Music Interview: Marxists make millions on tour

“On the way to Sudbury there’s a place called Iam Hair Design with a very ’80s person on the sign,” explains Luke Nuclear, leader of the Million Dollar Marxists upon his arrival in the Northern Ontario town for the first show of their tour. Imagine a woman in very graphic black and white with splashes of dark mauve and electric pink on the storefront of a building standing alone in the middle of nowhere. “It’s one of the little things that we see every time we go by and still makes us laugh.”

“Whenever we’re in London, there’s a place I always go to for a gyro,” continues Nuclear, describing the little things making a tour a tour. Most people think a tour occurs when Nuclear and his four comrades take to the stage and go all out from city to city, but in truth it’s all in the details. Nuclear agrees, explaining how he learned to love the little things the hard way.

“There are a few things which will raise a show above the worst we’ve ever played,” he says. “Posters, microphones and somebody resembling a sound guy.”

Even when lacking those things it’s still not the worst to happen to the irony-loving punk band.

“Especially in the States, often you don’t play at a punk or rock bar and the people there are a little stunned and surprised when we come on,” Nuclear sagely notes. “It’s happened [where] we’re the only people there–and the bartender. On nights like those, thousands of miles from where you’re from, just blame the promoter.”

However, the band, who’s been lauded for some of the purest, angriest punk around, has never let badly organized shows or unenthusiastic audiences run them into a brick wall. The band takes every opportunity to hone their live chops, whether the crowd is willing or not.

“If you’re up there you might as well go all out,” encourages Nuclear.

Of course, the M$M usually face adoring fans and fawning critics. The hype, which has surrounded them since the release of Give it a Name last fall, followed them down to Austin, Texas for the 2005 South by South-West festival and to Europe for a recent six week tour.

“We didn’t realize how much there is and how intense it is,” Nuclear says of the SXSW experience. “It’s a pretty small town and it just gets taken over by music. We [also] never even thought we’d be able to play in Europe.”

From sparsely attended shows to packed music festivals, rural hair salons to European cities, the Million Dollar Marxists have learned more than just how to put on an exciting show. They intend to continue their studies throughout the rest of their North American tour and bring it right into the studio as they record their next album, full of the ever-important little things.

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