It’s almost like Marc Pinansky is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Boston musicians. Some of the time, he’s the frontman for rockers Township, storming the stage with bluesy rock anthems reminiscent of AC/DC. Other times, he’s a singer/songwriter in the “sensitive” mode, paring the rock howl back and strumming an acoustic guitar.
Bottom line-Marc is an amazingly talented musician. He plays multiple instruments, gigs around Boston constantly, has written and performed commercials for brands ranging from McDonalds to Marlboro (sidenote: how do people smoke those things?) and also has the time to cultivate and maintain one of the most awesome beards in the history of awesome beards. He was also kind enough to take some time and answer 10 questions about topics ranging from his love of animals to his love of cassettes.
-You play guitar, keyboards, bass and drums (and probably a few instruments that I’m not familiar with). How did you become so musically proficient?
I would say that it is a combination of two elements – the first, and most important, is that I grew up literally surrounded by all of these instruments. My father always had bands going, so our basement was a well-stocked rehearsal room. In addition to my dad’s equipment, his buddies would usually leave their gear there, as well. They loved my interest in music and were always very encouraging of me using their stuff and trying out different instruments. If time allowed, they’d give me pointers and tell me stories, too.
The second element is a mixture of mere curiosity about all these surrounding instruments and a healthy dose of confidence that I could teach myself whatever I needed on any instrument. I always, and still do (sometimes to humorous effect), figure out whatever it is I need from a particular instrument. I’m always confident that I can execute what I need when I need to.
Your logo is a cat, and many of your songs make mention of animals. How did you gain such an affinity for creatures?
I have just always loved animals. I grew up with cats and lived mainly in more suburban/rural settings than the city, so there was always a healthy dose of critters running around and woods and fields to play in. I always felt a connection to animals. Not that I think of myself as one of them, but I respect their own habits and habitats. It’s always fascinating and comforting to know that we all share the same home.
Cats in particular have always been there for me, just like music. There is a comfort and joy in knowing that you’ll never be alone. I enjoy the balance of giving/taking what we need from their companionship, while respecting that they have their own unique sensibilities and patterns. Again, like music, you get out of the relationship what you put in and you have to respect their boundaries when it seems like you’re being selfish.
Do you bristle at the term “sensitive singer-songwriter”?
No. It’s nice to have those three things be a way that people describe you. I am all too aware of the dangerous cheesy/sappy connotations of the moniker, but as long as it is bestowed upon you and not by you, I think it is then up to the artist to show that it doesn’t necessarily mean “pay attention to me – all of my problems are heart-wrenchingly difficult.”
Who is your beard inspiration?
Maybe it’s my own nod to Jim Croce’s mustache? Not really sure. It began out of necessity, or frustration with the irritation shaving would cause my neck. Then, like my hair, I just let it go and don’t think much about it. If and when I feel like shaving it, I will, but I haven’t had that urge in a few years now. It feels like me (scraggly, ethnic and kind of hippyish) so I just let it be.
You don’t eat McDonalds? Are you a Communist?
Maybe in the way that Beatniks and Hippies and all other counter-culture folks were vilified in the 50’s, 60’s and beyond? I don’t eat McDonalds because I don’t eat meat. That rules out quite a few items on their menu! I am pretty quiet about my dietary choices, but it does kind of freak me out when I think about how many animals places like that pump through their system. They seem to be trying to change, mostly because they have to, but it also seems like a long way off before we can switch the public’s consciousness about fast food, and meat in general, to where it is something that is eaten for the health benefits and not because it’s the cheapest, easiest thing on the menu. The attention that they have put on beefing up their coffee quality (couldn’t resist the pun) gives me hope that they will continue to cater towards a slightly more discerning client and eventually start to lead instead of follow.
What is your least favorite common grammatical error?
That’s a tough one, because I am a self-proclaimed grammatical bandit. Perhaps it is as simple as omitting the contractual apostrophe from “it’s” for “it is.” To be honest, grammar doesn’t tend to bother me, because language is like the sea floor – constantly shifting and changing. I respect the teaching of the rules of language, but I was never taught them properly, so I feel that I have little ground with which to stand on and chastise from.
What led you to decide you wanted to be a professional musician? And if you weren’t a musician, what do you think you’d be doing with your life?
The fact that music provided me a joy that nothing else has ever given me was the biggest factor. It is more like an addiction than anything else. You just have to do it and you’re a miserable son of a bitch when you’re not. The mystery of music is enticing for me, as well. There is so much to discover and you can do it on your own. When you learn things or write things, it is such a magical occurrence – literally creating something where there once was nothing. It is completely you. Your experiences and feelings can be used in a very pure way. Once you unlock that part of your mind, you really can’t go back.
I honestly can’t imagine what else I would do, but I enjoy labor, landscaping, gardening… any sort of outdoors hard work with a visible result. I also enjoy writing, but am not sure if that could satisfy me in the same way spreading mulch, pulling weeds or hoeing the rows would.
Records, cassettes, CDs, digital or other?
All of the above! Records for at home. CD’s and Tapes for the Van (ed. note: this has been verified. I saw a Rush cassette poking around the inside of his van), and iPod for taking a walk. I’m a multi-media man!
What is your favorite of all the lyrics you’ve written?
I love all my children equally, so it is very hard to choose. I’ve also been writing songs since I was 10, so that doesn’t help, either. One batch that resonates particularly strongly with me is from “Weed Me Out” off my As A Child EP.
For what I did, I’m sorry
I took your family away
It seemed like a mercy killing
But looking back, who’s to say
Except feelings fade with time and wine
And the things that we think,
They are changing all the time
That verse and pre-chorus sums up exactly what I was feeling and dealing with post-break-up – a break-up that I encouraged at first. I just feel that I got the sentiment and experience right in very simple terms, which is my ultimate goal for my solo songs.
(here’s “Weed Me Out”, electric AND acoustic!)
If you could magically inhabit the body of another being, who/what would it be??
How about a small bird of the forest? I could spend my days in the boughs of wonderful trees, watching all of the happenings below. When I felt lonely or inspired, I would sing. At times, others could sing with me. There would be little predatory threat and I would make children and old folks happy when I would visit their feeders.
If you happen to reside in the Northeast, I strongly suggest that you see Marc play. Tour dates are listed below.
Dec 7/The Langdon Cafe/Montpelier, VT
Dec 8/The Perfect Wife/Manchester, VT
Dec 9/Empire Dine & Dance/Portland, ME
Dec 10/Radio Bean/Burlington, VT
Dec 12/T.T. the Bear’s (with Crooked Fingers)/Cambridge, MA
Dec 13/Bowery Electric/NYC
Dec 17/Dogbar/Gloucester, MA
Dec 22/Chelsea City Cafe/Chelsea, MA
Jan 28/Splash Root/New Paltz, NY
Jan 29/Spark Art Space/Syracuse, NY
Jan 30/Bug Jar/Rochester, NY