MARYTRE – a post-grunge, riff heavy trio originally formed in 1996 here in Charleston, SC. Pronounced “merry tree,” this band is committed to keeping rock alive through their music, and to keeping the legacies of influences like Nirvana, Black Sabbath, and Jimi Hendrix intact. Their current line-up is James George on guitar/vocals, Donny Bastian on bass, and David Dietze on drums. I’ve been in contact with Dietze over the past few weeks, and he rallied the band together to answer a few of my questions.
So, tell me… Where did you all meet? What inspired you to all to come together and rock out?
Well Marytre has been around since 95-96, starting as something by James in high school. He ended up moving away for some years and eventually put Marytre on ‘hiatus’, so to speak. James eventually moved back to SC and after some time met back up with some friends from high school, Donny and Josh Varga, who both were in a band with Dietze called Friends of Ridicule. James started going to their shows and eventually started to join them on stage occasionally. That lit the fuse that eventually led to Marytre being resurrected, with Josh from Friends of Ridicule on drums and Travis Underwood on bass. Eventually Friends of Ridicule broke up, Josh ended up moving to Vegas (leaving me sans-drummer), and Dietze stepped up and took his place at the throne. Eventually Travis left the band, but the same day he left we found out that Donny was moving back to town, so we asked if he wanted to play bass for us, he accepted and the rest is history. That was the short version, by the way…
How do each of you contribute to the general vibe of the band?
James: I don’t know that I can say that I KNOW exactly what I bring to the table, but I hopethat whatever it is, it’s in the spirit of fun, I hope it conveys the love that I have for what we do. The love and energy that we get to share with people when we’re on stage is simply indescribable. I am very grateful for being part of this thing and I hope that comes across.
Donny: I try to bring a mellow vibe to the group. I’m pretty laid back and although our music isn’t particularly laid back I like to bring that attitude.
Dietze: I really feel like when we play a show I am going through a therapy session. I relate to the lyrics James writes in my own way and that always help with my aggressive energy. Whoever is watching really gets to watch me letting out all my emotions, stress, anxiety, anger….whatever the flavor of the week is…My poor kit has learned to take a beating that is for sure. What doesn’t kill the Tama …only makes it stronger!
Tell me how rock legends from the past or present impact your creative process. Who are your inspirations? Who are the people you’ve been rockin’ out to since the dawn of time? Any unusual or unexpected inspirations?
James: As the years go by I’ve become more and more open to many different kinds of music. OF course bands like Nirvana, Black Sabbath, the Melvins, really pretty much anything out of the Pacific Northwest. I LOVE watching the rise of Red Fang! Not only do I enjoy their sludgy stoner rock style, those guys really are a big inspiration to me – they are proof that you’re never too old to rock. They’re all in their 40’s, but just played the Letterman Show! They’re all middle-aged but just finished their second successful European tour! For someone in their 30’s like me, that’s hugely inspiring. And yes, while bands like those, as well as Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, etc., are certainly on my list, that particular flavor of music isn’t all that I get into. I absolutely love how Jimi Hendrix was able to make that guitar scream and wail, almost weep, as if a knife had been deeply thrust into its side. I have a deep appreciation for Aerosmith – their “Get A Grip” album was actually what turned me onto rock and roll back in the day. Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my favorites – Mozart. He was the rockstar of his time, a level of genius that blows my mind. Think about it – to write music for a three or four piece band is one thing…to write music for 100+ instruments, scores of voices, all put together in a way that sounds absolutely beautiful, that is a whole other level of genius. So yeah, Nirvana, Black Sabbath, The Melvins/Red Fang (they tie) and Mozart…
Donny: The early 90′s is obviously a huge influence on all of us. Personally I also draw a big influence on earlier bands may have had an influence on those groups also. I’m a huge Beatles fan, Paul McCartney, along with Dave Grohl, are the most influential artists, in my opinion, of the last 60 years or more. The Doors and Jimi Hendrix also played a large role musically in my childhood and early teenage years because they introduced me into a whole new world of music that i didn’t know about growing up listening to the golden oldies with my parents. That’s when I started developing my own taste in music. I became a big fan of Tom Petty and then Nirvana, Pearl Jam, STP, and all the other great bands from that era exploded. Then there is Rob Zombie, NIN, Marilyn Manson, RATM, and a few other heavier bands that also get me going. I always thought it was pretty cool that I could listen to Marilyn Manson’s Antichrist Superstar and then pop in Help from the Beatles and be just as content.
