Marmalakes returns for SXSW tuneup

By John Benson

Youngstown made quite an impression on Marmalakes, when it visited the city for the first time in August for a show at the Lemon Grove. The Austin, Texas-based trio liked the area so much, it’s making a repeat visit for a free show tonight at the same venue.

“It wasn’t a big turnout but it was an interesting night,” Marmalakes singer-guitarist Chase Weinacht said. “I think it was a Wednesday night and maybe we had 15 people. All the people at the bar were super-kind and very genuinely welcoming, which was great. That’s what we really liked about Youngstown.”

These are exciting times for the three-piece, which formed exactly five years ago this month and so far has released three EPs.

In addition to the act’s upcoming SXSW showcase in its hometown, a full-length debut is also in the works.

Weinacht, who said his favorite new songs include the dynamic “Strange Car Dream Song” and the mellow “Slow Dance,” believes Marmalakes will be channeling more of a lush sound with horns and strings for its new project.

He added that the band is hoping to let the music do the talking. This is not only in relation to the fact the trio doesn’t offer the audience much in-between-song banter when on stage, but how it approaches song- writing as well.

“We call ourselves a rock ’n’ roll band but we’re like folk-pop rock ’n’ roll with lots of words and two and three-part harmonies,” Weinacht said.

That’s right, Marmalakes is admittedly a bit of a wordy band; however, Weinacht isn’t concerned about the word count of his songs.

“I like songs with lots of re-visibility when it comes to lyrics,” he said. “It’s important for me to kind of approach songwriting in a kind of phrase-based way. I don’t really think about the word count. I don’t even know how many words my songs have in them but I don’t try to write songs that are super verse-chorus-verse-chorus. I think I’m kind of verse heavy. There’s not a lot of straight up repeated lines, and if it does happen, it probably happens slightly differently the second time or third time.”

Comparisonwise, Marmalakes is often lumped into the same category as The Decemberists, Wilco and Mountain Goats. Weinacht has no problem with the first two but the latter has become somewhat annoying.

“I think we edit ourselves a little bit more than [Mountain Goat songwriter John Darnielle],” Weinacht said. “Not to say I’m not a fan of some of their music, but I feel like I’m relatively productive when it comes to songwriting. I don’t want to write as many songs as I can and put them out. It’s not that I’m against being prolific. I think their approach specifically to recording and making records is something I don’t identify with.”

Well, that said, it appears as though you won’t be hearing any Mountain Goat covers at the upcoming Marmalakes show.

Weinacht laughed, “No, you won’t.”

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