Mary Axe
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Mary Axe

Campbell, California, United States | SELF

Campbell, California, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Rock

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"Mary Had a Little Axe by Cat Johnson"

San Jose’s Mary Axe is an indie rock/power pop outfit under the radar but on the rise. The threesome - comprised of Alex Pansoy on guitar and vocals, Dan Joesten on bass and vocals and Josh Joesten on drums - weaves a tight musical tapestry that’s able to withstand the overarching energy of a distortion-soaked, wave of noise without tearing, as easily as it can hold the delicate beauty of an intricate, slow number without falling apart. They’ve been playing together for years and their musical chemistry shows.

Citing a wide range of influences from the Cure and Guns ‘n’ Roses to Prince and Marvin Gaye, Mary Axe takes its inspiration from pop, rock, punk, metal and soul; all of which are apparent in their catchy hooks, driving guitar and drums, in-the-pocket basslines and heartfelt lyrics.

Not to be mistaken for an imitation pop band, Mary Axe takes their influences and tucks them into the quiet corners of their songs, turning up the volume, energy and pace and creating a noisy little creature of their own design. As one band member calls it on their MySpace page, “sounds like: the Smashing Pumpkins were beat up by Metallica.”

Mary Axe balances well-crafted melodies with capable vocal stylings, creative rhythm lines and tight drumming that keeps everything on track. Then they increase the punk and metal ratio and tear all pleasantries to shreds, leaving sensitivities and uneasy emotional states in the dust. Providing just enough of a musical hook to draw the audience into their lair, Mary Axe strips away the pop veneer to reveal the heavier, more distorted side of things, only to circle back around to familiar melodic territory; but not before a good thrashing.

Mary Axe plays a free show on Wednesday night at the Blank Club with The High Sea. - sanjose.com


"Hatchet Job"

AFTER YEARS OF promising their debut album, South Bay rockers Mary Axe are finally releasing Straight Outta Campbell. The trio, consisting of Alex Pansoy on guitar and vocals, Dan Joesten on bass and vocals, and his brother Josh on drums, even posed in a funny send-up of NWA's famous first album for the cover.

"I must admit, I was against the album cover at first," Josh says, "But after I saw the final photo, I thought it was great."

Mary Axe has been around since 2002 but had fans of their live shows banging their heads in frustration at the repeated postponement of the record. With its members finishing school and working regular jobs, the band finally decided it was now or never.

"I give the credit to Alex for basically lighting the fire under everyone's asses," Josh says. "If he had left it up to Dan and I to do it, we probably would've lagged a little bit longer."

The three band members have from different backgrounds, and all add something unique to their sound. Josh comes from a metal place but is also a huge Mudhoney fan. One of Dan's favorite bands is Guns N' Roses. Alex is heavily influenced by Smashing Pumpkins. They're also huge hip-hop fans. Their music reflects the mix. Sometimes it's melodic and soft; other times, loud and booming. The lyrics typically revolve around personal experiences.

"Lots of love songs. There's also a song about my dad." Alex says.

"And spirituality," Dan adds. "There's a song about me being an atheist. I really can't name a type of music I hate or don't listen to. It helps with songwriting because we can bounce ideas off one another."

Josh says one of the songs, "Pale Blue Eyes," refers to his aunt, who passed away about six years ago: "It's about the chaos and confusion and the remembrance of her in our lives. The things Dan and Alex sing about are simplistic but very heavy and deep."

They went to Compound Recordings in Ben Lomond to record, their first time in a professional studio. "All I have to say is: Don't ever pull an all-nighter and have to drum the next day," Josh jokes.

Alex says now Mary Axe's main focus is to shop the album around and play more shows. "We want to see how the album does first, and then possibly start thinking of a small tour, maybe for a weekend," he says.

Josh realizes Mary Axe is "one of a gazillion bands out there. The trick is how you stand out among that."

Dan says they're surprised to find themselves elder statesmen on the scene, as thirtysomethings sometimes playing with bands in their teens. "So, sometimes, our influences are lost on them. We've played at Nickel City before with these other teenage bands and here we are ..."

"Fogeys!" finishes Alex.

"It was very humbling," Josh admits. "Because we thought, 'Oh, the kids are going to love us!' But the biggest difference is when I was a teenager and first started going to shows, my friends and I watched all the bands, I mean, you stuck around for the whole show. But now, bands bring a group of people, then take that group of people away with them. It just feels like there's a loss of community. I don't know. Maybe I am getting old and cynical."

But Josh is starting to see a return to the sound of the '90s, which is perfect timing for them. "This is 20 years after the birth of grunge. That nostalgia is back. I do believe there is another wave coming," he says. "This is a chance for the album to start paddling. When you've been in music this long, you see that it's cyclical."

Most of all, Mary Axe thrives on the camaraderie between the three of them. They want their music to make a lasting impression on their audience. "Music is a perfect expression of who you are," Josh further explains. "As a band, you want to create memories for people."

MARY AXE

Saturday, Sept. 3

5th Quarter in San Jose, 9pm; free. - Metro Magazine - San Jose by Beau Dowling


Discography

Pillow Talk - EP 2009
Straight Outta Campbell - Full Length Album - 2011

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Bio

The seed of Mary Axe was planted in 2003 when lifelong friends Alex Pansoy and Daniel Joesten came together with the idea to create heartfelt songs representative of their personal experiences and philosophies, combined with a sound structure inclined towards the early alternative rock movement of the 90’s. That being said, its hard not to imagine what Mary Axe sounds like or might remind one of rather; a sonic wall of melodic guitars meshed with soft bass lines and thunderous, cymbal heavy percussion blending together to create a sound indicative of Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure and Dinosaur Jr. The first 7 years of the bands existence saw them playing the local South Bay circuit, hitting every venue that will have them all the while developing a live show that combines the raw intensity of emotions with musical delivery that has made many a head turn. It is no secret that Mary Axe takes pride in their live performance, making sure to give the audience an experience. In 2011, Mary Axe recorded and released their debut LP. Straight Outta Campbell with the intention of making their music known to a wider audience. With a record out and a live show fine tuned, Mary Axe is prepared to move out of Campbell and into your music collection.