By Jeremy Grand
Everybody needs a little classic rock ‘n’ roll country once in a while, and Pittsburgh, PA, to Long Island transplant Angie Marie, along with her band the Outskirts, is not afraid to give in to that craving. With an infallible band at her side, this twangy crooner can enchant with her beautiful voice and sweet lyrics. Angie Marie and the Outskirts’ debut CD, Gotta Start Somewhere, is a soulful and fun introduction to the bands winning homegrown style that would be sure to please.
The EP features four tracks, all impeccably produced around both Angie Marie’s powerful and effortless voice, and the tight supporting band that seems to thrive around her lead vocals and unpretentious classic lyricism. Each track stands on it’s own.
The opening anthem, “Never Too Late,” speaks directly and openly to the common folk. “Back on the Market,” one of the more alternative tracks, is a great segue into the blending of the rock and country genres. “All of a Sudden” goes more towards the direction of the calm and sentimental feel that every suburbanite can relate to. The final track, “Good Friends and Goodbyes,” is another sentimental and relatable foot-tapper that finishes the EP nicely and makes us wish that the CD was a bit longer.
Perpetual Toxins had the chance to chat with Angie Marie about the history, direction and influences that started this wonderful little gem of a band.
Being from the beautiful city of Pittsburgh, PA, Perpetual Toxins asked what made Angie Marie make the big move to New York. “Ultimately, it was a job that brought me to NY, but it was a fairly long journey getting here! After high school I went to Clarion University of PA to study music business. Clarion was beautiful and a great school, but I decided I wanted a little bit more. So, I transferred to Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Berklee was pretty much everything that people say about it and more. I learned a ton. Through Berklee I got an internship at a music accessories company here on Long Island. After my internship they hired me full time in its marketing department, and so I moved here! I’m still there and have since started the band. We have been playing regularly around Long Island and in the city.”
As influences go, Angie Marie says she is most inspired by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eva Cassidy, Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Silverchair, Tori Amos, Lisa Loeb, Sugarland, Gretchen Wilson, Patty Griffin, Ryan Adams, Stephen Kellog and even musical theatre.
The Outskirts are fairly new, and on an island notoriously encompassed in emerging bands and cover acts, we asked about the difficulties of starting a new band. “Actually, I think I’m really lucky because I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it was! I had a few songs at the time, and my boyfriend, Anthony Zammit, wails on the guitar. So we started playing together a bit. After that, I invited a guy that I work with that plays drums, Jim Boyle. He’s really an incredible drummer. We three played together for a couple months, even did a show at [Mr.] Beery’s [in Levittown] and had ads up on craigslist to find a bass player. We got a lot of funny responses… “Hey, I haven’t played bass in 13 years, but I’m pretty sure I could pick it back up again. Just like riding a bike!” Eventually we did end up finding Don Mangles, who has basically played with everyone on Long Island and knows everyone. I call him the mayor of rock ‘n’ roll … haha. Now our biggest challenge is finding venues that want original music. I’ve had some pretty good luck lately, but there’s a lot of rejection that goes along with it. Most places want cover bands, and I need thicker skin.”
Original they are, but as for their genre, “rock country,” as she calls it concerns people. “Sometimes the word ‘country’ scares people away. Some of the newer songs are ‘alternative rock country,’ but now I’m just making up genres. But the songs do rock out.”
But it hasn’t scared everyone away. With an impressive list of venues under their belts, they have great potential to keep this project moving upwards. “We’ve played a lot on Long Island; Kappler’s, Lulu’s Village Pub, Mr. Beery’s (a staple for an original band on LI), Huntington Fireman’s Carnival, JD’s place. We’ve also played a couple places in New York City like Bar East and were selected by Make it Happen Entertainment to play the Underground Lounge, a great place for acoustic sets. We were also selected to play the 2010 Pittsburgh Pride Fest, which was really fun.”
The Outskirts also recently performed at the 17th Annual Long Island Fall Festival at Heckscher Park in Huntington.
As for the construction of the songs and the writing of the lyrics, Angie Marie comments that “sometimes it’s something somebody says that’ll spark an idea, or something I’ve been feeling, and I’ll find a way to put words to it, and the music just … comes out. I’ll play around with chords, just putting my fingers on random strings and try things out to see how they sound or make me feel. With other songs, however, I will have a riff or progression in my head and I’ll figure out how to play it on guitar. Then I’ll put words to the music. It’s a lot of trial and error. I’d rather do that than map it out on a piece of paper. There’s no fun in that. I write the songs, then I’ll bring them to the guys and we’ll put an Outskirts spin on it. It is really fun because the guys come up with their own really cool parts. A lot of times they play things I’d never think of. I love it.”
Angie Marie has a slew of unrecorded songs and she and the band plan to get into the studio within the coming year to produce a full-length album.
To hear some of Angie Marie and the Outskirts, check out their Web site at www.angiemariemusic.com. The EP is available in the merchandise store on their site.