Styrenes, The
Styrenes, The
Label: Scat Records
Genre: Rock
Online: Artist Website


Leader Paul Marotta began Styrenes in Cleveland in 1974, and released a series of singles that David Fricke accurately described as "post-punk before punk happened." The group’s early recordings, including their first lp Girl Crazy, have been reissued on the Homestead and Scat record labels. Between 1980 and the present the group (in ever evolving incarnations) has continued to make compelling recordings whenever the opportunity has presented itself. These range from the very abstract (Paul’s avant solo piano lp Agit-Prop Piano) to the essential A Monster and the Devil, which marked Mike Hudson’s debut in the group.

Naturally, Styrenes in 1998 are not at all the same band as twenty-four years ago, let alone ten years ago. Regarding the group’s new lp, We Care, So You Don’t Have To, Marotta says, "The new record is more linear than the last one - there isn’t any free improvisation. This is a tight rock and roll album." Regarding the title he states, "It can be taken in a few different ways. It reflects the conflict that’s always existed in the band between thinking and not thinking; between our abstract impulses and a straighter rock approach. It also concerns the role of the artist in society. Artists provoke. Artists talk about the things that people might otherwise avoid. Art is inherently political, though it need not advocate. All societies need artists and I take my role as an artist seriously. The challenge is to find a way, within a rock and roll context to talk about, for example, the guy on the brink of suicide. Trying to distill the essence of a human breakdown into a two-chord 4/4 framework is the sort of thing that inspires me." Besides writing music, Paul also operates the Jilmar Music publishing company with his wife Jill Magnuson and has been managing director of New World Records for the past eight years. New World is a non-profit record label that releases music in a variety of genres including 20th Century Classical, jazz and improvised music, and indigenous folk musics.

Bassist Al Margolis has also achieved some reknown with If Bwana, playing music that combines improvisation, noise, and sound collage. He releases the music on his own Pogus label. He was also active in the 80s and 90s cassette underground with his label Sound of Pig.