Keyboardist Debra Dickey-Harms (top)
and bassist Dan Magee (bottom)
the back cover of the "Very Best Of" LP.
for special fans, and they also
guitarist Al Perry,
and vocalist Timothy
Gassen. ____________________________________ Daily updates at our
Buy Marshmallow Overcoat T-shirts
at our new CafePress store!
MARSHMALLOW OVERCOAT: the sounds of now!
Our Love (Will Survive)
The Light Show
She's So Satisfyin'
THE MARSHMALLOW OVERCOAT
Since 1986 The Marshmallow Overcoat has kept its unique 1966-styled garage & psych
alive by touring the globe and releasing scores of records. Now the 25+ year history
of the band can be told, and all NINE ALBUMS of the band are finally re-mastered & available! ___________________________________________________________
"The Very Best Of" is
in a 2-LP LIMITED EDITION
THE INNER GROOVE (1987)
25 YEARS IN A FEW PARAGRAPHS: the band history
Twenty-five years is merely the blink of an eye for most history books, but for a rock & roll
band it is approximately 25 times longer than most ever exist. Add in a decidedly
unconventional and underground garage-psychedelic band name and sound, and it
seems near miraculous that The Marshmallow Overcoat survived long enough to see and
hear a 25-year two-LP “best of” set. But garage and psychedelic sounds can ignite musical
passion that survives the decades.
“When I was a little kid, my older brother would play all these great 1960s records,”
Marshmallow Overcoat founder Timothy Gassen told the San Diego Union newspaper in
1991. “I remember The Jefferson Airplane on the turntable, The Doors on the radio, and The
Beatles on our old black-and-white TV,” the singer and songwriter explained. “These things
infected me from the time I was five, and the stage was set from that point on.”
The infection blossomed in the spring of 1986, when Gassen pushed four other kindred
cavemen into a sweaty Tucson, Arizona living room to cut their first demo as The
Marshmallow Overcoat. They didn’t know it at the time, but they were triggering a chain
reaction leading to international tours, MTV video airplay, college radio chart-toppers and
a tireless schedule of recording.
That lovably crude demo turned into their debut “Groovy Little Trip” 45, and suddenly there
was no turning back. The records started pouring out, and by their 25th anniversary more
than 40 combined CDs, LPs, 45s and compilation appearances had seen release.
The 1980s rediscovery of garage and psychedelia was in full bloom when The
Marshmallow Overcoat plugged in their first fuzz box. Many of their contemporaries soon
dissolved or changed musical styles, but the desert combo remained true. The
Marshmallow Overcoat became one of the planet’s longest-ever-lasting flag bearers for
Critics were confused, dumbfounded, or happily startled at the band’s approach and
delivery. “The best material here is capable of peeling the fluorescent paint off one’s
walls,” wrote the Arizona Daily Star in response to their first LP, 1987’s The Inner Groove.
Recorded for $250 in a friend’s living room studio, The Inner Groove featured fuzzed
Rickenbacker 12-string guitars, a vintage Sears toy organ, and vocals suitably delivered
from the bathroom via a long microphone cable. Like their many later records, it was also
drenched in tremolo, reverb, Vox, Farfisa, and the wheezings of Al Perry’s “Kustom Kraft”
Crude. Distorted. Garage. Yes, the first recordings from The Marshmallow Overcoat blurt
these garage-rock battle cries at maximum volume.
Bigger budgets and more elaborate
studios ensued, with the resulting albums bringing more
to cheer about. “The Overcoat has
the roller coaster lilt of sheer pop and the feel of magic,”
exclaimed England’s Unhinged
Magazine, while back in the U.S., Buzz Magazine observed that
The Marshmallow Overcoat “is the cerebral nugget that blows the lid off the underground!”
The UK psychedelic bible Freakbeat Magazine contended in 1988 their second album “Try
On The Marshmallow Overcoat should be listened to 1,000 times. This LP holds its own with
the most revered of classics.”
And as the recording studio became a second home, so did the tour van. The Marshmallow
Overcoat wore out countless tires on American and Canadian roads, blasting the fuzz and
Farfisa throughout the hemisphere. Along the way they swore they saw The 13th Floor
Elevators’ Roky Erickson in his native Austin, Texas, so they played “Tried To Hide” just for
Arthur Lee of Love stood in the front row at one Los Angeles gig, then came backstage
to thank the band for doing justice to his “7 & 7 Is.” Lee was back the next night to see the
combo at another club, leaning on a pool cue, posing for photos with the band. (Gassen
later added several more choice Love cuts to the set.)
