From the title track on, Argiro looks to uncover the meaning of love, loss and relationships in songs like “Why Do We Fight?” and “Darker Days to Come.”
He has grown since his debut album back in 2005, and today he is closer to his family, his friends and is joined on stage with former bandmates like The Killing Floor drummer Peter Landi, Sabudh Samudre on the bass, Blane O’Brien on the pedal steel and engineer and pianist Richard Mayheux.
Originally born in Florida, the southern-rooted rocker has brought some of his country influences to the table for a truly roots-rock, rockabilly experience.
I had a chance to sit down with Argiro last week at the Irving Farm coffee shop in Manhattan to discuss the album, his life since the last album and, of course, love.
Where are you living right now?
I’ve been living in Brooklyn for the last five years or so. I moved to Bushwick first, for a couple years, and that’s where I started up Outright Rock Studios on Harman Street close to the JMZ (subway lines).
That’s actually where I made the first four tracks of this LP. I recorded it there, and just brought in an engineer that I trusted and worked with on previous occasions. I always wanted to make a record in my home, and it just allowed us the time to focus and get things done.
You did part of it at your studio. Where were the rest of the songs recorded?
The rest were recorded in Greenpoint at a studio called Vice and Virtue, at another buddy’s studio. And two tracks were done in Manhattan at the Music Building.
How long was the whole recording process?
I’d say it has been the better part of two years.
Which album is this for you?
It’s my second album as a solo artist, but I’ve put about six or seven over the years with various bands and under different monikers. For solo this is the second record and my first was in 2005.
So this is your first in a while then?
Yeah, it’s the first in a while. A lot of people are considering it my first proper record.
Do you look at it that way?
I kind of do as well. I am a lot more proud of this one. I was in a different place, I was a lot younger and again I did a few in the studio, but it was right in the beginning when everyone was into using Garage Band and using your laptop and I started doing home recordings that way. I just felt like the production suffered because I was in a hurry to get it out.
What did you hope to create when you put out this album?
I wanted to write more personal things, and I wanted to write about things that not everybody talks about. Not love songs in a traditional sense like I love this girl, or boy meets girl, but the other aspects of love. These are like family, value, tradition and friendships. Then there is quite the opposite, like the loss. I’ve lost family members, I’ve lost best friends and a lot of things have happened.
How does your album try to explain love?
I touch on it briefly in the first single of “Love.” “So Long Farewell,” which is on the record, is about saying goodbye to a friend that’s passing away, and as I was finishing that song I started dancing around on this one chord and it started developing into something else.
That ended up being the title track to the record, Love. That one chord, that one sentiment, that one vibe, and then I came out of the depths and the bowls of darkness to then find the other side, the light. At this point I have experienced true love and met my match in my personal life and I wasn’t afraid to shout it out a bit.
Then I look at my heroes like Lennon and McCartney and then carrying the torch for them and saying all we need is love. I have finally come to my age of maturity where I really understand that all you need is love.
Who are some of your influences?
Huge Beatles fan, number one. I’m a big Tom Petty fan, my fellow Floridian. I’ve always just loved his writing all the time. Texas boy, Roy Orbison, and I love the Crooners. In middle school and high school I really got into the more current, power pop and punk bands that were out like Super Drag and Fountains of Wayne. Mostly bands like that who have a similar style that we have sort of landed on now.
What are some of the bands now that have helped influence you?
My mom was always trying to get me to become a country singer. My mom is from the small town of Hazard, Kentucky, and she always tried to push some of the greats to me, and for some reason it just never really clicked until I got older and I started discovering artists like Townes Van Zandt and Gram Parsons.
My late aunt gave me a book called, “Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music”, and I just started diving into that era and that complimented the west coast, 60s and 70s vibes that I’m channeling on this record. I’ve always loved rockabilly, I loved punk rock, I’m a huge Ramones fan. I have all their records and I am an avid vinyl collector.
How much vinyl do you have?
I probably have close to 500 LPS, and 100-200 45s and a couple 10 inches in there as well. I inherited a bunch from my folks, but I have been collecting personally since I was about 15. Usually on tours I’ll pick up something.
So with all of these influences, what kind of music are you playing now?
I always just like to go back to the basics. It’s rock ‘n’ roll to the truest form, but in certain instances and certain songs we pull from various sources from the 60s. I tend to lean more towards some 50s melodies and vibes and a lot of the 60s and 70s as far as the production goes with some sonic landscapes.
How is the country vibe going over in Brooklyn?
It’s not enough of it where people are like, this is a country artist, but I feel like there is a country-ish music scene happening in Brooklyn right now. Just last night I was out at this place called Skinny Dennis in Brooklyn with my engineer, and it’s just a full on honky-tonk bar. They had a band playing with the 10-gallon hats and they had a steel guitar, and playing more traditional Hank Williams and Jerry Lee Lewis actually. I feel like it’s starting to become a thing.
What goes through your mind when you hear some of that music?
It makes me think of my mom, my grandmother and my deep southern roots. To one end, my mother’s side is in Kentucky and all that, living in the south in Tallahassee, but then on the opposite you’ve got my father who’s from Calabria, which is one of the more southern portions of Italy just before Naples.
So with the Southern Italy, and the southern America, they met through a Beatles record and lived in New York, which is why the family is back in New York. Family is really big to me. My parents just celebrated 43 years of marriage today, so when you ask me about love, that’s it.
One of the tracks is called “Leave It Behind (Brooklynville).” What is the influence behind that song?
I was living in that apartment, and I just moved there. At that time Brooklyn was new to me and it was just about being here, and not letting anybody get in the way and stop you from wherever you came from around the world. The verses touch on my mother’s southern upbringing, and my father’s search for a better opportunity, and they both touch down in New York. It’s about leaving what you had behind and taking chances.
Look for Love in stores and on iTunes on September 24. If you can’t make it out for Marco Argiro’s west coast album record release party at Hotel Café in Los Angeles on September 19 at 7:30 p.m., he is flying back to New York for an east coast release party at the Bowery Electric on September 25, at 10 p.m.