Unedited Classic Rock Magazine Interview with Marah's David Bielanko




Marah Q&A 

PW: For a while there, Marah were a band of brothers and then Serge left, how did that feel and what brought him back? 

DB: When we parted ways in 2008 right as we were releasing our record "Angels of Destruction!"... all of us did, this whole line-up, we scattered to the four winds, i was sad as fuck about it all for a real long time too ...but I unequivocally felt my brothers absence the most in the long run, serge and I grew up playing tennis racquets together, jumping up and down on a broke ass bed to scratchy, yard sale, Kiss records. Our musical partnership goes way back there. 

My brother is a Sagittarius. So he is essentially a horse, born to charge towards an imagined and idealized dot on the horizon, a fictional spot...to chase the wind I guess?... but the Sagittarius is also cursed with the brain of a man that never sleeps...can't be tuned out or turned off. It's kind of a bad situation, I cant lie about that...i sympathize. Everything is a struggle. It is certainly not a criticism, I wouldn't trade his talent for a more agreeable traveling companion or anything...but it takes some doing. 
I am a Gemini and I can split myself in two to chase art....so it's easier for me in many ways. 

Anyway, it felt fucking amazing to be able to offer him a 2&1/2 hour break from the chaotic bullshit that is day to day life in the form of a Rock n Roll show again. 
To stand on stage again (where despite the greatly accelerated heartbeats and dripping sweat and it being as loud as an airplane taking off) it was actually the most tranquil and peaceful spot that we had stood in years. In YEARS! Complete control. The return of order in the universe. We all felt that. 

....and then to feel the purpose of our brotherhood return again, to watch the old instincts burst back to life (the timing, the drama, the show biz, the sense of humor) My brother has one of the strangest and rarest talents, it's all feeling and minimal technique, more akin to LouReed or ChuckBerry, it's raw nerves and exists only from one second to the next. It bounces off what i do extremly well....but It's a pretty difficult color to manage in the painters pallet so to speak, so as a "band leader" I've been working hard on that aspect of the job this time around. I call it "special teams". All the stuff that happens when we are NOTon stage. 
Keeping THIS band TOGETHER is my real gig. Pushing people towards their strengths. Keeping the goals visable and obtainable. 

PW: And how did it feel in that first rehearsal with what I consider the ‘classic’ line-up and then that first show, what was it like to look around and be there together as that band? 

DB: I ain't lying when I tell you this is a great Rock n Roll band.  I know stuff about music. 
It's a very mysterious part of the human subconscious where the music must lay dormant when it's not being played? but it remains there somehow, unharmed and asleep. 
We rehearse in an old church with 60foot ceilings out in the country now.  One by one we called the song titles out for the first time in years and one by one we knocked em down....we laughed at the perfect simplicity of some of the songs, marveled at the effectiveness and economy of others...the songs do so much of the work now, so very much went into em over the years and we are the people who made them and the only people who can bring them exploding back to life on demand. It felt fantastic. Important even. The right people. It felt valuable and worth saving. 
AdamGarbinski, DavidPetersen and SloMo are enormous talents, They also are the greatest 3 people on earth to play with and understand me and my brother, our personal dynamic and our songs. 
Our first few gigs back together were ALL joy, All love, every single person in those rooms was moved by (and recognized themselves in) what was going down up there on the stage. Blood/soul/friendship/songs/RnR. 

PW: Since reforming you’ve started making inroads into America and Spain to great acclaim, were you surprised by the response? 

DB: Honestly, up till now I haven't really had much time to notice. I felt the love for sure... but i was busy watching the band, I was closing my eyes and watching the lyrics flash by, I was happy and proud, but up till now I've only just sorta basked in the unreal-ness of it all. 
A lot of times it has felt like dreaming. A nice dream. 

PW: It’s been literally years since you played the UK, what are you most looking 
forward to now that you’re coming back? 

DB: I miss so much about London. So i am anticipating this return as marking a new beginning of sorts, one where our band doesn't have to be such strangers anymore. I miss London at Christmas time. I miss walking home through it at 3am. 

PW: You once played a gig with uber Marah fan Nick Hornby, will he be getting up for the encore? 

