antiMusic's editor Keavin Wiggins saw Shut Up Marie play several months back [at the Raven's Heart Benefit] and was really impressed with the band and especially the vocals of the singer Annette. This LA group has been creating a buzz for their energetic live shows. Their latest CD Gimmie is an entertaining set of songs that incorporate a few different musical looks from the band, while still retaining a common identity (mostly the passionate vocals from Annette). She took time out of her hectic schedule this week to answer some questions via e-mail. Here's what Annette had to say:
antiMusic: OK, I guess the obvious first. Where did the name come from?
Annette: It came to me in a dream! In the dream, I was down in the basement of my parents' home, in my brother's room, (since, in real life, I used to always sneak into my older brother's and sister's rooms to listen to their cool records), listening to some random indie movie soundtrack that my older brother owned. It was, of course, a fictitious soundtrack, since it was made up in my dream. Where we grew up, in Milwaukee, WI, my brother & sister used to listen to the cool college station WMSE (still one of the biggest & coolest college stations in the U.S.), & they used to listen to a lot of indie music in general. So, in my dream, I'm sitting here listening, and this song comes on, called "Hey, Mama", and I really liked the song - it had this kind of sweet Cranberries-type melody line. Well, this was one of those dreams where I knew I was dreaming - they're called lucid dreams or vivid dreams or something like that - and I thought to myself, "Hey, this is a really cool song… I'm gonna write that song when I wake up!" And then I grabbed the sleeve that the LP came in, and looked at the credits on the back, and it said that the song "Hey, Mama" was already written by this band called Shut Up Maria and the Babes in Bedland! (Like, Babes in Toyland, although I never really listened to that band!) So, I was like "Damn! I can't wake up & write that song!" But when I did wake up & realize that there was no such group or song (yet), I wrote the song immediately after waking up. And the name of my band at that time was "Jaded". That song "Hey, Mama" is on the first Jaded record, released in Reno in 1997. (You can actually find this record online - I found 2 copies at ebay.com this week!) Then, later I was in another band called "Breather" in L.A., and it came time to change our name, since there was another Breather in Chicago that had been around longer than us, and their trademark stuff was going through. So when it came time for my band's name to change, I asked the guys about changing it to Shut Up Marie (rather than Shut Up Maria, which would probably peg us as a Latin-punk-rock band). And, like most laid back rocker-dudes, they were like, "Sure, why not?"
antiMusic: How did the band get started? Where's everybody from?
Annette: My band Jaded moved from Reno up to Seattle in 1998, and broke up in 1999. Everybody moved back to Reno, but, I moved down to L.A. with no friends, no family, nothing. I stayed in a youth hostile in Fullerton for a week! I was, however, armed with the brand-new 2nd CD that Jaded was about to release, but never did…. This CD was my ammunition to build a new band. I quickly built a new band & called it Breather, and we had our first gig in L.A. at the Coconut Teaser in October of 1999. That lineup consisted of "Shark" Evangelista on drums, a guy named Kenny who drove a BMW on guitar, and the bassist… well, I can't remember! There have been many members in & out of the band, either as Breather, or as Shut Up Marie, since that first show. Mark and I worked together until January of 2004. Today, the lineup consists of myself, guitarist Steve Braverman, who's been in the band since summer, 2004, and our new bassist Andrew Pierce, who has been with us since January of 2006. We parted ways with Gene McEwen (our drummer after Mark) in or around March of this year. We're looking for a drummer at the time of this interview (May, 2006). All 3 of us, oddly enough, are from the Midwest. Steve's from Chicago, and, even more odd, myself and Andrew are from the Southeastern WI/Milwaukee area!
antiMusic: Is Gimmie your first record? How long did it take to come together?
Annette: Gimmie is Shut Up Marie's 2nd release. S.U.M.'s 1st release was a 4-song EP called DEMO, which charted at CMJ (College Music Journal), and Album Network (another airplay trade magazine). DEMO was released in 2001, and charted at CMJ in the summer of that year, and at Album Network later that year. You can still buy this record online, too, but we don't have any copies left. We've sold over 1,000 copies of that record. I have a few copies still in the original shrinkwrap that I am keeping in hopes that they'll be worth $50 apiece someday!
