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Posted August 21, 2014 by Jeff in Tunes
 
 

Adam Marsland Gives Us a Chance to Catch Up

Adam Marsland
Adam Marsland

Five years ago, singer-songwriter Adam Marsland issued Go West, a 23-song double album of power pop and indie rock tunes.  Back then it essentially fell on deaf ears but Marsland it giving the record another push with his current tour that’s designed to celebrate its fifth anniversary as well as its release on iTunes. Marsland recently phoned us from a Colorado tour stop to talk about the album and the 35-date tour.

You’re on a tour to celebrate the anniversary of your double album Go West. Talk about what it’s been like to revisit the songs.
I just got on a roll when I made that record. You hear a certain confluence of ambition and ability. When I made that album, I put everything I had into it. When it came time to get it out there, you realize you don’t have the platform for it. Yeah, it’s real good but it’s not easy trying to get people in a crowded bar to pay attention to a song that’s a little more heartfelt than your average Chumbawamba hit. I just realized I couldn’t do it. The music I’ve made since then has been good and easily digestible punk songs. Ten songs, verse chorus, verse. But when I went back and listened to Go West, I thought it was the best thing I ever did and better than anything I’m every likely to do again. I know that 20 percent of what I can do is all people want. That’s something most musicians find out at a certain point. I’m not sorry I made it. I felt like I had to give it another go around. I didn’t beat the drum on it enough. I think it’s a great record, but it’s 23 songs on two discs. Who wants to listen to that? The record has started to seep in a little bit. Over time, people get a chance to listen to it and realize it’s really good.

Even if it doesn’t work in the now, I want to put it on people’s minds.

Do you still feel connected to the themes?
When I made the record, I was just nudging into middle age. I was dating someone who was a lot younger than me. I was interested in how much the anxieties of someone who is 24 are similar to those of someone who is 40. Your quarter life and mid-life aren’t that different. It ties into concerns of people who are ending their youth and starting their adult life. The idea of the record is that the first disc is your twenties and the second is your thirties. There’s a thread that goes through it. You leave home, get your first job and start to experience sexuality for the first time. Then your idealism comes under attack and you have to start negotiating increasingly difficult choices between idealism and pragmatism. To hold onto one, you have to give up some of the other. That gets harder as you get older.

It’s such an eclectic album. Did you set out to dabble in different genres?
I did. I got in a little trouble for that. I thought if I have to listen to fucking 23 songs in a row, it better not be the same shit. That’s what drives me nuts. I was thinking back to Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road or a Todd Rundgren record or even Exile on Main Street; there’s an eclecticism to them. You create a little world and there’s something to go back to and discover.

You played the entire album at a show in L.A. How did you pull off “I Don’t Wanna Dance with You?”
What was funny was that we did warm-up shows and played it as a three-piece and it was surprisingly potent. I did it in Arizona with just two people, which is kind of interesting. You take the sequencer away and it’s a good little rock song. A harder song would be “No Return,” which is like a Kraftwerk ballad. On that one, I just gave up and sang to a track.

You had a good run with Cockeyed Ghost. What brought that band to an end?
When we got dropped by our label . . . I started touring by myself and flogged it for a year and a half. Our bass player who had become the soul of the band — he was like the Dennis Wilson of the band —basically bankrupted himself following me around the country. He had to retire from music and refocus and we all respected that. And at that point, it ceased to be a band. When I hooked up with Evie Sands, who’s a classic soul singer, I knew we couldn’t call it Cockeyed Ghost. That would be ridiculous. Paul Weller didn’t call The Style Council The Jam. Cockeyed Ghost’s drummer still plays with me. It had wandered so far from where we started that we had to retire it.

