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Lace Em' Up & Hit The Ice with Mahogany Rush Guitar Hero Frank Marino

By Michael Fischer, Writer, Cartoonist
Tuesday, January 1, 2008 @ 0:43 AM


"You might as well put McDonal

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When I think of unsung Rock Guitar Hero's, I think of Frank Marino! Frank is a ripper! He has been lighting up concert crowds for over three decades since he recorded his first album Maxoom at age 16. Mahogany Rush ruled rock radio in the late 70s and Frank Marino's signature SG Axe paved the way! By 1978, he led the best live rock act in the world headlining California Jam and Giant's Stadium for thousands of screaming fans. In reality, Frank has been rocking arenas since we were still rug rats riding school buses. Bands like Judas Priest, Kiss, AC/DC, and UFO all got their start back in the day opening for Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush.

Frank is a true cosmic warrior, and a real down to earth guy. He's in it for the fun, and the fight, rather than the lime light and self glory. He is responsible for inspiring the hearts and souls of every guitar player on the planet with his haunting guitar tone, and his spiritual gift to capture what Hendrix had created and take the music into new places and times. In hockey terminology, Frank Marino is the Wayne Gretzky of Rock n' Roll! And lucky us, his jersey number is still not retired. Mahogany Rush Fans rejoice! Frank is plugged in for 2008 and ready to rock the rink for his mighty legion of dedicated fans and followers.

KNAC.COM is honored to lace em' up and hit the ice with our hero as he reflects on his 'strange Universe' of falling stars, smashing guitars, flying pucks, fire trucks, headlining The North Pole, and his never ending quest for tone, a hat trick, and the ultimate slice of pizza!

KNAC.COM: Hi Frank! What's happening my funk soul brother?

MARINO: Hi Fish! Same ole, same ole. Doing as much as I can, waiting for the new season and hanging out with my kids.

KNAC.COM: Are you a little bummed out your not getting inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame this year next to Madonna?

MARINO: (Laughs) Honestly. I can't say I would even accept it. I think it's kind of a joke. The Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame to me sounds tongue and cheek. There's a bit of sarcasm about the whole theme and it's ridiculous. People take that stuff way to serious.

KNAC.COM: You were headlining California Jam when Madonna was just discovering her pubic hair.

MARINO: (Laughs) Literally! I find the whole Hall of Fame thing for music is stupid. The Hall of Fame for Sports Stars and athletes is cool. But the idea of a Music Hall of Fame is subjective. It's like saving someone's image because their music is great. Well, on another planet their music wouldn't be great. It's subjective. It's a secret fantasy because they"ve sold a lot of records is what it comes down to. The definition of fame is how many people know you. And the definition of that is how many people bother. So, putting someone into the Hall of Fame for musical contributions is just another way of saying person knew how too sell em. For that matter you might as well put McDonalds Hamburgers into the Hall of Fame. They sell!

KNAC.COM: Would you refuse the award?

MARINO: I don't think I'd refuse the award. I'd probably go there, smile, say thank you and leave. But in my mind I wouldn't take that very seriously at all. There's people who really work for and want it. I'm a guy who never liked attention. From day one I always considered it a chore to be the lead guy in the band.

KNAC.COM: It's a lot of pressure.

MARINO: I'm more comfortable on stage than I am at home. It's not that I feel the pressure as I feel embarrassed. It's the same kind of feeling you get if you were in the audience and they said "We have a guest here tonight' and put a giant spot light on you. It's kind of an embarrassing feeling. I could never walk down the red carpet.

KNAC.COM: You're a big Hockey Fan, right?

MARINO: (Laughs) I guess I am because Im still watching it, even though the game has degenerated to hell. I still hope the NHL will somehow magically transform itself. But I don't see that on the horizon and I imagine that's the way it will stay. It's almost like the NHL is the end of the line rather than the means for the players. It's like "OK I'm in the NHL now, That's it! That's what I worked for and now here I am, and now I don't have to play anymore.' It's like nobody cares. There's a few guys that really seem to give their all. The fact that we can differentiate them from the others that don't is a testament to the fact the league is bad. We shouldn't be able to tell the difference. Everybody should seem like Mark Messier (NHL Hall of Fame Player). Even if they don't have the talent, they should all be out there trying.

