Musicians Roy Stein and April Laragy have been rolling around the Rochester rock scene for years, making noise in several impactful bands. Stein was the drummer in the brooding new wave act New Math in the late 1970's and The Jet Black Berries in the early 1980's. Together Stein and Laragy played in the accordion and guitar force of danger The Raw Magillys, and in The Atomic Swindlers, a Bowie-esque, space cowboy affair. More recently, Stein produced and played in the epic, atmospheric, pop sensation My Plastic Sun.
Last year, The Raw Magillys staged a short lived comeback, and the fans went wild. "Our guitar player, Sue, came up from Florida," Stein says. "We were hoping she could stay around a little longer, but she couldn't."
Stein and Laragy were itching to play. "We still wanted to do stuff and keep playing together," Stein says." So we started fishing around for musicians."
But it wasn't with Craigslist, or by poaching players from other bands, or through flyers posted in music store doorways; all Stein needed to do was keep his ear to the ground at Nazareth College, where he is the director of the music business program. How advantageous ... you'd think.
Stein waxes ambivalent: "There's no advantage. There is no disadvantage," he says. "You just look for musicians that have a common interest. And obviously, you look for musicians that are good players."
One of the talented young players that came onto Stein's radar was 20-year-old bassist Aubrey Baldauf, who has a background in bluegrass and folk. She doesn't differentiate the styles she loves with the unique, loud rock mash-up she currently plays with nobody's marigold.
"It's not really a far stretch," Baldauf says. "They have the same foundation."
To Baldauf, the advantages to working with seasoned musicians like Stein and Laragy — ages have been withheld after Laragy threatened me with a knife — along with veteran guitarist Jeff Gilhart (of the band Backseat Sally) were apparent.
"There are a ton of advantages," she says. "They're all well-established, it's so easy to get the ball rolling. It's great to play with musicians that are so competent. I'm in another band that's all students, and I love it, but we don't do as much. We're not recording. We're not releasing singles. We're not playing out as much."
While nobody's marigold are in a studio instead of a classroom, Stein is still a teacher. But he tries to leave that aspect out.
"I turn it off," he says. "At least, I think I turn it off. It's my role to enable people to be what they want to be. We're band members, but we're friends first. I don't want to be in a band with people unless I want to hang with them. I'm too old for that — I don't need that."
So with a minimal backstory and discussion of the disparate ages of its members, it all comes down to the music of nobody's marigold. The band is rough-tracking songs now in the recording studio at Nazareth as the members hone their chops and the songs take shape.
The band's soon-to-be-released single, "Big Red Fire Truck," has the same wicked giddy-up that the Magillys blasted out with its glam-rock psychedelia, forging an accelerated, muscular Americana not unlike Jason and the Scorchers. Gilhart's guitar is an unrelenting kick in the balls. Laragy's dangerously dynamic vocal drama is shared with singer-saxophonist Ignatius Marino, whose voice is simply incredible in its lengthy range, tone, and haphazard rock 'n' roll phrasing. Stein does take a back seat until he mounts the drum throne, then it's all boss beats and hooks.
The band isn't necessarily captain-less: it's just that in Stein's experience, it's better to capitalize on the collective talent. He doesn't tell the younger contingency how or what to play.
"To me," he says, "these are really competent musicians. The thing I like about playing with younger musicians is the optimism. They're not cynical."