The Connection singer-songwriter Brad Marino, who took the band’s name from an old Rolling Stones' song, is about as big a fan of the Stones as you’ll find.
“I think from the time you can read or listen to music, you grow up with the Stones,” says Marino, who brings the Connection to town to play Brothers Lounge on Friday as a warm up for an appearance at the Rock Hall’s Spring Benefit at Public Hall on Saturday. “No matter how old you are, you know ‘Satisfaction’ or ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want.’ I started getting into the Stones when I was 21 or 22. That was when I started transitioning from the Ramones to the bands that influenced the Ramones. Five or six years ago, I got [the Stones’ album] Aftermath, and it was at a time of my life when I could relate to the lyrics. They were more of a relatable band then too. They weren’t millionaires. I always had a connection to them and kind of still am. I started getting into their albums rather than the singles.”
When Marino met fellow singer and songwriter Geoff Palmer in 2011, they immediately hit it off and started up the Connection. The band’s first album, New England’s Greatest Hit Makers paid homage to the Stones and attempted to replicate the band’s approach on its early albums. The follow-up album, 2012’s Seven Nights to Rock caught the attention of the E Street Band’s Steven van Zandt, who designated the title track as the “coolest song in the world” and regularly played it on his radio show Little Steven’s Underground Garage.
“We have a good relationship,” Marino says of the band’s connection to van Zandt, who has also championed their latest album, last year’s Let it Rock!. “He plays us so much that I hope they don’t think we’re paying them off.”
While that exposure hasn’t meant huge record sales, Marino is happy that the band’s popularity is slowly building. And the band has gotten pretty big in Spain too.
“For those couple of times you’re there, you really get the rock star treatment,” he says of the band’s trips to Spain. “You play a show in Boston or New York and there might be three or four people who know you and like you. The rest are just girlfriends and friends. They might like it but they don’t really care. In Spain, they know who’s who in the band. They’re totally into it. We get 100 to 200 people a night which doesn’t sound like a lot. But if we play Boston on a weeknight, there might be 40 people. And there might be three people who care.”
In the end, however, Marino says his love of rock n' roll is what keeps him going.
"For me, anyways, I like anything that is rock 'n' roll, anything that I feel represents what I look for in music," he says. "I like Motorhead and then put on the Beatles first album. Real punk rockers know where it was coming from. The Ramones weren’t trying to start punk rock. They were just a rock 'n' roll band. They just couldn’t play their instruments like their idols could. They stripped it down to its most natural form. Lots of punks don’t get the Ramones. But I think a lot of '60s garage is more punk than a lot of the punk I hear nowadays."