Kurt Marble: The Camp Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: Fuzzed out, throwback garage glam rock with heavy pop hooks.
File next to: Ty Segall, T-Rex, King Tuff
Playing: Camp Wavelength, Friday August 28 at Artscape Gibraltar Point (Toronto Island). Get your tickets here!

Fathers! Lock up your daughters, and sons, because we’re all at risk from being infected with Kurt Marble’s STDs. That’s Sonically Transmitted Ditties. Symptoms include headbanging, humming to yourself and wearing lots of denim. The six tracks on Kurt Marble’s recently released debut EP “Notes” effortlessly combine influences from the last 50 years of music, and the result is a decade-defying piece of fuzzy pop perfection. These relentless earworms will bore themselves into your brain and stay there for hours. Wavelength contributor Michael Ball caught up with Kurt Marble’s eponymous frontman via Facebook Messenger while he was on tour as a drummer-for-hire in western Canada. We discuss Kurt’s music, his upcoming set at Camp Wavelength, and his honky-tonk youth.

I understand you played all the instruments on your debut EP, Notes. Can you give us some insight into your approach to writing and recording?

Each song was written/recorded differently. Some were written drums first with guitar stuff in mind, others were led by the riffs, and others were vocals first. But overall, they all changed within the recording process. Half, if not most of the fun is in the recording process. I love learning new mixing and recording tricks and putting them into practice. I still have so much to learn and I can’t wait to do more. It’s just a matter of making time to do so. Right now I’m on tour playing drums for a psychedelic pop band called Grounders. They’re sick-ass narsty (sic) dudes. I’m also in a sweet band called Tails. There’s a guy in that band who is also you, Mike Ball.

Thanks for the full disclosure there. Speaking of playing live, how did you decide how to arrange these compositions for a band? Did you have to make sacrifices and cut recorded parts out?

I try to keep the recordings basic. “Try” is the operative word. But the goal is to make the recordings the best I can with the abilities and budget I have. As for live, it’s practically a different project all together. My back-up band is made up of a constantly rotating group of friends. Steve (drums) usually does something way more intense from the recordings. And Paul (Most People, guitar) shreds so hard. But also, it’s never the same band every show, so who knows what you’ll get.

Kind of like the proverbial box of chocolates. Hey, do you like the filmForrest Gump?

That movie gets me. There’s a line early in the movie that makes me tear up a little for no explanation: when he narrates, “She taught me to climb. I taught her to dangle.” I think it’s just happy childhood moments in films that get my goose.

(I gotta go back to the show. I’m in Edmonton. But keep asking Messenger questions and I’ll answer them when I get home drunk tonight.)

So you change the band line-up frequently, and the live songs are re-worked from the original recordings. Are you looking for continual artistic reinvention?

I just want to play with all my friends. And my songs lend well to sloppiness and mistakes, so I have the luxury of quickly putting a roster together before a show. As for long-term plans? Don’t have ‘em — just want to keep writing and recording as much as possible. Live-wise, we’ll just see how them chips fall.

(Also, I forgot there’s a three-hour time difference, so yah, write me more questions and I’ll get back to you in the morning or whenever I get more wifi)

Watching your band play live, it struck me as kind of amazing how you have drawn from multiple types of rock-ish music and tied it all up into this cohesive style, so that seems effortless, but hard to pin down, stylistically. Are you aware of what influences you may have channelled into these songs?

There’s a doo-wop song, a glam jam, a twee pop number and of course some heavy-ass ’60s-’70s rock jams. They’re all basic catchy pop songs, but what makes them different are my shortcomings. The only way I can pull off those things is by yelling the lyrics, fuzzing the guitar and hitting the drums real hard.

Did all these genres come into your life when you were growing up?

The radio was always on in my house growing up. I mean always. So I suppose I soaked up a lot of pop and rock hooks from that. When I was 12 I really got into skate-punk, then later on pop-punk, and then the Internet happened. So it’s hard to pinpoint what influences seeped in from then on. My family reunion is a yearly event where we camp out in the bush, set up a big-top tent, a generator, a P.A., some amps and drums and we fam-jam some classic rock and a bit of honky-tonk. I’d say my reunions really gave me the confidence to drum and strum.

Camp Wavelength! What are you excited about?

SLEEP OVER!!!!!!! ALL CAPS! was my jam. It was so jive! Everyone there smiles. I’m so jazzed.

Are you still in Edmonton?

Calgary now. Sled Island, yo!

Well, have a nice time. We will see you back here at Toronto Island in August.

Kurt Marble play Camp Wavelength Friday, August 28 at Artscape Gibraltar Point (Toronto Island). Get your single day tickets here! Or better yet, join us for the whole weekend and get a Festival Pass!