KNAC.COM: Is player emotion lacking?

MARINO: I just want to see guys trying. I don't think that applause should be given to somebody for being gifted. Applauding for someone who's naturally gifted is like applauding for someone who's pretty.

KNAC.COM: How much has hockey fueled your spirit and music career?

MARINO: At one point in my career, hockey had a lot to do with my music career. In those days all of my crew played hockey so we had all of this hockey jargon to describe what we were doing. If we were having a bad night. You walk to the amplifier, you change guitars, get a towel, you wipe yourself off, it's almost like the end of a hockey shift. My guitar tech would use hockey jargon and say, "OK c'mon Frank, 3rd period and were down a goal and we gotta get one!' I remember having gigs where it wasn't going well. In the end the guitar solo would go over well, and the crowd would go nuts. I'd come off stage and the crew would say "Hey, we won it in overtime!' Like that kind of terminology and hockey played a really big part in my music career.

KNAC.COM: Your crew used to play street hockey on the road?

MARINO: Yes! We used to bring sticks, nets, and balls on the road with us and play. We hand other bands crew guys sticks and say, "OK, put that thing in that net!' It was really cool for me when I played places like the Boston Garden, Maple Leaf Gardens, and The Chicago Arena. All these famous buildings I watched hockey in as a kid, and now I was there playing. It was great!

KNAC.COM: You should be the new Commissioner of the NHL!

MARINO: Fish, give me that job and you will love the game in one year! Get rid of the jumbo trons and put pipe organs back in the houses. Just imagine the MLB moving the bases in baseball? Or having a home run derby at the end of 9 innings? They would never touch baseball the way they're touching hockey. Never!

KNAC.COM: When you were a kid, you grew up with Dickie Moore's son? (Dickie Moore, NHL Hall of Fame Player Montreal Canadiens 1951-1963).

MARINO: Yes! Every summer there was a Stanley Cup Parade in Montreal. It seemed to be like a parental thing every year. All the Canadien players would come over to Dickie's House and have Barbecue Parties. There was an ice cream place named St. Aubin that had a giant cone out front. They would pile all us kids in the convertible and we would go eat ice cream in the parking lot.

KNAC.COM: You had a Nutty Buddy with Rocket Richard?(Montreal Canadiens NHL Hall of Fame Player)

MARINO: Yeah! During the Christmas Time they used to give the kids gifts like, tukes and real Canadiens Sweaters with the laces. You know the old wool ones!

KNAC.COM: Do you still have those?

MARINO: Oh gosh no. I wish I did! Actually the only reason my family moved away from that area on Norman Street was because, sometime after that I was playing with matches (Laughs) and burnt the house down.

KNAC.COM: (Laughs) Really?

MARINO: Yeah, and I burnt the neighbors out too because it was a duplex (Laughs). It was eight o" clock in the morning and I ran to wake up my parents. We had an aunt living with us with only one leg, so it was like, "Wow!" It was freezing cold in January, we all had to crawl out the front door into the snow under the smoke.

KNAC.COM: God, how old were you?

MARINO: I was like Grade one. I was just playing with a lighter in the closet lighting the plastic on the clothes. I thought it looked cool.

KNAC.COM: (Laughs) Pyro guy!

MARINO: I haven't drank a beer and done drugs since I was 13 years old. Everything I don't do anymore I had a bad experience with (Laughs). The only thing that I still do that I've had a bad experience with is the music business.

KNAC.COM: Explain the tall tale about you having a bad LSD trip and Hendrix's spirit came into your body?

MARINO: That's such bullshit. The truth of the matter was, I grew up in the hippie movement in the late 60's. I was a young teen partying like everyone else smoking pot and experimenting with LSD until I did way to much and I ended up in the hospital. I had a really bad trip. While I was in the hospital, there was nothing to do to take my mind off of it, except there happened to be a guitar there. So I learned in there to play. The kind of music I played was very similar in style to what was going on at the time which was Hendrix, The Doors, all of the psychedelic music. When I emerged from the hospital, all I ever did was play the guitar. Well, that was 1968 and Jimi didn't die until 1970. So the ideal that there was some kind of reincarnate of Hendrix is so ridiculous. Some writer wrote that and it spread like a rumor. I was too young to tell the world is wasn't true. They found it uncanny that I could play that style and that way. They put two and two together and came up with five and that's how that story started. I spent the rest of part of my career telling people that was just not true.