DB: I miss Nick a lot too, he is a great friend, I will write an email to him soon about this gig but... how much you wanna bet he is away in LA that weekend?...or Philadelphia!!, that's just how shit always works out. I will say that those original essays about Rock N Roll that Nick wrote for the Hornby/Marah shows we did together remain some of the very best writing about Rock n Roll music that I have ever encountered; the Clash one about inventing "punk", the Faces one about being "drunk and alone" for the first time, the "Bob Marley subway" one, all of em. Brilliant writing. More people should hear them.... This year I'm  hoping Nick might wanna make an HBO special outta that gig, book a nice room in a cool city w a chandelier and roll cameras on it, we always thought that that gig would make for some pretty excellent television. Posterity and whatnot. 

PW: Talking of fans, have Stephen King or Springsteen been in touch since you got the band back together? 

DB: Yes, both King and Springsteen have been in touch asking my brother and i to write their new novel/album for them respectively. I can't speak for Serge but I've quit picking up the phone. 
And i love those guys too...it's complicated. 

PW: It’s argued, by me among many others, that you fused the best parts of the E Street Band and The Faces, but you took a new musical turn with the Friday Night Gods, what happened, too much budget, too much booze? 

DB: Well....Yes:)....plus 9-11 had just happened....and the world suddenly started to feel like it was drowning in confusion and capitalism and inequality and lies, we had also just made 2 critically acclaimed albums in a rented south Philly garage on our own dime and had given em away to record labels and suddenly couldn't even pay our own rent. We were also gigging 6 nights a week at that point too. Sweating buckets to barely connect the dots. 
Then all of a sudden a smiling Danny Goldberg (who might I remind you was instrumental in the careers of Nirvana and Led fucking Zepplin) pulled up in a money truck and tossed us the keys and told us to just "go nuts"... 
We said "really?" 
And he said "yup" and walked away. 
What the FUCK did anyone think was gonna happen?:) 
Our single mom was a babysitter. In high-school we wore the fake Chuck Taylor's.... 
So we bought airplane tickets to a pub in Wales to meet up with the great Owen Morris. We also bought some ecstasy (to take the edge off the George W Bush speeches) and we sat around and celebrated ourselves for about 5 months... It was a complicated but magical time and I am proud of any small role Marah might have played in the death of the "old music industry" btw. It was probably time anyway? We definitely spent enough money that we coulda bought some Patriot missiles of our own. Maybe we should have? Maybe everyone should just be glad we didn't?? I think the song "Float Away" is one of the best songs I've ever written. We opened our Christmas show in Philadelphia this year with it, it sounded like a hymn from the 1600's. 
 
PW: Life Is A Problem was the first (and only?) Marah album without Serge, how do you look back at that album now? How did it feel recording without him? 

DB: I love that record very much... but it was a rough spot for me, blue, the blues. Keep going was the idea. I guess i will always miss my band when they are not around. 

PW: Your original London shows – Borderline, Dingwalls – are the stuff of legends (get off the bar!), how will you recapture that youthful zeal? 

DB: Well the lights will go down and our intro music will begin, the bagpipes will play and our blood will rise and we will just walk the fuck out there and do it. The shows we are playing right now are the most soulful and musical gigs we've ever done. Very rock n roll. I've been to every Marah gig that's ever been played too. These are great ones. Proud. 

PW: And there are rumours of new Marah music sometime this year, any news on that? 

DB: This Spring we said yes to playing an amazing little music festival in Kilkenny Ireland, so we rang up Dingwalls in London just because we'd be so close....what I mean to say is we are NOT "touring", we are playing just a little bit to continue to build our bands chemistry back up...and to re-connect with some very amazing and hard earned music fans. But the truth is I will not feel like we have fully "resurrected" Marah until we make and release a new and truly amazing album ...so yes, that is where our thoughts currently are. It is ALL I personally think about. By the time anybody reads this I believe we will have begun, so that's exciting. Our old producer Paul Smith (Kids In Philly, Let's Cut The Crap...) has been hanging around too!! so fingers crossed. I very much feel that we might have something valuable to contribute to 2017. I think we will.

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