Interview With Dave Marsh
Published on Thickspecs.com on January 15, 2009
Finding it difficult to co-ordinate our non-meshable
schedules, Dave gracefully accepted a phone call from
me at 9:30 pm Atlantic time on a Thursday night to
talk about music, life, drum-thunder and his newest
full-length solo album 'The True Love Rules'. Dave
let me know he was just playin' a little guitar as he
had just woken up not too long ago from a late night
packed show at the Sea Horse tavern the night before).
MM: First off, thanks for making time to do this
DM: Oh, no worries. Actually, hang on a sec, Matt –
(background talking: 'Al – you okay, there? Come on
in, man). Sorry, Matt – I'm actually just playin a little
guitar tonight and having some pizza that is being hand
delivered to me by Mr. Al Tuck.
MM: Cool! Well, in an interview I did with Jay
Ferguson, he referred to Al as a hero of the Halifax
DM: (yells to Al) Jay Ferguson says 'Al Tuck is a hero
of the Halifax music scene'. (mumbling)
MM: Alright. What was it that first set you off down
the road of music?
DM: What – you mean like some sort of traumatic
childhood experience? (chuckles) Let's see – what
was it? I guess it was a lot of listening to the radio
and hearing these crazy big band songs. Growing up,
my parents were always having dinner parties where
music was playing and I was always into hearing what
it was. The radio was always on in my house. And it
probably helped to have a brother who would bring
home 4 or 5 awesome classic albums at a time. Those
things are probably what drew me in.
MM: Right from the beginning of 'Backstreets Thread',
the listener is taken to a pretty vivid place. Are these
real people and real places all throughout this song
and this album?
DM: Yeah man, it's all full of real stories and real
characters. In fact, 'Backstreets Thread' is a straight-up
nostalgic story about workin at the arcade with
childhood friends. It's pretty cool that some of those
same friends were at the show we played at the Sea
Horse last night.
MM: I'm sure this is a question that many of your
drum-wizardry students want to know: How do you
get that gloriously thunderous snare sound in 'The Way
We Live Today' and in some of your other songs?
DM: When the snare works well, it's all about timing,
a little rimshot and the perfect blend of wood and
metal. The rimshot is what gives it that sort of
metallic sound. Joel gave me a 1963, 25 dollar Kent
snare drum that we affectionately call 'Bluey' and it
gives us a lot of that solid sound. The dryer stuff was
recorded with a bigger Ludwig snare that I have
(which we hooked a few mics up to and covered with
a dishtowel to dampen it).
MM: I really first heard about your upfront
musicality on the Super Friendz album 'Love Energy'
(especially on 'Good To Feel Like'). Had you written
and recorded your own original material before?
DM: Yeah, actually. Even before The Super Friendz,
I had my own band named 'No Damn Fears' which
was basically...well...it was 'my' band. I wrote the
songs. It was a pretty killer line-up too. We had
Sloan's Andrew Scott on drums, Matt Murphy on
guitar and Jennifer Pierce who went on to do stuff
with Jale and sign with Sub-Pop. Anyways, that band
featured mostly my songwriting but after that, I
kinda went full-time into exploding and rocking the
skins for The Friendz and Joel in '99.
MM: So is this going to be a common occurrence for
you to write and record your own stuff? And does
Joel 'boss man' Plaskett mind if you take time off?
DM: Ha ha, no – Joel actually encourages me to do
that stuff so he can take time to do his own solo stuff
as well. In fact, right now, he's working on sort of a
three-parter production with his dad. So no – there's
no tension there at all. We'll see how things go with
this album. I'm going to be coming to Toronto in
March to promote it and play some shows.
MM: Have you ever had a nickname in music and if
not, how do you like the sound of 'The Wizard of
DM: (laughs raspily) That's awesome, man! I dig it.
I used to think Sultan of Swat was cool but I'll gladly
take 'Wizard Of Whack'.
MM: On a personal note, with over 20 years
experience as a pro musician, how do you feel about
the modern pop-music marketplace as opposed to
the pop music of the 70's and 80's?
DM: Oh man. I don't know. I mean, my experience
with success kinda only runs from point A to point B.
How some of these bands get to where they are – I
have no fuckin' clue. I guess it's still kinda the same,
ya know? You go out, you see shows and as a musician,
you gotta play shows to get out there. As per
mainstream stuff, I really don't have much time for
the same old Bob Seger songs and the over-digitalized
bullshit of today. Here in Halifax, I mostly just listen
to Suicide FM – it's sorta this radical old-folks station
that plays tunes for Gramps like Bing Crosby and
Ella Fitzgerald but every song is a box of chocolates.
MM: And finally, how do you generally kick so much
DM: (sighs) Oh, Matt – Why is the sky blue? If dogs
run free, why can't I? (laughs) All of it came pretty
naturally. I mean, I did (at one point in my life) have
to spend an entire summer inside working on the skins
to really get a feel for them. In fact, my brother made
me my first set of drumsticks and they were really thick
and heavy sticks, man. So I figured 'If I can play with
these, everything else will feel like feathers!' I've had
a lot of luck, though, and playing with amazing
musicians like Matt Murphy and Joel Plaskett has
definitely helped. Having good material to play is