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A WORD WITH MAD MARGRITT!!-Stoney 08/05/03
MAD MARGRITT. You know these guys. Have played Augusta over a half dozen time in the past half dozen years. Atlanta's posterboys for the return of sleazy fun 80's hair & scare rock. Never change attitude, never say die lifestyle. They've watched bands around them drop the look and jump on every bandwagon imagineable to attain success while they stuck true to their guns. Sure Butch Walker had the hairspray happenin' back in the day but has changed lanes more times than a cat has lives but not these guys. While Faster Pussycat went techno and Metallica went, well to shit, MAD MARGRITT have continued to play what they love the way they love to play it. LOUD! Frontman Eddie Smith spills the rock & roll beans on the crazy world of MAD friggin MARGRITT!
LL-MAD MARGRITT started up just about the time that the rock of the 80's was facing a major decline in popularity. How difficult was it starting out and what kept you from taking an easier route? You could have easily jumped on the Seattle bandwagon.
ES-The whole Seattle thing just never appealed to us. Iím not saying it was all bad. Bands like Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots had some cool songs, but most of the stuff from that era was pretty horrible. I grew up listening to high energy, in your face rock and roll and thatís the kind of music I want to play. We did get a lot of slack in the beginning for playing the kind of music we play, but it never really bothered us. I think its hilarious that all these rock bands in the early 90ís starting changing their look and sound to fit into the Seattle "grunge" thing and then they would call us poseurs. I think itís pretty obvious who the real poseurs were.
LL-Now MAD MARGRITT originally was formed in Miami. When and why did the band relocate to Atlanta?
ES-We moved to Atlanta in the mid- 90ís. Our manager at the time thought it would be a good move because of the success that bands like Jackyl and the Black Crows were having. Unfortunately by the time we got here the scene had pretty much dried up.
LL-So in about 1997, amidst the burgeoning modern rock scene, you guys released your debut "Cold Sweat". What was going through your mind as you were about to release an all out rock & roll record during a time when that kind of music was considered passe?
ES-Basically we just didnít give a fuck. I hated everything about the 90ís music scene and I was hell bent on putting out a cd that sounded as far removed from "grunge" as possible. The more people told me I had to change my music or my image the more I rebelled, it just added fuel to the fire. I remember when we were getting ready to do the photo shoot for "Cold Sweat", someone had mentioned to me that maybe we should tone down our look a little so we would fit in better with the modern rock bands. It pissed me off so bad that I showed up at the photo shoot with my hair teased, full make-up, head to toe leather Ö I looked like Vince Neil from the "Shout At The Devil" era! Thatís the same attitude we had when we were writing the songs for the cd. The music on "Cold Sweat" is a direct result of our disdain for modern rock. It was our way of holding up a middle finger to the music industry.
LL-It was around that time that you guys played at, and correct me if I'm wrong, the short-lived Whipping Post II. What was your initial impression of the rock fans in Augusta?
ES- The Whipping Post was one of the first places we played after "Cold Sweat" came out. Back then a lot of people in Augusta didnít know who we were so our draw wasnít really that great. The people that did come out to the shows were awesome, they would be right up at the front of the stage rocking with us.
LL-In 1999 Delinquent Records, which also included such bands as D'Molls and a few others released the bands follow-up "In the Name of Rock". What was the climate for rock & roll like during that time?
ES-Things were definitely starting to look up. Bands like Motley Crue and Poison were back together and touring, VH-1 was doing all those specials on 80ís rock like "Behind the Music". All of the sudden we started getting calls from record companies, managers, booking agentsÖ it was really cool that people were interested in a band like us again. After we signed with Delinquent and put out "In The Name Of Rock" we went out on our first US tour. We got to open up for bands like Skid Row, Ratt, Cinderella, & Quiet Riot to name a few. It was amazing to see how many people across the country still wanted to hear 80ís style rock.
LL-Shortly after that you guys played a packed house at Tyme Pieces and not too long after that you played on the river for the RATT show. What kind of impression did you get from fans on the state of rock & roll in Augusta?
ES-Things were definitely different then they were a few years earlier. We were packing 'em in at places like Tyme Pieces and Kokopellis.The Ratt show was a total blast, we had such a good time at that show. Augusta has without a doubt become on of our favorite places to play. Weíve met so many cool people out here and weíve made some good friends as well.
LL-Judging by the looks on peoples faces at Crossroads the other night, and the reaction we saw from people at the Faster Pussycat show at the Masquerade, it appears that there are people just dying to see good ol' rock bands again. Why do you think this fact seems lost by radio and many club owners?
ES-Thatís the sad thing about it all. So many people want to hear this kind of music but radio and MTV wonít have anything to do with it. Most people donít realize that a lot of bands from the 80ís are still putting out cdís. How are people suppose to know that thereís a new Motley Crue cd out if they donít hear any of the songs on the radio? Itís really frustrating, especially for a band like us. We get a lot of airplay overseas and in some of the smaller towns here in the US, but for the most part radio is giving us the cold shoulder.
LL-Do you think that after working or going to school all week that people just want to have fun on the weekends instead of being reminded by some bands how tough life can be?
ES-You hit the nail on the head!! Who wants to keep hearing an artist sing about how miserable they are? Thatís why 80ís rock appeals to so many people, its total escapism.
LL-Now after years of playing you've just released "New Sensation" on Perris Records. Any special meaning behind this title?
ES-We did a lot of experimenting on this cd. We put a lot more emphasis on harmonies and melodies and tried some new things with the songwriting that we never done before. A lot of people hear that the cd is called "New Sensation" and assume that we are saying weíre the new sensation, but itís actually a play on words. When we say "New Sensation" weíre referring to the music on the cd as being a little bit of a departure from what we usually write. Weíre treading into uncharted territory so to speak, thus the name "New Sensation".
