Sam Marine's Big Dark City Releases November 17th
(Photo Credit: Anna Webber)
From New York City by the way of Gainesville, Florida, and now fairly new to Los Angeles, Sam Marine has already made himself an integral part of the LA roots-rock music scene. Playing alongside up and comers Rod Melancon, Jaime Wyatt and Sam Morrow, it makes sense that he tapped former Dwight Yoakam sideman and producer of Melancon’s Southern Gothic, Brian Whelan, to produce his new EP, Big Dark City.
Big Dark City is Marine’s 3rd CD. His first two, Lacktown and New Home were both mixed by heavyweight producer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Kurt Vile, Drive By Truckers) and mastered by Greg Calbi (Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty). His raspy, urgent vocals often earn him favorable comparisons to Springsteen, Tom Petty and Paul Westerberg. A Thousand Guitars music blog has described his songwriting imagery as “…recalling a dust-choked, windblown existence that somehow still manages to look up from the gutter.”
With Big Dark City, Whelan and Marine took a few weeks carefully arranging the music on acoustic guitars and singing without microphones as they sat on Whelan’s front porch. “Everything was worked out and arranged front-to-back,” said Marine. “It was as bare bones as it could be before we took it into the studio to record.”
With Marine on lead vocals, and guitar, Whelan not only produced, but added his own guitar and played organ. He also brought in Dwight Yoakam drummer, Mitch Marine and completed the rhythm section with Aaron Stern on bass. The result is a tight collection of catchy guitar-driven Americana songs with an edge that some would deem ‘Heartland Rock’. “Two guitars, bass, drums and organ,” Marine speculates. “Just about as meat and potatoes as it gets.”
The title track is a song about a man who was once a hell raiser and after trying ‘domestication’ finds out it’s not for him so he rebels. “Parts of the song are specifically about my own experiences while living in Brooklyn,” Marine said. “Musically I wanted there to be a vulnerability felt, an unstable ground of loud and quiet taking turns moving back and forth. I also knew I wanted it to be a rocker, to show the regression of this man.”
“Dawn Come and Gone” is a boogie that is the Saturday morning prior to “Big Dark City’s” Sunday night. “I’m a bartender and a musician,” he said. “Sometimes when you have a late-night lifestyle, the sunrise can sneak up on you before you realize what time it is.” “Freeze ‘Em Out uses Marine’s very personal lyrics set to a surf track which he arranged with friend and former band mate, Aaron Goodrich.
“I’ll Soon Be Gone” was a song that was recorded on his first record Lacktown, but was made new again by Mitch Marine adding a different drumbeat. “He really changed the song for the better,” he noted. “Having heard the song played a certain way for a number of years, it was a little jarring for me to sing where the new beat was, but once I wrapped my head around it, it was obvious that the song should be recorded this way.”
Marine wrote the song “Mike Lee” as a tribute to a friend who had passed away. “He died of an overdose, but it’s not about that. This song is about what a good guy he was and how he always had your back, “ Marine points out. He gives lyrics as an example, “If you get along with him, you’ll get along with me, and if you got time for one, we got time for three…now to the other side of town, with the solitude you found, and all the way back again, Mike Lee.”
Marine’s brother, Chris Marine is also a musician who plays drums with the band Phosphorescent. The two brothers were in a band together in Florida (Apollo Quartet) before Marine decided to try his luck in New York. He credits their choice of music careers to their parents. “My parents and all of their friends were very young and always had the television turned to MTV or VH1,” he remembers. “They always had loud music playing, they always danced, they always seemed to be rockin’ and having a good time. I saw what music did to people and had a feeling that if I played music I could make them behave that way too.”
Big Dark City is simple, classic, personal and honest. It’s sure to establish Sam Marine’s footing in the roots-rock genre while finding it's own place in any listener's heart.