KNAC.COM: People put the similarities together with your playing and vocals.

MARINO: There's no doubt that early on when I came out of the hospital, and started doing music. I was actively trying to do that kind of music. There was nothing wrong with it at the time. Later when it started to become a problem, I had to move away from it because people were making more out of it than they should have.

KNAC.COM: Did you want to do your own thing?

MARINO: I just wanted to have fun and play like I do now. I was just as comfortable doing Hendrix Material as I was the Beatle's. It's what we did at the time. We played music of the band the we liked. People do the same thing now. Now bands that start out are more into becoming famous. So right off the bat they are not even going to do the stuff they like, if they think something else will make them famous. These days, the prime directive of joining a group isn't just to have fun like it was with your friends in the 60's. It's more like "OK let's start a band, do a record, get signed.' You know it's all about the business. It's a real hold over than the way it used to be. People think I'm nuts.

KNAC.COM: I'm sure musicians can relate.

MARINO: I mean seriously Fish. We are not curing Cancer here. (Laughs) Let's put reality where it is. What are we really doing? We're playing music. Which is the fun thing to do! We're doing it with friends. Which is another fun thing to do! Hopefully we're doing it in a way that pays us, so we don't have to get a regular job. And that's another fun thing to do. None of what we're doing is saving the world. To look up to musicians who make music as some kind of idol to me is really not cool. And I don't want that. And if somebody does that with me I'll pretty rapidly tell them "Yeah OK thanks bye!"

KNAC.COM: You are a well respected guitarist.

MARINO: I don't mean we shouldn't have respect from our peers. There's a good measure of respect from our peers like actors. "OK you did a good job on this, and you were true to the music and that's a good job you know!" The public has made some artists out to be Gods, and Profits! I don't agree with that.

KNAC.COM: Experiencing Mahogany Rush for the first time inspired many people to pick up a guitar.

MARINO: Which is how I felt about Hendrix. That's the way I want to play. There's nothing wrong with that. We did that as kids too. We said I wear number nine, and I'll be Rocket Richard (NHL Hall of Fame Player). Well, we weren't really Richard. But we were having fun pretending we were, and that's it! Imitation is a sincere form of flattery. You know I've played a lot of big and small buildings. Looking back on all the places I've played. On any given night, on any given show, any given artist, any given crowd size, there's at least ten people in the crowd than what that artist does than the artist himself. They are just there.

KNAC.COM: So true.

MARINO: Let's take Kiss, or Aerosmith or any of these groups for example. They play for 30,000 people. Why are they the ones on the stage when at least 100 people in that audience are better than they are at what they do? It's not about whether you are good. If you relate that to sport. On any given night, on any NHL Rink. There are not 10 guys in the stands that are better than Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Player). It makes more sense to say Sidney merits being at the show. There are 12 year olds that can outplay 90% of the worlds greatest artists. Then to top it all off. The music industry adds insult to injury by over charging for it. Too much for the ticket. Too much for the record. Every things a lot of money. The faithful spend the money, and they get treated like shit. God forbid if they should download something because then they get sued. Do you know what a corporation is? In my opinion? If the corporation is a person, it's the equivalent of a psychopath. That's what a corporation is. It's a psychopath!

KNAC.COM: That's heavy.

MARINO: In music, I think that the most important thing from a musical point of view is to make sure that. When your playing music, stay true to the music itself. Whether you sell it, or don't sell it. Don't screw around with it. If you can play the G note. Don't sit around and play it badly. Don't treat music worse than it's treating you.

KNAC.COM: What was your first guitar?

MARINO: My first was the acoustic guitar in the hospital. I have no idea what it was. When I got out, I couldn't take it with me because it belonged to the hospital. My mother realized that was keeping me off the problem, so she bought me a guitar which just happened to be an SG. So I've played an SG ever since because that's the first actual electric guitar I ever owned.

KNAC.COM: Were your parents musical people?

