Rock & Pop: Marah
Great rock'n' roll needn't be about
slashings of guitar or riotous white noise. It does, however,
require a hefty dose of attitude and a king-size helping of soul.
So it comes as something of a treat to discover that Philadelphia
fourpiece Marah have both of these in spades.
Comprising brothers Dave and
Serge Bielanko (vocals), bassist Danny Metz and drummer Ronnie
Vance, Marah have cottoned on to an intoxicating blend of blues,
country-rock and R&B. New album 'Kids In Philly' exudes traces
of Springsteen, The Replacements and Steve Earle - the latter
of whom was so taken with the quartet he signed them to his E-squared
Grab an earful of the fearsomely
addictive 'Kids In Philly' and it's easy to see why. KIP is one
of those records that it's impossible to tear yourself away from.
Harmonica, bells, horns, chimes and xylophone blends alongside
the staple guitar, banjos, bass and drums, while street sounds
and party noises serve to add to a record which reverberates
with vitality, a record which sounds so alive and 'now' while
at the same time sounding increasingly like tomorrow. Though
with the whole platter clocking in at just 37 minutes long, that
repeat button is in for one heavy ride...
Marah made their UK debut last
year supporting Steve Earle. This week they return to London
for their first headline show at the Borderline. LondonNet caught
up with singer Dave Bielanko.
When did you arrive?
We arrived some time yesterday then proceeded to spin out of
control into the London
nightlife. But luckily we're staying at The
Columbia so we brought a whole bunch of people back here.
Ah the rock 'n' roll hotel.
Rock and roll it is!
What've you seen of London since you arrived - other than
bars, that is!
Yesterday we went to a coffee shop and sat with the newly pronounced
town crier and had a laugh with him for a couple of hours. Then
we checked out Trafalgar Square to see the buildings (pause)
..it's mainly the inside of bars though, I have to be honest!
You first came to London
last year supporting Steve Earle, what were your first impressions
of the city?
When we rolled in here the first time, our tour manager was from
London and he hyped it up pretty big. We met some fantastic people
though. I can see us trying to skirt around visas and live here
at some point. London is one of the three greatest cities in
What are the other two?
Philly and New York!
What do you think of Londoners?
They're very charming. London is very laid back in a way that
the East Coast is very uptight. London is an intelligent city.
It's a beautiful place and full of real people - two things that
are hard to put together, but here it works.
Are you veggie or meat eater?
Heard about the foot and mouth problem? Have you eaten any meat
I don't eat too much. I'm on this one meal a day program and
generally it's salad so I don't have to worry about the foot
and mouth thing. This last year of touring has kind of destroyed
You've come to London in
a week of protests - strikes and of course the May Day march.
What's your view on globalisation?
I'm in the wrong business to talk about it. Do you mean gloabal
chains? Well if there's a Star bucks downstairs, I'm going to
it. I'm just a consumer. I'm the little guy here.
Have you been to any other
European cities? We
did a whole European tour and took in Sweden, Belgium Holland
and Germany. I really like Stockholm and I like the museums in
Belgium. Germany, I found to be a little cold for my liking
the food, ugh!
. all we ate were kebabs every day.
You're playing the Borderline,
a small venue with an illustrious history (Jeff Buckley, Counting
Crows REM played there). Do you prefer small intimate venues?
It's our first time playing there. Right now I prefer not to
support anyone else, but to be in a nightclub place and play
our own show and that's what we're doing tonight. That is my
preference right now. Of course if we could fill up the Shepherds
Bush I'd go there. When we supported Steve Earle it was great,
we were playing 26 minutes a night. It was very little work and
talking and drinking. We likened it to a vacation where a very
rich man would spend a lot of money on us!
What about tonight?
I hear it's a bit socially unacceptable to play for two hours
in a place like the Borderline, so we'll probably play for an
hour and fifteen minutes.
What can we expect from
a Marah show?
We almost cancelled these shows because my voice is a bit shredded.
But we've worked hard to get this ready and we wanted to do it
so bad, so it should be an extremely spirited performance. Yeah,
there'll be plenty of banter. We don't look at our shoes and
play our songs and leave! We brought in the rhythm section of
this band called the Three Four Tens to back us up tonight. With
these guys coming on board to help us there's a great brotherhood
feeling to it. It's gonna be soulful and cool.
Rock Feature -
Can pub rock survive in London?
Bella Union -
We talk to former Cocteau
twin Simon Raymonde about his London-based record label... click
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