Dan Mariska: My songs are mostly fictionalized accounts of things that happened to me

Dan Mariska: My songs are mostly fictionalized accounts of things that happened to me
Photo by Rosa Raarrup

Dan Mariska titled his second full-length solo album Bummer Songs. It was a working title, and it stuck when Mariska came to giving a voice to the record of catchy indie rock. The songs crowbar melodies into tight corners, and splash guitars haphazardly all over the place. This frenzy of ideas, and the sheer, wonky joy of creation is what makes the record work for a guy who also moonlights with Party House and Sleeper and the Sleepless.

Before his album release at the 7th Street Entry on Thursday, Dan spoke with Gimme Noise about bumming people out and how he finds enough hours in a day to work on his many projects.
Band Members: Dan Mariska, Kevin Goff, Nick Costa, Lee Carter

Gimme Noise: Bummer Songs sound like, well, such a bummer. Why did you decide to give the album such a depressing name?Dan Mariska: When I write songs there's always a lot of sending demos back and forth between myself and everyone involved in the record. Near the end of the writing process, I sent Knol Tate, our producer, a .zip file named something like "Bummer Song Demos," and we thought it was funny and it kind of stuck. Having a title to work under, I think, actually helped me to finish writing the few remaining tracks. The name is kind of a tongue-in-cheek joke on depressing type music but also fitting for the songs and to some degree a little bit serious. I generally don't take life too seriously. But maybe sometimes it's okay to just kinda be bummed out or have some time to yourself. It's just part of life, and maybe you don't have to be happy 100 percent of the time.

Your songs tend to lean towards more times of where you are in your life. Do you feel this to be true? Why do you reveal such vulnerable parts of your life in your music?

I think that's a true statement. I don't know where else to draw influence from other than your own experiences, even if you're writing a piece of fiction. I suppose I would consider most of my songs to be fictionalized accounts of things that have happened to me. Some are closer to an actual event than others and some are completely made up -- although, I'm not sure if it matters either way. What really matters is that I am communicating something effectively to the listener and they're able to take something away from the song -- regardless of the subject matter. It might just be that I'm not very good at expressing these things conversationally in day to day life or that I'm just not skilled enough as a songwriter to write about other things -- probably a combination of those two among other things that the songs turn out the way they do.

You have enough for a full-length this time around. Do you feel you are constantly writing?

It's All Okay was also a full-length release but we had to put together a lot of unfinished ideas during the recording process to make it a full-length. We did this mainly because Knol and I decided that we wouldn't do the songs justice by releasing them as an EP.  I think it mostly worked... When we recorded Bummer Songs, we started with more material than we needed. We recorded 15 songs and there are ten on the album. I don't think the five songs that didn't make the album are necessarily weaker songs, they just didn't cohesively fit the record. It's also fun to have extra material to release as b-sides down the road. 

Am I constantly writing? More or less. It can sometimes be hard for me to finish ideas without an end goal in mind. It wasn't until having the title "Bummer Songs" that I was really able to finish most of the partial song ideas I had.

You are in so many other projects. How do you find time for this one? Why do you feel this project needs a voice?

I like to stay busy and try different roles as a musician; it keeps me growing as an artist. I like to sit in for friends of mine. Most recently I recorded and played the release show for Sleeper and the Sleepless' new album. Otherwise, it seems like my other band Party House is on some kind of indefinite hiatus which leaves this as my main project at the moment.

I started writing songs as a "solo artist" because at the time I wasn't in a band and figured it was the most flexible way to keep writing and releasing music. I can do a lot of the leg work on my own and then call in other people when I need to. So far it's been working great.

What can we expect to see at the album release show?

Kevin our drummer is also two other bands on the bill. He's playing in Faith's band; she is releasing a record that night as well. Kevin also plays in the Crash Bandits. My friends also have a new band called Blue Green, whom I haven't seen yet but am expecting to be good because everything else they've done is good. It will be a good time so come and hang out with us if you can.

Dan Mariska will release Bummer Songs at the 7th Street Entry on Thursday, December 5, 2013 with Blue Green, The Crash Bandits, and Faith Bobblet.
18+, $7, 8 pm
Click here for tickets.

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