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Can we start with a bit of background? Tell me about how you started making music and the road that has brought you to where you are today.
Marina: I started playing guitar because of my mom. I was in elementary school. Because of my size, mom bought a 3/4 size guitar for me. I haven’t stopped playing.
With Austin To Houston being your 4th album to date, can you tell me what has changed between the first and now? Have you changed as a musician, are you still chasing the same dreams, and have doors opened that you didn’t expect?
Marina: What has changed? The fourth album is more acoustic-driven, with textured electric guitars added, and I hoped to stretch out on different rhythms, including world beat.
What has changed between the first album and this latest one? Godin A6 is now my primary guitar of expression. The early stuff was more Fender Strat /power trio driven. I work solo now with a few special guests when recording. On the new album, I had fellow Texans Aden Buebeck and Alex Rodriguez add some bass, Lloyd Maines (of The Chicks) on pedal steel with Pat Manske adding percussion. I played the main drum tracks. Pete also mixed and mastered the album with additional mastering by Nick Landis.
Have I changed as a musician? Yes. It’s just different as a soloist. I think my vocal approach is different. I can hear myself now. As a guitarist, it’s opened more possibilities & challenges.
Am I still chasing the same dreams? Not exactly. My idea of success has changed. You can’t go through a lot and ever look at anything the same ever again.
Have any doors opened that I didn’t expect? I’ve met a lot of nice people who have generously used their time to help me navigate my career path. I’m very lucky and grateful. I’m also thrilled with the great response in the European press. I didn’t expect it. It means a lot and helps keep me going. Because of that response to my very first tour in Europe recently. The nice folks at Radio Benelux-Belgium have been awesome! “Shine” is currently #3 on their chart, and that was unexpected too.
The writing of the recent album is founded, in some way at least, in grief and catharsis. Can you tell me how music can restore faith after your world shatters?
Marina: I don’t think music was always so much about restoring faith. As it was simply oxygen to breathe. Music is not just expression but a safe place to escape, renew, recharge, and reinvent.
Tell me about The Two-Fisted Pixie and how that has changed your musical life and perhaps even your approach to making music.
Marina: A friend heard someone call Dick Cavett a Two-Fisted Pixie. I asked my friend what would be a good name for my studio. He said, Two-Fisted Pixie. Because of the isolation caused by the pandemic, I created my studio. I spent time learning GarageBand & iMovie. If I had a nickel for every hour I spent in the Two-Fisted Pixie Studio, I’d have a whole bunch of nickels.
It was great to hear your take on the Townes Van Zandt classic “Nothin’”, which brings us to Wrecks Bell. Tell me about how you met and how he has helped your musical career.
Marina: As you may know, Wrecks played bass for Townes,* Lightnin’ Hopkins*, & Lucinda Williams. One night I signed up late for Wreck’s open mic at his Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe in Galveston, Texas. Wrecks walked over and said, ‘Do I know you?” I replied do I owe you money? “He said get up there.”
After that Wrecks started booking me to open for acts like, Joe Ely, Hayes Carll, Shake Russell, Terri Hendrix & Lloyd Maines to name a few. I recorded “‘Nothin’” because Wrecks has a wake for Townes every January 1st to honor his memory. It’s the anniversary of Towne’s passing. So when I play Townes’ wake I always play his song “Nothin’”. Wrecks, and his wife Janet, are great songwriters & both were friends of Townes. They have been a big part of my life & career. They are great friends.
Although Austin To Houston is a rock album at its core, it takes in all manner of other sounds and styles, such as “Joy Ride”‘s Afro-beat grooves. Do you look for ways to mix the sound up, or do they just come out in the songwriting?
Marina: I appreciate & listen to a variety of styles. It helps me keep things fresh.
As the new album title alludes, you are a Texas girl through and through; what does that mean to you?
Marina: Texas is internationally recognized as the Lone Star State. This high-profile status will keep you humble. It gives me something to live up to.
So, where next for Marina Rocks, both musically and personally?
Marina: I just returned from Nashville, where I played the AmericanaFest Conference, and Europe for my first tour of the continent. Next up is an album release show in my hometown of Houston and some shows in California. Hope to see you someday. Thank you again, Dave, you rock!