LL-How has the band changed the most in the years between "Cold Sweat" and "New Sensation"?
ES-I donít think weíve changed to much as far as our style of music, we still like to write high energy in your face rock and roll. The new cd was a little bit of a departure for us because we were trying out some new things, but for the most part we just like to turn up the amps as loud as they can go and blast out some rock and roll the way it was meant to be played. The next cd that weíre working on will probably sound a little closer to "Cold Sweat" and "In The Name Of Rock" than our new cd. I love how "New Sensation" came out and weíre gonna take what we learned from that experience and incorporate it into the next cd, but the songs that we are working on now are definitely a throwback to the sound we had when we first started
LL-What do you think are the standout track(s) on the new disc?
ES-I like "Midnight Rendezvous" a lot, thereís a piano ballad called "Believe" that came out really cool. Some people are afraid to write ballads because you really have to open yourself up. When I wrote the song "Believe" it was really hard for me to sing in front of people because it was so personal. The song was written for someone really special to me and I wasnít real comfortable letting other people hear it. When we recorded it I had to ask everyone in the band to leave the studio. You almost feel naked singing a song like that because youíre revealing so much of yourself. I wasnít even sure I wanted to put it on the cd. Another song I like is called "Nothing Can Keep Me Away". That was probably the quickest song I have ever written. I was on the road and had just hung up the phone with my girl. She was really down because we hadnít seen each other in a while because of the tour. I started writing down some lyrics and 10 minutes later I had a finished song. Thatís definitely a record for me!! When it came time to record it we had Derek St. Holmes (Ted Nugent singer) come out and sing back-up vocals. I grew up listening to Stranglehold and Snakeskin Cowboy and here was the guy who sang all those songs singing one of my songs! It was one a the greatest nights of my life!!
LL-If a fan was to ask you "why should I get a copy of your new disc"? What would you tell 'em?
ES-Thatís a tough question to answer because I really hate coming across like a salesmen. If people are curious about the band, I would tell them to come out to a show and check us out. If you like what you see live your definitely gonna like whatís on our cd.
LL-Now you have a couple of covers on the cd. Any particular reason why you chose to cover the Baby's and AC/DC?
ES-We were sitting around the rehearsal room one night and "Midnight Rendezvous" by The Babys came on the radio. We picked up our guitars and started messing around with it, just having some fun. It really started sounding good, Davay changed the guitar part at the end of the song and gave it a really cool T. Rex feel. Weíve never recorded a cover song before so we thought it would be something different to try. We added a lot of things to it that werenít on the original version, by the time we were done it sounded a lot more like a Mad Margritt song than a Babys song. As far as the AC/DC song, we originally recorded "TNT" for the AC/DC tribute cd (BON APPETITE) that Perris Records put out last June. We had no intention of putting it on NEW SENSATION but people really seemed to like how it came out so we ended up adding it at the last minute.
LL-Speaking of covers, you guys do quite a few 80's tunes. Any fear of getting branded a novelty act?
ES-The cover thing is a lot of fun but itís not really what this band is about, itís really more like a little side project that we do. The way it came about was because during our first tour we were driving all over the country doing all these cool shows, but the problem was the headliners were making all the money. It was great exposure for us to open up for all those great bands from the 80ís but we werenít making any money. We knew a bunch of 80ís cover songs so we decided, why not book ourselves into some clubs on our off nights and do a tribute to the 80ís? Not only did we end up making enough money to stay on the road, we actually started to make a pretty decent living. After the tour we were back in Atlanta and I called up the band and said "I donít know about you guys but Iím pretty damn bored, why donít we load up the gear and drive down to one of the neighborhood bars and do our 80ís show?" We played at a place called Flanigans in Tucker (just outside of Atlanta) and had a blast! It just kinda snowballed from there. We started getting calls from a bunch of other bars who wanted us to do the 80ís show. Now, whenever weíre not out on the road you can find us at some bar around Georgia doing our 80ís tribute.
LL-You guys have original tunes that any rock fan would dig. Any occassions when you play mostly originals?
ES-Most of the shows we do we play strictly original material, maybe a cover song here and there just for fun.
LL-With POISON on it's 5th consecutive summer tour and labels like Perris backlogged with orders, not to mention an influx of tours featuring bands like Faster Pussycat, Pretty Boy Floyd, Enuff Z Nuff, Warrant, Whitesnake, Slaughter and more, do you think good old school rock & roll is on the upswing, or are we just witnessing a nostalgia craze?
ES-Unfortunately at this point in time I think itís more of a nostalgia thing. For rock íní roll to truly make a comeback it's going to take some fresh blood, something that the younger generation can relate to. If that starts to happen, along with some of the more established acts like Whitesnake and Poison out there still kicking we might start to see a change.
LL-In a perfect Eddie Smith world, what would popular music be like?
ES-It would be like it was from 1983 to 1991. Of course in a perfect world, Mad Margritt would have 10 multi-platinum albums and we would be about to embark on another sold out world tour!!!
LL-Before we get done, any words for Augusta rock freaks?
ES-We always have an awesome time when we play in Augusta. Weíre hoping to come back out here one more time before the end of the year so keep an eye out for us.
LL-And tell us again Eddie, where can you find good rock cd's in Augusta?
ES- When Iím in Augusta, the only place I shop for cdís is at Lokal Loudness!! Thanks for the interview Stoney and thanks again for all your support.
To find more info on MAD MARGRITT, check out their website at www.madmargritt.com
Checl back in November as we bring you a "Day in the Life of MAD MAGRITT" as they prepare to open up for Bret Michaels of POISON on October 30th at the Masquerade in Atlanta!