Gimmie took 4 years from start to finish, for 2 main reasons. But because it took so long, I think it's a better record. Two songs on the record would not be on there had we finished "on time". "I Can't Stand", and "You and Me (The Jennifer Song)" were both written way after the bulk of the tracking had already been done. But we put these 2 songs on the record because we could, and I am really happy that these 2 songs are part of it… Gimmie is better because of them. So, let's get into the logistical reasons why the record took so long: (1). Because we were extremely limited us as to how much studio time could be put into the project for tracking every week… I paid for all of the recording, mastering, duplicating, and artwork, out of my own pocket, (nobody ever had any money to contribute to the recordings, they said). Sometimes weeks & weeks went by with no studio time. We also booked "bump-able" times at top-notch studios to keep high-quality tracking costs down (like, midnight to 8am, but if someone who was willing to pay full-price wanted that time, we got bumped). And we got bumped, not very often, but that inevitably added to the delay in tracking. There were also difficulties in tracking… some songs had to be re-tracked starting with the drums, and that meant the whole song needed to be re-tracked. The main tracking engineer who came in about halfway through the project, Joey Ayoub, finally gave me a break and allowed me to finish the CD on credit. I was sooo relieved!! I had to give him my prized PRS, my Dual Rectifier head and 4x12 cab, and, I think my American Standard Strat as collateral until I had all my bill paid off! But that was really cool of him to help out like that.
Reason # (2). Mixing & co-producing for 6 of the 11 songs was done remotely - by my old guitarist Zeke Johnson. I wanted the guy who did the first 4 mixes & co-production for the record, Colin Miller, to finish the record, but he became unavailable. And just looking for a great mix engineer is a pain in the ass! I looked for a long time, and finally considered Zeke. I gave him "Happy" to mix & produce and loved it. He lived in Maryland during the whole time of mixdown, and we had to mail each other CDs back & forth. Trying to mix like this is difficult, especially when it comes to communicating to each other the changes I was looking for in the mixes & production, and him not being able to listen to the songs right there as I was on the phone with him. But there was a reason why I chose to work with him in that capacity for those 6 songs. And you'll hear it when you get your hands on a Gimmie CD. Some people say he f***ed up the mixes. Some people think the record sounds like a major-label record. Everyone's ears are different. We did work with Joe on tweaking his mixes a bit after all of his work was done, and that added another month or two to the whole thing. Anyway, if you get a chance to listen, I'd love your feedback!!!
antiMusic: Tell us about some of the songs on there, either what they're about or something that happened during writing/recording:
Annette: Short Bus
This song was first written by S.U.M.'s former bassist, Josh Walden (aka J.W. Monkfish). His original lyrics were, "Short bus won't stop for me" and he changed them to "Short bus, don't stop for me!" This was one of those songs that had to be re-tracked starting with the drums, since this one really needed a click-track, and there was no click when it was first recorded. I got there at the end of the session and I was like, "What the hell?!??!?"
Also written by Monkfish, and I wrote the lyrics. Josh is an incredible songwriter, and it's a major drag that he moved back to Illinois. Shark's drums on here are amazing… showing an S.U.M. signature for sure. There's a whole guitar part at the beginning of the song that was written by another former S.U.M. guitarist named Robby, but it got dropped after time, maybe because his replacement didn't feel like learning it??? Who knows? Anyway, about the lyrics: I was thinking about how it must have felt to be Courtney Love when Kurt was alive, if, indeed, she did not have him killed… This is what came out. I still wonder; I am on the fence about the whole Courtney-had-Kurt-killed thing. I mean, he was found with his shoes ON… he would have needed a free toe to push the trigger. And there was too much heroin in his body for him to have the strength to push the trigger, especially with his shoes on! Anyway, he was a f***ed up individual, (but, aren't we all?) and if she really did love him, she must have felt like these lyrics in "Happy" at times.
