This Portland, Oregon band delivers exhilarating, highly melodic pop music that is a little sweet, but not afraid to rock. The Maroons feature a cast of musicians who have been around throughout the 80's and 90's, including front man John Moen who has played with the likes of Elliott Smith, Heatmiser, The Spinanes, The Fastbacks, and Pete Krebs and the Gossamer Wings, to name a few. He can currently be seen playing drums for Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks.
Guitarist Jim Talstra has brought bass sounds to the Minus 5, No. 2, and Gossamer Wings. Bassist John Cox has played with Surf-rockers Satan's Pilgrims, drummer Eric Bennes in the Northwest's Underpants Machine, and Mike Clark (keyboards/percussion) also plays in the No-No's and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.
If we're going on past credentials, The Maroons would be at the top of the bill. But the other projects they've worked on are just that, and the only way to judge these five fine musicians is on the musical merits of The Maroons.
Formed in 1993, The Maroons are a hard band to describe, as John Moen will quickly point out. "The Maroons are a story. I grew up listening to album oriented radio. It struck me because you could hear a new wave band like the Cars followed by a rock band like Boston, and then a great pop band like Cheap Trick would come on. If you're looking for a catchy label to slap on these boys, "Speed Sinatra" may be the closest thing to a tag that this band will wear.
After their formation, the band spent some time working and arranging some numbers before quickly entering the local scene and dazzling audiences with their voracious live shows and warm-hearted nature. Eager to please fans, they released a 7" featuring "Will You Come Back" b/w "More Like You." But fans wanted more, so in 1996 they released their debut full-length, I Am To Blame, on Slo-Mo Records.
After touring to promote the album around the Northwest and building a strong regional following the band welcomed Mike Clark to help add additional textures, and another dimension, to their sound. And with Mike came an even more intense stage presence.
Interview by Mike Aylward
Mike: You and the rest of The Maroons also play in other bands? Why did you feel the need to form The Maroons?
John: The Maroons have been together in one form or another since '93. Other bands come and go, but the Maroons are eternal.
Mike: What/who were you biggest musical influences? This question goes to the other band members too!
John: Our drummer (Eric) pipes-up with; Roxy Music, The Only Ones and Thelonius Monk. I couldn't agree more, however, I would throw in a little Thin White Rope and a little Judas Priest.
Mike: What about the term "Speed Sinatra"? Does that aptly fit your sound?
OR How would you describe your sound?
John: I think the term "Speed Sinatra" is about 89% bullshit. You have to put something on the press release. I DO sing a little croony I guess... ...I think someone should tell ME what we sound like!
Mike: Are you happy being called a Pop band? In today's music world, do you think that's a positive or a negative?
John: Much like the term "Speed Sinatra," it's fairly meaningless. Pop band just means that we don't want to fight after the show. We would rather hug or pet puppies after the show.
Mike: What do you enjoy more, recording or playing live?
John: Recording is tops. Live can be great fun but it's hard to match the creative good times in the studio.
Mike: How is "You're Gonna Ruin Everything" different from "I am To Blame"?
John: Years newer. I hate to say I'm fatter, but I have "filled-out" a bit.
Mike: What do you and the other band members want to achieve with this new album?
John: No particular goals.
Mike: What do you like about the music scene in Portland and the Northwest?
John: Larry Crane and his Tape-op Magazine!
Mike: What was your most memorable live performance and why?
John: It was about three years ago or more that I showed up to play the gig a tad overserved on Akavit and tried to engage the audience with some Norsk Christmas Carols. I wore my red bow-tie.
Mike: Who/What do you think is the embodiment of evil in the music industry?
John: The Three Tenors and the California Raisins. OH- let's not forget whoever it is that choreographs poor Brittney Spears and makes her do all those harsh robot moves!
Mike: A hundred years from now, what would you want The Maroons to be remembered for?
John: Being organ donors.