SuperDee's House

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rotary Downs are NOLA's Cover Boys

Rotary Downs is on the cover of this week's Gambit Weekly in New Orleans. As the waters subsided, an invigorated music scene has emerged. RD is on the front lines. Exciting times for this band as their album Chained to the Chariot continues to gain attention and love. Stay tuned for a January NYC weekend announcement!

From the article (by Alison Fensterstock):

On the surface, Rotary Downs seems like almost the opposite of a new band, having played in New Orleans consistently since 1999. In those seven years, though, vocalist/guitarist James Marler and pedal steel guitarist Chris Colombo have seen a host of supporting members come and go. For the most part, says Marler, they were supporting rather than active members while he and Colombo wrote songs and herded the band. But with their new rhythm section -- bassist Jason Rhein and drummer Zack Smith -- the band is coming together as a genuine unit like never before.

"I had a pretty soft landing," says Marler, who teaches English composition at University of New Orleans. "If there was ever a time not to own property, this was it." After the storm, the band reconvened to mix its 2006 release Chained To a Chariot in Lafayette.

Photo by Tracie Morris Schaefer
Rotary Downs guitarists James Marler, also a vocalist (center), and Chris Colombo (back right) have played together since 1999. After the storm, they assembled the current players in a band and released the psychedelic pop album Chained To a Chariot.

Chained To a Chariot shows that the new Rotary Downs is tighter, more organized and ready to rumble. The layered, psychedelic pop on the record is tighter, catchier and more fully realized musically than the band's previous releases -- one EP and one live recording. And Marler is excited about how the newest supporting cast members in the band have been working their way into leading roles. "Zack is very extroverted, and he has a lot of good connections," Marler says, noting that this is the most active period the band's had in its seven-year history. "We're going to New York in January to play Thursday-Friday-Saturday. There's been some interest from a management company, and a few small labels are checking out the record." Chained To a Chariot was also voted record of the week by the popular music Web site, and made it onto the CMJ college radio charts. The band plans to start recording an album of new material in the spring, material that for the first time has been written as a collaborative effort. "The new rhythm section is more involved in writing," Marler says. "It starts from the groove up now -- in the past, it always started from the guitars down.

"This almost is, really, a new band. And this next record we make will truly be a group effort. I'm grateful to have this assortment of people."

Marler feels optimistic about the way the music scene in the city has diversified since Katrina. "It seems like people are not as locked into their respective scenes as they were, because there's less music and also less people," he says. "Anyone who had their lives rocked by Katrina in one way or another -- you realize you should just appreciate things as they're happening. I've been listening to a much greater variety of music than ever."


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