I Can't Stand
This song came from a riff written by former guitarist Bryan Ferguson during one of those jams that happen at rehearsals. (He and Mark now play together in his band Last Falling). The melody line for the chorus just came out naturally, and we were all like, "Yeah, that could be a really cool song." So it kind of hung around as I searched for lyrics for the rest of the song for a few weeks, until one day, while I was jogging, the entire song was finished in my head! I worked out all 3 verses and the choruses in about 8 miles. Here's a funny story about those lyrics: This song was written about Gene McEwen! Yes, indeed, Gene and I dated for a short time, a year before he joined the band. The story goes exactly as the lyrics go. You'll just have to read the lyrics cuz I am not into making my former drummer look like a meanie in interviews, even though he bwoke my wittew haut! Why he joined the band, I don't know, but it was a difficult relationship after everything was said & done. It eventually lead to him quitting, I guess!!
Monkfish was in on this one, again! Originally my chorus was, "Gimmie all your f***ing money, Atlantic, Warner Brothers, Columbia, etc…." but Shark did not like the lyrics & the swearing or something, maybe he thought it was cheezy & he did not like playing the song because of it, if my memory serves correctly. So I came up with something else that went along better with the verses. Also, this is another one of those songs that needed some re-tracking: When we got to final mix-down, we realized that the original bass recorded by Monkfish sounded like one big, long fart. Josh not only writes some killer songs, he also plays a mean f***ing bass, so I have no idea how this happened. Anyway, this is the single appearance of S.U.M.'s former bassist, George Radai on Gimmie.
antiMusic: The band has a fairly big buzz for its live show. I assume you gig like a maniac to get such experience. What has been your performing experience (where, with who, etc)?
Annette: I would not say we gig like a maniac, because you can't get away with that in L.A. You can play about 2 shows in L.A. a month and that pretty much maxes a band out around here. That's why, as much as we can, we do like to go out of town, even to Orange County, so we can play more than 2 gigs a month. s***, when I was in Jaded, we could get away with playing 12 shows a month in Seattle, and we would play to a good crowd at every show. People LOVE going to see live bands up there… that's what they do. But L.A. is a very different animal. There are way too many bands & clubs & other cool, different things to do for the fans to support. I have heard that L.A. has 3 club-going people for every band that exists here. Makes for a pretty bleak scene when you are trying to build something against all the competition there is here. Lots of great bands in L.A. only play once a month, because they know that their fans will come to that one show. Sad, I think. Personally, playing only one show a month would drive me nuts. And it HAS driven me buts, especially when we are missing a member and can't even book one show! So, I have taken up a solo career, but that is beside the point. Anyone who wants more info about that can find out more at www.myspace.com/annetmarie, or at www.shutupmarie.com, where I also post my solo/acoustic shows. All the members of the band have played in lots of bands, and we all have lots of stage time, so we have put together a fun, exciting show. Not choreographed, just easy to follow, so people "get it". Our sound is still evolving to a point and we can go from a really poppy song to a thrashy punk song to a seriously hard-rockin', heavy-groove song, so we've had to struggle with people not "getting it", and we have sometimes answered that by just going nuts on stage and gaining attention that way. And we have had lots of ups & downs since the beginning of S.U.M. with the lineup, and yes, that does affect how the fans see S.U.M. Even so, the show has evolved into something that makes more sense now. We used to just thrash about the stage and goof off and go crazy, but now there seems to be some sort of method to the madness, if you will. (Will you?) And it is really nice to be in L.A. for certain reasons. The industry is here. We can invite industry people to any show we want. It's great to play the world-famous Whisky A Go-Go, and the Viper Room… We've been headlining L.A.'s best venues starting with the Key Club since 2000 as Breather. Since then, we have played all over the Sunset Strip, Hollywood, West L.A., & Santa Monica. I think my favorite venue is the Troubadour, although the Whisky comes in as a close second. We've been in O.C. and would like to get out there to play more shows, and we've been around the region as well. Been to Reno, been interviewed & did an acoustic set on the Sunday night new music show on KWOD in Sacramento, been in SanFran, Monterey, Tempe, San Diego, Santa Barbara. One thing I would like is to see us opening for more big national bands. We were supposed to open for Vixen in June, but it turns out that I will be working for the Vans Warped Tour this year, and I fly out to the first date on June 13th, so we had to give up that gig. But that's something that we are looking for… more opportunities opening for national bands. That's the kind of thing that will get us the kind of exposure we are finally ready for!
