Brad Germain – Guitar / Vocals
Ryan Tweedle – Bass
Adam Knickle – Drums
For some, living the rock ’n’ roll dream means fame, fortune and all the excess that comes with it. The Marble Index are living a different dream. It involves the proverbial blood, sweat and tears. It involves perseverance and effort. It involves working like sons of bitches and making the most of opportunity.
If this dream doesn’t sound as sexy, you’ve read too many magazines. This is good, old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll spirit, with nothing airbrushed, steroid-pumped or collagen-enhanced – but sexy indeed. In fact, if you compare The Marble Index’s self-titled debut and their latest, Watch Your Candles, Watch Your Knives, you’ll hear a band who haven’t lost an ounce of muscle, but have gained a remarkable amount of finesse.
Even as their album was landing on new shelves in new countries, the Index had regrouped at home to record Watch Your Candles, Watch Your Knives. They hunkered down for several weeks at Hamilton’s Catharine North Studios, with producer Scott Shields (the Mescaleros, G.U.N.) at the helm.
“He was good at roping us in and making us a little more focused,” Germain says of Shields. “He mixed our debut, and I think he was stoked to get his hands on our recording from the ground floor this time. We feel like he kind of helped us step up a level.”
If the Index stepped up a level, Germain’s songwriting was a major driving force. From the opening shout-along salvos of “Everyone Else” and “All That I Know” bring to mind the Damned or the Clash in militant mode, with a wiry tightness that generates its own electricity. The reggae-suffused “Let Me Be The One” uses dub as a springboard to leap headlong into its dynamic chorus. Later, the Index get down with their magnificent selves on “I Don’t Want to Try to Change Your Life”, and keep the kids on the floor with the bounce of “Anytime” before returning to the straight-forward guitar-driven dash of “Not Impressed”. All the songs are easily as taut as those on the debut. Yet Watch Your Candles is ultimately more memorable, side-stepping convention and including hooky melodies to create a sound that’s thoroughly modern but not entirely unfamiliar.
“It wasn’t really premeditated,” says Germain, “but I wanted to write songs that showed us form different perspectives.”
The lead single is the outstanding guitar pop of “Same Schools”, which opens up to a wall of guitars and a deceptively simple chorus that embeds itself permanently in your brain after only a spin or two. The song, an indictment of the educational system and the conformity it breeds, suggests that there has been a maturation of lyrical content as well.
“It’s more about where I am in life,” Germain explains. “The first track, ‘Everyone Else,’ is saying you know, I’ve been bullshitting forever, trying to stay away form responsibility, but now I’ve realized it doesn’t really matter what people think. Everybody takes their own path. So it’s partly a coming of age tale for me…Brad grows up and fuckin’ has something to say, finally.”
That coming of age happened in Hamilton, Ontario, where Germain, Tweedle and Knickle had been part of the music scene for years before uniting to become The Marble Index in 2001. They combined the lean, melodic sounds of their favourite musicians – The Who, The Smiths, The Jam – with the lean, pretension-free attitude of their hometown, where keeping it real equals waking up in the morning. It just happens. Some may have called the Index “garage rock,” but that label never gave credit to the wealth of ideas and influences in their music. While so many “garage bands” have proven themselves flashes in the new millennium’s pan, The Marble Index continue to burn hotter.
The group’s first EP and early live shows showed enough of that potential heat to capture attention. For such a young band to get signed these days may seem like the ultimate prize, but again, The Marble Index weren’t ready to start buying yachts and gold teeth just yet. To them, the deal was merely an opportunity; an opportunity that came dressed in overalls and looking like work. So they headed to Wigan, in the United Kingdom, and rolled up their sleeves to record their debut.
The success of The Marble Index’s self-titled release was not just the result of a strong record – it was the also result of hard work and the way music fans responded across the country. From the release date onward, the band toured – across Canada with the legendary Pixies, and elsewhere around the world on their own. After touring the globe over the past two years, all of The Marble Index have come of age. You can hear it in their songs, in their performances, and in the spirit of the new album. Watch Your Candles, Watch Your Knives is the work of a band who already knew who they were, but have learned how to express it on a new plane.
The Marble Index may not be on the lookout for brown M&Ms, but they have a new version of the rock’n’roll dream. “This year will be the year we keep going with our quest for international dominance,” laughs Germain. “Our quest to try to spread our seed to as many countries as possible.”
With a schedule that includes dates from Japan to Germany, album releases in just as many places, and a willingness to work for what they want, the Index are likely to find that rock’n’roll dreams come true.
The beat is yours forever, boys.