Marnie Stern catches up with us at the Garage
In the wake of her widely esteemed latest album, The Chronicles of Marnia, Marnie Stern gave us a few minutes of her time after a frenetic set at The Garage.
How was tonight compared with your other shows this tour?
MS: Very fun! The audience, they were very good and really into it.
So you’re celebrating the new album The Chronicles of Marnia – firstly, great name.
It’s from an old boyfriend [Matt Flegel of the band Woman]. He made a joke about it and I said: “Haha,” then we broke up and I kept joking about it to people, then someone said: “You should name the record that.” So I did.
So is it based on that personal experience, that relationship – the “Chronicle” you’re talking about?
Yeah I mean it’s just jokey; it’s not that serious. In fact, Zach Hill who I play with on all the other stuff said no more jokes – he’s really into serious stuff right now. He’s always serious. For me, this record was just light-hearted and fun, not working so hard with guitar or trying to prove that I can play well.
It does seem to be more about the lyricism this time. I read in another interview [the Quietus] that your “lyrical content is always [you] working through worries or things that [you’re] going through”.
I’m an over-thinker too, so I really understand all that.
And women are in general, I would think. [To Katie Harkin from Sky Larkin] Are you an over-thinker?
Katie: Well yeah, I’m a songwriter!
How have your worries developed over your career? Has the focus changed on this new album?
I would say it’s mellowed out, as you get older you don’t worry as much, you don’t care as much about stuff. You care about other things, maybe your confidence grows in one area or another, and it keeps going back and forth. That’s what life is. At least from my experience, from my age and what I do, that’s how it goes.
All the reviews of the new album seem to be saying that your vocals are at the forefront and this is your songwriter album. To me it sounds like the same sound. What do you think?
It was me fighting with the guy [producer Nicholas] that was doing it… We were arguing the whole time.
It still seems like the same musician, at least on parts of it.
Not to me. Like to me, when we were doing it I was very upset. I mean I guess it’s the person – each little tiny detail sounds crazy! To me I’d hear a little tiny detail and I’d be like “Aah!!” I was like “No, no, no,” and [Nicholas] was like “Well, do you want it to sound terrible?” And I was like “Fuck you, you idiot, I know what I’m doing”. And he was like “I know what I’m doing”.
And you know you as well.
Yeah and I know me, and I was like “Do you not want me on [the record]?” And that was basically the general gist of it. But it turned out alright and it was good to have someone pushing me in a different way.
The Chronicles of Narnia has seven stories –
I don’t even know what that is!
But I was wondering – what’s the next “Chronicle”?
Something that’s not funny! I tell you Zach Hill wrote me a text and was like “Next one not funny. I don’t like this funny. Serious”. He was so specific it was like crazy: “Angular, vocals, serious, dark, low” – I don’t know, it was a goddamn parade of specifics of what he wanted; he’s very specific.
And will you be working with a producer again do you think?
I guess, maybe I really thought this was the last… What I would like to do is not have to do this so much. I would like to do it every once in a while, not as often.
That’s sad for us… You have to keep coming back to London.
This is true: for that big a crowd I have like an anxiety attack and at first I felt…but I knew [my friend Liz] was there and then I was OK. It’s only when I have people that are my closest evers that are there, then I’m like “I’m playing for this person and it doesn’t matter”. But it’s when I don’t know [anyone] when I lose it. It’s better when it’s the people you care about. So now we’re going to Dover, so kill me now…
Nazrene Hanif and Tristan Bath
Photo: Sarah Louise Renwick
Read our review of Marnie Stern at the Garage here.
For further information and future events visit Marnie Stern’s website here.