Exclusive Spinterview: Mariner – Careless Whisper (Wham! Cover)

Exclusive Spin / Interviews / News / October 10, 2016

“Careless Whisper” is one of those pop music standards that could potentially have a ban placed on any cover versions, especially those subscribed to the active rock canon. (Remember Seether’s take?) That being said, St. Louis quartet Mariner has offered up their gloomy, downcast appraisal of the Wham! favorite, with less arena-rock hubris and more of the due sentimentality of a band welcome in their own post-punk smoke. Mariner is one of a handful of St. Louis acts playing Woopsie Fest, a DIY (or DIRT, more on that acronym below) celebration of community and independent creation. Modern Vinyl caught up with Constant Cocoon Booking – comprised of Joshua Minor and Kirin Pax – to gain more insight into this makeshift festival’s beginnings and certain future.

Woopsie Fest pokes fun, in name only, that this three-day collection of 50+ bands and festival partners was an accident. Booking anything is never entirely an accident, especially something on this scale. What was the real reason this celebration came together?

We started Constant Cocoon as a team effort to help our friends in bands tour through St. Louis, [and] it gave us a chance to bring music to our community that we thought would be worthwhile. We felt inspired by other festivals, such as local St. Louis music festival Barnfest, More Than Me Fest in Nashville, and Community Records Block Party in New Orleans. We were also wishing we had a music festival like FEST in Gainesville, so we decided to give it a shot. And thanks to all the support in the music community, that festival will be happening.

DIY communities seem to spring up out of nowhere thanks to the internet and the niche popularity of the concentric scenes of punk and emo. Since this stream was pitched to Modern Vinyl as being part of the work of two self-proclaimed “DIY idiots,” what are your serious definitions of DIY?

We don’t consider ourselves DIY (Do-It Yourself). We consider ourselves DIRT (Do-It Right Together). We definitely understand the drive to make something yourself, but we believe that you don’t have to do it alone. We don’t want to be a part of a “scene”; we want to be a part of a community. Our goal is to bring together artists and musicians and we help raise each other up. We believe local bands are just as important as the touring act – just with less miles to travel – however their friends and fans are usually the reason why people come to some of these shows. Therefore, we believe that local supporting artists and musicians deserve compensation for their contributions. Hopefully this gives them a chance to make it outside of St. Louis.

The latest uptick in DIY, especially online, is the relative ease and spreadability of activist attitudes. Cases of sexual assault and rape have been thrust to the forefront of these clusters in the past few years and 25% of all Woopsie ticket sales profits are forwarded to RAINN, an organization helping victims recovering from these situations. 

A news post was uploaded to the Woopsie Fest site which explained your zero-tolerance policy for these, and other, behaviors – and an anonymous band was dropped from the lineup after committing them. The statement you made was kept vague to protect the innocent, but the majority of statements made in the same vein by other DIY community members aren’t as masked. How important is it that these bad seeds be exposed in a community as tight-knit as yours? What steps can be taken as a whole to better the safety of our scene?

We feel that as a community it is important that when we have these sort of events that people are quickly aware of others that may be of questionable character. Unfortunately not all situations are as black and white as we want them to be, so we believe that open communication is also just as high of a priority. We admire the actions Ratboys and Dowsing (two bands that will be playing Friday of the fest) took, not by just removing a member from their ranks but making sure he had the help he needed. Knowing when to take action and communicating when someone needs help is important when these troubling conversations have to take place.

No DIY fest is truly done by one’s self, and the addition of several festival partners highlights different aspects of this ever-growing music community – labels, print shops, other non-profit/charitable organizations – and where the lines of independent music and making a difference meet. Care to expand on this group of vendors?

We are really fortunate to have the support we do in the St. Louis community. Mills Custom will be providing a back-line for both stages, and Leave Your Mark Printing will be helping make T-shirts for the festival. We also have support from Tiffany Hendren of SoundGirls.org, an organization that helps young women get involved in sound engineering, help us run both of the stages — so we don’t have bands running on “punk time.” There will also be Punk Talks founder Sheridan Allen in attendance; the organization offers free therapy and mental health services, for people in the music industry. It’s great to have these vendors be a part of the festival, by helping each other we feel that this is the way we can Do-It Right Together.

Woopsie Fest is being held October 21-23 in St. Louis, MO at Fubar. 60+ bands will be playing the festival, including Tiny Moving Parts. Tickets can be purchased here.

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James Cassar
James Cassar is Modern Vinyl's Managing News Editor and a co-host of The Modern Vinyl Podcast. He is also an artist manager, co-owner of the record label Near Mint, and can be found in bed before 9 p.m. James lives in Philadelphia and no, he won't check out your band if you add him on Facebook.

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