The GC Series: Marlon Chaplin’s Music Moment

MarlonChaplinPhotoShoot2013-093Forging his musical roots in Toronto as a co-writer/founding member of acclaimed rock ‘n’ roll group Broken Bricks, Marlon Chaplin has and continues to write, produce and perform with unstoppable and unflappable vigor. Among his many collaborations and projects, he is a member of street folk troubadours Freeman Dre & the Kitchen Party as well as the rustic powerhouse that is Ada Dahli & the Pallbearers. Look for his debut solo EP to be released later this summer.

Below is Marlon’s unforgettable music moment:

“That night they left an indelible mark on me, not only as a musician, but as a performer. On June 13th, 2009 The Dead Weather reinforced the idea that a time honored tradition as simple as amplified instrumentation, cut-the-fat song-writing, and miles of charisma – packed into a small, dark bar – could transcend physical confines and carry out what Bob Dylan once said was the only thing an artist could ever hope to achieve: Inspire.

At the time, I’d been gearing up to release my first album with Broken Bricks, a band I’d formed with Luke Kuplowsky, now of LUKA, that we’d come to spend seven years honing. Recorded entirely in an east end Toronto basement on a Tascam 8-Track, Pasquale embodied the spirit of that summer. The experience was hot and sweaty (the air conditioner was erratic), and the results were raw and sometimes sonically stark, but ultimately strong. The Dead Weather at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern fit that trajectory quite well.

The morning of the show, Luke sent me a simple text from one shitty, cracked flip phone to another informing me that Allison Mosshart, Dean Fertita, Jack Lawrence and Jack White would be rolling into town with almost zero promotion to grace, arguably our city’s most historically ensconced club stage. I showed up around midday. When I got there, Alex Pulec of the Nursery (of the Ruby Spirit then) was the only soul milling about for the same reason I was. It seemed a bit surreal. Jack White has for years to me, embodied so much of what turned me on to music, and specifically rock ‘n’ roll in the first place. The inaccessibility, the mystery, beautiful mistakes, exposed nerves, truth, lies, soft and hard; the irresistible contradictions that kept me transfixed like a moth to a flickering flame. This semi-human was gracing Queen St. and Spadina Ave., and there wasn’t a line to Lush ten hours before the gig? I marveled naively, but strolled up to a lively employee and obtained the necessary accoutrement needed to gain entry. Admission was cheap.

Jack and Allison of The Dead Weather

Jack and Allison of The Dead Weather

Eventually, before doors opened there did, of course form a line that stretched eastbound for what seemed like days. I made it in and by the time the band strolled on stage and began the foreboding rumblings of “60 Feet Tall”, it was like a woolly mammoth had just casually walked into my living room, and dared me to argue otherwise. It was a fucking intense show from beginning to end. Animalistic, but well rehearsed. That perfect marriage of dirty, sexy slop and laser beam precision, in full effect. When Jack and Allison spat vengefully “Just because you caught me/Does that make it a sin?” during the bone rattling climax of “Will There Be Enough Water?”, the place stood still. At this point, they’d only had their first album Horehound out, so the set wasn’t long. But in that short window, they did what few artists of that commercial stature do; come together to bring it all back home. Back to where it started, and we appreciated it. At least I did.

I had a sweet chat with Allison by the bar as the crowd began to thin out and we talked about the tour a bit. I was struck by how humble and almost introverted she was compared to the person she’d just became on-stage minutes prior. After explaining a bit of their itinerary to me, I admired their hard work ethic, the importance of putting on a show (the aesthetic, the visual, the way you carry yourself when your foot hits the raised wood), and they were cool enough to bring it all to the Horseshoe for one night. To use that word again, it was inspiring. As performers we feed off one another, influence each other. It’s like a little support group if you have the right perspective; if you want to treat it that way.”

To connect with Marlon Chaplin online, visit him on:


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Naked Underground Toronto’s Guest Contributor Series invites members of Toronto’s diverse music scene to contribute personal music-related stories – straight from the source!

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