Talk about what it’s been like keep Karma Frog studio going at a time when everyone records in their basement.
Surprisingly brisk business. I couldn’t figure it out because I don’t live in the nicest place. I have decent gear but it wouldn’t blow you away. I have a Neumann u87 which I’m really proud of. I have a ua 610 which I’m very proud of. That’s top-of-the-line shit, but I don’t have a wall of things like that. What I found was that I was doing competitive work to people who have been doing for it a long time. It’s because I trained under people who knew what they were doing in an all-analog world. That methodology is still valuable. There’s a digital knowledge that doesn’t give you a good output. If you do things the old-fashioned way, you do fast and good work. I realized there was a niche for that in the sense that I only use live drums and there’s not that many people who can do that even in their basements. I don’t charge a lot and I’m available as a session player. All those things make it very appealing. I think the people who are hurting more are the ones at the top level who were used to making  $100 an hour. There’s not a ton of demand for that. But for someone who’s competent and charges $30 to $40 a record, that’s appealing.

What are you working on?
Nothing. That’s why I wanted to go back to Go West. I’ve made the equivalent of about 40 albums in the last few years. I’ve done one-off and limited edition discs to finance things and I’ve done things for other artists. It’s just not under my name. When I make an album, I got to get a publicist and line up the tours. That’s fine if you find me in the mood to do that. To do it properly, it’s a year out of my life. My records have done a poor job of breaking out of the indie ghetto. I’m a good survivor and I’ve managed to outlast other people, but I never get on NPR and I never get that little thing that says you matter. I’m not saying that with any sense of bitterness. I’m successful but not that successful as a singer-songwriter. If something unexpected happened with Go West and some game changer occurred, I could come up with an album in two weeks.

The recording is easy. It’s the other stuff. I’ve already made 11 albums. I want to let people catch up.

Are you only playing songs from Go West?
Almost entirely songs from Go West. The last tour I did almost entirely songs from the last two albums. I had a nice set that I knew would work every time. I can’t wear the clown suit with these songs as much. It’s a tougher sell. I can’t go, “Okay, these guys are drinking at the bar. They don’t want to hear this song.” I just go down with the ship and sell the fucking song. It’s good because in Phoenix I was going down with the ship and I had this great moment where I realized that my problem was that I gave a shit. I had to realize I just needed to sing the songs to the best of my ability and let the show go where it goes and what do I care? That’s the thing about getting older. When you’ve been doing it for 25 years, it doesn’t occur to you that you can claim it. Do the song well and if they don’t like it, move on.

Upcoming 2014 Tour Dates

8.22.14

8.23.14

8.24.14

8.25.14

8.26.14

8.28.14

8.29.14

8.30.14

8.31.14

9.1.14

9.3.14

9.4.14

9.5.14

9.6.14

9.7.14

9.9.14

9.10.14

9.11.14

9.12.14

9.13.14

9.14.14

9.15.14

9.17.14

10.9.14

10.10.14

10.11.14

10.13.14

Fitzgeralds, Chicago, IL

Birdy’s, Indianapolis, IN

House Party, Bloomington, IN

Be Here Now, Muncie, IN

House Party @ New Albany Estates, Columbus, OH

Barking Spider, Cleveland, OH

Cedars West End, Youngstown, OH

The Leaf and Bean, Pittsburgh, PA

House Party, Binghamton, NY

Labor Day Community Picnic, Greene, NY

Cyber Cafe West, Binghamton, NY

The Rail House, Rahway, NJ

Porter’s Pub, Easton, PA

Avenue 209 Coffee, Lock Haven, PA

Boulevard Tavern, Charleston, WV

Foam, St. Louis, MO

Library Pub, Omaha, NE

Tru Cafe, Kearney, NE

Coal Creek Coffee, Laramie, WY

Trident Cafe, Boulder, CO

Cowgirl Hall of Fame, Santa Fe, NM

Blackbird Buvette, Albuquerque, NM

The Lost Leaf, Phoenix, AZ

The Pour House, Paso Robles, CA

High Street Station, San Francisco, CA

Luna’s Cafe, Sacramento, CA

Brew Works, Bend, OR

 


Jeff

 
Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at jeff@whopperjaw.net.