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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Meet Mariner and its Alter-Ego, Semen Allergy

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 9:00 AM

  • Photo by John Warren Olds

"I didn't really put Mariner and semen together like seaman," says Cody Perkins, the latest addition to post-hardcore outfit Mariner. Last summer he joined an already tight-knit group of friends, all with their own in-jokes. But Perkins fit right in because he shared a strong passion for community in the music scene, which might be the most important part of the band.

Perkins refers to Mariner's recent outing as Semen Allergy, an alter-ego made to blow off steam, but to also explore ideas that don't quite fit the band's aesthetic direction. Among those ideas was a flyer -- a short essay to challenge others who don't do their part to help sustain local music. In the days following Semen Allergy's first (and only) show, a picture of the printout made social media rounds.

click to enlarge The Semen Allergy "manifesto." - PHOTO BY STEPHEN HOULDSWORTH
  • Photo by Stephen Houldsworth
  • The Semen Allergy "manifesto."

"We just printed our thoughts and put them on a table," says bassist Jeremy C. Brooks. Those thoughts were meant to be a side-note -- not the centerpiece -- of Semen Allergy, expressing the band's collective frustrations. Copies of the manifesto were left on a merch table, making for a passive statement for those who wanted to read it.

"Mariner is not about going to shows, telling people how to act," Brooks adds. Mariner also isn't about cover songs, but its alter-ego performed a full set of old favorites -- essentially the band's DNA showed live through its own musical influences.

Semen Allergy is just the latest footnote for Mariner, who has worked tirelessly to tweak its own take on post-hardcore, a genre known for haughty punk ballads and raw drama. Mariner tends to bare its teeth only when necessary, leaving behind songs that seem simple to the naked ear. Melodies are front and center with a dense backline that pays careful attention not to overtake the sound.

Singer/guitarist Jake Lashley started the band in 2012 with then-drummer Aaron Kuhn. The two best friends built Mariner from Lashley's own personal grief; a way to cope with his recent divorce. Early songs shared common themes with The Myth of Icarus - the story from Greek mythology where a young boy soars too close to the sun, melting his own wings made from wax and feathers.

"Now we draw from so much stuff, we have to focus to make the sound a combination of everything. We're just trying to push ourselves musically at this point," Lashley says. Since its inception, Mariner has morphed from a power-trio into a quartet. Its most recent change saw Kuhn move from the drums to second guitar, paving the way for Perkins to join.

The current lineup hasn't yet recorded, but songs have been written with several releases planned for the future. Perhaps the reason for the band's reluctance to release new music comes from a strong self-awareness and workman-like attitude on refinement.

"Everyone should constantly re-examine themselves," Brooks says, going back the band's printed essay. "It's a challenge to ourselves as much as everyone else. Progress is missed because a lot of people can't take criticism. I want us to be front-facing," he adds.

click to enlarge RFTMA2015_MarinerPressPhoto_ProvidedByBand.jpg

Mariner takes a D.I.Y. approach, careful to reflect on ethics while working to perform alongside acts like Anodes, Heavy Horse and Laika. But for this band, playing is only one part of being in the music community.

"Just going out and supporting someone you like -- that's the important thing. If you play 2 shows in a month, go out and see at least 2 shows. You're bound to hear something you like, or something you've at least never seen," Brooks says, trying to catch his breath. His bandmates face the ground, nodding in agreement like this is a conversation they've had many times before. He continues:

"I don't want people to forget what they can give back to the community."

Follow through for a full transcription of the Semen Allergy essay from its show on May 18.

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