LaMarca Prepares for Release of Third Album, U.S. Tour

By Guy D’Astolfo

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As work continues on the next The War on Drugs album, Anthony LaMarca is about to release his own solo effort and follow it up with a U.S. tour.

LaMarca, a native of Boardman, plays guitar and other instruments in Drugs, winners of the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.

On Oct. 11, LaMarca – recording under his band name The Building – will release “Petra,” the third album of his own music. It’s a  captivating set of acoustic songs that lyrically navigates a landscape of turbulence. LaMarca wrote all of the songs on the album, which he said reflects the ongoing distillation of his sound.

“Musically, it feels like a part of the same thing [I have been doing],” he said. 

When it’s noted that the songs seem to have more structure and cohesiveness, LaMarca said “Hopefully, that’s what I’m trying to do. Condensing it. It’s what every musician wants to do, to become more of themselves, and find your own voice.”

For the first two The Building albums, LaMarca worked with his brother, Angelo, and other musicians, but he went it alone this time around. He recorded each instrument and then dubbed it in.

The album was recorded at Youngstown’s Peppermint Records, the studio on the South Side owned and operated by Gary Rhamy.

Peppermint has specialized in polka records for the past few decades, but as of late occasionally produces albums by area rockers. Two Youngstown acts – Sam Goodwill and the Superbabes – recently recorded albums there, as did the Cleveland-based Falling Stars.

“I’ve been blessed over the years to record all types of music, and rock is really where we started, and never left, even though my polka clients dominated,” said Rhamy. “I love that all these talented [local] artists are recording here. It’s rewarding to see them get excited about Peppermint’s sound, just like Left End and Blue Ash did in the ’70s.”

Left End and Blue Ash were Youngstown-based bands that rose to a level of fame that extended well beyond the region. Both recorded at Peppermint.

Rhamy called LaMarca a “gem” who is talented in many ways.

“He is a sincere person with quite a message to share,” he said.

“Petra”has already spawned  the song “Life Half Lived,” which LaMarca has turned into a powerful video with a message for women dealing with domestic abuse.

“It’s about two different friends of mine who were going through tough relationships,” he said. “I was trying to write from their perspective of finally letting go of the cycle and finding their own limits of what is their responsibility in these relationships… It is not their job to change these [abusers]. It is [only] their job to try and put it out there to give them an opportunity to change.” 

Beginning in November, The Building will launch a tour to promote the new album. He’ll be surrounded by a handpicked  band, and will be accompanied by Heather Woods Broderick – who plays in Sharon Van Etten’s band – as his opening act.

LaMarca’s band will consist of Dean Anshutz of Red Wanting Blue on drums, Sam Buonavolonta of Sam Goodwill on keyboards, Andrew Carlson on bass, and Nathan Phillips on keyboards.

The first stop will be Nov. 2 in the upstairs  venue at West Side Bowl in Youngstown. Then LaMarca and Co. will hit the road on a tour that will span the country.

“It’s a full-on U.S. tour, our first ever,” said LaMarca. “We’ll go all the way out to the West Coast, then down through Phoenix, Texas, Atlanta and Nashville and then up the East Coast and back home.

LaMarca is no stranger to touring, but never like this.

“It’s mildly terrifying,” he said. “I mean, I’ve done it before [with The War on Drugs] but it’s never been my own music.”

The tour stops will be at rock venues similar in size to  West Side Bowl. 

LaMarca is also currently working in recording sessions in Los Angeles for The War on Drugs’ next album.

“We’ve been chipping away at a new record whenever everyone can get together,” he said. No date has been set for its release.

More than a year after winning a Grammy Award as a member of The War on Drugs, LaMarca is taking it in stride.

“It’s cool, but all of us try not to let it go to your head,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a great honor and, as in anything, it’s always nice to be recognized for what you do in a public way.” 

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.