Friday, October 14, 2011

Barry Marino: A Self-Made Man of Many Worlds

There are still Renaissance men and women, and Barry Marino is one of them. Thanks to technology and the Internet, it is easier than ever for people to pursue every avenue that they have interest in, and Marino has done exactly that for the last 31 years. Once he applies himself to something new he follows it through, and does it to the best of his ability. He’s a musician, a teacher, a filmmaker, an online marketing whiz, and a barrel of laughs. He’s the alpha male in any group of friends he touches, the one that gets everyone off the couch and doing something useful with themselves. I caught up with him while he was driving from Rochester, NY to Cleveland, OH on tour with his band The Hush Now.

Known to some former employers as “Barely” Marino, to countless strangers at countless open mic nights as “Derek Bogsley,” and to his closest friends as “Buzzah,” Marino has worn more faces than he can count. 

“I’ve been in over 20 bands in the last 15 years, and they've all been up and down,” Marino said. “Some of my favorites were the ones where we wrote a record and never even played a show. It was just about getting it out of our system. My current band, The Hush Now, is one of my favorites. We've been together a long while and have formed the brotherly bond that only years in sweaty vans can build. The least favorite bands I didn’t stick around for.”

These bands have varied greatly in content, a disparity that can be explained through his upbringing and influences. 

“When I first saw my father's electric guitar from the 60's at eight years old I begged him to put strings back on it and pass it down to me,” said the versatile drummer. “I used to try and make my own instruments with household items until I got my first acoustic guitar. I just always wanted to create sounds. I grew up on 80's pop music, Faith No More and the golden era of jazz. Countless musicians and bands have inspired me over the years, but none more than the people I play with. And Bill Frisell.” 

After performing for years with well-known local bands like The Young Idea, This Car Up, 28 Degrees Taurus and The Hush Now, Marino started taking music teaching seriously. He never went to college or received any formal training to speak of; he just got it into his head that it was something he could do. 

“I had taught private lessons infrequently over the years, but I got in touch with a summer band camp in Boston,” Marino explained. “It was more hands on, instead of one student, you have 30 12-year-olds playing drums and guitar. It was intense the first summer, but over the following three summers I gained more experience and confidence in shaping those young minds.”

Marino allowed his experiences with those children to shape his outlook on life. He left each session full of excitement and ideas for the next day, totally throwing himself into the future of his students.

“‘Performing music’ is a cathartic release in most cases. ‘Teaching music’ is making yourself available to others,” Marino said “Hats off to anyone who decides to teach, whatever the subject may be. It’s not necessarily about giving answers, but showing a student how to approach a problem in an inspiring way. For me, the reward from teaching comes from when your student is excited to learn and think about things in a different light.”

He is very serious about the advice he gives to aspiring musicians. When asked for a key nugget, he went beyond the call of duty.

“Here's a couple: play anything you want, make anything you want, and don’t be afraid to share it,” declared the percussionist. “Always accept a challenge to learn from somebody and make yourself a better musician. Surround yourself with people who you can learn from. Lastly, don’t borrow gear and bring your own drumsticks.”

His students certainly walked away from the experience with a wellspring of knowledge. Marino is in the process of editing a documentary film that he shot, depicting his experiences teaching music. This is one of many professional film projects he has taken on throughout the years, despite his lack of training. 

“I got into film a couple of years ago, after my polaroid phase. I had been focusing on photography and trying art of different mediums, and a camera fell in my lap,” recalled Marino. “I just started creating, absorbing things around me and paying more attention to the way films, documentaries and television shows were created and framed. I started using the word Cinematography.” 

He laughs as he says this, acknowledging he had no idea what he was doing.

“A friend of mine had been filming these random events and parties over the years and would occasionally drop a VHS mix into my mailbox. He had this great knack for stop and shoot filming, he would never edit, just build the night, frame by frame. That inspired me to try and capture live moments anywhere; whether sledding with friends or drinking hard in the bar. Mostly, I’ve learned by my own mistakes and by taking plenty of chances. I enjoy the challenge of telling a story and trying to retain the viewer's attention,” 

Marino attempted to explain how he taught himself to make films. What he does is much more than that though, he starts with a spark of an idea and works and reworks it constantly until the literal deadline, or after it. He’s made videos for his own bands and others, and several humorous videos for YouTube.

His first major project is still his favorite. 

