Heels & Picks: Motivation is key

Apr. 8, 2014 | 1 Comment


BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser

I’m thinking of becoming a motivational speaker.

It’s true. I’m going into motivational speaking for ONE reason, though — to motivate rock fans in Hawaii to go to more shows.

I’ll walk into every Starbucks, one by one. While I’m at it, I should probably hit up Banana Republic, H&M, Whole Foods and any other locale where I might find people who grew up listening to Weezer, Nirvana and Beck. I’ll be wearing a Madonna-style headset microphone, as all good motivational speakers do, but I’ll be sure to wear a leather jacket to help make my points clear.

Local hip-hop artist and radio personality Tantra. (Courtesy Kirk Shorte)

Local hip-hop artist and radio personality Tantra. (Courtesy Kirk Shorte)

I will get people excited. I will tell them they are missing out on great rock concerts from local bands and that the scene needs THEM to finish their coffee, try on those items they pulled from the clothing rack and then go buy some rock show tickets!

I think it’s one path our small — but dedicated and resourceful — rock community hasn’t tried. The scene has its champions, to be sure: Star 101.9’s Kevin Jones and Tantra, right; BAMP Project; and promoter Brandon Apeles, to name a few.

But in a market where it can seem like you need a reggae song to get consistent radio airplay, it can be difficult for local rock voices to be heard.

One of the reasons why I would go through all that motivational speaker training is because rock fans are missing out. There are great shows happening, and people are missing these moments.

Let’s be honest. Music is nothing if not a culmination of moments, and I want rock fans to be there when the bliss of a great musical moment hits, rather than sipping on a $3 Mai Tai at some bar in the middle of Waikiki. Actually, make that a $15 Mai Tai.

So, if I may be so bold as to ask for your participation, let me try my motivational speaking out on you now.

What are you doing this Friday night? Really? You’re going to see “Divergent” for the third time? Is it really that good? It seems like a “Hunger Games” rip-off, to me.

Anyways, what if I were to tell you there is a rock show happening at Crossroads at Hawaiian Brian’s with FOUR bands on the bill?!? Busekrus, Mano Kane, Friendly Fyre and Pimpbot will perform, and with those four acts you’re getting ska, White Stripes meets the Beatles style rock, solid radio rock pop and a FREE CD from Busekrus for the $5 it will cost to get in the door?

You’d call your friends and change your plan, wouldn’t you? Good call.

Great rock music all night, and then you’ll have new bands to go check out on the regular. You get the idea. Sounds like a fantastic evening, right? See you there.

Busekrus will celebrate the release of a new album with a release party at Crossroads at Hawaiian Brian's on Friday. (Courtesy photo)

Busekrus will celebrate the release of a new album with a release party at Crossroads at Hawaiian Brian’s on Friday. (Courtesy photo)

IF THAT didn’t motivate you to go to Crossroads this Friday, perhaps Marcus Busekrus will.

Busekrus (pronounced “BOO-ZY-CRUISE”) is the lead singer of local rock band of the same name. He checked in last week to talk about the making of his band’s new album, why top hats are cool, 14-foot yarn mermaids and local rock.

ERIN SMITH: Your new album is called “Boombox Starship”. How did you come up with that title and what does it mean to the band?

MARCUS BUSEKRUS: We called our last full-length album “Welkin,” which means the “expanse of the sky.” The overall theme of that album was that the sky is the limit when it comes to possibilities in life. This new album represents the next step in our journey: the universe is our audience and “Boombox Starship” will bring our music to the farthest reaches of space.

Honestly, it was one of those album title suggestions that just came up as a joke, but then we ended up falling in love with it. We like the themes of reaching for unreachable dreams and chasing after passions. We don’t know if this band will ever make it big, so to speak, but we’ve made it a point never to write songs with a record executive as our target audience. We write the music we love and we’ll take it wherever people will appreciate it – the universe is the limit!

ES: Did you and your bandmates fight over the title, like every other band in the history of bands?

MB: Not really; we’ve always been a very functional and harmonious democracy when it comes to making decisions, and we’re all open-minded when it comes to ideas and suggestions. We’re all very close friends too, and we do our best never to become personally attached to any one concept.

We had already spent a few months trying to come up with a title, but there was none that everybody loved. I think the litmus test for us in choosing the best album title is whether we all laugh out loud whenever we think about it. We all laughed pretty hard when someone suggested “Boombox Starship” as a title. That was pretty much the clincher, and we voted it in on the spot.

ES: Your CD release party includes performances by Pimpbot, Mano Kane and Friendly Fyre. That’s one hell of a rock lineup. How long have you known the other bands?

