Sept. 12, 2002

Doug Martsch To Tour Solo with New Album

By Randy J. Klodz

Built to Spill vocalist and guitarist Doug Martsch will be one busy man in the next few weeks: His tour has him playing 24 shows, in 24 nights—with three of those shows in Chicago—and his first solo album "Now You Know" will be released on Sept. 17.

It's not often that performers will chose such a rigorous touring schedule, but Martsch feels that it's the best way for him to tour. "We don't like to go out for very long, so when we go out we usually will play every day," said Martsch. "If we're out on the road we might as well be playing."

Martsch's tour brings him and his acoustic guitar to the Mercury Theater for three consecutive nights, from Oct. 6-8. Few artists hit a city and play many dates while in town, yet Martsch has a true attraction to Chicago. "People are willing to come out for three nights [in Chicago] and I have family there," said Martsch. The Mercury Theater is at 3745 N. Southport Ave., and tickets for each of the three shows are $15. Martsch will be playing with Mike Johnson and Ian Waters supporting.

Martsch does not have a pre-selected set list for any date on his tour, but he plans to play three or four songs off his "Now I Know" album, some Built to Spill songs and a slew of random covers. "I know maybe 40 or 50 songs and I have a songbook and I kind of flip through it and play whatever seems good to play at the moment," said Martsch.

"Now You Know," Martsch's debut solo project, showcases the guitar finesse of Martsch on what could be a soundtrack for anybody looking for soothing acoustic melodies and smooth vocals. "Dream" starts off much like a country sing along, with Martsch finger picking his acoustic guitar while dreamily singing "Can't we control this dream / Make amends with lover's constructs / Quieting the roar of doom."

Martsch often delves into the pit of his emotions, without screaming or even raising his voice. On "Heart (Things Never Said)" Martsch quietly strums his guitar with his emoting vocals echoing "I hung around like a another pronoun / Familiar but lacking a name." "Now You Know" will be in stores on Sept. 17.

Martsch's solo tour ends on Oct. 28 at X-Scape in Salt Lake City. Martsch hopes to join his Built to Spill band mates and start writing songs in the new year.

Doug Martsch Photo: Karena Youtz