As Halloween draws nearer, so does the annual, aptly titled Hulaween Festival at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. It's four days of camping and jamming out to Medicine for the People, the String Cheese Incident, Thievery Corporation -- the lineup goes for days.
But there's only one man with the power of two bands seeking rain check redemption after last year's fest, and that man is Marc Brownstein. Opening the festival during the Thursday pre-party with Electron and guaranteed to keep your feet moving throughout the days ahead with Conspirator, the Disco Biscuits' bassist sat down with New Times to talk about what it's like to help create a genre and how the misspelling of his name lead to his proudest Halloween costume to date.
New Times: What are you looking forward to most at Hulaween?
Marc Brownstein: I am very excited about Hulaween. I don't know if you know this story, but last year, we drove all the way down to the Spirit of Suwannee for Hulaween with Conspirator, with a 12-hour drive ahead of us up to Alabama. So we're hanging around with our pals from Big Gigantic as they are getting ready for their set and were so set to collaborate like we always do when we play festivals together and then the storm hit. It was just biblical style flooding, all the way up to the stage. We were still hanging on to this idea that we would still be able to play and we just couldn't.
We really wanted to perform and when we didn't get the chance to do it, we were really bummed out. So we are just really looking forward to the chance to get up there and do it.
Our Hulaween redemption! And this year I am lucky enough to play with two bands!
Are you dressing up this year?
Is there a reason to? Oh! Right, Halloween! For a minute, what went through my mind was, "Is there a secret bar mitzvah? Is someone getting married?"
No, we aren't playing the festival on Halloween, so I probably won't dress up. We will be in Atlanta. I do always dress up for Halloween though. There's always some semblance of dressing up. At least for a song or two.
What was your best costume?
There was some sort of spelling error one year where instead of Marc, my name was spelled Marn. It became a thing with the fans. Everyone started calling me Marn. I ended up coming up with a rap about Marn and dressing up like him for Halloween that year. So when the time came, I felt like I had an artistic obligation to fulfill the Marn 3:16 character. By the time I put the costume together it was like Jesus mixed with Jeezy.
It was great. It felt good.
In an interview recently, you mentioned that you feel less pressure when you play with Electron than you do with the Disco Biscuits or Conspirator because the end game is a little different. Can you explain what the end game is for Electron?
I think that with Electron, it isn't something that we were ever trying to build into a career. It has happened a little bit, but you know at this point, there is Conspirator and the Disco Biscuits, and if the goal was to be "successful" creating music, I can say I feel like I've been able to do that with the Disco Biscuits. So when I play with Electron, it is mostly just about having fun and making music. Adding any level of pressure or stress to that would defeat the purpose. We are comfortable with the success we've achieved personally, so there's less pressure in the Electron situation.
It's become that with all three projects at this point. I feel like I have a lot of time now to dedicate to other things, Electron being one of them and even Head Count.
Can you describe Head Count and how you became involved?
My best friend and I co-founded an organization to get people registered to vote. He just called me one day and said, "We have to do something." Once we started exchanging ideas, it came down to that. It was a non-partisan kind of thing where we could engage people and be socially active.
Do you consider yourself a social activist?
I think someone could just consider me a social activist simply because I helped found a political organization, but I do consider myself an activist.
The Disco Biscuits did form the Bisco Power Mission where we raised a lot of money to help move solar power into a school in Philadelphia. The whole water heating system is run on solar power, which is so cool.
A lot of activism is the spread of ideas and concepts, but actually seeing the tangible evidence of our fundraising was motivating.
Do the Biscuits plan to move forward with the Bisco Power Mission at all in the future?
There are a million things we want to do. I have been pushing for Bisco Power Mission to become more of a thing. I have a dream of an initiative called Solar Sundays, which would become the norm in the music industry.
The way I see it, working is that if you're touring and play a show on a Sunday, the band gives back by taking a percentage of the profits from the show and donating the money to an organization that furthers the solar power agenda. Bring it to public schools, community centers, or places that can't afford to bring solar power to their community.
Is there anyone you'd be interested in jamming with from the festival?
Without skipping a beat I can tell you I am really excited to see Big Gigantic and String Cheese Incident. As far as jamming, it is one of those things we won't know about until we're all in the same place and start exchanging ideas.