antiMusic: Tell us a bit about the members:
Annette: Steve Braverman - I met Steve through Joe Ayoub, the guy who really helped pull the "Gimmie" record through to the end. Steve & Joe are best friends. Steve has been in a few other bands here in L.A., the most recent was Cynical Side, a metal project with alternative smatterings throughout. Steve has been playing guitar since age 14, and he played in some bands in Chicago (S&M, and Matryx) before moving to L.A. for a career in music & recording. He went to the Los Angeles Recording Workshop (graduates include Bryan Carlstrom: Offspring: Ixnay On The Hombre, Soundtrack: Reality Bites, Alice In Chains: Dirt, Anthrax: Sound Of White Noise, and Trina Shoemaker: Sheryl Crow: The Globe Sessions and C'mon C'mon). Steve also co-wrote & recorded a song for the Bedazzled Soundtrack ("Inside of You, Inside of Me"). He also engineers voice-overs, and currently tests software for M-Audio. He has been active in the local music community here in L.A., and just has a great vibe. He and I are currently the main songwriters in S.U.M., although, our bassist Andrew is also a promising contributor. More info on Steve's recording studio can be found at www.stevebraverman.com. Steve joined the band in the summer of 2004.
Andrew Pierce - Andrew has been playing the bass since age 13. He's originally from Wisconsin (like me!!!) and he moved to L.A. and then moved to Salt Lake City for a philosophy degree at the University of Utah. There, he founded Jam Magazine, a local music magazine that became so successful that he was able to sell it to a competitor upon moving to Minnesota for the thriving music scene in Minneapolis/St. Paul. He published his 2nd music publication, Encore Magazine, which was also a huge success at that time. He got into investing, and became an independent stock broker, and took that money to build a recording studio. He brought the studio with him when he moved back to L.A. a year ago this past March. He's been juggling his music & finance careers since moving to L.A., and he joined S.U.M. as its newest member in January. He also plays bass for L.A. pop band, Rach. He's currently recording some of his own original songs, too! His home studio is called The Playroom.
And of course….you: I started playing music in 4th grade, when my mom forced all the girls in my family to take organ lessons. (My mom played & still plays the organ at church.) I was the only one who really stuck with it, and studied for 5 years. I didn't do music in high school, although, deep down I always knew I wanted a career playing music. In college, I learned how to play the guitar from my college sweetheart, and I have been serious about moving my music career forward ever since. I studied blues & jazz vocals with Chicago jazz singer Jackie Allen, and studied operatic voice in Reno from Leonora Morvaya (world renowned opera singer). My first band, Jaded, did well in Reno, and I got into film & video production while in Reno, seeking to create a music video for Jaded. I never did finish the music video, since the album never got finished until we moved up to Seattle, but I did create & produce a 45-minute program educating youth about dating & domestic violence, called "Her Silent Scream". It won the Western Access Video Excellence (W.A.V.E.) Award in the Educational Access category, which accepts submissions from 7 states out West. I moved to L.A. in 1999, and have been very active with Shut Up Marie (a.k.a. "Breather" in 1999 & 2000), and we released "DEMO" in 2001, & recently, "Gimmie". Again, I also have been building a career as a solo artist recently, and I hope to record a full-length solo album sometime this year!
antiMusic: What are the hopes and dreams of the band? Would you like to be signed to a major or continue the indie route? Who would you like to tour with? Etc.
Annette: Our hopes & dreams include international success as one of the biggest chick bands out there in the alternative world. And we do offer listeners something different from your average female-fronted band. Fortunately, there is a lot of growing support for the female rock artist, such as the Women Who Rock series on antiMUSIC! We're moving forward towards functioning as an independent record label and building distribution contacts so that we have regional distribution by the end of this year, and can go out on the weekends & create a more solid regional fanbase. My radio contacts will be coming in handy with this plan. We may also solicit to indie labels later on this year when I get back from the Warped Tour. Either route we take, we want to build S.U.M. to the point where we can sign with a bigger indie, or major label eventually. And we may never sign with a major, since the outlook becomes more & more bleak for bands at major labels. As I understand it, just to break even, the band has to sell a half a million records. Anything less, and the band OWES the label money! To me, that sounds like something that is not the best idea, especially at first when the band is relatively unknown… it seems like a better idea to build your label yourself, or go with a smaller indie. That way, even if you only sell 5 or 10,000 records, you'll have more money in your pocket at the end of the day. And if you can sell 20 or 30,000 records with your own indie label, you don't need a major label at that point! We want to tour with any band that is cool and whose audience both bands would share. Bands like The Foo Fighters, Distillers, Fall Out Boy, The Donnas, the Exies, Killing Joke… most any band that would be appropriate for alternative radio. And there are LOTS of bands out there who we'd be a good match for, even though our sound might be a little different, but it would work since we do have a huge crossover appeal. Seriously, we could tour with bands from many genres - from pop bands like Maroon 5, to more harder/rock bands like Audioslave, to punk bands like Bad Religion.