MARINO: Not at all. I was the first. My older brother Norm was also into the rock music scene. Later my brother Vince, and sister Valerie came along and got into it because it was a hippie time. My mother is a bit of an oil painting artist. So she has that kind of creativity. My father? No, c'mon! Italian guy. (Laughs) The closest thing he gets to singing is in the shower.

KNAC.COM: Speaking of showers. What was your inspiration behind the song "It's Begun to Rain" off Mahogany Rush 4?

MARINO: It was a time for change for me. I was coming around to a lot of my religious ideas. I was starting to crystalize.

KNAC.COM: Are you happy with the music these days?

MARINO: I have to say I'm happier with the music now then it was then. I'm more comfortable doing it now. In those days there was always a problem. These days we get on, we play, usually very good. Everyone's happy and in a good mood. Very rarely have a been in a bad mood playing in quite a while.

KNAC.COM: Your drummer Dave Goode is from California. He really hangs in there with you live.

MARINO: He's really cool because we are the only two guys in the band that are old. (Laughs). So at the end of the night, were sitting there looking at each other like were dead tired. And the young guys in the band are like "Hey, let's go! eh Frank!"

KNAC.COM: I met your nephew who plays guitar in a metal band.

MARINO: Yes. Danny Marino. His band is called "The Agonist." They were in the Rockies recently to play some shows, and wrecked their van in the snow and were forced to cancel the tour and come home. Their OK, just had to cancel the tour.

KNAC.COM: How shocked were you about Dimebag?

MARINO: Now that really bugged me. That's just ridiculous. Things have gotten really out of hand.

KNAC.COM: Have you ever dedicated any material to anyone?

MARINO: My first album Maxoom was about Hendrix. Real Live was dedicated to my long time friend Sue Markowski.

KNAC.COM: What was it like headlining California Jam?

MARINO: I think it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I didn't like what was going on at all. That's when I first started to realize what the backstage thing was. What people were into. There were two artists on that show that were pretty realistic. That was us and Santana. The rest of it was a big show. It was like being on Entertainment Tonight. And I just didn't like that at all. The way that people were perceiving it, the way the way the musicians and television people were acting backstage. To me it was apathetical and very corporate. So anti Woodstock!

KNAC.COM: Didn't Iggy Pop open for you once?

MARINO: Yeah. That's a funny story. We shared a dressing room with him the night he exposed himself to the world on stage and rolled in broken glass for an encore. Afterwards Iggy came backstage butt naked with big pieces of glass stuck in his ass and said 'do you guys mind turning around while I change?'

KNAC.COM: That guy's a character.

MARINO: No kidding, and it ain't no act.

KNAC.COM: Did you ever meet Stevie Ray Vaughn?

MARINO: Yes. I played with him several times. I can't say he was very nice to me.

KNAC.COM: Really?

MARINO: Yeah. I said "Hi how are you doing?" And he looked back at me, didn't answer me and walked away. That was par for the course in those days. All of those guitar players were like that. And that happened regularly. I didn't understand it at the time. But maybe that's why it wasn't.

KNAC.COM: They don't get it.

MARINO: They don't and I don't care. It doesn't matter to me. Most important thing is to have a repore with the audience. The fans checking out what we do genuinely. Out of that, you get the respect from your peers, eventually. You go out, do your thing, and don't screw around. You never saw Stevie Yzerman (NHL Hall of Fame Player) score a goal and go hopping down the ice like a mental case.

KNAC.COM: Tell us about your record Full Circle.

MARINO: It was kind of a come back record. Like back to reality. Last thing I had done before that was Juggernaut. I wanted to do something different. I didn't want to make the same kind of record. I wanted to have more songs on it. A lot of people first thought "What happened to the guy that did Johnny B. Goode?' And then later on, those same people ended up liking Full Circle the best. I really like that record.

KNAC.COM: That's a smoking solo in "Had Enough', and "When Love is Lost' has some really haunting melodies.

MARINO: I think what freaked people out was that is did quite a few keyboards.

KNAC.COM: When did you incorporate the strobe lights you use in your guitar solo "Electric Reflections of War?"

MARINO: That was around 1970. In those days you wanted to do something psychedelic. There was nothing more psychedelic than a strobe light. I got into using it and it followed me for most of my career. I stopped using it in the 80s. Then started using it again recently.

