Interview: Marina City on the Chicago Music Scene and Creating an Exciting Acoustic EP

If you are even remotely involved in your music scene, there's a chance you've probably heard Marina City's name at least once this year. The Chicago sextet has been everywhere in 2016, from performing on a stint of dates on the Vans Warped Tour this summer to Riot Fest in their hometown and So What?! Music Festival this fall in Texas. Shortly after the release of their acoustic EP, Lost Doesn't Mean Alone, the band also recently joined badXchannels and Colours on tour to round out an incredibly busy year. Needless to say, if you haven't heard of Marina City yet, you might as well get acquainted now, because the ambitious band is only gaining momentum for an even busier 2017. 

We recently talked with the band about their hometown music scene, their busy year and plans for the future. Read the entire interview below and grab tickets for their remaining tour dates HERE

Photo: Penelope Martinez

Photo: Penelope Martinez

Interview by Shannon Shumaker

You guys have just been going and going all year with Warped Tour, Riot Fest your recent tour with 7 Minutes In Heaven and Assuming We Survive and these upcoming shows with badXchannels, just to name a few. What have been some of the highlights of your year so far?

Todor Birindjiev [guitar]: Warped tour was definitely an out of this world experience! Different city, different day, and we get to play in front of hundreds of new fans? It was addicting to say the least. Another highlight of this year was our John Feldmann experience. After winning the Warped Tour battle of the bands in 2015, we were given the opportunity to fly out to Los Angeles and record a three song demo with one of the top producers of our time. We learned so much in our short time there. We learned new ways of songwriting, how to carry ourselves, our image as professional musicians, and how to really zone in on our musical style as a band. Another highlight of the year was Riot Fest. To be part of such a massive festival was truly a blessing. Every year Riot Fest picks the best bands both old and new, and to have us there was a dream come true. Right now we are currently on tour with badXchannels and it is a hell of a way to end 2016! The crowds have been amazing, badXchannels sounds great, and I'm very happy to be part of this tour. 
 

I feel like lately, every time I find myself listening to an incredible new band, they’re from Chicago, and you guys are lucky enough to be from there! What is your favorite part about your local music scene?

Eric Somers-Urrea [drums]: The best part about the Chicago scene is how close we all are. We all know just about every band in Chicago personally not just from playing shows together but from going out and supporting as fans. I think the scene here is truly a family. It makes the scene as a whole more powerful and strong when we are all there for each other to build one another up. It's so cool to be involved in and we never forget how lucky we are to be surrounded by so much talent!
 

How do you feel the scene in your hometown has affected you as musicians or helped you as a band?

Matt Gaudiano [keys/vocals]: The Chicago scene is definitely one of a kind. There are so many bands that truly love music, and strive to listen to anything that they can get their hands on. They have definitely embraced us as a band, being open minded to different styles of music. It's a big family in the Illinois music scene. It's taught me personally to be open to listen to all types of music, and even if it's not my cup of tea, support it like crazy because we all have the same dream/vision.
 

Back in September, you released your acoustic EP, Lost ≠ Alone. Where did the idea to create an EP like this come from?

Brian Johnson [guitar/vocals]: We played a bunch of house party acoustic shows in 2015 and rewrote a few of our songs to have a more edgier vibe to them when playing them acoustically. The response was really awesome and we realized it would be a good idea to record them. But every band always just does the basic, boring 'play your songs on an acoustic in a basic studio' thing and we didn't want to do that. So we brainstormed how to make it more exciting and enjoyable for us and our fans.

The first idea was to bring people into the studio to give it a live feel which sounds cool, but you can only have a few people in a studio and we didn't want to limit it to just our hometown fans. So we thought that maybe we could convince 5 studios that this was a cool idea and hopefully not try and give us an outrageous price for each of them. When we actually got the 'okay' from all of them, we saw the idea really coming together. Then we saw Craig Owens asking about helping bands with some producing on their projects. We thought that it wouldn't hurt to at least ask him if he'd be interested in our project. He was all for it and once we released the limited amount of tickets for each studio for a Craig-backed project, each studio sold out pretty quickly and the rest is history. One of the coolest EPs I've ever had the honor of being a part of.
 

Are you planning on playing any acoustic songs from the EP on your upcoming tour dates with badXchannels and Colours?

Aaron Heiy [bass]: Yes we are playing almost the entire Lost Doesn't Mean Alone E.P but they will be a little different for this live setting. We incorporated electric guitar and more drums to make them more entertaining and more rock for this tour. If you like our E.P Lost Doesn't Mean Alone, then you will definitely like these songs performed full band for these shows. Trying to keep the rock alive with our set but still show our creativity side like how we did in the recordings.
 

What are you most looking forward to on your upcoming tour dates?

Ryan Argast [vocals]: We get a chance to play a whole different set we've never done before and play in front of people who have never see us before. This is such a different environment and tour we are going to learn so much! 
 

What would you like listeners, especially those who are seeing you live for the first time on these upcoming shows, to take away from your live performance?

Ryan Argast: That we can do/be more than just what you think of us on the surface level. We are bringing elements of Jazz, Soul, Blues and other things we've never played before. 
 

You guys are pretty much going until the end of the year, so once you get home, are you excited to take it easy for a little while, or do you already have some big plans in the works for 2017?

Ryan Argast: We will take it easy probably for the rest of the year but once 2017 starts again we are finishing our writing and start recording as soon as possible. We already have near 30 demos but we want to write more and release the best music we can! 

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