“I first met Marlon Rabenreither, singer of Gold Star and CG Roxanne and The Nightmares, while he was playing a solo show in New York City. His songs felt like a road trip across America, in a dusty car with a lover who was beautiful but batshit crazy.”
“I first met Marlon Rabenreither, singer of Gold Star and CG Roxanne and The Nightmares, while he was playing a solo show in New York City. His songs felt like a road trip across America, in a dusty car with a lover who was beautiful but batshit crazy. His presence was strong. His music honest, raw, and unapologetic.
Gold Star’s lyrics are deeply rooted and at times sorrowful, accompanied by bright acoustics, slide guitar, and harmonica. The music creates a feeling of nostalgia…colorful, gritty, and old word. It takes you away from the everyday and paints a picture of dimly lit hotel rooms, dirty saloons, old radios and records stacked in forgotten rooms.
I interviewed Marlon at his place in East Hollywood. His house stood strangely out of place, like it had been transported from the 1930s and dropped from the sky. It was a big wooden blue house with a disco ball hanging over the front porch. He got up from the couch where he was playing guitar with a bottle of Pacifico at his feet and a cigarette hanging from his lips. I felt like I was in the middle of a Tom Waits song and I didn’t mind it.” —Jenna
So how was the show last night?
It was really good. We played with the band Warbly Jets, and they were great.
And they’re based here too?
Yeah. They moved here from New York actually.
Tell us about the album you have coming out. Where did you write it and record it?
The record’s called ‘Big Blue’ and that’s the nickname of this house. And it was all written here and it tells a lot of stories of the house and the people who come through here. Experiences that have happened, stories about my friends and stuff. A lot of it was recorded here as well.
And it’s coming out in March you said?
Yeah, the end of March. And the first singles start coming out in January.
Are you releasing it through a record label?
Yeah it’s a label called Autumn Tone. That’ll be my first release with them. I’m very excited to be working with them.
Nice, that’s exciting! How do you feel about the music scene in Los Angeles right now?
I would argue that the LA music scene right now is likely the best in America and likely one of the more interesting in the world.
Yeah, I agree. Who are some local bands that you like?
Gateway Drugs, Lael Neale, Korey Dane, Nico Yaryan, Son of The Velvet Rat, Leslie Stevens
Do you feel like you take on a different persona for your punk band CG Roxanne and The Nightmares?
Uh, not really, but I think you kind of write about different things. It’s an avenue for different kinds of emotions I guess. It’s just a very different sentiment. It’s less of a persona as like just a very different feeling, you know? It’s a lot of major chords and really fast and kinda sharp, where as Gold Star is not like that really.
Do you feel like the energy of the crowd is different?
Absolutely. At the Gold Star shows like people cry and at the CG Shows people are dancing.
What are some of your favorite venues to play?
I really like The Bootleg. I like The Echo.
What are some of the more difficult things about making music for you?
I think that it’s all difficult (laughing). I think to try to push yourself to do anything well is always challenging. And difficult isn’t always for me inherently bad I guess. I think if things are difficult it means you’re working things out honestly. Cause it’s really easy for you to be flip about something and for it to be really easy. But I think it tends to maybe not be as real of an experience. But you know, obviously it’s not all difficult.
Performing is interesting too…it’s difficult in the sense that it is terrifying to put yourself out there. I’ve played hundreds of shows now and once I’m up there it’s great, it feels really easy. But the moments before that can be painful.
Do you get nervous before every show still?
I think that’s good.
I think it’s really good because it pushes me. I think it makes me be a better performer. Because I think I really care about being real and doing something sincerely. People who are on the road 250 days a year don’t get nervous anymore. I don’t know if they’re good anymore, you know? They can just write it off.
You’ve shot with some notable photographers…do you like collaborating with other artists?
Absolutely. I love photography. I’ve been lucky to work with amazing photographers like Ryan McGinley or all kinds of amazing people. I love that side of things.
Do you ever feel like seeing other peoples’ work helps anything spark with your music or visually for album covers or anything?
I mean, all your favorite records are such a complete thing. Like the cover and the artwork goes with the album so well, so I think it’s all tied together. The way that Abbey Road looks is so tied to what it sounds like. I think that’s a really special thing. But absolutely, any form art is designed to move you and to do something. You’d be blind to not have that affect you in your writing.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Leonard Cohen is a timely one. Rest In Peace. I think he’s inspiring in many, many ways. Just maybe the way he lived his life it was such a secret and he was so eloquent and charming. I think he seemed like a good force. He’ll be missed. I think we need more people like that.
I know, we lost so many good people this year.
Do you feel like you create more when you’re in your element or away from it?
Both experiences can be good. I like being in cities that I’m unfamiliar with and then having a day off to walk around. And sometimes you’re maybe more aware and observant in a way that you aren’t in your normal environment. So that can be extremely conducive. I guess you just have a little heightened awareness and are a little more reflective on things and I think that can be really beneficial.
Yeah and less controlled.
Yeah, absolutely. Events that are out of your control I guess are the more interesting ones. I think that’s why when you’re in a strange city, you’re kind of shaken out of your routine. I’ve definitely written a lot of songs in that kind of environment. Like in a hotel room before a show, you know. If you have a day off, that kind of a feeling.
Yeah I feel like hotel rooms, trains, or being in a car or staring out the window is so nice…
It’s classic and American. It’s beautiful.
Yeah. I think it’s an important time for artists to be living in America right now. With the recent election, protests, talks of revolution and civil war, do you think it’s an inspiring time to be an artist and voice your opinion?
It’s a very difficult question because I think that as an artist you have a role and it’s to kind of translate things. I think though a lot of my songs are apolitical in nature. To love and to create is radical in it’s own way that works directly against what our president-elect wants. But you know, maybe it’s good to have a villain. Maybe it’ll bring all of us that are creating together and give us focus. Maybe we need somebody like that to bring us together. As terrible as all of this is, I’ve felt the community here in Los Angeles coming together in a way in a way that is new and exciting. But yeah I’m terrified(laughs).
But at the same time it’s almost so bad that all you can do is love each other and be around each other and try and inspire one another.
Yeah but that’s heavy man…that’s a big thing. And if that’s how this pans out and we don’t blow each other up, we’ll get through it, I hope.
Yeah. It’s a scary time. At first I was like ‘oh yeah, I’ll just go to Portugal or something, get out of the country but at the same time I’m like “I wanna be here for all this. I wanna see what’s going on I want to document it”, you know.
Yeah. I think this is an exciting and important time in America’s history. I think what’s about to happen is totally unprecedented and we have no idea how this is gonna play out.
How do you feel about social media?
Uh, it’s a bit of a depressing question. I play along, I have to. I mean that’s how I get information about what’s happening what cool shows there are. But at the same time I don’t love how Instagram is just like a bulletin board. It’s like just pasting a billboard ad. It seems a bit disconnected. Technology is a trip how quickly it’s moving. I don’t love it. I feel like I’m always a step behind.
Well the stuff you put out there is really great. Especially going back to the photographers you’ve shot with I think that all the photos that you put out there are really representative of your music and I think that’s good.
I think Instagram isn’t inherently bad as a platform just for visual things. It’s really interesting how much you can communicate through a photograph, and the value. A timeline of photographs like that is fascinating. But there’s the other side of that which his just vanity and complete emptiness.
Yeah and it’s taking away from real life, because you’re just staring at your phone.
Yeah so I think that’s the trouble is that all these technologies are designed to bring us together, but are they effectively doing that or are they isolating us further and further apart?
Photography and words: Jenna Putnam