Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Mar 9th 2010 2:22PM by Patrick Shea
Spinner spoke with JBM in early March [during his tour with Sondre Lerche] to discuss inspiration, initials, and his upcoming performance at SXSW in Austin, Texas.
Describe your sound.
I feel like it's been somewhat inspired by open spaces and nature, and you know, a 'Wind in the Trees' kind of thing. I guess I would call it smoky and atmospheric.
Why record under your initials and not under your name?
It's just kind of an absent minded thing that I would do when I recorded at home. I'd just put my initials on the recordings. Plus, I just signed off that way on emails, letters, anything I wrote, so that's how it started, and I just became attached to it. A name's a name, you know? I just found it might be easier to remember it that way. Still, people may remember the actual initials, but not the proper order. I get the occasional "JMB" on the marquee here and there [laughs].
What's the best part about touring with Sondre Lerche?
Well, you know, we do it pretty simple. We have a limited amount of gear, so we just cruise around in a minivan. It's kind of like a big road trip. It feels like, you know, it's been a good bonding time. There's a lot of freedom in touring that way. We kind of make our own schedule.
Do you have a favorite venue to play?
I guess there's always places I like to play. We had a great time in Texas in the beginning, which was unexpected. The crowds there are really just excited, and yet really quiet and attentive. And this new place Lincoln Hall in Chicago was just a really beautiful room. We also played the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. [Minneapolis] is really a cool town--it stands out to me among all the smaller cities in America.
What's in your festival survival kit?
Well I bring books, you know. I don't bring a lot of stuff with me. I have an old film camera that I like to shoot things with--it's a nice way to get outside of myself.
What's your biggest vice?
I don't have an overly crazy, compulsive attitude. I guess I drink a lot of wine? I guess that's fair. I drink coffee, but you know, in reasonable doses.
You recorded 'Not Even in July' in a 19th century church. How cool was that?
The whole experience was dreamy and nostalgic. It evokes that kind of feeling because we spent so much time in the church -- I mean in any studio you lose track of time, but in the church we'd record late nights, with the lights turned down in the main hall. It's just full of positive energy, very relaxing.
Are you excited about the album being pressed for release in April?
Yeah actually, I did that initially too -- I self-released it. I ran a print of 1,000 copies when I initially released the album. The physical copy is something that I really like a lot. I worked on all the artwork myself, and I like having the lyrics to read. For the romantic notion of it, I really like it.
What's your musical guilty pleasure?
Oh boy. Maybe I'll just go one word answer on this and just say...Lionel Richie?
Beatles or Stones?
Beatles. I've never been a Stones fan, never been a huge Beatles fan either. But the musicianship of those guys is just overwhelming.
You've been compared to Jose Gonzalez and James Taylor. Do comparisons to other artists bother you or flatter you?
They definitely don't bother me--it's just a natural thing that people compare things to other things. I don't like that we do it, but I do it myself. When I listen to something, I'll sometimes say, "Oh, that sounds like something else." A lot of times it is flattering--I am a fan of the artists you've mentioned.
'Swallowing Daggers' [the last track on 'Not Even In July'] has been referred to as a break-up letter to yourself. What does that mean?
I think that theme is kind of a consistent thing. I feel like it's been digested somehow to be a little introspective. I guess, in a sense, what struck me about that is the album is a collection of songs that represented a period of my life, and a lot of experiences I had in that period. So when I think about it, it feels like a chapter of my life that has passed. In a way, it feels like thinking back on a relationship with a person that is gone.
You've lived on both coasts. Which do you prefer?
I feel like if I spend enough time in any place, I can find the things about it that I really like. I can focus on those and find inspiration in those things. The East Coast keeps me close to my family, so that's obviously a big thing as I get older, and relatives start having babies and all.
2010 seems like a pretty big year for you.
I'm just really enjoying playing, and just meeting people who are hearing it fresh and responding in a way that is visceral. It's kind of a nice connection, I'm really enjoying it. Having that exchange with people, meeting musicians I can relate to -- I've just found it to be a nice, supportive, and friendly community.
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