When I first met Bearded Gentlemen Music co-founder Jon, we pretty much instantly began swapping music recommendations with one another. I distinctly remember the time he handed me a Red Sparowes CD that he had just purchased. I remember looking through the disc’s cover sleeve as he was telling me about the band. I then began listening to the Red Sparowes and became immediately hooked. I will admit that I didn’t quite keep up with them, but I remember being excited when Jon informed me that Emma Ruth Rundle and Greg Burns of Red Sparowes had formed a new project called Marriages. The band’s first EP, Kitsune, was nothing short of incredible. Marriages had Red Sparowes’ sound, but they took little more simplistic, streamlined approach, and added Rundle’s vocals to the mix. To this day when I listen to it, I am always reminded of A Perfect Circle. That may just be me.
With three years of touring, the addition of drummer Andrew Clinco, and work on other projects, Marriages have just recently dropped their debut LP, Salome. This album sees Marriages really take ownership of their sound. The band dials back the instrumentals and is able to tell a story with each individual track. Most noticeable, however, is Rundle’s pure confidence in her vocal ability. Where Kitsune saw her blending in with the music, she absolutely soars and makes a huge sonic impact throughout all of Salome’s songs. This album is incredible, and should be listened to in it’s entirety. When I first got my hands on the record, I listened to it 3 times before I turned it off. The abrupt and chilling ending is like the ultimate cliffhanger to a perfect movie. You are just left wanting more.
I was so enamored with Salome, I jumped at the opportunity to ask Marriages’ Andrew Clinco and Emma Ruth Rundle a few questions about the new record, playing live, and who amongst their peers is really influencing them at the moment.
[bandcamp album=458578359 bgcol=0a0a0a linkcol=fdfbfc size=venti]
BGM: I just finished listening to Salome in it’s entirety, and I am honestly floored. It is killer, and definitely a great progression from Kitsune. Would you please tell us a little about the creation of Salome and how the writing process may have evolved since the last album?
AC: Salome is a the culmination of over 2 years of writing, touring, rehearsing, and refining to arrive at a (hopefully) cohesive breadth of songs. Kitsune was more of a response to the opportunity to form an new project. Kitsune happened quickly in a more stream of consciousness fashion.
This album is equal parts all of us – a fleshy patchwork quilt of our ideas and sensibilities sewn into one body kinda like Silence of the Lambs. We had to be patient and wait for quality substance to accrue and we also had to be diligent to hack away shitty ideas that just never evolved or were unmemorable.
How has the addition of Andrew changed the dynamic of Marriages’ writing process?
ERR: Andrew has brought to the table a more refined sensibility when it comes to production and aesthetic than a typical drummer’s role. He is also a guitarist so he is able to really understand the role of guitar in relation to constructing his drum parts.
Where did the recording process take place?
AC: We initially recorded a batch of demos in my Dad’s garage studio. Those became a rough model for how we wanted to lay the album out.
In February of 2014 we spent two weeks tracking the bulk of the record in a studio in Highland Park, CA called The Hobby Shop. What followed was a slew of overdubs, vocal sessions, and critical refinement in various home studios from LA to PDX.
Any guest contributions on the new songs?
AC: Yes! Our dear friend Fred Sablan contributed his awesome guitar textures, solos, and feedback on a few songs.
AC: As a band we have always been interested in various mythologies and religious iconography. Salome, the daughter of King Herod II is the archetypal femme fatale; an icon of seduction. We found the imagery to be compelling and powerful and appropriately encompassing Emma’s lyrical motifs and the musical ebbs and flows we play with. The title track “Salome” has a break down section in it that I feel serves a sonic illustration of the dance Salome performs before Herod Antipas.
With Kitsune, all six of the tracks are blended together into one giant piece of music, was there any temptation to blend/transition together all the songs for the new album?
AC: Kitsune has that seamless transitional nature because the songs were initially written as a live set. It was captured in the recording process the same way. Because the new album was written over such a wide span of time, each song was just treated as it’s own individual piece and not necessarily in direct relation to what came before or after it. We wanted to write songs that could stand alone. The “blending” element came through an aesthetic and stylistic thread that is the sum of its parts.
I saw that there is a bonus edition of Salome with two additional tracks, the nine track version of the album seems like a complete concept / journey. How do the other two songs fit in?
AC: Those 2 songs in particular are the oldest songs on the record and were more or less conceived before I joined the band. One was a demo Emma had written back when she was playing with The Nocturnes and the other was something Emma and Greg had concocted as just a guitar and bass duo before adding drums. They didn’t make the record for a couple reasons, but in relation to your question, I would say that they weren’t necessarily within the bookends of this album’s “journey”.
When listening to a new album, I have a ritual of listening to it with headphones and trying to see if I am able to just lose myself in what I am listening to. I was absolutely able to do that with Salome. What is your ideal situation for listening to new music?
AC: Any situation where the music is not coming out of your laptop, iPhone, or television speakers. Headphones are great. I love listening in the car and watching how music can change my interpretation of physical space outside the vehicle; a moving soundtrack.
Speaking of, listening to anything that we should be checking out?
AC: Listening to Tubeway Army as I write this. Our friends from Deafheaven have a band called Creepers, and they rule. Them Are Us Too is a new shoegaze band on Dais Records. They are brilliant songwriters and musicians. Highly recommend their new album Remain.
Also, our labelmate Mylets has a new album out that is nuts. He’s a prodigal guitar virtuoso that will make anyone wanna burn their instrument after hearing him play.
If you each had to pick one musician that influenced your playing the most who would it be?
AC: Emma – Billy Corgan. Me – Jimmy Chamberlin Greg – Simon Gallup
You guys played an outstanding show last year here at Kilby Court in Salt Lake City. It was easily one of the best concerts I had seen all year. Ethereal really. How has your live show progressed over the past couple of years?
AC: We’ve gotten more comfortable with calling open ended improvisational sections and have probably dialed up the angst a bit more. We’ve definitely made an attempt to revert back to that seamless transitional nature of Kitsune when it comes to constructing a live set list. Song key and tempo are definitely factors that are considered when building a song order.
You played new material at that show, and have been including more and more of the songs from Salome in your sets recently. Do you have any personal favorites to play live at this point?
AC: “Salome” is a fun one because its such an incremental build. It’s fun to start tempered and subdued and end loud as fuck. I especially enjoy playing it on drums because it’s open to numerous improvisational possibilities.
AC: Greg is vegan. I eat gluten-free and Emma loves Coke Zero.
We always try and yelp the healthier options to counter whatever damage we’ve done to our bodies the previous night. Greg has a vegan restaurant finder app on his phone. If you follow in Greg’s footsteps you will most likely be lead to a land of replenishing rations.
You have had the chance to tour with a number of great bands recently. Any tour-mates that you would say made a serious impression on you, whether as musicians or just personally?
AC: Touring with Master Musicians of Bukkake was a remarkable experience. That entire band as a whole are such world-class musicians and people, however their music has impacted all of us long before we got the opportunity to tour with them.
What was the most moving experience you have had personally with live music?
AC: I can’t speak for the whole, but watching MMOB organize and assemble on stage and carry out their mesmerizing visual and sonic rituals is quite a spectacle and transcendent experience. I highly recommend seeking them out in person.
Any U.S. tour dates coming up?
AC: Yes. We are looking to do the U.S. in July, but we are leaving for a month to tour Europe in April supporting Wovenhand.
I had nothing to offer anyone but my own confusion.