One of the most respected and engaging personalities from the now-legendary early Lower East Side punk scene, Nick Marden, born in Boston, spent an early childhood in NYC until his mother got tired of sweeping needles out of the sandbox in Thompkins Square Park. His folks split up and sent him to family in California. He grew up in the Monterey Peninsula, then farther out in Carmel Valley, which also included 8 months of cruising around Mexico with the Cali folks. He came up as a youngster in a vibrant artsy-hippie-musical household, with very successful family members involved in the both the music and fine arts scenes. His folksinger aunts, political activist and Grammy Inductee Joan Baez, and Mimi Farina, are both well known and beloved throughout the world. He was fortunate enough to have even attended the Monterey Pop Festival three times as a youngster! The first 2 were on the deck by the pool at Esalen in Big Sur, and the 3rd was the famous one at the Monterey Fairgrounds. At that one, his mother gave him a button and said to “wear this and you can go in and out anywhere during the show” – which may have led to Nick’s later well-known button creation and usage. He finally decided that the demolition derby sounds that distracted him enough to stop swinging on the swing set behind the arena, was The Who! His father, Brice Marden, is one of the most successful and acclaimed 20th Century post-modern artists, and was part of the early Max’s Kansas City culture-changing arts/literary/music and high society group who assembled frequently there in its original days, sometimes with young Nick in tow.
Nick learned about rock from listening to radio in the woods where he was raised and got around as a teen by riding a motorcycle – first AM 70’s: Beatles, Alice, Montrose, Kiss AC/DC, Stanley Clarke – then FM radio, when three stations began to play daily/nightly punk shows. After this exposure, coupled with visuals in a few music magazines like ‘Rock Scene’ and ‘Hit Parader’ – he knew then: the faster, the louder, the better! He did not attend the Sex Pistols at Winterland ‘cuz he felt they weren’t happy anymore and didn’t want to see that, but did see various other shows such as the Ramones, Derringer, Clash, Bo Diddley, John McLaughlin, the Tubes, the Dils and others …to learn about these bands and experience some of what they were representing.
Marden visited New York family on and off for years, then came to New York for a summer visit in 1978, then again for the summer of 1979 – and never left. He got to see an early Stimulators show at Irving Plaza, with maybe 100 in attendance including staff, bands, and no one at the door!! -- and met the band in person shortly thereafter. This would be a turning point in his musical life. He saw the Ramones at Hurrah’s, also saw Link Wray there too with the Dils. At this juncture, Marden started out hanging out and playing in bands and became a Stimulators fan and their roadie.
Nick took New York by storm with an incredible sense of personal style including at times the wearing of a kilt, one eye painted with a large design, an endless variety of very cool clothes, immensely good vibes, and most importantly – his very famous black leather “Loud Fast Rules!” jacket, which became the inspiration for the most popular and long lived song in his future band with Denise Mercedes and Harley Flanagan in The Stimulators. Nick wearing that iconic jacket was photographed by world acclaimed photographer Robert Maplethorpe and soon led to him being featured in Italian L'oumo Vogue and American Esquire magazines as a fashion trendsetter. Nick says he “never meant to take New York by storm -- just got lucky – being in a good place at a good time with good things going on” and “was influenced by everything I've ever seen and heard.”
Although Nick, Mercedes and Harley had seen and met the Bad Brains at their very first empty show at the Electric Circus and struck up an immediate and long lasting friendship, one of Nick’s finest memories of that time was seeing the Bad Brains second New York show at TR3, then having them and their friends from DC all come over to his loft on the Bowery. “They later thanked us and said they were pleasantly surprised the AC and I would put up 8 Black strangers, whereas being from DC –THAT didn’t happen.” The Bad Brains were the band that completely reconfigured what hard/fast music was once they exploded onto the New York scene. They remain the almighty heroes by those in the know – the band that many have copied for decades but never equaled!! Darryl Jenifer, Bad Brains bassist, later told Nick that some of his NYC street paintings started percolating when they were just sitting on the fire escape there ... not having fire escapes to sit on and think on in DC.
Excerpts from Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer interview with Anthony Begnal
Referencing Nick Marden, The Stimulators
6. What punk bands most influenced you? What are your favorite 5 punk bands?
the Contortions...the Dots..the Dead Boys...the Clash....the Damned...the Stimulators
8. What was the best HC/punk gig you ever saw? the Bad Brains and Stimulators at Tier 3 circa '80..
9. Who made the biggest/best impression and who made the worst impression on you? Nick Marden's first gig after I gave him a bass lesson,..I never knew you could suck so bad and sound so good ,,thanks nick,...the worst was Joey Ramone unplugging the Bad Brains at the Infest concert in Canada,,siting the Ramones would go back to NY if the band didn't stop..."now"!!...fuck you Joey
Nick Marden Professional Resume:
Bassist Nick Marden has had an illustrious and busy rock career, playing in numerous bands mainly of the punk/alternative genre since the late 70’s, including: Defectors-with San Francisco’s Mau Mau guitarist; Even Worse; Stimulators-with whom he played and appears on their live “Loud Fast Rules!” 1982 ROIR cassette and reissued vinyl album (2010) and also on the ROIR comp album “New York Thrash” (1982/2002) appearing with The Stimulators and Even Worse alongside friends and peers Bad Brains, False Prophets, Heart Attack, the Mad, Nihilistics, Undead and others. He also did backups on the Beastie Boys “Egg Raid” 45 from Jerry Williams (RIP) legendary home/recording studio/punk venue 171A. He worked with Blowtorch Boys-with DJ Ivan Ivan; Flash Cooney and The Deans of Discipline, whom CBGB’s owner Hilly Krystal liked and recorded in his club. They recorded one LP and three cassettes. He played a gig in Scab with Wench guitarist Meryl in addition to another band with her for two shows at CBGB's. Marden also performed a show in Jungle Book and worked with Porno Dracula; Letch Patrol and Bulldozer with Joe Truck. Playing in False Prophets brought a one-month European tour, including going to the island of Troms, Norway – the cultural capital of the Arctic! Syd and Lorelie, who were doing the False Prophets tours at the time, were very hooked into the squat and political aspects of the scene, so therefore for Nick played in lots of squats and youth halls as well as the regular clubs during the punk rock heyday.
One of Marden’s main bands was Suicide King NY, whose various members included New York underground elite -- with Bad Posture singer 4Way for a European tour, 3 shows in Tokyo, Japan, and touring twice across the U.S. They released two records and a 45. Other players in Suicide King included Chip from the Lunachicks and Goat from Murphy's Law and later Misfits, and Mighty Joe Rizzo on drums. He also played in Infantry with Randy Pratt on harp, and thoroughly enjoyed the mixed up midnight showings scene of the Rocky Horror movie.
In addition to playing in many bands, Marden also traveled for the better part of 10 years with Mercedes as Tour Manager in her tribute band Girls Girls Girls, going to Mexico, Alaska, Vegas and many other cities in the U.S. He has also traveled cross-country a few times working for the Grateful Dead.
Current Musical Activities:
Marden performs occasionally in the band Dog Faced Boys. He is also the bassist/co-songwriter with longtime music associate and former Stimulators band mate Denise Mercedes in the Dae Lilies, a brand new recording/release project which includes guest artist legendary vocalist LaLa Brooks of 60s super girl group The Crystals, drummers Mighty Joe Rizzo, and Tawny Lee of Girls Girls Girls, along with future TBD announced guest artists. Nick has been collaborating with Mercedes on the new material for the Dae Lilies project and they look forward to working as a music writing team again and releasing their songs.