You think you know, but you don't know diddley…
Some of you know Mike Mariconda as the DJ of the Beerland
sponsored "ScuzzClub," or as the DJ at Casino El
Camino on the third Monday of each month, but there are quite
a few people who don’t know what an influential member
of our musical community Mariconda actually is.
He was a member of one of the bands that helped form my musical
taste and continues to this day to help produce and record
bands that would otherwise never be heard if not for him.
A "lifer" who has been playing music for twenty-six
years, Mariconda has been an integral part of the scene and
will forever be a legend in my book.
That being said, I had the honor of sitting down with him
and asking him a few things about his love of music, how things
have changed since the birth of his daughter, and if he thought
he was better than me.
When I asked him how many bands he played with, he gave me
a card with them all written down, telling me that he knew
he wouldn’t ever be able to remember them all. In order
that they appeared, they are: The Raunch Hands, The StepBrothers,
The Bloody Tears, Devil Dogs, Cosmic Psychos, DMZ, The Hard
Feelings, The Bulemics and Sons of Hercules.
I first heard the Raunch Hands when I was a teenager in San
Antonio. I don’t remember who gave it to me, but it
was a copy of Fuck Me Stupid, which at once intrigued me just
by the title alone, but also raised the ire of my parents,
which of course pleased me to no end.
At the time I was heavy into death metal like Pungent Stench
and Guttural Breath. My only foray into punk pock was by way
of Rock 'n' Roll High School in the movie theatre when I was
eight years-old and living in Korea. While it sparked my interest,
it didn’t do anything for me, like Slayer and Bolt Thrower
The Raunch Hands changed my perspective a little in that I
was willing to give it more of a chance. I liked that the
content of these songs was all about getting fucked or sucked
and not really too much else.
Being a big fan of Satan at the time, I knew that I would
eventually return to metal, but was willing to have my feet
straddle both musical lines for a bit.
I asked Mariconda what he was eventually trying to do with
his musical career since he recently became a member of a
local television station. He was quick to point out that music
was not his career, and that it was merely a hobby at this
point in his life.
He told me that in the '80s he thought of making it a career,
but knew he needed a viable job in case it didn’t work
Along with his viable job at the television station, Mariconda
has regular gigs recording bands at local music holes The
Sweatbox, The Bubble and The Pawnshop, including a notable
recording for 1993's Hits for the Misses by local favorites,
The Sons of Hercules.
Although gaining a reputation as a hardass, Mariconda continues
to be a sought after producer. He likens his talent as being
a makeover specialist and told me that when he sees something
that isn’t good in the world he changes it and makes
it right. He applies that to every aspect in his life, hence
the reputation as a hardass. He intentionally surrounds himself
with beautiful things and people, and he told me he was tired
of all of the Prozac-popping whiners that dominate the music
scene now who can’t take criticism.
I asked him about the influences that made up his musical
taste, and how he found out about them. As a kid growing up
in Patterson, New Jersey, Cream magazine came to the rescue.
In it he was able to find out what his idols (The Ramones,
The Who, Pink Floyd) liked and who they were inspired by.
Mariconda lists Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown and Bo Diddley
as the main reasons why he even plays music to this day. Diddley
is apparently his major influence because of his heavy focus
on rhythm and how important rhythm is to Diddley's overall
sound. He considers these three musicians true legends that
always deliver the goods, no matter how old they get.
Completely off the subject, I found out that Jerry Lewis was
one of his favorite people. That’s right folks, Jerry
Lewis. Not to be a bitch, but damn, Mike, what the fuck is
up with that? I understand hometown loyalty and all, but give
me a break.
I think one of the main things I was curious about was how
Mariconda has managed to play in so many bands and still maintain
his level of interest. With a home life involving his baby
girl and wife, I couldn’t imagine too much time for
anything else. I asked him what it was like to not be out
raging at 5:00 a.m. every morning anymore, and he gave me
the best answer that I’ve ever heard: "All of the
good conversations are had by three o’clock in the morning.
At best you’re just listening to some jackass retelling
you a story about his dad being a Marine in Vietnam for the
third time. I’d rather be at home.’
Another interesting thing I found out was that Mariconda joined
the Bloody Tears in order to improve his keyboard skills.
Being a guitar player that plays the bass and the keyboards,
he feels that the best way to improve on any instrument is
to be in a band with people that are better than you are.
Mike Mariconda is truly a dynamic character. I’m happy
to know him and to know more of what he’s about.
He wants everyone to know that while being a musician is great
and a lot of fun, that it’s the people that run the
bars and work in the bars who deserve the recognition and
particular, Mariconda mentions Randall and Donya of Beerland
and the bar and waitstaff at Casino. He wants to thank them
for their hospitality and the dedication it takes to run a
bar. He feels that these are the people that get to witness
the ugliest of the ugly and deal with it firsthand--all in
the name of rock and roll.
anyway, make sure you go and see The Bloody Tears and the
Stepbrothers the next time they play, if you’re down
for white boy soul, and definitely check out Mariconda spinning
records at Casino El Camino every third Monday.