Marauder interview November 29, 2005
“As Spider-Man is amazing! As the Four are fantastic! Thus is… The Torch Marauder!” As central North Carolina’s local superhero, The Torch Marauder is a busy man. His show is a mix of comedy & rock & roll. If you have a chance to see him live, it’s an experience you’ll never forget or regret.
QRD – There’s such a visual aspect to your show, how do you describe it to someone who’s never seen it?
Torch Marauder – I usually just tell them that they’ve got to see it to believe it, then when they say, “No, really, what do you do?” I try to explain it like this, “You see, I got this TV on stage, and I’m playing the drums on the TV, then I play the keyboard and sing along to the televised drummer, which is me. Oh, and I’m painted blue, and I wear a cape, and I do some sketches while playing different characters on the TV... you know, that old bit. It’s sort of like karaoke, but I write the songs.”
QRD – You’ve been in a lot of bands over the years, why did you decide to do a solo project?
TM – The mother of invention; necessity. I was living in Wilmington and drumming for two bands that I really liked. One was called Tricky The Cosmonaut and the other was The Cruise Control Pills. Within a three-month span, the main singer/songwriter/guitar player for each band left town, and I was left high-n-dry. I was pretty bummed out. But then I moved up to Durham and started drumming for a new band called Drug Yacht. It was very exciting and I was feeling quite revitalized, and then that band broke up. So, I needed to come up with something that I could call my own and continue to do without having to rely on other people. Hence, the birth of The Torch Marauder.
QRD – Where’d you get the idea of having a TV back you up on stage?
TM – I was walking in the woods (honest, I’m not making this up), and I was trying to figure out what I could do as a solo performer. I had this idea of setting up two microphones and having conversations with different characters by walking back and forth between the two. Then the TV idea hit me and it all came together. With the TV I didn’t have to worry about trying to change costumes, and I could tape the drum parts to free myself up to play the keyboard and sing. The TV idea killed two birds with one stone. I was quite happy when it actually seemed to work for both aspects of the show.
QRD – Why a superhero?
TM – Because the world needs heroes; you know, something to believe in, something to give you hope, something to lift you up when you’re down, something to unexpectedly come into your life and bring you great joy... that’s the mission of a rock-n-roll superhero.
QRD – Do you still buy comic books? What’s your personal relationship to comics?
TM – Actually, I’ve never collected comics. I’ve always loved superheroes, but I usually just watched the cartoons, live action shows, and movies. I had many friends who were into comics growing up and they would always tell me what was going on in the comic book world. They’d always let me read the issues that had really good showdowns like Hulk vs. Thing, Wolverine vs. Sabretooth, and stuff like that. I actually started reading some comics recently. I just finished The Ultimates Volume II. It’s a modern take on The Avengers. I like it a lot. Last year I finally read Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, that’s a great book.
QRD – It seems that recently the Torch Marauder wears a shirt & doesn’t paint his chest blue, is there a reason why?
TM – The simple answer would be two words “huge gut”. Just look at the DVD, Torch’s ponch is kickin’. Actually, it’s also due to the costume being a double-edged sword. When I first started, I was very bored with seeing dudes on stage in their T-shirts and jeans. I wanted something more visually stunning than that, I was looking to put on a show. The costume’s a nice attention getter, but that attention can be negative as well. Some folks just see a guy in a silly get-up and assume that the whole show is gonna be silly. I lose a lot of potential audience just by having a costume on. I’ve been thinking of changing the outfit or ditching it all together, but then of course there would be backlash from the die-hard fans... and those three guys can be harsh.
QRD – I know you sometimes run into issues with people taking your songs less seriously because of the over the top performance art aspect of your show. How do you get people to hear the music over the comic elements?
TM – I just try to get people to hear the
songs on the records. For the most part, I leave the comedy off the
CDs. It seems to hit some folks when they’re not looking, for instance
if they catch one of my tunes on the radio without knowing what they’re
hearing or if they hear a song that I’ve recorded for a compilation CD.
Sometimes, there are those magic moments in a live show when I’ll sing
a soft or intense song and quiet the room. That’s always a nice feeling...
when I’ve got everyone’s full attention and they’re coming with me on a
journey. For a brief moment, we’re all transported somewhere outside
of our ordinary existence.
QRD – Why was it important to do the full Torch Marauder band show & how has it affected your solo shows since then?
TM – I don’t know if it was important, but it was a lot of fun. When I play my songs live with the keyboard and the TV drums, they’re just the bare bones of what I’m hearing in my head. I try to bring it all to life with the guest musicians on the records. I’ve been quite fortunate to have had so many great players lend their talents to my songs. I always wanted to play these songs with a full band, and the CD release party was the right time to try it. This may sound corny, but that night was really a dream come true for me. Those folks who were on stage with me are some of my favorite musicians and people in general. I wish I could have them at my disposal at all times, but they’ve all got other projects of their own, and they ain’t gonna be my bitches forever. Some day when the time is right, I hope to do a full band live show again. Going back to the solo show after all that wasn’t easy, in fact it was down right anti-climactic at first. But it’s all back to normal now.
QRD – Your first instrument was a guitar, why did you switch to drums & keyboards?
TM – Well, the first instrument I ever owned was a guitar, but I never learned how to play it. I auditioned for this band, and they told me I sucked. Then one of the guys started singing this Zeppelin song, but he was singing it wrong. I said, it goes like this and started to sing it. He thought I was pretty good and told me I should be their singer. That’s how I started singing. I learned to play the drums along the way just hopping on the kit whenever I could and getting some pointers from my friends. Tricky and The Pills were the first bands I ever actually played drums for. I don’t really know how to play the keyboard at all, but I needed some kind of melodic instrument to help me write songs... and the guitar was no friend of mine.
QRD – What song from any band you’ve been in is the song you’re most proud of?
TM – That’s a really tough question. My songs are my children, man; I can’t have a favorite. That being said, I think I’d go with “Brian”. I sang it at the very first Torch show just to get it out of my system, and it became an unlikely crowd favorite. I really didn’t think I’d ever sing it again after that first time, but people really took to it. It’s strange in the fact that it’s a capella and it’s a dirge. There are no melodic changes whatsoever, no bridge, no chorus... except the falsetto part, which is just the same melody as the rest of the tune. Lyrically, it wrote itself quite quickly. Just a stream of consciousness type of thing. I know what parts of the song mean, but not all of it, and I’m still not sure what other people get out of it.
QRD – What do you think it would take to revive the live band scene to how it was in the early 1990’s?
TM – Was there a good scene in the early 1990’s. I’m not kidding, I lived in Illinois playing in bad suburban metal bars in the early ‘90’s, so I don’t have first hand knowledge of what those days were like here.
QRD – Anything else?
TM – Yeah, Death to all poseurs and to