Ok folks, against all odds we’ve got some freshness for you all. Coming off the heels of a murderous CMJ week when we basically worked day and night between regular world work and the glory of BAL – we’re a bit beat. Between checking out sets in the glorious Saudi sweatbox known as Cake Shop; trekking it between the East Village, Williamsburg and the Lower East Side nightly; and blowing our drink budget despite our best laid plans, one would think we’d have nothing left to give – but we do.
Among the absurd litany of bands playing CMJ, it’s often hard to find an act that balances the industrious, play-all-shows possible spirit with a track record and the talent to go along with it. Enter Marnie Stern, who with her killer band in tow has been dropping heat on wax for 3 solid years now. Marnie is not a typical CMJ act – she’s not a 21 year-old synth-pop artist trying to break, her name doesn’t suck, and her music exudes a confidence and comfort not easily found among the hundreds of disposable acts at CMJ.
Her music is gleefully frantic; a frenetic, all over the map blast of guitar, thick sturdy bass, and manically precise drums. On record these drums are provided by none other than Zach Hill of Hella, no stranger to doing whatever the hell he wants to on the kit; and live by Vince Rogers (ex-Tera Melos) whose complex fusion of punk, jazz and metal playing only adds to the adventurousness of Marnie’s songs. Meanwhile, bassist Nithin Kalvakota does exactly what is needed – anchoring the flourishes of both of his band mates with Campbell’s Chunky thick foundational rumbles. Combined with Stern’s lyrics, which emanate in a variation of yelps, screams and tuneful singing, the sound is one of pleasant contradiction – fastidiousness meets simplicity, purity confronts convolution - through which an ever mutating and honest personality unfolds.
Not surprisingly, this same honesty comes naturally to Marnie as you'll see and hear in our video of her. Unlike other interviewers we did not ask her what it felt like to be a girl or, even less creatively, what it felt like to be a girl who can rip a guitar. The BAL crew was a lot more interested in the day to day of writing music, touring internationally (the band begins a 5 week jaunt of Europe Nov. 18th), and just plain getting to know her in our brief chat. As a self-taught musician who did not catch her first break until her 30s, Marnie is expectedly humble and yet retains the type of ambition readily found in those far younger than her. She is refreshingly honest, mature, and downright hilarious as her running joke about the vacancy in her vagine illustrates. We’re extremely pleased to bring you this exclusive feature with both killer concert footage and a legit interview combined into one, as only we’ve learned how.