A Correspondence with Marc Pinansky
A friend recently passed along a CD put out through Marlboro cigarettes. While I am not a smoker, I am a music fan. I graciously accepted the CD. After popping it into my player, the first song that emerged was Runner & The Thermodynamics' "So Sorry." It conjured up images of T-Rex, The Who, and Big Star.
Recently, I began a correspondence with guitarist Marc Pinansky. Here is the first of those emails. Enjoy!
: In your bio, it states: "Rock N' Roll merely passed-out around 1979 and is just now beginning to wipe the sleep from its eyes." What do you think this means?
: The intention of that statement was kind of a stab at the bloated, over-produced "rock" that began to emerge - i.e. Supertramp, REO Speedwagon, 38 Special, etc. Our mission statement is about rekindling the spark that pushed the boundries of rock from 1966 right on through the 70's. Even by the late 70's, rock music, to me, was still impressive - from the tightly wound power of The Jam or The Police, to the more expansive, orchestrated stuff, like Rush or Genesis. In all fairness, I love a good melody, and I do rather enjoy some of these acts that I speak out against (I particularly dig 38 Special). There has always been an underlying urgency to our music, a hint of desperation, and I feel that searching in most rock n'roll - just not so much in the aformentioned "lite"rock bands. But I do see a glimmer of hope in rock today. Not so much in the stuff that actually makes it to commercial radio, but the hard touring bands that have earned thousands of fans who just love music - especially live music. These bands will play for 3 hours a night because they want to, they need to.
: Tell me about the Marlboro CD and how you came to be part of it.
: Last CMJ, we played a secret party in New York withJet, The Hiss, Mondo Daio, and Secret Machines. There were a lot of folks in the business at this place, as is the point of CMJ. Anyways, all of those bands had a lot of buzz going on, and we were this unknown band from Boston who played right in the middle of it all. We got real drunk off the free booze pushed on us and just did our thing, not expecting to do anything more than play for some folks we wouldn't normally get to play in front of. Well everybody seemed to dig it (except for The Secret Machine's drummer. Roger borrowed his drum stand and broke it. He was about to hit him when he got distracted and Roger snuck out and didn't come back for 2 hours!), and some of the folks were from the Leo Burnett ad agency in Chicago. They came to see us again at SXSW (which resulted in more mayhem and destruction) and really wanted to work with us. Marlboro has been putting out these comps of up-and-coming bands and they asked us to be on it.
: With all the anti-smoking sentiments in this country, do you believe an appearance on this CD will help or, possibly, hurt your career?
: At first, I said no to the comp (much to the upset ofmy broke band). Although we are a band, I wrote the songs, so it was my call. I explained that I could see no other point to this comp than to hook in young smokers and college kids by using underground "buzz"bands. They assured me that it was only aimed at loyalty - meaning keeping the smokers that they have from switching brands. It was only being sent to smokers who verified their over-21 status and had already been in their database. Despite this, I still said no.
I quit smoking over a year ago, and big part of me quiting (besides saving my voice) was that I wanted to break the stereotype of smoking and rock n'roll. Honestly, that is why I started smoking at age9! The addiction had my brain convinced that it was not only cool and artistic - but the ONLY way to be if you play rock.
What made me turn around on doing the comp was the fact that it was going out to 3 million people - possibly 5 million - if people like it. I have given my life for music and the fact that I could bring my music to that many people seemed too exciting to pass up. We tour a lot and it would be great to have some of these new fans coming to see us in the cities and towns. The e-mails we've gotten (about 3 a day for the last couple of months) have been so nice and positive. People asking to cover our song, people from all over just telling us that they liked it, and, now, TGB! Our ultimate mission is to bring our music to as many people as possible so they can enjoy it. That is what it is all about. It is a give and a take with the moral dilema, but my intentions are pretty honest.
Check back for more from Marc.