Under The Influence: Alt-Rock Band The Mariguanas Live to Perform & Bend Genres
The Mariguanas are an alternative rock band with a hip-hop influence. The band holds high hopes and undeniable passion for the music they create, seeking to make songs that move the heart and soul. Often the group infuses a classic rock feel with their instrumentation and authentic lyrics. The Mariguanas consist of lead singer Nick Abushady, guitarists Derek Moss and Scott McCann, bassist Jacob Slade, and drummer Joseph “Peesh” Maltese. Formed out of a college music program in Upstate New York, the group’s unbreakable friendship only seems to solidify through each song they write and produce.
Now based in the NYC and Long Island area, the band aims to inspire people to come together and live life to the fullest. The Mariguanas recently released a debut album entitled The Ruckus. It was born from their immersive live performances and basement jam sessions that constantly draw an audience. The band believes in staying true to their genre-bending licks and hooks while also gaining inspiration from artists like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Kendrick Lamar, and more. They share more with Steereo including singles ‘Banger’ and ‘Cloud’ which are currently streaming on our playlists.
Listen to ‘The Ruckus’ Album By The Mariguanas
Can you share with us how the band formed and what made you pursue this career together?
This band actually formed through a music ensemble course when we were in college. We went to State University of New York School in Oneonta which offers a Rock Combo course. You get to play in a cover band and perform at local venues around town for school credit! After the semester had ended we all kind of just said, “Hey, that was really fun and we were pretty good at it. Let’s keep doing it.” We got together for the first time after that and actually started writing original music. Everything happened so naturally that we couldn’t stop, knowing there was something special here.
What was the inspiration behind your first album ‘The Ruckus‘?
“The Ruckus” is a collection of songs written by a bunch of college stoners that wanted to form a rock band in their basement. This was our first album and we wanted to capture our lives and influences during those precious four years. We were literally throwing Rock concerts in our basement for kids that were looking for something to be a part of and experience on a Friday and Saturday night that wasn’t a fraternity house or a bar. These songs were written with that in mind. We asked: what can we perform for our friends that will make them want to dance? What can we play that will make the kid in the back that doesn’t want to talk to anybody smile? What can we write that is a reflection of who we are right now: five homies enjoying life, seeking to bring something new and exciting to people.
The Mariguanas have powerful guitar riffs that seem reminiscent of Classic Rock. As an alternative rock band, can you share how your music is impacted by the larger genre of Rock?
We’re always talking about who we’re listening to and trying to turn each other onto those artists. All of us have deep roots and a love for classic rock. Respectfully, we also have a great love and passion for modern music. When we write a song we try to combine the timeless elements of Classic Rock, the cutting edge of popular modern music, and the unique third ingredient that is our own originality in songwriting and storytelling.
Are there any other artists or groups that have influenced your group’s vocal style and overall sound? If so, who are they and how have they impacted your music?
An endless amount of artists and groups can be named by the five of us, but to name a few, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Arctic Monkeys, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, Led Zepellin, Queen, Pink Floyd, Childish Gambino, Rage Against the Machine, and Raury have all had a major impact on our vocal style, songwriting, and overall sound. We absorb influences from nearly everything, and between the five of us, we could be listening to pretty much any and all genres of music, including polka!
‘The Ruckus’ has a powerful range of mellow and amped tracks providing a great sonic experience. Do you think alternative rock helps you create such music freely? If so, how?
To us, alt-rock is just our selection in the drop-down menu for when we need to fill out a form for something that describes our band. We’re just making the music that flows through our brains and blood. People seem to call it alternative rock.
Your single ‘Banger’ has an interesting backstory, can you share with us how the song came to be and how important it is to the group?
All the songs have an interesting backstory but “Banger” definitely takes the cake. It was our first single and is one of the first songs we wrote and performed. Nick by some chance met these well-known YouTubers of the channel HellthyJunkFood. They have a huge fanbase and were very interested in collaborating with us. They came to our first basement show to film us and were blown away. They mentioned that they wanted to create a video of us making a giant Pop-Tart for their channel. At the time, we had been recording in the school studios and knew we needed to get a song recorded and released before the Pop-Tart video came out. “Banger” was our strongest song at the time so we recorded it in a few days and released it the day before the YouTube video came out. That video now has over 1 million views! “Banger” hit over 3000 streams on both YouTube and Soundcloud within the first day. We hadn’t even told anybody about it, followers of HellthyJunkfood were just finding it.
Listen to ‘Banger’ by The Mariguanas
You’ve stated that ‘Banger’ was inspired by real-life events can you share what experiences sparked the song?
There’s the whole “city girl” and “hippy girl” dynamic where Nick is talking about two different girls that he’s interested in. The first verse relates to the hippy girl and the second to the city girl. It can also be found that they are both just different facets of the same person. Ultimately, the lyrics are metaphorical and as Nick would say, they were channeled through the Heart. We feel like people should interpret our lyrics in their own unique ways and find meanings that apply in different ways to their lives, but each song is inspired by real events and emotions.
In your commentary album, you state the song ‘Cloud’ was almost a pop song. Where did the song come from and why was it so important to include on the album?
“Cloud” came to us during one of our rehearsals. Derek started playing a riff and everyone else started playing and writing along. As the song was developing we could tell that it could go into two completely different directions. There was the version that was more crowd-pleasing and “safe” that everyone would enjoy- which was a version that someone would likely say reminds them of Maroon 5 or One Republic. But this version would also be lacking a certain spark of originality that we knew it deserved to have. We had to make this song ours so we started with a simple little melody which slowly unraveled itself into this haunting piece of music that we’re very proud of.
Listen to ‘Cloud’ by The Mariguanas
There are two sides to the song ‘Cloud,’ it starts very melodically then it ramps up. How was it like creating the song? How did the band decide on its direction?
Once we had the verse and chorus down there was a debate in the band: should we leave this as a 3-minute verse chorus verse chorus song, or should we take it somewhere else? When you’re writing a song with four other people you’re always listening to where the song should go next by telepathically communicating with your bandmates while playing. It’s this sort of beautiful connection that’s created between you and the people you’re playing with. It can’t really be described in words. What happened was that as we were playing the chorus for what we thought would be the last time Joey started to create a build up with the drums. Everyone then snapped to the same page and it just kind of came out even though we all didn’t intend for it to happen. There was this feeling as it was happening like, “this sounds really cool, I guess we have to do it now.” So it stuck.
What do you want listeners to take away from listening to your music?
Every time we play a show we want to leave the audience with such an experience that they’ll have to tell their friends about it. We want them to leave thinking that our songs were enjoyable, danceable, meaningful and reflective of who we are. Often our friends will come out to support us but they aren’t familiar with our music. After the show, they come up to us and say, “I was not expecting that. That show was actually so sick!” That’s the reaction we love. The “I can’t believe those kids from class just put on one of the best shows I’ve seen” reaction. We want to live our best lives and inspire those around us to do the same. Being able to let loose at a show and connect with the audience while we’re vibing out on stage is a great feeling.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
The corporations that run the world are poisoning us and the planet for profit. We’ll eventually have to go off grid and live in the tropics so we can connect back to nature and save the planet from the forces of evil. The Ruckus is the spark!
Watch The Mariguanas Perform ‘Cloud’ And More Live Below
[11:00] Banger at [11:00] and Cloud at [31:00]