Spending Time with Chemical Bank

Story by Justin Allec, Photos by Tara Leigh Marcin

There’s a tagline on Chemical Bank’s Bandcamp page for their latest release, Lungbones Vol.1: “What else is there to do? Stay home and make songs.” It partially sounds like a recipe for pandemic productivity, but it’s also how Chemical Bank, a.k.a. Wayne Marcin, prefers to spend his time. “I’m always messing around with something. I have to pick up the guitar, play a little bass, play with a synth,” the soft-spoken multi-instrumentalist says as he describes his compulsion.

Since picking up the guitar in his late 20s, Marcin has stayed enamoured with the weirder (but infinitely more entertaining) strains of rock music. Preferring garage-spewed sounds that are noisily psychedelic, Marcin front-loads his songs with fuzz along with fun, catchy melodies. That’s true of his Chemical Bank solo project, which now has three releases to its name, but also Marcin’s contributions to esteemed local acts Reverb Bomb and Secret Baby.

While the pandemic may have provided Marcin the extra time to polish the latest Chemical Bank project to perfection, he’s sure Lungbones Vol.1 wasn’t completed just to counter boredom. Working full time along with being a dad means there’s no real time to get bored, pandemic or no. Marcin says that the first two Chemical Bank releases, 2020’s Action Home Product LTD and 2018’s SlowBurnAlibiWatchDogGroupSupport, were more experimental, indulgent exercises in songwriting and recording. This new release is a different beast. “It’s the first batch of songs I’ve written under that name that I can see performing live,” he says. Compared to those prior releases, Lungbones Vol.1 has some subtle advances in songwriting that reach out to the listener. There’s a bit more room for the melodies, a brighter production, some added depth to the fuzz—all small steps that add up to a larger whole.

What’s certain for Marcin right now is that music—writing, playing, releasing, and supporting other locals—is a necessary part of his life. Both Reverb Bomb and Secret Baby were writing material to support new album releases in the future, and Marcin’s been helping his wife Tara produce her LU Radio show, RawlStarGurl’s Rawkin Hours of Rock N Roll, that airs weekly. With the fate of local venues and annual events like Tumblestone still tentative, Marcin doesn’t want to comment on the future except to express hope. In the meantime, you can find all his music on Bandcamp. What else is there to do? Stay home and listen to songs.