KNAC.COM: No one has ever duplicated that.

MARINO: Yeah, it's a pretty aggressive way to get your message across. I had some funny things happen to me. I used to throw the guitar up in the air and have it come down with the strobe lights on. It looks really cool until you lose sight of it and it hits you in the head. (Laughs) Which is better than having it hit the ground I guess. Once I threw my guitar way up in the air. When it came down I would usually see like flash, flash and then I would catch. Well, this time is was like flash, flash "Bang!' And it just hit me in the head! The next thing I know it's like "Where the hell am I?" The guitars on stage going "Woo woo woo' and I'm trying to crawl off.

KNAC.COM: What did you think of all the flashy 80s rock guitar players?

MARINO: I didn't like it at all. They're all very good. Some people might think liver is good and I don't. Today the guitar is not the figure it used to be. I think the reason for that is the whole thing in the 80s with everybody doing the tapping, pyrotechnic gymnastics on the guitar. I mean what's the point? I had always thought that the point of making music was to make sounds. To make it make a certain sound. If your just doing the pyrotechnical stuff, it's like it's not even about the music anymore. It's about either what it looks like, or what your abilities are. It's just not very interesting.

KNAC.COM: You would go over well at new Rock Festivals like Bonnaroo.

MARINO: I think if I got into that scene and played one or two shows for that type of crowd, I think I'd have a whole new following. It's almost like I'm tailor made for it. If you take the audience from these days and you expose them to our kind of music. They like it!

KNAC.COM: Would you play Blues Festivals?

MARINO: I don't want to end up being known as a Blues artist. I can play Blues and I love it. But I wouldn't want to be a Blues Artist playing Blues shows all the time. It's very limiting! Blues is the kind of music that you can play all night, and only listen to for a half an hour.

KNAC.COM: Your playing has some deep Jazz influence.

MARINO: I love Jazz! But I differentiate from Jazz and Fusion. Fusion is to Jazz what Speed Metal is to Rock. And I don't like fusion, but I do like Jazz. It's my favorite music by the way. Genuine Jazz.

KNAC.COM: I heard Ted Nugent challenged you to a guitar duel once?

MARINO: Yeah, he dragged his gear out on stage in the middle of my show. I'd never seen anything like that in my life. He just started doing licks. I'm like "What's going on here?" People thought I was involved in it. I wasn't. I don't think he'll do that again though.

KNAC.COM: That's funny. You and Ted should so a G3 Tour.

MARINO: I've been asked many times that I should do the G3 thing. I've always said "I wouldn't do it, it's a performance art thing." It's like here's this guy, and look at what he can do.

KNAC.COM: Do you still communicate with the original Mahogany Rush members drummer Jim Ayoub and bassist Paul Harwood?

MARINO: I don't see Paul that much, I see Jimmy every once in awhile. Jimmy's still playing. I heard Paul was in a Blues band. The last time I saw him, he didn't look like Paul. He looked like Paul's dad. Jim still looks exactly like Jim, and still acts like Jim. He's still having a party. He never stopped. He's the Mahogany Rush version of Tommy Lee (Motley Crue Drummer). He's still got a girl on one arm, a Cognac in his hand, and a joint in the other having the time of his life.

KNAC.COM: That's how John Entwhistle went out. So what's on tap for Mahogany Rush in 2008?

MARINO: We're starting to gig again. Mahogany Rush is playing the Bell Center in Montreal April 25. The next day we're doing Quebec City. Then I'm hoping to go to Sweden in May. I'm also working on a new Blues record aside from Mahogany Rush.

KNAC.COM: Your website gets a lot of traffic, and long time fans are saying a lot of nice things about you. I think it's really cool that Biker Comic Wild Willy Parsons built your website (as a dedicated fan) and helped bring you back into the spot light inspiring you to record "Eye of the Storm" in the late 90s.

MARINO: Especially since he didn't know me at the time. Now we're really good friends. He's like one of my best friends. For a guy to have done all that and not know me at all was totally unreal. I can honestly say, I probably wouldn't be back in the industry if it wasn't for Willy.

KNAC.COM: You guys should do a Rockin' Comedy tour together.

