The Connection: Local band going big
A UNH gymnast strikes a pose earlier this year. Scott Yates - staff photographer
The first year and a half of the Connection's existence was a good stretch. Recording a single with Ed Stasium (producer of many classic Ramones albums), having a song dubbed "Coolest Song in the World" one week on the radio program Little Steven's Underground Garage, generating an international following and touring the globe isn't too bad for a new rock band from Portsmouth.
With that said, the four-piece is in no hurry to grow stale. According to lead singer Brad Marino, the band has been to experimenting with new and different sounds, including country.
The first album, New England's Newest Hit Makers, was a strictly lo-fi rock album, Marino said. From the way the album was mixed down to the choice of vintage Fender and Vox amps, every step taken was with the intention of replicating the 1964 pop rock sound.
In this year's release, expected to come out in May or June, the band is breaking out of that box. The songs are structured the same for the most part, but they're dressed up with piano parts, lap steel and acoustic guitars.
"Some of the songs are like the first album," Marino said. "Some of the songs are that 1964 AM radio, three chords, and then we have some other songs where they sound more like a 1972 Rolling Stones' song. We have saxophone, piano, I tune my guitar to the Keith Richards tuning... we just let it rip."
In addition, the album features much cleaner production to counter the first album's lo-fi sound. The drums and the bass are much clearer, Marino said, as are the vocals.
The new record will also feature two covers. One, "Connection" by the Rolling Stones, is the song that the band took their name from. The second, Chuck Berry's classic "Let it Rock," is being considered for the title track. However, Marino stated that nothing has been made official yet.
"It's really diverse. It's all the same, It's all still rock and roll, I don't want to make it sound like it's some big departure, but it's just our sound more developed. We weren't afraid to throw a country song on the record. Whatever, it's still in the same vein."
Opening up to these new arrangements is something that Marino said he greatly enjoyed during this year's recording sessions.
"See, that's the fun part for me, the production," Marino said. "I like to add stuff to the songs that just take a song thats really just three chords like a Ramones song, but when you throw in a piano or a pedal steel, its like, "Woah, that gives it a whole different vibe."
Marino said the band will also be touring Europe this year. In the past, the band has been well received across the Atlantic, touring all over the continent from Spain to Belgium. While it's difficult to generate a reaction in the States, where, according to the singer, people often ignore the bands playing on stage, Europeans are both enthusiastic and grateful to see auntentic American rock groups.
"They're just totally into rock and roll," Marino said. "And it's totally different in America. (In Europe) they actually want, on a Monday night, it doesn't sound like a lot, but to get 50, 60 people on a Monday night in a big city in Spain, to come out and see you, some band from Portsmouth, N.H., that was pretty cool."
The Connection will be playing at The Press Room on St. Patrick's Day this year. Marino admitted that the band doesn't have any Irish music. However, the band does have an original Christmas song, and Marino joked that he might be open to penning one for St Patty's.
See the Connection at The Press Room on March 17. Doors open 7 p.m. Tickets are $4. 21+.
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