Dark Marbles release ‘Brit-Pop Faves’
Paul Roalsvig was halfway through recording “Back to the Garage,” a compilation of 1960s garage-rock songs with his band, The Dark Marbles, when he realized some of the songs just weren’t going to fit.
“They were too poppy, sweet and innocent,” Roalsvig said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Too nice. They needed to be put on a different platter.”
He then noticed all the songs that didn’t make the cut were Anglo in nature, so he figured the best idea was to make a second compilation album.
“Recording music, in general, is very addicting,” he said. “You record one batch of songs, and you’re already looking ahead at the next ones.”
Roalsvig, a Long Lake resident, who goes under the stage name Yod Crewsy, and The Dark Marbles recently released their second compilation album, “Brit-Pop Faves.” It’s a collection of British Invasion songs from artists and musicians such as The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds and Badfinger.
Some of Roalsvig’s covers have been featured on “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” and the “Radio Bob Show” on North Country Public Radio. The album, along with Dark Marbles’ other records, can be found at yodcrewsy.com.
The tracks on “Brit-Pop Faves,” for the most part, are deep cuts. Most people know The Animals’ version of “House of the Rising Sun” or The Zombies’ “Time of the Season,” but that’s just scratching the surface. Roalsvig instead offers “Scandinavian Dream” and “I Love You.”
“I wanted to narrow down the songs to all the ones I had a connection with,” he said.
He recorded Herman’s Hermits’ “I’m into Something Good,” because his old band the JackLords used to play it on tour. Some of the motivation isn’t too deep, though.
“I recorded the song ‘Scandinavian Dream’ because I’m Scandinavian,” Roalsvig said, laughing.
The songs aren’t straight copies either. Roalsvig said he didn’t want to perform them exactly like the initial recordings.
“I wanted to make sure each of them was distinguished from their original sounds,” he said. “I don’t know what Paul Weller (of The Jam) would think of me putting cowbell in ‘It’s too Bad,’ but I hope he’d like it.”
Track 16 is “Mr., You’re a Better Man than I” by the Yardbirds. When Roalsvig attended a Yardbirds show at The Egg in Albany, he gave a copy of “Brit-Pop Faves” to drummer Kim McCarty.
“It’s cooling being able to give the original artists your renditions of something they’ve created and seeing if they like it,” Roalsvig said.
Roalsvig’s earliest moments of musical interest came from listening to his older brother’s records.
“He was the one who brought home and played ‘Tommy’ by The Who and Crosby, Stills and Nash’s ‘4 Way Street.’
“I was always into British Invasion,” he continued. “I like the driving power behind the songs.”
His mother “plunked around a little bit” on the piano, and encouraged her children to do the same.
“I guess I owe my thanks to her for getting me enthusiastic,” Roalsvig said.
Roalsvig started his musical career in Buffalo with a group called The Blurred Kriebos. The name had no meaning. It was just weird, he said. The band had somewhat of a new wave B-52s vibe.
“Our gimmick was we would switch instruments every few songs or so,” he said. “I might be on guitar for two tracks then switch over to drums for a bit, then keyboards.”
He also played in a much softer jug band, the Sky Cabin Boys.
“We tried to tone down the electricity of the outfit,” he said. “I played a bass that had a very primitive sound, kind of like early Paul McCartney. It was a hollow body bass that didn’t have much sustain. The drummer used brushes. One guy banged on a milk jug, and one guy played with a washboard.”
Some of the Sky Cabin Boys will join Roalsvig for his next compilation album.
Roalsvig also performed in two garage-rock bands, the JackLords and the Slapcats. This was when he adopted the stage name “Yod Crewsy,” which he got from a series of Anthony Burgess stories. There was a fair amount of punk bands coming out of Western New York in the late ’80s and early ’90s. One fellow group was the Goo Goo Dolls, fronted by Johnny Rzeznik and Robby Takac. Back in those days, the Goo Goo Dolls were more of a thrash band. An early song like “Don’t Beat My Ass (With a Baseball Bat)” is crazy-different when compared to one of their pop hits like “Iris.”
“I still keep in touch with those guys,” Roalsvig said. “Robby owns the studio where all the songs off my latest album got mixed, so he swung by and said hello.”
Roalsvig said he’s mellowed out and become a better musician since those days of touring with garage bands. He’s become a real gear head, focusing plenty of his time on sound production and recording.
“As a punk rocker in Buffalo, I didn’t know about tube amplifiers vs. solid state amps, or humbucking pickups vs. single coil pickups. Back in those early days, I had only two effects for my guitar — clean reverb and grunge. Now I’ll use different effects pedals all the time to distinguish songs.”
These days, when Roalsvig isn’t recording music, he’s running his own law firm in Long Lake. He’s also running for Hamilton County district attorney.