Steve Marino & Damion

  • August 1, 2024 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM
  • The Bishop

    123 South Walnut Street
    Bloomington, Indiana 47408
Ticket Price $13.63-$13.73 Buy Tickets


with Jack Karl

Steve Marino

You might be new to Steve Marino’s music, but Steve Marino is not new to music. From fronting alt-rock outfit JACKY BOY to performing in groups like BUGG and ANGEL DU$T, Marino has been making serious noise for the better part of a decade. Though he’s known as a touring member of some of the most rocking bands around, his bag of tricks doesn’t end there. Steve Marino has stepped forward as an exceptional songwriter in his own right, confidently exemplified by his new record Too Late to Start Again.


Despite outwardly being a “solo record”, a spirit of collaboration is deeply embedded throughout Too Late to Start Again. “These are songs I wrote and demoed in my bedroom,” Marino says, “But inviting other people into the studio who I respect and trust keeps me open minded. Loosening my grip over ‘my’ song has only served me well.” Once again teaming up with producer Ben Lumsdaine, the pair have crafted a record that marries the pop rock polish of SHERYL CROW & THIRD EYE BLIND with crate-digger bonafides like MARSHALL CRENSHAW or SMUDGE. Additionally, the record features guitar work from Matt Berry (THE BERRIES/BIG BITE) and Kora Puckett (BUGG/NARROW HEAD), whose contributions further enliven the songwriting by channeling the finest from the alt-rock era. 


But don’t get it twisted: Too Late to Start Again is not simple genre-revivalism. This record is a sincere expression of Marino’s lifelong love for this kind of music. “A huge factor in writing these kinds of songs is capturing memories,” he says. “From gifting So Much For the Afterglow to my mom for Mother’s Day to my dad listening to OASIS on his boombox – I want to make sounds that teleport me to when I was a kid.”


Originally hailing from Florida, Marino moved to Bloomington, Indiana to participate in a small-town music scene that consistently punched above its weight. He’s since relocated to Los Angeles, and Too Late To Start Again reflects his change of scenery. Where 2019’s Fluff was a nostalgic, intimate navigation of love and life in a college town, Too Late To Start Again is sonically sunny and optimistic, with FM-friendly flourishes that retain DIY instincts and lyrical world-weariness. 


Tracks like “Got You In My World Now” and “Tune You Out” are packed with hooks and tailor-made for blasting out of an open car window. Elsewhere, “Leaning Off The Sun” and a tender TEENAGE FANCLUB cover invite moments of sweet introspection. Multi-tracked harmonies and danceable drum patterns are in abundance throughout the record, imbuing the songs with an approachable vibrancy that makes Too Late To Start Again distinct not only from Marino’s previous solo material, but from the other bands he tours in, too.


So while this new record reflects a tonal shift in Marino’s musical output, it also operates as a sort of return to form; a journey inward to a more authentic sense of self. According to Marino, “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve reconnected and immersed myself in the music surrounding my youth and have more confidently settled into my identity as a power-pop/alt-rock (whatever you wanna call it) songwriter.” Likewise, the title of the record itself – Too Late to Start Again – further embodies Marino’s candid self-understanding: “I’ve been doing this ‘music thing’ for a while now,” he reflects, “I used to get frustrated comparing my success with others my age, but being in my 30s now, I realize I’m past the point of starting over. Trying to make a living touring and recording music is the one thing I want to do with my life, period.”


Steve Marino isn’t just another hardcore dude cashing in with a power-pop side project. Too Late to Start Again is an honest testament to Marino’s dedication and passion for music, and a nuanced step forward for a scene veteran whose new collection of songs demonstrates that he still has so much more to say.


“After 11 p.m., you stop hearing regular rock on the classic hits radio station and start hearing more strange stuff, one-hit wonders from 1976, or really minor singles from artists I thought I didn’t like because I just hadn’t heard this one weird song before,” says Bloomington, Indiana-based singer-songwriter Damion. Rather than let those offbeat classics fade into the twilight on his late-night drives, Damion returned home and went straight to the Tascam cassette machine. Inspired by both the sound and the bleary-eyed ambiguity, the result of that late-night recording is the bronzy Special Interest, a record bathed in memory and the antigravity of ‘70s AM radio. 


Once he had finished demoing songs at home, Damion brought the nine tracks that would make up the album to his preferred studio, Russian Recording, and worked with Ben Lumsdaine and Lewis Rogers to polish them up.  Aesthetically, Damion aimed to fit within the limits of the era that inspired the songs. “Recording to cassette tape, you either have to play the part right or learn to love the way it sounds wrong, so even in the studio we abided by those same limitations,” he says.


Rather than limitations, the structures and styles of vintage rock perfectly suit the album’s lithe falsetto, eerily familiar melodies, and hazy storytelling--the listener immersed in a soup of poetic fragments, Damion himself always at a beguiling arm’s length. On lead single and opener “Company Man”, resonant acoustic guitar and Super Ball bass provide a platform for Damion’s knowing ability to split the difference between confident swagger and laid-back charm. The singer-songwriter pulls joy out of musical echos and lyrical wordplay, in part coming from his love of classic songwriters and long history as a performer. “I am mostly inspired by singer-songwriters like Carole King, Todd Rundgren, Eddie Kendricks,” Damion says. “I [also] began as an Elvis impersonator at age three. I think the razzle-dazzle energy he had made an impact on me as a kid.”


The glittering “Your Secret Is Safe With Me” follows, the layered ballad perfectly suited to prom night, meeting your crush under a disco ball. “I wanted to write a song that sounds like it oozes out of the speakers,” Damion says of the track. “We kept doing takes until we locked into a tempo that felt a little too slow to play, but was just right to hear.” Elsewhere the vibrating and twangy “Come Alive”, a la Roy Orbison in a bolo-tied Western suit, comes complete with a pedal steel solo from guitarist Drake Ritter. The wordless sing-along backing vocals of “Roadhouse” further inject a little glam into the mix.


Damion sounds right at home in the ethereal wonderland of Special Interest, sinking headfirst into the maple syrup sweetness and impressionistic lyrics. And as the album closes on the title track, it does so on the mystic compulsion of art, of music, of being a musician. “The song is about that feeling you get while you’re playing at the same bar for the thousandth time,” he says. In Special Interest, the young Hoosier singer-songwriter honors the compulsion and the magic, cobbling together a style all his own--instantly familiar and magnetic, capable of breathtaking beauty in its embrace of life’s smallest moments.

Date & Time

Thu, Aug 1, 2024 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM

Venue Details

The Bishop

123 South Walnut Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47408 The Bishop
Spirit of 68 Promotions

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