Ready to Rock
Sept. 21, 2008Rock guitarist Steve Marchena doesnt beat around the bush when it comes down to why his band Hypaspace doesnt have a lead singer.
If you ask Marchena for one of his favorite quotes, he will recite from Eddie VanHalens comment on what makes a great song: Lots of people think a
song without singing is not a song. Try telling that to Beethoven and he will kick your ass!
Singers and guitar players dont get along, said Marchena. Hypaspace is the band that I have been in the longest and we dont have a singer. When a band doesnt have a singer the guitar takes center stage and takes the place of the vocals. When you have a vocalist, they essentially dictate when the rest of the band makes their runs (solos). Without a singer, the crowd and the music dictates those runs.
Marchena is bringing his band Hypaspace to Union Street Station in Traverse City this weekend for shows on both Friday and Saturday nights. They will join fellow Bostonians and funk rockers Sandal Machine Foot.
Hypaspace lands in Traverse City as a result of Marchenas longtime friendship with popular radio personality Omelette from the morning show Omelette & Finster on WKLT.
Omelette and I have known each other since elementary school, said Marchena. He has always been a guy that helps out. I remember when I was in my first band at the age of 15 and Omelette went around putting up flyers to promote our first concert. He told me that Traverse City is a great music town and the people are great, so we are looking forward to this.
For Marchena, he decided that after several years of playing gigs throughout New England, it was time to expand the bands fan base.
We are calling this tour with Sandal Machine Foot the Space Machine Tour, said Marchena. Basically we are loading up the van and hitting the road and seeing where it takes us. The routing has been interesting as we are in North Carolina on Wednesday and then Traverse City on Friday and Saturday and then on Sunday we have a show in Ohio.
On the east coast Marchena has been put in the guitar god category by those who have been out to see his shows.
Steve Marchena is what happens when Eddie Van Halen meets up with Andres Segovia, said Omelette. This guy is a guitar wizard and I know Northern Michigan is going to be blown away.
Marchenas pursuit of mastering the guitar didnt begin until he was 15.
from classics to ROCK
I knew I wanted to play the guitar when I saw Jimmy Page in the concert film The Song Remains the Same. I watched that movie over and over and I was hooked, said Marchena. Since then I have studied all of the rock greats from Hendrix to Duane Allman. I even spent six months playing nothing but works from the blues great Robert Johnson. I love guys like Eddie Van Halen and Stevie Vai. But I am also about Andres Segovia, Pat Metheny and other great classical and jazz guitarists.
He is quick to point out that while he has an appreciation for jazz and classical guitar playing, Hypaspace will be all about rocking out when they come to Traverse City.
Sure I am influenced by jazz, but we are not a jazz band. What I take from the world of jazz is the art of improv, said Marchena. I am also influenced by jam bands like the Grateful Dead who never played a song the same way twice.
Marchena credits his exploratory guitar playing approach to his instructors and the time he spent at the famed Berklee School of Music in Boston.
Basically I had the good fortune of taking lessons from Jon Finn, the legendary guitar player with the Boston Pops, said Marchena. Jon can hold his own with anyone.
It was his lessons with Finn that led Marchena to Berklee.
After high school I went to work at a music store, I gave lessons and played in bands and partied all the time. Well one day I called Jon and asked for some more lessons and he told me he was too busy for private lessons, but if I enrolled at Berklee I could take his classes, said Marchena. So I did and I got in. Well I benefited from waiting nine years because when I arrived, I had my priorities straight. Had I went there right after high school, I would have partied all the time and I would have never graduated. It was a great culture at Berklee, my priorities were in place and I studied my butt off.
Marchena excelled at Berklee, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and earned the respect of his fellow students and the professors he studied under. He is in another band, The Back Bay Trio, that is led by one of his former professors at Berklee. The trio performs at some of the most esteemed classical venues on the east coast.
Steve Marchena is a great example of my definition of a great musician, said Jon Finn of his former student.
As for his guitar playing pursuit, Marchena works to get better every day.
I teach but I also study and take lessons myself, said Marchena. For me, I am looking for mountains to climb. I am looking for things that cant be done and I am going to do them.
As for the live show, Marchena said Traverse City better be ready. The band blends an assortment of original compositions with some rock classics from Guns and Roses, Santana, Hendrix and others.
We are a three piece power rock band and we wont put you to sleep, said Marchena. We are a show band; we are about rocking out and entertaining.
Marchenas wizardry with the guitar includes playing it with his foot, mouth and nose and even behind his back. Early reviews of the tour have critics raving and praising the bands live show.
As for vocals, Marchena is leaving that up to Sandal Machine Foot, the masters of funk, who flip flop the opening spot each night with Hypaspace. Sandal Machine Foot is out touring in support of their new release Briefcase Full of Funk.
I get along great with Vinny, their lead singer, said Marchena. Of course we are not in the same band.
Northern Michigan has had its share of guitar virtuosos who have lived here and performed here over the years. Steve Marchena will quickly find himself near, if not at the top of the list, after this weekend. Boston is one of the toughest towns in the country musically to make it in. It is harder to find someone who doesnt play the guitar than to find one who does in Beantown. Marchena has wowed and earned the respect of the tough Boston music community, and this weekend he should accomplish the same in Traverse City. This is one of those must see shows of the year.
Hypaspace and Sandal Machine Foot will perform both this Friday and
Saturday. Sept 26-27, at Union
Street Station in Traverse City. For additional show details call Union Street at 231.941.1930. For a sampling of the Hypaspace sound check out myspace.com/hypaspace and from there you
will be able to link up with Sandal Machine Foot.