Marty E. relishes returning to his old childhood stomping grounds in the Upper Midwest.
The Bessemer, Michigan garage-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist-drummer recently relocated to the western Upper Peninsula near Ironwood after living in New York City for more than 20 years.
“Everybody asks me, ‘Why did you move from New York City to goddamn Ironwood?’ The reason is I grew up in northern Minnesota, and my parents and grandparents all grew up in this area, like Ironwood, Michigan and the Hurley, Wisconsin area,” said Marty E., who’s also known as Marty Erspamer and hails from Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
“My great-grandfather had emigrated from Tyrol in Austria, and he went to Cleveland, but had heard the mining business was booming up here. Along with his brother and his cousin, he jumped a train, hitchhiked and somehow got here. The three of them started building houses up here, so I have deep roots here.”
Those deep, familial roots inspired some of the raw, honest tracks on Marty E.’s debut solo EP, Benevolent Criminal, which is now available on vinyl. The six-track EP features a seamless blend of gritty, lo-fi alt-rock, punk-rock and garage-rock instrumentation fused with introspective lyrics about change, loss and renewal.
“When I was singing, Jaime [Hansen] and Keith [Killoren] both really helped pull workable performances out of me and [taught me] how to think about it and how not to freak yourself out and have a whiskey or have a beer,” said Marty E., who’s inspired by The Replacements, the New York Dolls and The Velvet Underground.
“You want it to come out how you hear it in your head. Hindsight is always 20/20 when you’re recording, and you’re like, ‘I could have done this better, and I could have done that better.’ What it is … is a snapshot of the time, and I’m just really happy that I was able to come up with a recording that what you hear reflects what was here.”
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