Known for his role as guitarist in the indie rock act the War on Drugs and as the drummer in St. Vincent and Dean & Britta, multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Anthony LaMarca moved back to Youngstown, where he grew up, two years ago.
Since moving back, he’s really embraced his roots. He’s just finished recording his new album, Petra
, at Peppermint Recording Studios
, the vintage recording studio where polka superstar Frank Yankovic has recorded.
"Everyone knows about this place if you're from here, but I have never recorded here," he says from the studio during an interview for Scene
's most recent People Issue. "I booked a couple of days here to see how it went. I didn't know what to expect, but it was pretty clear pretty quick that it was a good fit."
With his band the Building, LaMarca launches a tour
in support of Petra
with a performance that takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Westside Bowl
in Youngstown, a place where he often DJs (and exclusively plays Youngstown rock and polka music).
While recording his first album, Reconciliation
, at Peppermint in 2015, he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. He received treatment, and it went into remission, but the condition then flared up again during the recording of Petra
. Many of Petra
’s songs address the issues of dealing with illness. He often tracked songs with an IV drip still in his arm.
Not all the songs are about coping with his illness. The tender "Life Half Lived" is about two female friends struggling with difficult relationships.
“One of them just finalized her divorce," he says. "It's about them trying to find their way through these things. In the song, I'm writing about how I hope they can move on.”
He also says DJing at the Westside Bowl has been great fun.
"Some of my friends and I have been obsessively collecting records that were recorded here in Youngstown in the '60s, '70s and '80s," he says. "We just thought it would be fun to hang out a night and play them and make our friends listen to them. It's been cool because every time we do it, the most common response is that they didn't know how much music has come out of here. We've been playing four hours of mind-blowing psych and garage music and they can't believe everything was recorded in Youngstown. Yes, there's a deep history here. That's why recording here is such a cool thing to me. When I'm singing into the microphone, it's the same microphone that was used on an old Hungarian record that I love."
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