by Christopher Mulally
Stupid lyrics. Predictable song structures. A vocalist that sounds like Jack White, Robert Plant or Axle Rose. An obscure band name. Tight pants and t-shirts. For decades, the formula has worked just seamlessly. Hundreds and thousands of thoughtless musicians have toured the world, sold millions of records and had great missionary sex with fans by submitting their souls to the cookie-cutter music business machine.
Case number 192654 is Mardo, a three-person glam rock outfit from a small farming town in Southern California. They are two brothers with tight clothes, thick guitar riffs and lyrics about chasing women. Robbie Mardo is the guitarist and drummer and Aron sings and plays guitar. They hire a man named Rob Small to do most of the guitar chores on tour.
Don’t get me wrong—their self-titled 2004 album on Restitution Records has plenty of catchy shit that will rev you up for your Friday night or a big break-up fight. There are some really, really good seconds to the album. Songs like “Anyone But Me” or “Catchin’ a Thief” rock, and would sound great screaming through the speakers at the Sunset or the Crocodile in Seattle, but it’s not stuff that is worth buying.
After years of talking to reporters and turning down record deals because they want to do it their way, produce their own records and write their own sound, Mardo does what they likely fear the most—something that has already been done.
There are bands that change the world. They are the ones you put on your ipod and listen to when no one else is around. The ones that make you feel like an alcoholic, drinking alone in your room, while the rest of the world is sleeping. There are others that are perfect for a one-night stand, a quick glance in the window…like Mardo.
Regardless, there are noble aspects to their story. They sold 30,000 albums without any major-label support or distribution. They have embarked on endless tours to gain exposure, and have played shows to packed houses since they were teenagers. The brothers were former band leaders of the Fresno-area “Spies,” and one of their songs was picked up for a major motion picture soundtrack. They have performed everywhere in America, from garages to a 10,000-seat amphitheater in their hometown. For more information on the band, check out www.mardomusic.com. Rock on!