“I still love "Wishing You a Happy Christmas" by The Hush Now,” said Marino. “It was just a lot of fun to do a corny Christmas video. It was my first ‘shoot’ where everyone looked to me for cues, and I had to deliver. We played in a liquor store, sang in the streets of Boston and decorated a Christmas tree in October. All in all, it was the most fun one we've done.” 

He has come a long way since then though, and his abilities as an editor have garnered respect. 

“I edited ‘Lusica’ by Left Hand Does,” explained Marino. “That was the first time I was given footage to put together. Just clips of them playing along in their practice space, with an additional shot of the singer driving around the town. I found the "it" element and produced a video we were all pretty happy with. Very easy people to work with, and one of the best bands in Boston.” 

He’s recently left Boston and relocated to Brooklyn, New York, for a girl and a job. 

“New York is a great city,” he says. “Dauntingly large, but small in its neighborhoods. I’ve enjoyed some great food, met some crazy people, and taken some 4AM subway rides. Happy Hour is my friend and I know where to get a good bagel. I just can't walk around wearing Patriot's gear, as I don’t want my head to get knocked off my neck. Since moving to Brooklyn four months ago I come back around every three weeks. Its the place I’ve grown up; my true home. There's a certain relaxing aspect of coming back to Boston that is always in the back of my head. It will always be there.”

He’s found a new career in New York, which has been very interesting for him, and he finally has the free time he always needed to pursue his many interests. 

“The job I currently have is with an online marketing firm. My company basically works with SEO [search-engine optimization] and getting our client's website top ranking on Google searches,” Marino said of his current dayjob. “Working off my laptop is great. I roll out of bed in the morning and I’m already at work. I process orders and research marketing techniques. That’s pretty much it. Its actually allowed me time to focus more on my arts. Its not a full-time situation where I need to be somewhere from designate points in the day. I can work for a while, while SVU is on TV in the background, then go for a walk, just cause I feel like it. I can make my own hours, but do I have to adhere to daily expectations.”

Thanks to this job he has more time for projects that are just for fun. 

“I recently made a video called ‘The Internet,’” said Marino. “I mainly just play terrible cover songs in different parts of my apartment, commenting on the YouTube music community. Anybody can be a musical hero some times.” 

He also has an opportunity to take more of a leadership role in his band by taking up the mantle of tour manager. 

“It being my first tour as a manager, I’m still learning! It was a lot of research the last month, compiling show information and anticipating problems on the road. I just put together a laid-out binder for tour. I don’t have to go back through emails/texts because now its all in my place,” said the drummer. “Now I can call venues ahead, know the booker's name, and make sure my band knows that we have to hit the road early to Chicago tomorrow! No lounging around in Cleveland in the morning. Tour managing is a challenge I accept, although the high expectations I place upon myself to be successful at it rely heavily on my OCD with list-making.”

So far the tour seems to be going well, and it looks like all his hard work has paid off. 

“Two days in, we're having a blast. I went out drinking the night before we left, so my rosy disposition was tattered upon the 7am wake-up call,” said Marino in his typical jovial manner. “But we played a great show last night in Rochester and made some friends! Slept in late at the hotel this morning and then ate breakfast sausage bowls at Middle America's breakfast haven: Bob Evans. Currently, I’m writing you from a bar on the river in Cleveland. Despite the nu-metal blasting through the PA's test run, tonight feels promising. It’s a long tour, but I’m excited to hang onto the trip I’m on.”

Marino has a lot of plans for his future. Despite the catapulting success of The Hush Now, he still expects more from himself. He may have achieved some of his dreams, but now he has more; and higher expectations from what he’s already doing. 

“Content, Content, Content,” declared Marino unequivocally. “I’m always working on my solo records. I plan on playing drums on many records in the years to come. I have written a couple of short storyboards that I want to eventual film. Until then, I keep trying to hone my video making skills with short documentaries and video fliers. I just want to make things with my hands at all times.”

Barry Marino is inspiring. He has more ideas than anyone I’ve ever met, and can think of more incredible band names at the drop of a hat than exist already. He has a great deal of potential, and doesn’t see himself quitting any time soon. As far as the future, he knows where he wants to be.

“Hopefully all around the world,” said Marino. “Playing many different types of instruments and genres and filming the entire process.” 

A noble plan, if ever there was one.




Barry Marino playing drums with The Hush Now at South By Southwest


Barry Marino disclosing important rock and roll pose techniques at Dayjams Summer Camp




-Erin Rebecca Gilmour

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