Tonight's must-see show is at Plush, with New Jersey's Delicate Steve headlining. Cy Dune, the new side project from Akron/Family's Seth Olinsky, and Discos play in support. Doors at 8:30, $6. The Weekly talked with Steve Marion of Delicate Steve.
Delicate Steve has gone from a conspiracy to a collective.
What began in guitarist Steve Marion’s bedroom as a first-time effort at writing his own songs, using just some old pedals he had and a couple borrowed instruments, has branched into a full touring band, ready to start making music together.
“The Delicate Steve sound was something that kind of came out of left field,” Marion says. “I’d always been playing guitar. When I was in other bands in high school, I functioned as the guitar player, not the songwriter.”
A fluid and powerful guitarist who excels in turning his instrument loose melodically, Marion replaces what would be typical vocal lines with his slide guitar. And so the new sounds he was exploring in his Delicate Studio would enter the world as Delicate Steve.
“It was a creative time in my life. I was in my room and decided to make my own music for the first time instead of recording another band or trying to be the guitar player,” says Marion, in a phone interview from a tour stop last week in Seattle. “I took pedals off the shelf I hadn’t played in five years. I had some tom drums I borrowed from a friend, I didn’t have a snare drum, I had a synthesizer I was borrowing. All of these things conspired to make the sound.”
Delicate Steve - "Redeemer"
With Delicate Steve, he was able to put down the notions he had about playing music as a career and just focus on the sound.
“I’ve always wanted to be touring and have a record label and in all the bands I was in before this one,” Marion says. “In the very beginning of the project it had a good feeling to it in that it was the first thing I was not concerned with how far I got with it.”
Of course, as soon as he stopped looking for something is when Marion found it. The New Jersey recording project turned into a band that made waves in Brooklyn, attracting the attention of David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label, which released Wondervisions in 2010. The label marketed the record with a Chuck Klosterman-penned bio made up whole cloth. Yet the introduction, “The critics unilaterally concur: Delicate Steve is a band who creates music” was enough to spark some attention, but it was the band’s electrifying live show that really did the trick.
“Before I made anything, I had this feeling I was committed to the music regardless of whether or not I’d get on a record label,” Marion says. “That was a special kind of feeling from the beginning of the project and because of that it enabled me to get where I am today.”
To follow-up Wondervisions, Marion set out to harness a sound that was a little more hard-hitting. Positive Force, out in July on Luaka Bop, brings more focused composition to his expressive guitar playing.
“This record was my version of making something really powerful,” he says. “The first record has a playful feeling and in terms of my editing with this project, I didn’t take things too far and kept it feeling pretty natural. It was a lot about stopping myself and not trying to make it perfect. Positive Force in general is trying to make this thing that is a more concentrated sound.”
The record has drawn positive reviews from all over the music world and has placed Marion beside many of the musicians he’s looked up to since before starting Delicate Steve.
“Luckily for us we’ve been able to tour with a lot of bands we look up to. In the indie rock scene, the lines are blurred between your biggest inspirations and your best friends. It seems like they’re one in the same now,” Marion says. “When I was growing up it seemed like my inspirations were pretty untouchable like the Mars Volta. Now it’s totally different. We got to play a show with Omar (Rodríguez-López) in Belgium. Now there are really any unreachable musicians. There’s a kinship with everybody who’s a part of the scene.”
The kinship extends to the full live version of Delicate Steve, musicians who’ve reached a point of cohesion that points to a future creating music together.
“It’s now an interesting space because there’s a solid lineup to the band. We really feel good about where we’re at now. It’s always been just trying to learn whatever was already recorded and try to improve on it, make it more interesting, cater to how we’re feeling either that night or that tour,” Marion says. “Now it’s an interesting spot because we all love playing together and we’re going to try making the music collectively and see how that goes.”
Delicate Steve - "Butterfly" (live)