POZ Perspective: The Acoustic Basement Is A Gang

Interview and prospective piece I did with Property of Zack.com. Enjoy.

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The Acoustic Basement is one of PropertyOfZack’s favorite additions to Warped Tour in recent years, which is just a small part of the reason why we’re so excited to be sponsoring its satellite tour that kicks off in just two days. There’s an interesting story behind the idea and creation of the Acoustic Basement though, so we thought it’d be a great idea for Editor-in-Chief Erik van Rheenen to speak with Brian Marquis to tell the story of the Basement. Check it all out below! 

This is the story of the Acoustic Basement, but it doesn’t start in the blistering summer heat in the dog days of the Vans Warped Tour. The story of the Acoustic Basement starts with a young Brian Marquis in his own basement, waking up to his dad playing blues guitar at 5 o’clock in the morning.

“I grew up with a father who played the blues on the acoustic guitar and harmonica,” Marquis says. “I used to hate it sometimes, when he played really backwoods stuff. He’d wake me up at 5 a.m. playing the guitar next to my bedroom in the basement.”

As a baby, Marquis would mess around on the harmonica, — he actually focuses on playing it well, now— but it wasn’t until he was 11 that he took up guitar. It wasn’t really the music that allured him — at least not yet, anyways. It was just that, when posing with a guitar, 11-year-old Brian Marquis thought he looked so fucking cool.

“Me and a friend would just hold the guitar in front of the mirror and look badass,” Marquis says, recalling the memory with a laugh. “I took lessons, but I only wanted to play songs, so I stopped and would just try to play along with records or the radio.”

Fast forward to 2010. Marquis’ post-hardcore band, Therefore I Am, just broke up, and Marquis moved to Los Angeles for the scenery. Just before the break-up, Marquis began taking guitar lessons again, this time switching from electric guitar to acoustic. Once the band split and Marquis stopped touring full-time, he started making friends with the Warped Tour production folks. 

During the waning years of Therefore I Am, Marquis realized he needed a creative outlet he could call his own. The band was a democracy: everything from tours to T-shirt designs — down to the simplest chord of a song — was carefully deliberated between the group’s members. Playing acoustic shows was a solitary pleasure for Marquis, and one he takes pride in. “It’s such a simple setup,” he says. “It’s just you and your guitar. There’s something so great in the simplicity of going anywhere with a bag to sing your songs and tell your story.”

Acoustic guitar in tow, Marquis set out to start his solo career, releasing his first acoustic EP, Snow Damage, in November of 2011. He talked to Kevin Lyman, founder of Warped Tour, and threw out his idea: an acoustic tent. Lyman wasn’t sold, since acoustic shows historically flopped on the Warped Tour. So Marquis asked some of his closest friends to go all-in with him on the idea.

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