MB: Friendly Fyre is made up of former members of Missing Dave plus guitar virtuoso Jamm Aquino from The Crud/Lovechile/VEJJ. They gave us our very first bar gigs back when we were just a baby band.

Missing Dave and Pimpbot pretty much took us under their wings and showed us the ropes, introducing us to new fans and new venues. They are our oldest and closest friends in the local rock scene.

We met Mano Kane when they started performing and hit it off instantly. Chris Chorney, Mano Kane’s lead vocalist, performed cello on two of the songs on “Boombox Starship.”

Busekrus. (Courtesy photo)

Busekrus. (Courtesy photo)

ES: I understand the album art is a piece by artist Hannah Busekrus. Can you tell us about it?

MB: Hannah is Marcus’ (lead vox/guitar) sister-in-law and is married to Busekrus’ former bass player, LJ. She is one of the most talented and versatile artists we’ve ever met. She has created and designed the artwork for all four of Busekrus’ albums, each time out-doing herself from the last project. This new album is no exception. We are so lucky to have her in our corner, and we were stoked to take advantage of her amazing knitting talents.

The artwork represents over 1,000 hours of hand-knitted yarn-creations, carefully arranged in a diorama, and meticulously photographed. You may remember Hannah’s 14-foot tall “Daughters of Triton” yarned mermaids from this February’s PopWow! event at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, or her Monster Meters yarn bombs of parking meters in Honolulu. She is a goldmine when it comes to creativity and talent.

ES: Your band worked on this album for two years, and you mentioned taking everyone’s ideas into consideration. What was that dynamic like?

MB: We have a standing rule to always try out every single idea that’s been suggested. Even if three out of four band members are unsure about it, we’ll still give it a try.

I think we’ve all learned to respect and appreciate the value of everyone’s contributions, and we’re not afraid to let go of something that we’re attached to or to admit when we’re wrong. By the end of the project, just about every aspect of the album was a unanimous decision. I think we’re just lucky in that we’re all reasonable people and we’ve learned to be open minded about creative or risky ideas.

ES: You can always be found onstage wearing your signature top hat. What’s the image and style your band goes for? Is it something you pay attention to, or are you jeans and T-shirt guys?

MB: A good friend of mine in another local rock band told me that when you walk into a venue and people see you, they should know immediately by the way you look that you’re in a band. I think we took that advice to heart and searched ourselves to find our rock-n-roll alter-egos. My alter-ego apparently likes to wear a dark grey woven fedora.

We make sure our look is authentic, in that we don’t go out and reinvent ourselves or wear things we’d never wear off stage. We’re T-shirt and jeans guys at heart, but we understand the value of looking like you’re in a band when you’re on stage. It makes the audience feel like we’re making an effort to give them a real rock experience.

Busekrus at Downbeat Diner in Chinatown. (Courtesy photo)

Busekrus at Downbeat Diner in Chinatown. (Courtesy photo)

ES: The rock music scene in Hawaii can be challenging. It’s not a dominant genre, but the community itself is very supportive. How would you convince someone from outside the scene to come check out Friday’s show?

MB: The best reason to come to this show is because there will be some great people there: no egos, and tons of personality. Oh, and the music is great too.

Honestly, the bands we’re playing with are our good friends. We didn’t invite them to share the stage with us so they could bring their fans. We feel honored by their consistent friendship and musicianship and we wanted to show our appreciation.

If you’re interested in a great musical experience, if you want to make some new friends, and if you want to laugh until your gut hurts, this is the place to be this Friday.

Oh yeah, and did I forget to mention that the $5 cover gets you a FREE COPY OF THE NEW CD?!? What a deal!

ES: Is there a song on this album that is THE single? The song that resonates the most?

MB: When one of the local rock radio stations asked which song we’d like them to feature on the radio, each one of us suggested a different song. It was a tough call because there are so many great songs on this record. Hands down, this is unanimously our favorite album yet.

I think the song from this record that we all enjoy playing the most is “I Know a Girl,” available on our Facebook page.

ES: Let’s talk Kailua. I recently moved there a year and a half ago from Maui. You and the band grew up in Kailua. What are some of the gems here now, and what did I miss out on from back in the day?

MB: Back in the day? Maunawili Falls. That place used to be a total secret. It kinda blew up over the last 10 years. I mean, I’m glad that more people get to enjoy that hike, but I miss going there with my friends and having the whole place to ourselves. If I discover another hidden waterfall I’m not gonna tell anybody about it.

Nowadays, there are some great new places to eat. Kailua has become a sort of a foodie destination. And don’t forget to hit up the beach, of course.
Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

  • ElizabethKieszkowski

    Album-release party Friday, and the CD is included? Good deal! I’m starting to get hooked on some of these songs.