There’s something timeless about The Marrieds music. By timeless I mean, when you throw on the duo’s latest – Fire in the Flame (their third full-length) you wouldn’t be far off the mark to wonder if you’re listening to an old Shawn Colvin or Mary Chapin Carpenter record. But it could also be a new First Aid Kit or The Head and the Heart release.
The Marrieds, Jane Carmichael and Kevin Kennedy from London, Ontario mostly straddle the folk-country line, and the fine art of the hook isn’t lost in the process. Take the banjo out of Burning Heart, add a little drum machine and you have a dance hit. Rough up A Girl Said Yes a little and you have a classic sounding power pop anthem.
But when they slow down, man, they can break your heart! Après Vous has a Springsteen Nebraska-period sound to it, and Fingers Crossed, and June are, well just flat-out gorgeous.
Like another Canadian married duo – Whitehorse, The Marrieds work well together, and while Whitehorse draw from southern Gothic themes, to me The Marrieds sound distinctly Canadian. That’s a good thing because I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the traces of Canadian country legends Cowboy Junkies and Blue Rodeo gold buried here.
They’re also forever linked to Jane’s Addiction guitarist – Dave Navarro, but I’ll let Jane tell that story.
Jane Carmichael (vocals, ukulele, acoustic guitar, glockenspiel, accordion, kazoo, harmonica) and Kevin Kennedy (vocals, guitars, bass, percussion).
How did you become The Marrieds and what’s the story behind the name?
We’ve been together as a couple for 15 years, married for 7, and it took 10 years before we could play music together without arguing. Before The Marrieds, Kevin played (and still plays) with Neverending White Lights and The Dyadics and I had a solo project. 6 years ago, we met a musician named Billy The Kid (a.k.a. Billy Pettinger) who asked Kevin and I to be her backing band for a string of dates in Ontario, so it was Kevin on acoustic guitar/lap steel and myself on keyboard/ukulele/backing vocals. When she introduced us on stage each night she always called us “the married couple” or “the marrieds.” A couple months later in December 2010, we were snowed in our home in London, ON during what is now known as “Snowmageddon.” With not much to do other than shovel, we ended up writing a snow song each day and posted them on YouTube for our friends and colleagues. When we needed to choose a name for our You Tube posts, we quickly remembered Billy affectionately calling us “The Marrieds” and we went with it. Little did we know, the songs that we sang into our laptop would be shared all across Canada and picked up by CBC Radio only 24 hours later. Our 2nd snow day song was aired on CBC Radio as the Song of the Day and we had our first radio interview together just 48 hours later.
Tell us about your hometown scene…
We have so many great artists in London, ON that we are constantly inspired by their work. We also have multiple music festivals, many of which are free, and you can always find music happening in Victoria Park every weekend during the summer. Our town recognizes its artists every year through a free awards show called The Jack Richardson London Music Awards.
Tell us about what it means to be musicians in Canada these days.
We love touring in Canada and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. We are very lucky to live in Southern Ontario where there are so many opportunities to play. We have toured to the East and West Coast by car and by train and feel very fortunate that music has allowed us to see our beautiful country.
How does your songwriting process work?
Sometimes we write together, but mostly I write. I usually hear a melody in my head first that just needs to get out and I will create lyrics to go with it. I tend to write songs quickly and usually finish them the same day. People also ask us to write songs for them so they give me all of the information and from that, I create lyrics and a melody and the same time. Kevin is really great with arrangements and coming up with parts so once I have written the song, he gives his input.
What influences you lyrically?
Stories about people. I love to be able to take someone’s story and turn it into a song. Almost all of our songs are based on real-life stories.
Ok, one last time, tell us the Dave Navarro story.
Kevin’s White Signature Dave Navarro Yamaha acoustic guitar (one that was given to him when he was sponsored by Yamaha) was stolen at one of our shows in London. We, along with our friends, tweeted about it and Dave Navarro responded to one of the tweets in a private message, asking us to tell him more. He said he couldn’t replace the guitar (it had been discontinued), but he might be able to do something else for Kevin. A few days later, a beautiful black Signature Dave Navarro Epiphone arrived in the mail. We were completely overwhelmed by his generosity and responded by sending him a Thank You song, to which his response was, “You guys are the cutest!” We have tickets to see Jane’s Addiction this summer and we hope to be able to thank him in person.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be….
Kevin would definitely travel back to 1969 to go to Woodstock or 1967 to be part of the summer of love. Ideally, it would be great to start in 1967 and witness everything that happened with bands like Cream, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and continue into the 70s.
What tunes are currently on heavy rotation for you.
I’m a CBC Radio 2 fan so that is what I am usually listening to. This past week I have been listening to new local releases from friends, Brent Jones, and Deni Gauthier. For Kevin, he likes to drive with the windows down and listen to loud music. Right now it’s Monster Truck.
If you could tour with any band/artist right now who would that be and why?
If Tom Petty was touring, definitely him. First Aid Kit is another choice since our music would complement theirs well and it would be amazing to hear them play live every night.
If you could only bring ONE record in the tour van/bus/plane what would it be?
This is an easy one – Tom Petty’s Wildflowers. It’s a record that both Kevin and I absolutely love and since we both have very different tastes in music (weird, I know when we play in a band together), we don’t always agree on what to listen to in the car. Wildflowers is our go-to summertime driving record and it’s great because it has 15 tracks!
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you…
You can find Kevin in the garden. He loves his vegetable garden and constantly tends to it. Other than that, you can find us spending time with family in Brampton, Wasaga Beach and Sault Ste. Marie.
What’s up for the rest of 2016?
We are heading out to Eastern Canada again to do a mini tour this summer. It’s one of our favourite areas to tour. We’ll continue to do Ontario shows in the fall.