deb’s schedule because she’s been very busy out on the road with the band Heart for the last few years."
Where exactly did the band name, Marizane, originate from? Is there an interesting story behind it? Todd: "It’s a made-up name. I was playing around with rock-opera concepts and was trying to come up with a name that would sound like a sci-fi hero kind of character. We got some press with it and we thought it would be smart to keep it. Since then we found out it’s a fairly common female name in Brazil, and is very close to “Marezine” an alternative to Dramamine and “Marzipan” a chewy- nougatty candy."
How easy or hard is it to create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderments and accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? Todd: "Should we ever achieve such a goal, you’ll be the first to know."
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy) pop/rock song would you love to cover today and why? Todd and Debbie: "'We Built This City' by Starship, because it can only be improved upon!"
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves penguins, do you? Debbie: "Of course I do. If I had a pet one, I’d name it Steve … or Bert …. Steve-Bert."
Todd: "Two penguins are bathing in a hole in the ice in the Antarctic. The first one says to the second one, “Can you pass the soap?” And the second penguin says, “What do I look like, a typewriter?”
Check out Marizane at their official website and Myspace page. Also, be sure to download 'Cosmosis,' available now on iTunes!
Interviewed by: Erin M. Stranyak
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