MARINO: I really want to do that! It's a question of if we can find the promoters that will pay the money for it. The other great thing about our relationship is that Willy loves music, and I love comedy. So we have these fantastic conversations because he wants to talk about guitars and I want to talk about jokes.

KNAC.COM: Have you ever been to the Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood?

MARINO: Yes! A long time ago. I used to stay right beside it at the "Hyatt House." We used to call it the 'riot House.' Everyone would go up to the pool on the roof and hang on there. My favorite part was they used to have these fantastic milk shakes in the restaurant. (Laughs) We used to go down and drink them all the time.

KNAC.COM: 'Real Live' in 2001 is a real departure from your first live record in 1978?

MARINO: It's very much what we're doing now. If somebody wants to know what we're doing these days, that record is a pretty good indication.

KNAC.COM: Are you satisfied looking back on your rock legacy and body of work?

MARINO: Yeah. If I look back, I'd say "I'm pretty OK with it all.' I think we had a really good time. I never had disappointment because I never had any expectations. As long as the amp sounds good, the band plays well and we're having a good time. That's really the most important stuff.

KNAC.COM: Keep it real.

MARINO: That's a good way of putting it. The favorite part of what I'm doing now is when I meet people, having them understand that we are really are all the same. I really get embarrassed by the other stuff. Once I can meet fans, and put them at ease. They can see that we're just one on one regular people. That makes me feel good. I always feel happy leaving a town because I feel like I've made a bunch of friends.

KNAC.COM: It's cool to think maybe in 100 or 200 years some little kid will pick up "Tales of the Unexpected" and it will blow his mind.

MARINO: (Laughs) Yeah, wouldn't that be something.

KNAC.COM: Have you ever played an Air Force Base?

MARINO: (Laughs) Yes I did! I played for an Air Force Base for people in suits. You know most of the shit that happened in Spinal Tap happened to me. Honest. I had things come down from the rafters that were wrong, I got lost in the kitchen, I played with a puppet show, I even played the North Pole for Eskimos!

KNAC.COM: With Mahogany Rush?

MARINO: Yeah, all this happened with Mahogany Rush. 80 below zero on an island in a bay. We got out of the plane at an Army Base, and looked around and I thought we were standing on a big white disc. We played in a local native school for the Eskimo Kids. It was just the strangest thing man. Lots of wired stuff like that happened. I got the cities that were supposed to have a show and they weren't there. We did record signings where no one showed. All that weird stuff happened to me in the 80s. The 1980s was a real wasteland, that's why in 1993 I just stopped. I said "Wow, forget it, it's not fun anymore.'

KNAC.COM: Have you ever played the National Anthem at a Hockey Game?

MARINO: No. I played O" Canada at my gig in Ottawa on Canada Day.

KNAC.COM: Your anthem is better than ours.

MARINO: There's too many rockets in yours. (Laughs) Rockets, and bombs and guns. Do you ever sing the other versus of your anthem that are never sung? They are real military.

KNAC.COM: Like Roseanne could remember those!

MARINO: (Laughs) I don't think they should have anthems at the hockey games Fish. I think they should have them at the end. If anyone wants to stay and see them they can. When I go to a hockey game I just want the puck to be dropped. (Laughs)

KNAC.COM: Do you have any survival tips for any Frank Marino Wanna be's out there?

MARINO: Well, my survival tips are quite a bit different than most others. What they are based on is two very, very important things. Number one. Always listen! More important than anything, is listen. Number two. Don't give up!

KNAC.COM: You"ve really staked your claim with Mahogany Rush. You have left an impression that has really stuck with fans, and they do not forget!

MARINO: As long as in the end when it's all said and done. And I hope that time is 30 years from now. I hope they say "Frank was a regular guy." That's how I would like to be described.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, and he's watching the game having pizza and a coke!

MARINO: That's it! The ever present Coke-a-cola as I'm drinking one now.

KNAC.COM: And you'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony eh! Your a true inspiration Frank. Thanks for the chat and Hockey New Year!

MARINO: Thanks Fish and Happy Anniversary KNAC! Keep your eyes on the road and your hands up on the wheel. I look forward to seeing you on tour in 2008!


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