Dietze: I would have to say that Dave Grohl (Nirvana), Lars Ulrich (Metallica) and Mike Bordin (from Faith no More) have influenced my style in such a massive way. They all bring different elements to my playing style. Lars was my idol growing up. I used to slap on headphones and play along with my “Master of Puppets” and my “And Justice for All…” cassettes. Those cassettes were my drum teacher in the early Dietze years…. However Grohl’s hard hitting was a game changer for me. I saw some live footage of him when I was a teen and thought that is exactly what I want to do…..beat the hell out of my drums for a living. – David Dietze
Any remarkable stories from tours or gigs that you all would like to share?
James: Yes, in fact at our ‘biggest’ show to date. We opened 98Rock’s Not So Silent Night show last December at the Music Farm in Charleston and shared the stage with All that Remains, Soil and Motionless in White, which meant that we got to play to a packed Music Farm (I think it was something like 600+ people). Of course I had my guitars all tuned up and ready to go during sound check. However, when we started into the first song itquickly became clear that either the guitar had been knocked over or got bumped, because it was horribly out of tune. So, as I’m trying to tune this thing right in the middle of the song (and given that we’re a three-piece, there wasn’t much hiding it) it’s just got worse. We finally get through the first song, I stop long enough to get all the strings back in tune and then we forged ahead and ended up having a great set (the energy and applause from the crowd was absolutely surreal). The time it took for me to tune the guitar was merely 29 seconds (I timed it from the video), but let me tell you – with six hundred-plus pairs of eyes on you, including the eyes of your local rock radio station, music publications, other bands from the area, agents, producers, etc. etc. etc., needless to say that was the longest 29 seconds of my life!
Donny: That’s easy, I grew up wanting nothing more than to play on stage at the Music Farm in downtown Charleston. We have already played there twice. But the first time was our CD release party, where we played with a bunch of our friends in other local bands. We ended the show with me and James smashing our guitars on stage. I ended up putting a hole in the stage. People are still talking about that today. That is easily the highlight of my music career so far.
Dietze: When I was playing in my band, Under Sunday, out in Las Vegas, we were doing a gig and Steven Adler (Guns and Roses original drummer) and his band showed up in the crowd. Steven asked if he could jam on my drum set and do some songs with his band. I also was a huge fan of “Appetite for Destruction “ growing up…so needless to say that was an honor. The dude that recorded “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Paradise City”…..played my kit! Haha!
What are your pre-gig fuel choices? Anything in particular that any of you have to eat or do before a show?
James: I guess I’m a bit of a prude – the only thing I’m consuming prior to a gig is either water or Diet Coke. I don’t typically drink anything before or during a performance (of course, there are exceptions), and I keep it light food-wise. Perhaps I’m a nerd, but I feel that if people are going to spend their time, and money, to come out to our shows, get into our music, hopefully share our music with others, spend their hard-earned money on our merch, etc., the least I can do is to give them the best show I possibly can, my 100%. Not saying that there’s anything wrong that, just speaking for myself. And after our set, that’s a different story! Then you’ll likely find me partaking in whatever dark beer is on tap, or a Cuba Libre (Bacardi & Coke)…
Donny: It has become a tradition to do shots of fireball before every show. At least for me and Dietze. James doesn’t like to drink a whole lot before the shows so he doesn’t always join us. But he is usually there when we do
Dietze: Fireball and Redbull=Firebull ! Bud Light Platinum !!!!!
How have the last few gigs gone? Where have you been playing?
We’ve been having a great time lately, playing in Charleston and other places in the region (we just played in Myrtle Beach a couple weeks ago and will be playing Amos Southend in Charlotte on 2-14). Just on the 25th we played the SandShack in North Charleston and a few weeks ago we opened the 98Rock Not So Silent Night Show. On 3-1 we’ll be at the Sparrow in the Park Circle area, and then on 3-29 we’ll be joining our friends Elisium from Virginia at Rehab. Been having a blast out there, let’s keep it going!
Anything you’re excited about for the future? Any plans or goals? Shooting stars, if you will?
In 2014 our plan is to blow 2013 out of the water, and that’s going to be a tall order. Last year we made “merry tree”, a record we are very proud of, went out on a 10-day tour across SC/NC, had our release show at the Music Farm, and then played the Farm a secondtime, put out a video for “Don’t Ask Me How” that we are happy with, and we have had the pleasure of meeting so many awesome people throughout the year! Our plan for 2014 – we are established fairly well in Charleston now; it’s time to start moving out to other areas across the region, building ourselves up in those places, and as time moves on we’ll continue to spiral outward and build even more, getting our music into whatever ears we can. We are also going to shoot a video for our song “Trigger Happy” sometime in the Summer, and we’ll be putting out a couple singles later in the year. Stay tuned!
James George: Vocals and Guitar
Donny Bastain: Bass
David Dietze: Drums
Marytre -”Merry Tree” Download for FREE