On June 13, 2011, Marah returns to Memphis for a show at the Hi-Tone. Leaders David Bielanko and Christine Smith will return with a full band this time around for a heavier rock sound than their last acoustic stop here in the city. I recently spoke to Dave Bielanko on the telephone about the band’s future plans, the warped modern music industry, and his memories of Marah’s early days touring the South.
In regards to recording and marketing a record, he says, “I think music has definitely changed in the last two years. Bands are forced to go independent with their music, but you have to find a way to get it out there.” Like most bands and artists in this era of music, Marah has had to struggle with the pitfalls of the internet with their music. Some artists thrive on the “instant attainability” that the internet provides, but Bielanko thinks otherwise. “I think sometimes that technology took a wrong turn. It definitely hurt it, it changed everything. I think it took the mystery out of music.”
Yet, Marah keeps swinging through the madness. Last year‘s stellar Life is a Problem was released on vinyl and cassette. Currently, they are slowly recording tracks on an old reeled tape machine. They work incessantly to throw every bit of themselves into their music to give their fans an accurate portrait of where they are in their lives. This type of noble and artistic ethic is a rarity in the modern world of popular music, and in many ways, it makes it seem as though Bielanko and his band are operating from a different stratosphere. “There was a right way of doing things at one time,” he says. “That’s why things like books and vinyl albums will not die [through technology]….because there was something very right about those things.”
Returning to the South is an exciting thing for the band. Dave Bielanko has fond memories of Oxford, MS. Their first album, the folk-punk classic Let’s Cut the Crap and Hook Up Later On Tonight, was mixed in the area and played for the first time on the speakers at a house party the same night. They were friends with the late Larry Brown and Barry Hannah, and for a brief moment, they enjoyed being apart of a Southern renaissance in music and literature.
With all the changes that have occurred, not only within his own band, but also in the music industry, Dave Bielanko is positive about his future. “I just can’t walk away from music. I sometimes admire people that can, but I’m not that person. I’m writing new songs now, and just throwing every bit of myself into them, for God knows what reason, but I keep doing it.” Yet, most true artists can never really explain the reasons that drive them. It echoes the old quote by Ernest Hemingway, “Writing is easy. You just sit at a typewriter and bleed.”
Catch Marah in the area June 13 at the Hi-Tone in Memphis and June 14 at Proud Larry’s in Oxford.
For more information, visit their website - www.marah-usa.com