The Marshall Pass is based out of Worcester, a small city in central Massachusetts. Written and performed solely in a home studio, their albumPhantom Train is packed full of authenticity and realism. A seven song tribute to the passing of fellow band member Scott Ricciuti, and a very worthy tribute it is.
Modern-folk with plenty of Appalachian and Western sounds to send you back in time. Song after song Phantom Train blasts through an Americana landscape flooded with emotions of loss, and heartache. Even with such powerful imagery the album employs, it’s hard to believe these songs have never been played live.
Q&A: What’s the story behind Phantom Train?
I was writing instrumental songs to contribute to Scott Ricciuti. We had a band called Pistol Whipped I played drums in. The songs that would become Abilene and Stranded In Perdition were instrumentals that I gave to Scott to do with what he wanted. In April of 2012 Scott died in a car accident. This was devastating to me and many others, including Craig Rawding. Craig was at my house shortly after and I played him these instrumentals. He asked if he could take them and came back shortly after with the lyrics and melodies. From that point on we started using this method of songwriting and wrote the rest of the album this same way. I would write the music and when it was nearly done, I would send it to Craig. It was a way for us to grieve and pay our respect to Scott.
How long did it take you and Craig to put this album together?
Duncan: Throughout the summer and fall of 2012 we wrote and recorded these songs in my home studio. We live a few miles apart and would get together for a few hours here and there with no clear goal beyond making the music. It was good therapy. After we had about five songs, we started talking about releasing it and giving it a name. Around this time I was reading some American Folklore and came across the story of the Phantom Train of Marshall Pass. I shared this story with Craig and we felt the name suited the music.
Any plans on performing Phantom Train live?
We just booked our first performance in our hometown at the Worcester Art Museum on November 10. We’re having Jon Short and Jeff Burch play with us to round out the sound. Jon, Jeff and I play in a band called Big Eyed Rabbit and Jeff was the bassist in Pistol Whipped.
Every song on the album is great, but what songs really stand out to you and why?
Thank you. I wrote these songs without melodies or lyrics in mind and because of that I am always fascinated with how they were transformed by Craig’s vocals. When he came to sing Blue And Gray the first time, I never imagined it sounding that way. Now I can’t imagine it any other way, but I remember feeling incredibly fortunate to be working with him. I feel that way still.
Anything planned for the future?
Craig and I are in a band called The Curtis Mayflower who are releasing their first two albums in early 2014 so we will be busy with that. I have a handful of demos that we are working with, and plan on recording and releasing a new The Marshall Pass album in 2014.