First thing's first: "I've got no plans to leave the Emergency," says drummer Dave Marsh (longtime rhythmic backbone of Halifax rockers The Joel Plaskett Emergency, and of The Super Friendz).
"I'm not leaving that paycheque and my fondness for 'Joely' and the tunes...It stems from being a drummer. I love collaboration and playing in a band with other musicians, and the temptation to do it all on my own was not really there."
Nonetheless, Marsh is ready to strike a chord with his first solo album, The True Love Rules, which will debut Tuesday, as the first release on Plaskett's latest musical enterprise: brand-new label New Scotland Records.
The unpretentious, laidback album showcases Marsh's tactical percussionist abilities (honed during his diverse 20-year career within the Halifax music community), combining them with colourful lyrics and a free-flowing melodic atmosphere. Yet the musician doesn't see the album as a way of completely breaking out on his own, even though he personally wrote all 14 songs on TTLR. (Plaskett co-produced and played guitar on a couple of tracks, Emergency bassist Tim Brennan added his own touch and The Super Friendz and other local musicians like Paul Boudreau, Peter Elkas and David Myles also contributed to the album's overall sound.) Still, the solo effort is more than just a side project for the Emergency drummer, and has allowed Marsh to create his own distinct, raw sound while still staying true to his local musical roots.
"I'm responsible for as much rawness as can be mustered on this album...and Joel brought some heat to cook that raw meat. He would bring something down to the basement and the three or four of us would hash it out," says Marsh.
The majority of the album was written and polished while Marsh was on tour with the Emergency last year throughout North America and Australia---but not written in the conventional sense. The uninhibited jam sessions in songs like "The Way We Live Today" and "Picking up the Pieces" are clearly the work of a casual, relaxed artist.
"Songs were pretty well written when we went into the studio. Most of them were meant to be demos---pure drum and bass tracks. But they had a good sound so we decided to use them for the bed tracks of the records; I showed up with my tunes all ready to go and Joel helped with the arrangements and guitar tones," shares the drummer.
Marsh himself is a laidback, grounded musician with a genuinely nonchalant approach to both life and music: "I write music while sitting with an acoustic guitar and a cup of tea in a window," he says. "I don't know if I broke out of comfort zone . There just wasn't a lot of pressure, and there was a natural vibe that translates well to the record."
Tunes on the album include the deep, prophetic "I'll Let Them Know You Were Here" and "The Smoke Easy," which tells the story of a friend who owns a popular local Halifax bar and allows Marsh and friends to smoke weed freely in the backroom after hours (think Prohibition-era "speakeasies," but with pot). These songs are contrasted by dark, emotive songs like "Got No Kids of Our Own" in which Marsh sets aside the drumsticks in favor of a ghostly, acoustic sound.
However, when looking to the future, Marsh has no plans to change his musical outlook and collaborative spirit any time soon. "I'm still close with all of ---still in the Emergency, still with The Super Friendz...I really wanted to have other influences on this album---otherwise you're just going to end up sounding like Prince (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). I just really like incorporating other peoples' voices and styles, and collaboration is the recipe that produces the final result...It's just good to have some old friends in this new outfit."
The True Love Rules hits stores Tuesday, July 29/ Dave Marsh w/Old Man Luedecke, The Joel Plaskett Emergency, Friday, August 1, at Alderney Landing, Dartmouth Waterfront, doors open 8pm, $16.95 (under 19)/$22.60 (19+), 1-888-311-9090.