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20 Questions With Tommy Marz

The Detroit singer-songwriter talks KISS, Whoop Ass Wednesdays & big Harry deals.

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Tommy Marz released his new EP Chasing Light a couple of weeks ago. The six-song set features five originals — including his single Summer Bummer — along with his quarantine version of the Stealers Wheel classic Stuck In The Middle With You. Today, the Detroit singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist deals with an autumn bummer by getting stuck with my absurd questions. Let’s see if he can some sense of it all:

 


 

Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base and other details you’d like to share — height / weight / identifying marks / astrology sign / your choice.
Tommy Marz. Detroit. 6′ 175 lbs. Gemini. Loves coffee and warm days (and nights).

What is your musical origin story?
First guitar was a two-stringed, beat-to-hell Univox from a flea market. Didn’t matter. I started writing songs on those two strings.

What’s your latest project? Tell us everything we need to know.
The EP is called Chasing Light, which was just released on Sept. 23. The first original single Summer Bummer features fan submissions of how they kept busy during this quarantine summer in the music video.

What truly sets you apart from other artists?
I think I’m the only Tommy Marz. Though there is a Tommy Mars who played keyboards for Frank Zappa. So, that’s pretty close (and cool!).

What will I learn or how will my life improve by listening to your music?
The EP’s running time is just under 20 minutes. Love it or hate it, it’s only 20 minutes out of your life. Of course, I hope you love it.

What album / song / artist / show changed your life?
KISS Alive II was the record that made me want to play a live show. The double album’s inlay — bitchin’ stage — is epic and a picture of it hangs in my studio. After that it was The Police, Duran Duran and then into the Grunge era. Alice in Chains, STP, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, etc.

Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played and what you got paid.
Played a Whoop Ass Wednesday! at this local bar. I was happy to get on the show. It’s laughable now but I was so excited at the time. We got paid by the number of people that came to see us. A buck a head, I think. We were like the second band and outdrew everyone. We got promoted to a Saturday slot after that lol I think we made around $150 that night.

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you gave?
Best: When we were rising in the city, we played a sold-out show at this really great venue. Right before we went on, I went outside and there were a couple hundred people that were outside lined up. I asked the owner to let them in. He was understandably worried about the fire marshall. I said, “We making magic tonight or are we gonna lose this moment? From front of the stage to the front door, there was hardly a space to be had. I’ve played bigger shows since but that one will always be special.
Worst: The time I played the first two songs COMPLETELY out of tune. I heard it. The sound guy heard it. The crowd heard it. I think the cook at the Coney Island across the street heard it. I was just a little intimidated back then. Today, I’d be like: “FFS, let me tune this stupid thing. Hold on guys’ talk amongst yourselves.”

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen another artist give?
If we are counting shows I didn’t play on: KISS. Tiger Stadium, 1996. First show back. It was epic. Nothing will ever top that for me. Plus, Alice in Chains opened up!

What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
Following up with you about how crazy it got after Chasing Light was released.

What living or dead artists would you collaborate with if you could?
Jimi. Layne.

What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
Harry Styles. I am becoming superfan #99 with that guy.

What are your favourite songs / albums / artists right now?
Harry StylesGolden. Facing New YorkDogtown & Get Hot. Ricky ReedExpress Myself. The Pursuit of HappinessLove Junk (everything, actually).

How about some other favourites? Authors / movies / painters / philanthropists / you name it.
Top 5 fave movies: Shawshank. Ford Fairlane. Beverly Hills Cop. F/X. Eddie and the Cruisers.

Who would you be (or have you been) starstruck to meet?
I mentioned the KISS show at Tiger Stadium. I was on an interview with Mike Inez of Alice in Chains and we wound up talking about that show and he told me some crazy stories about that night! But before we got into that, I was a little like, “Holy moly … I’m sitting with Mike.” Starstruck to meet still would probably be Andy Summers (The Police) or Simon LeBon (Duran Duran).

Tell us a joke.
A woman is on trial for beating her husband to death with his guitar collection. Judge says: “First offender?” She says: “No. First a Gibson, then a Fender.”

What do you drive and why? What do you want to drive and why?
Black Benz. I grew up very poor in the city of Detroit. It was one of those dreams I had that made me work hard at whatever I did because I always told myself that if I work hard enough and get out of poverty, I will one day drive a Mercedes Benz. If there’s any one thing that I do in my life for me, that’s the thing. I always liked the one Patrick Swayze drove in Roadhouse!

What superpower do you want and how would you use it?
Fly like Superman and not have a toolbelt like Batman.

What skills — useful or useless — do you have outside of music?
I put some crazy lines in my grass.

What do you collect?
I’m starting to put together a nice vinyl collection. I have a box of baseball cards. My Ken Griffey Jr. Upperdeck card is one of my prized possessions.

If I had a potluck, what would you bring?
Potato salad. What time should I show up?

What current trend or popular thing do you not understand at all?
Trolling.

Tell us about your current and/or former pets.
My dog Sassy was an incredible dog. When I think about her, I get sad all over again. Thanks, Darryl! Shout to my sister who just had to put her dog down. He had loads of personality. Gonna miss that little buddy.

If you could have any other job besides music, what would it be and why?
Something where I could work alone, not be near anyone else and still make a decent living. People are strange.

What’s the best advice and/or worst advice you were ever given?
“Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris Bueller.

Check out some Tommy Marz videos above, listen to Chasing Light below, and keep up with him through his website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.