Recently I got to talk with Brian Marquis, guitarist for Boston hardcore band Therefore I Am, and director of Vans Warped Tour stage, The Acoustic Basement. This past summer was the first year of The Acoustic Basement which is a big change for Warped Tour considering it is a mainly high energy punk festival. The stage brought out many different musicians in an intimate way fans had never seen before, especially at Warped Tour. Starting February 1st, Marquis and some musicians who had performed during this past summer in the Acoustic Basement, are hitting the road on a month long tour in support of the stage. I was fortunate enough to talk with Marquis about the Acoustic Basement stage, the music scene in Boston, and his musical family.
Tell me a little about the Acoustic Basement and how it got its start
The Acoustic Basement was an idea I pitched to Kevin Lyman in the Fall of 2011 about having a dedicated all acoustic stage at Vans Warped Tour with guys like me who have been in punk or hardcore bands previously and now play solo acoustic as well as up and coming singer songwriters in the community. I wanted to bring the vibe and intimacy of a punk rock basement show to Warped in the form of a tent stage where artists could perform acoustically and be close to the audience. Kevin liked the idea and handed me the reins and I started booking artists almost immediately.
Acoustic Basement is apart of Warped Tour, do you have any crazy stories from Warped?
There are a lot of crazy stories from Warped. One that sticks out is how vulnerable my stage is when it thunderstorms outside. In Scranton we had tornado warnings and huge lightening storms with buckets of rain that literally created a river of water 4 inches high in my tent where the stage was with electrical cables completely submerged. To make matters worse we had to evacuate and hide in the 18 wheeler trucks and ended up helping a man in his electric wheel chair by pushing him and his wheelchair up the ramp into the back of a truck in the pouring rain with tires spinning and peeling out the whole time. Luckily everyone made it out okay but everything was soaked and my stage was shut down for the rest of the day.
Coming from a hardcore band to the Acoustic Basement is a big change, do you have a preference on which you prefer playing live?
I like them both for different reasons. Sometimes I miss being loud and jumping around like a sweaty animal with 4 friends every night but I also enjoy the differences between that and playing solo acoustic. It’s a challenge for me to play by myself and it’s nice to have full control of my performance and pace of my set. I try to bring the same energy to both performances, the acoustic one I tend to not jump around as much that’s all. They are both great outlets for my musical expression and I enjoy them both equally. It’s nice to be playing solo because it makes music feel new again for me after playing in bands for more than 15 years.
You recently moved to LA from Boston, what do you think of the Boston music scene compared to the rest of the country?
Boston and Massachusetts are a really special and incredible place for music. There is no other community quite like it around the country and I have seen just about every other major city and they all pale in comparison. The support and enthusiasm in Boston is unrivaled and it makes for a great music scene. People and bands in Boston don’t know how lucky they are to not only have such great bands and musicians but also a great community of concert goers and music appreciators. It really is the best place for music in my opinion.
You come from a musical family, with brothers in Vanna and Actor|Observer, how much of an influence are they on you?
Being the oldest brother and the one having done music the longest I think I’ve influenced them more growing up but they both influence me now as a musician with their different approaches to music and performing and their hard work. It’s inspiring to have a musical family to look up to and have around supporting each other.
What should fans expect to see on this Acoustic Basement tour compared to Warped Tour?
Fans can expect to not be blasted by 110 degrees of sun and not be blasted by double bass and loud music coming from all angles! I brought out 5 artists including myself for this tour that were on last year’s Acoustic Basement Stage and you can expect longer sets, a nice indoor atmosphere and all the same spirit that we put into warped just brought to your local small club.
Thanks again Brian! Anything else you’d like me to include?
Thanks to James and The Nosebleeds for the great interview. We will see you out on the road February 1-23 with the Acoustic Basement Tour.
Be sure to follow The Acoustic Basement on Twitter, @AcousticBSMNT, and for updates “Like” them on Facebook!
Check out the tour dates below and grab your tickets at http://www.acousticbasement.com