Marina City is a six piece self-described aggressive pop rock band from Chicago and are currently on the last few dates of the Cold Kids and Campfires Tour Part 2 with Broadside and fellow Chicago-born band 7 Minutes In Heaven. The band has been around since 2012, and has put out three albums; 2012’s In The Wake of Dreaming, 2014’s Chimera, and their newest release from August 2015, Wanderlust.
They’ve already accomplished some big things, and their passion is evident in their music, their dedication to their fans, and pretty much everything else they do. I have faith that passion is what’s going to make them unstoppable in the next few years. The guys were nice enough to take the time out of their busy tour schedule and answer a few of our questions. You can see what they had to say and check out some of their music below.
Interview by Meredith Szturm.
You guys are from Chicago which is a huge city for music. Has the Chicago music scene been a big part of Marina City? Do your roots there affect your music?
Ryan Argast: Absolutely! We are very involved with the Chicago local scene. Some of us have been in it for 10+ years. We’ve been able to make connections, friends, and fans who have helped us get to where we are today. The name is inspired from the two honeycomb towers in the heart of downtown. You can find us at shows all the time supporting other bands rise. We want the Chicago scene to be the biggest music scene since it already is the best.
I believe our roots affect our music. We have a really hard working personality. Chicago is always trying to prove its not the second city. It’s an underdog. But it’s feisty due to the cold and not as laid back as the west coast. That’s definitely our personalities. We are always proving to ourselves and to people we can be better. This would reflect on our music because of how serious we take it. We may be goofy dudes but when it comes to our music and art we are very serious about it. This is it for us.
Have you ever played an acoustic tour before? How do you like it?
Brian Johnson: An acoustic tour is definitely more intimate with the fans and I’ve never done one until the tour were on now. So far it’s been very fun and enjoyable.
Do you have any memorable tour stories from being on the road?
Matt Gaudiano: There are too many tour stories, my favorite story from this tour was in Ohio when we were surprised by our good friend Maddie Finn! She sang “I’ll Sing You to Sleep” with us that night, it was rad.
Have any of the artists you’ve toured with affected or inspired you in a significant way?
Eric Somers-Urrea: We always get a ton of inspiration from the bands we get to tour with. We’ve been lucky to tour with some incredible musicians that I think subconsciously influence our songwriting and certainly the way we live life on the road. In particular I think Royal Street, who we toured with a bunch this year and last year, played a huge part in the songwriting process for Wanderlust. Touring together kind of builds up this network of connections where everyone feeds off each other’s creative energy. It’s important because at the end of the day any band is just a collection of band member’s musical influences. A giant conglomerate of everyone’s favorite bands.
How is Wanderlust different from In The Wake of Dreaming and Chimera?
Aaron Heiy: The music on Wanderlust seems to be different because we’re finally starting to define our genre as Aggressive Pop Rock. Also, In the Wake of Dreaming was really happy when it came to the lyrics because it was all about chasing your dreams and being optimistic about everything. Chimera started showing struggles we’ve been through as a band and how making it in music is a lot harder than we ever thought it would be. Wanderlust connects with us through personal events that are going on rather than a whole. If you like Wanderlust then you will definitely enjoy In The Wake Of Dreaming and Chimera.
What’s the writing process like for Marina City? Do you all write?
Todor Birindjiev: The writing process for MC is fully collaborative. All six of us sit in a room and we write songs together from all sorts of different ideas presented by different members. We all have a part in writing each song, and thats what makes it really fun!
I read that you traveled 6,000 miles to record Wanderlust. That’s a long trip! Why did you decide to take that journey?
Ryan Argast: We really wanted to record with Casey Bates. We knew that if we recorded with him we could get the sound we wanted. However, it was also about the experience. I heard this saying a long time ago and it really resonated with me “if you travel far from home to record then you are just focused on recording the best record you can. If you stay home to record then you are getting up every day to go to work, people hate going to work.” We had no distractions, it was us 6 against the world. We experienced Yellowstone, Badlands, Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore, Seattle fish market, the Space Needle, and just the life of Seattle. We were out of a comfort zone which made us more focused to do what we came to do. We got closer as friends too.
You guys classify yourselves as “aggressive pop rock.” Is that something you think you’ve always been or has the band’s sound evolved over time?
Brian Johnson: I feel we’ve always been aggressive pop rock but our sound has just matured. We’ve taken what we thought that genre was and gone to the next level with the songs we’ve written recently especially.
You’ve sold out the House of Blues, won the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands, and played Warped Tour. Those are all HUGE accomplishments so congratulations! What are you most proud of as a band?
Matt Gaudiano: As a band, just sticking together and not really having huge fights is a huge accomplishment. I think our biggest one was Warped Tour though, it’s been a personal dream of mine for a long time!
You’re currently unsigned, right? Are you looking for a label? Do you run all the behind the scenes and business aspects of being in a band yourselves? If so, what are some of your favorite and least favorite things about doing that?
Eric Somers-Urrea: We are currently unsigned. The best part is that we have total control of everything we do right now so we can basically do whatever we want. Plus any kind of return we get goes right back to fueling the band. There’s no other hands in the cookie jar so to speak, so as a local band trying to break nationally everything we can get helps us go that much further. Plus we’re very business minded in everything we do so we’re somehow able to operate very quickly and efficiently with just us running everything. But obviously there are a lot of cons too. Perhaps the biggest issue for us is that being signed carries a certain amount of clout and pull in the industry and we don’t have that. We unfortunately miss out on a lot of opportunities because on paper we look like any weekend warrior basement band when in reality this is something we’re trying to make our livelihood. People who don’t know us have a hard time taking us seriously.
Your fans are called The Lost Boys, and you seem to have a strong connection with them. What do your fans mean to you?
Aaron Heiy: Our fans do everything for us. Without them we wouldn’t have Marina City. They support us by buying merch, telling their friends about us, passing out flyers and stickers. Come and see us whenever we are in town. They are truly amazing and I can’t thank all of them enough. We have the best fans ever and they really are family. They keep us going and we keep them going through our music.
What are 5-10 songs or albums that you’ve been listening to lately?
Todor Birindjiev: As of lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Metallica with my friends in the car. We just hang out and play anything from their older music to their newer music! “No Leaf Clover,” “The Unforgiven,” “Fade to Black,” “Blackened,” and “The Four Horsemen” are some of the songs I listen to.
What do you have planned for Marina City in 2016?
Ryan Argast: This could be a really big year for us! Expect a lot of shows around the country, new music, a couple EPs, music videos, covers, and a bunch of tricks…
What are you dreams and goals for the band in the future?
We are building the band to last a long time. With that being said we want Marina City to become a full time job. That’s the modest dream. The ultimate dream is become an influential band in the history of Rock n Roll. We aren’t saying we are that band but we inspire to be much more than a fad. You gotta dream big and we are huge dreamers.
Marina City is
Ryan Argast- Lead Vocals
Brian Johnson- Vocals/Guitar
Matt Gaudiano- Vocals/Keys
Eric Somers-Urrea- Drums
Aaron Heiy- Bass
Todor Birindjiev- Lead Guitar
You can pick up Wanderlust and other merch here.