antiMusic: What's on tap for Shut Up Marie in 2006?
Annette: Shut Up Marie is in the process of signing a management contract with Brainwash Entertainment. Brainwash is interested in creating a functioning record label and securing distribution and building the organization with Shut Up Marie as the main product for the label to blossom into something big enough to eventually support several acts. They believe in S.U.M. as a viable product, and see that there are lots of possibilities with crossover, music licensing, radio airplay, and regional touring. This relationship is one that I think is really god for Shut Up Marie, and we will be announcing our signing with them once all the details are worked out. This is a small company created by motivation and passion, and that's why I think it's a good company to help build Shut Up Marie into something bigger & better than what it is now, and move the project to the next level. Brainwash CEO Barbara Farash is a self-starter, and an all-around wonderful person; I am really excited about the relationship!
Another really exciting development that will help put S.U.M. in the forefront this year is my new gig as host of a great new TV show, "Live On Sunset". This is a program that showcases bands playing in & around L.A.; the rock & roll capital of the world! It's produced by the Go Music Network, and they are currently negotiating contracts with satellite TV networks all around the world. The kick-off is planned for later on this year, and more news about that can be found at www.shutupmarie.com, and www.gomusicnetwork.com. (You can check out a 2 ½-minute promo video of the show at www.gomusicnetwork.com.) There will be a huge party to celebrate the show's kick-off, so be sure to keep your ears open for that! My stage name for that show is "Annie B.", and I sometimes use that name with my solo career as well. Might cause some confusion at first, but lots of people who have known Shut Up Marie know by now that I am a.k.a. Annie B.
Other than that, we are writing new songs, pushing the "Gimmie" CD forward locally & regionally, and currently looking for a kick-ass drummer! I, personally, work around the clock to move things forward with this project… and I believe it's that passion & drive that will put S.U.M. in the forefront of the indie music scene before long! We are looking forward to some very busy & successful months for the remainder of 2006!
antiMusic: Thanks for this Annette.
Annette: Thanks so much, Morley!!!!
Considering her crazy schedule, antiMUSIC and Morley Seaver thank Annette for taking time out for this interview.
The Los Angeles band Shut Up Marie has been around since 2001 and has established a name for themselves with their live show which is apparently pretty hot. They've also managed to secure a fair bit of airplay at alternative stations across the U.S. Gimmie is their latest offering and it's a solid, entertaining affair.
I actually didn't get the full impact of this record until about the third spin through. Then that intangible something really shone through. I can't really say what it is I like about Shut Up Marie. Individually everything is good but not great. Still there's a magic that seems to permeate the disc that slowly digs its nails into you which is a good thing in that a fast highly-charged buzz will also wear off really quickly.
The band is made up of vocalist Annette Marie, guitarist Steve Braverman, George Radai on bass and drummer Gene McEwen. The material is parts rock, punk and alternative ending up in a sound that is hard to describe.
That reggae feel comes back for the excellent "Always Wasted", although the guitars thrash it up for the raucous chorus. "Where Do We Go" is like something Blondie would have done in the '70s. This is an awesome song as is "Borrowed" which just explodes in parts. The only low point is the record closer, "You and Me" which has some really banal lyrics along with the first sub-par vocal performance, a surprising letdown considering the other great songs on here.
Overall, this is a really good CD that shows a band with lots of upside. The songs are there and the performance is there. Along with their reportedly entertaining live show, we should be hearing big things about Shut Up Marie in the future.