The Eagle’s Sydney Gore chatted with Andrew Marr, singer, guitarist and founder of Ski Lodge, a four-piece indie surf pop band based in New York City. A few minutes after finishing his brunch in NYC’s West Village of Manhattan, Marr discussed Ski Lodge’s origins, the purpose of life and what it means to have a “Big Heart.”
Sydney Gore: You guys start touring next week, what have you been doing to prep for this? You’re touring for a month so you’ll be on the road for a while.
Andrew Marr: It’s kind of been like different segments. The first one is in the Northeast and we’re in New York for a couple days, and then we have a week off before we have to go out to Indiana. So it’s not too bad because we get to come home and stuff. We just got a new van… There’s not really too much that we need for preparing or anything, just rehearsal and stuff like that.
SG: For starters, what is your background in music?
AM: I grew up starting with classical piano lessons when I was eight. And I did that for a while, then I played in a band in high school. I picked up the guitar probably six or seven years ago, I just taught myself a little bit at a time. I’m still kind of learning guitar as I write songs, I’m not formally trained.
SG: How did the band form?
AM: Well, when I was about to move to New York, I was asking people I knew if they knew anybody in New York that might want to play in a band with me. One of my friends had played in bands and we had similar taste in music, so he came up to New York and we started playing together. From there, I found two other guys from Craigslist. Then I tried out two different people, and then pretty soon after, I had a whole band and we were rehearsing. We had to replace our drummer in January because my old drummer was playing on tour with other bands for a long time. It kind of fell into place pretty immediately once I got here.
SG: How did you come up with the band name? What does it mean to you?
AM: I came up with Ski Lodge before I even came to New York. I was playing in another band and I was writing some stuff on the side that I didn’t necessarily want to play with the band I was in. That name became an outlet for other stuff. I didn’t really think too much about what it meant at the time, but over time I think it works well. I’ve explained it to other people who have asked as kind of like, “When I think about a ski lodge, what do I think about?” I think about escaping from reality. It’s like getting out in the cold. It’s mainly a form of escape, which I think is what the music is for me.
SG: This summer, Big Heart was your big debut as your first official LP. How long had you been working on it?
AM: I’d say for like a year and a half. Not necessarily actually recording the record for a year and a half, but the songs came together- like I didn’t know when I was going to record a full-length or what was going to happen. I was just kind of writing song after song for the course of a year and a half. I had a big group of songs and went in with the record label and the other guys in my band, and we picked out the best ones and the ones that we thought fit together well, and from there I went to record the album. The oldest song was the last song on the record, and I probably wrote that three or four years ago… that’s kind of just how it went.
SG: I’ve enjoyed listening to “Big Heart” since this summer. It’s dark, but dreamy at the same time— there is definitely a hot and cold dichotomy about it. Would you say that the album has a theme? Or is there a deeper meaning underneath it all?
AM: I don’t really think there’s a specific theme. I just think of shifts that people go through in life, and that I’ve gone through… I think more like the title truly is the balance between opening yourself up to experiences in life or closing yourself off to things in life and what that looks like. Like if you’re closed off, you never really get to experience anything because there’s never really pain or anything involved, but if you open yourself up, you experience more. That’s why I chose that name and that’s what the title track “Big Heart” is about.
SG: This is a little random, but most of my readers are college students who aren’t much younger than you. Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for them?
AM: One of the most important things I realized about five years ago is just pursuing something that I care about no matter how difficult it is. My life is great, but it’s tiring, I work a full-time job… It’s quite a lot of work. I’ve been playing in this band for two years and our album is out, but I’m not famous or anything. It’s still a grind and there’s still a lot of work to be done.
SG: What’s next for Ski Lodge after this tour? Any big plans like a follow-up or a headlining tour in the works?
AM: We’re going to tour and then we’re going to take a break for the holidays, and then we’re working on more tour stuff for January and February. And then we’ll be at SXSW in March. We’re trying to get back to the west coast to tour, and I’m working on a bunch of new songs. I would love to put out a single early next year for an EP. An LP will be further down the road and probably won’t come out until 2015. We’re trying to get overseas to tour in Europe. My goal, personally is to write as many songs as possible and play as many shows as possible, and kind of see what happens.
SG: Anything else you want people to know about Ski Lodge?
AM: I’m really excited to play in D.C. We’ve never played in most of the cities that we’re going to be touring through, so I’m excited to see if we have fans in those cities and what the crowds will be like.
Ski Lodge will be performing alongside Gringo Star at the Black Cat on Nov. 21. Tickets are $12 and can still be purchased. Ski Lodge will also return with Brazos at DC9 on Dec. 15.