A new album from Marnie Stern is always reason for celebration at Bowlegs – the fact that this one is called The Chronicles of Marnia just makes us party harder. With a little less guitar (dont’ worry there’s still loads of guitar) the album feels like new ground for Marnie. By pushing the hooks and emotion further to the forefront the artist may well have created her finest record yet. We caught up to talk about the need for coffee, Guitar Hero and, of course, the awesome new album.
Bowlegs: Firstly – what’s up with the whole win a date competition – is that for real? Surely a girl that can play guitar like you can have her pick?
Marnie: It’s real. no I can’t:) no one ever asks me out and so this seemed like a fun thing to try.
Bowlegs: Loving the new record – but no Zach Hill this time around? Are you still in touch with him? How did Kid Millions measure up against the Death Grips man? Sounds like he did a great job?
Marnie: Kid is such a talented sweet guy, so it was fun working with him. He had a lot of parts to come up with in a short period of time and a short time to record, so I think he did a fantastic job!
Zach and I are still in touch. I feel close to him whether we’re near or far and I’m thrilled that Death Grips is going so well. No one deserves it more than Zach.
Bowlegs: So I read that producer Nicholas Vernhes suggested you try less guitar parts on the new record – how did that suggestion go down? Are you open to ideas for your music or do you frown upon it!? There’s still plenty of guitar action going on here?
Marnie: I’m open, but at the same time I’m closed. Ha! There are things that I know I need to try but actually trying them are difficult for me. So the pairing down was tough for me, but I was ok with it. There were certain guitar parts that I couldnt do without, that we kept. Nicholas is a very mellow guy, so the environment was very relaxed and mellow.
Bowlegs: The record still has the relentless energy you’re known for – does the music mirror your personality – are you hyper-active? On Proof of Life you proclaim you’re “running out of energy”. Not yet I hope?
Marnie: Ha! I think I let out all of my energy into the songs, because otherwise I’m not very hyper active. I think once you get me going, I talk a lot..and in that way I’m hyper. I really like a lot of energy in my songs, so I dont think that’s going away. When I step back, my energy lessens..but when i’m in the thick of it, working on music (with a big pot of coffee) I couldnt be much more hyper!
Bowlegs: How do these songs start their life – is it hard to remember the many guitar parts for all these new songs?
Marnie: All the parts are fairly similar in style, so I have to practice them a lot and remember how to reference them for each song. I make connections in my head with each song in terms of singing and playing, and so it’s easier to remember parts that way.
Bowlegs: What is your guitar of choice? Have you got a forever-growing collection? How about pedals – bands nowadays seem to carry a crateload of pedals.
Marnie: All of my guitars have broken over the years and I haven’t really been able to afford to get them fixed. Right now I only have one guitar that I use all the time. It is a fender jazzmaster reissue from japan from the early 90′s. I love it, but since I play it so much it too needs a ton of work donw, so hopefully i’ll get to that soon. I would love to buy at least one new guitar that is problem free. Also it’s fun to get new stuff. I’ve been playing around with differenct pedals and experimenting. I like the one that was sent to me by Walrus Audio called the Voyager, and I use it a lot
Bowlegs: Lyrically are these songs personal to you – is there a particular song on the new album that stirs up memories every time you play it?
Marnie: They all do, but I’d say that Immortals in particular hits me in a particular way when I hear it. It’s about all of the important musical influences of my life and how they are mostly forgottten or just fade to the background. All of these new acts come to the forefront that I’m not particularily fond of, and I wanted to honor them. The song also reminds me of my boyfriend at the time, because we worked on this song together and he sings with me on the song. We’re not together anymore so when I hear the song, the memories are bittersweet.
Bowlegs: I love Hell Yes – hell yes to what? What a great way to finish the record – is it hard to choose which track goes last?
Marnie: Hell yes..if I had a Time Machine. That was the original title. It must have been from an 80′s movie, but I dont remember exactly. You always want to end with a good song, so it’s not that tough to sort. It’s the rest of the order that is more confusing to figure out.
Bowlegs: Are there female guitarists that have inspired you? Why aren’t there more prolific female guitar heros – or are there and I am missing out? On the subject of Guitar Heros – is there any Marnie Stern tracks on that game – that would be a tricky level right?
Marnie: Nancy Wilson from Heart, Marissa Paternoster from Screaming Females, Jasmine Glutz from No Joy. There aren’t that many women who focus on the guitar, and when they do they use the instrument to their benefit. They dont need to be show-boaty the way a lot of men do. I think that’s why you probably dont hear about them. I would love to have a song on Guitar Hero because I like to show boat!
Bowlegs: With the release of the record closing in do you start to get a little anxious – good reviews on the likes of Pitchfork sells more records right?
Marnie: I use to worry about that a lot more, but all of that stuff is out of my control. I just try and enjoy the release and appreciate everything that goes along with it.
Bowlegs: What is planned for the rest of the year – tours lined up? Can you promise me right now that you will stop by for a Bowlegs Music Session – we just did J Mascis so you’ll be in good guitar-shredding company!
Marnie: YES THAT WOULD BE AWESOME~!! I have a lot of touring set up. two US tours, Europe, and more! I should hopefully be very occupied for the next year or so!
Bowlegs: Thanks Marnie – really digging the new record
Marnie: Thank you so much! I’m so glad you like it!!!