A Conversation with Magik Markers' Pete Nolan | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

A Conversation with Magik Markers' Pete Nolan

click to enlarge Gucci rapidshare duo: Magik Markers
Gucci rapidshare duo: Magik Markers

Warning! Due to possible risks of blown minds and pacemakers, please take precaution when playing Magik Markers under adult supervision. This noisy pre/post-rock outfit is, unlike its namesake, anything but a generic trademark. Distorting rock and rolling it up into derelict forms, Magik Markers manage to illustrate soundscapes utterly clattering with texture. As crystallized in the band's two long-players, Boss (Ecstatic Peace, 2007) and Balf Quarry (Drag City, 2009), singer/guitarist Elisa Ambrogio and drummer Pete Nolan have shape-shifted their outsize improv abilities to conceive some sinister yet spastic concept albums. The duo has recently added bassist John Shaw.

Aside from the hyper-prolific Magik Markers -- who have a 35-title discography, so far -- Nolan channels myriad creative energies into his record label Arbitrary Signs, his solo enterprise as Spectre Folk, and various moonlit stints. Nolan spoke with City Paper via phone from his apartment in Brooklyn as he unwound from running "about two miles, or maybe four." 

Does all this running help you stay in drumming shape?
You know, I'm just trying to get back into it for the springtime so I can use more butter in my cooking. Maybe eat more ice cream.

What's the significance behind the title of your latest album, Balf Quarry?
Well, that's a shout-out to where we started. Balf Quarry is a big rock quarry in Hartford, Connecticut. Lots of bands there move to New York City and claim to be a New York band. So, this is our way of saying, "No, we're from Hartford."

Is there anything you miss about living in Connecticut?
When we were up in Connecticut, we lived in a house with a basement. We definitely had a good launch pad, a pretty bitchin' practice space that still feeds heavily into our vibe. The thing about that house was how Elisa's dad did it all up back in the '60s to be seen under black light. But it was filthy as shit. I had to clean all these piles of Lotto tickets out of there just so we could jam.

Lee Renaldo, of Sonic Youth, seems like he'd be a really good listener and, consequently, a good producer. Did his veteran ear enhance the process of recording Boss?
For sure. His ear is insane, man. He's got a real, very rigid [production] approach, which I never would have expected out of Lee Renaldo. He seems like maybe the most far-out jammer, but he's got more of a scientist's approach.

Please explain the technological snafu that is Gucci Rapidshare Download (2008), because I'm pretty confused.
That's an Elisa brainchild. Basically, she took bits and pieces of all the Magik Markers CD-Rs that she'd downloaded from out there on the Internet. Then, she mish-mashed different elements with some new vocals and guitar overdubs and pieced them together electronically.

Seems like a pretty cost-effective approach.
Yeah. I mean, two-inch reels are mad expensive, like three hundred bucks for a fresh one. I remember how our friend Dumpster-dived some reels and there ended up being some P-Diddy shit on there. We were in the studio, just fucking around, and played it at half speed. That's why there's a kind of soul jam on [Gucci Rapidshare Download] where Elisa dumped tambourines onto all sorts of chopped and screwed shit.

I understand you two recently traveled abroad to appear in a film?
I haven't even seen the movie, but it's out already and it's called The Temptation of St. Tony. This movie was very strange. We went over to near the Russian border on the far side of Estonia and barely understood what was going on. Everyone was drinking a lot of vodka. It was some kind of Zodiac blood-orgy scene with this mime and all these crazy Russian strippers dancing around an old Stalinist ballroom. We just attempted to look like we were playing music, while incredibly drunk. The set had such a weird, creepy vibe that I can't wait to see the flick.


Magik Markers with Mike Tamburo and Tusk Lord. 8 p.m. Mon., March 22. Garfield Artworks, 4931 Penn Ave., Garfield. $8. All ages. 412-361-2262 or www.garfieldartworks.com

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