Band Bonding: An Interview with Marian Call

I recently had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing Marian Call.  I first discovered her awesome music when I saw w00tstock back on October 29th, 2010.  She was super nice and I had a blast talking to her!

Me: Thank you so much for agreeing to do this. I’m really excited and I’m a big fan. I first heard you at w00tstock. I saw you at the New York show.

Marian: That was my favorite. A smaller audience, but higher energy.

Me:  What band or artist has influenced you the most?

Marian: Musically or businesswise?

Me: Musically, but both.

Marian: Joni Mitchell. They Might Be Giants. They might be the two biggest childhood to adulthood influences.

Me: Growing up I loved They Might Be Giants. Where did the idea to use a typewriter as a musical instrument come from?

Marian: I wanted it in a piece of mine. I wanted it to suggest the cultural references that come along with a typewriter.   It seemed topical.  People said why not play one live. I thought it’d be weird but it was a great idea.

Me: It was fun when you played your geek anthem live. You referenced all things I know and love. That was one of the biggest things that I came home to talk about, you left an impression. How did you get involved with w00tstock?

Marian: I got a phone call one day, really. Shocking and unexpected. I had heard about w00tstock and thought it was awesome.  One day I got twitter messages, e-mail and a phone call from Paul of Paul & Storm. I was tongue-tied.  I didn’t know why they thought of me but it was all fan recommendations. Fans are good stalkers like that. I said I don’t know if you want me and I don’t know if you realize that my internet friends are louder than my actual reach. I’ll show up in a town and be lucky if I get 15 people in a show. I first performed at  w00tstock in San Diego, it was like an audition. Mostly getting to know the guys. They invited me back to NY and Boston, with a longer set. I was the only girl on stage, it felt like they needed me.  I was very happy to be asked back. I’ll have to bake them cookies.

Me: What was or is your favorite board game?

Marian: I really like a lot of games. My current favorite is a new game called Ingenious. It won game of the year last year It’s like a cross between Mastermind, Othello and Chinese Checkers. It has a board with colored octagons that you manipulate. It’s fantastic, played it nonstop. I also love Carcazan and Settlers of Catan, and one called Gloom.  It’s a card game.  It’s relatively new.  You have to make other players sad to win and make your opponents players happy in order to make them lose.

Me:  What is your process like for writing new music?

Marian: Very quick. Lyrics first. I often get out the rhyming dictionary. I’m very into rhyming and syllables, and then melody later. Finally the chorus last. Most of my songs are written pretty quick. I usually don’t struggle with a song. I use the left brain approach, piece it together like a math problem. Melody work is to make sure I’m not plagiarizing other songs. I go back through iTunes to make sure I’m not emulating something I’ve been listening to. I approach it as a craft. I tinker with it. I have a degree in composition. Music writing isn’t hard for me. The booking is more difficult.

Me: Does what you learned in school help in your music career?

Marian: Yeah, I think so. I think there’s something good about going back to learn the fundamentals.  I’m not doing 17th century counterpoint, but it’s still good to learn. I thought for a while I wouldn’t use it. I saw it as enriching even if it was a waste, but since I am in music it all works out. I highly recommend it. A lot of people skip the school part of being creative. you can, but the value of getting your fundamentals is underrated.

Me:  What is your favorite geeky movie?

Marian: I need specifics.

Me: What do you currently adore the most.

Marian: Scott Pilgrim!

Me: What other interests do you have outside of music?

Marian: Tons and tons of things. I love film and poetry. I love the internet and pop culture, NPR, photography, and I’m pretty much into everything. I’m game for a lot. Except for very technical how to stuff. Not interested in car engines or hard drives. Almost everything else I enjoy in conversation or learning about. I will sit through a lecture on just about any subject.

Me: What was it like doing a tour of all 50 states?

Marian: It was really cool to meet a lot of my online friends in person. That was my favorite part. It was exhausting and very, very, very fun. It’s a wide question in scope. I was completely reliant on my fans for the entire thing. I was completely trusting them.

Me: Sounds like you have a great community formed with your fans. A great commonality.

Marian: Genuinely like talking to my fans and seeing on twitter what’s going on in their lives. It’s a mutual thing.

Mary:  Have you considered other quirky/mundane items to use as instruments?

Marian: I use a rain stick, a kazoo, I use bells, hammers, sandpaper, all kinds of weird shakers, funny stuff like buttons, I actually have to look at my track list. I think that’s about it. I use a lot of alternative instruments also like banjo, tuba, piccolo, etc.

Me: I really love “We’re Out For Blood”. The live version is awesome. “Vanilla” is the song that got me hooked.

Me: Would you like your fans to know anything else?

Marian: I plan on touring Europe this summer. If anyone would like to see me in their town, please contact me. I’m also working on a new album. If anyone wants to hear updates on that, just message me on Twitter.

You can also find Marian Call on her Twitter here, her Facebook fan page here and her website here

*Update: 01-26-11 This is the postcard Marian Call sent me.  Awesome!


*Special thanks to my beautiful and awesome girlfriend Mary who helped me put this together.

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  2. The game she mentioned (presently printed as “Carcazan”) is Carcassonne, titled after the French city of the same name.

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