The everlastingly freaky Seeds front-man Sky Saxon also jumped up on stage with the lads
during a San Francisco outing, while touring the celebrated 1990 Beverly Pepper album, but
they escaped (musically and physically) unscathed. The same can’t be said after a nearriot
in Tacoma, Washington (in The Sonics’ old home-base auditorium) after the club owner
skipped with the evening’s gate receipts. The money mysteriously returned to the front door
shortly after the musicians “suggested” that the crowd should have a little fun with the
The band’s lineup continually shifted, but the most dedicated musicians kept the faith
over many years — guitar wiz Chad White joined in 1987; virtuoso keyboardist Debra
Dickey, drummer supreme Scot Gassen and bassist Dan Magee signed on in 1988. All
would continue to contribute along with original vocalist Timothy Gassen until the band’s
finale in 2011.
With changes in band personnel came a shortened band moniker — simply “The Overcoat”
— for the 1991 Three Chords & A Cloud of Dust! and European-only 1993 A Touch Of Evil
albums. Gassen soon brought the “Marshmallow” back onto the marquee for the remainder
of the band’s life (and those two albums are now available under the band’s full name). By
whatever designation, the group’s dedication to garage-a-delia thankfully remained intact.
And the world began to listen.
A two month 1992 European tour prompted wild nights from Holland all the way to Greece
as the band’s frenzied stage show scorched The Continent. France’s Kinetic Vibes Magazine
wrote that the band “creates an apocalyptic universe of shapes and colours...an alchemy
of sounds that subliminally invade the depths of our minds and spin in the unexplored zones
of our psyche.” Italy’s Davy Magazine also reacted strongly to the European invasion: “Like
a piece of wood left too long in the rain, The Overcoat has assumed weird and twisted
forms. Music from the last outpost of the world could hardly be more mysterious.”
Musically, the band gladly credited the cream of the original 1960s garage-psych crop as
their fathers. The Marshmallow Overcoat’s records are jammed with loving nods to The
Electric Prunes, Love, The Seeds, Strawberry Alarm Clock and Music Machine, among
countless other lesser-known 1960s kingpins.
Electric Prunes vocalist James Lowe noted, “The Marshmallow Overcoat is more than a
sticky jacket, these guys are holding it in the fire! 60’s Garage energy all the way with a
hint of purple.”
Their affection for both caveman-like garage punk and its opposite world of refined
psychedelic-pop raised eyebrows under the bowl-cuts of some purist fans — few bands
attempted both ends of the garage-psych spectrum.
Garage monsters such as “Psilocybic Mind” and “Santa Fuzz” overload the grit-meter, while
their paisley pop shimmers with “Beverly Pepper” and the majestic “Our Love (Will Survive).”
Between these extremes stand “Dia De Los Muertos” and “The Beyond” as classics of addled
MTV (Music Television) even picked up on the buzz, airing the classic
“13 Ghosts” music video
clip worldwide, while other international music shows broadcast
the videos for “Suddenly
Sunday,” “When It’s Dark,” “The Mummy” and “Psilocybic Mind.”
After countless concerts
across the globe and dozens of record releases, The Marshmallow
Overcoat finally stopped
touring in 1996 — a full 10 years after their first shows.
But they would not stay silent.
The nagging desire by Timothy Gassen to make more garage and psych sounds drove him
to reform the band, and they blossomed again from 2000 all the way through 2011. The
renewed lineup notably included ace multi-instrumentalist Matt Rendon (who first joined the
band’s “live” lineup in 1996), and keyboard maestro Bill Kurzenberger.
This last chapter of The Marshmallow Overcoat captured some of the band’s most vibrant
original sounds with more than two-dozen new recordings. Besides the classic 2003
Mind vinyl EP, the kaleidoscopic Light Show CD album appeared in 2008. That
be the last long-player from the band, and that same year they performed their
show to celebrate its release.
To mark the band’s 25th anniversary in 2011, three new songs were recorded in the
that the band always loved: 1966 fuzz garage, moody psych and jangle power-pop.
Of special note in those last sessions was the use on “The Beyond” of the venerable 1960s
keyboard instrument called a Mellotron, most famous for its flute and string section additions
to psychedelic-era Beatles records. In its honor the instrument was renamed a “Mallowtron”
for the farewell session.
In 2011 the band also shared the 6-CD Complete Sound set with fans. The box set collected
for the first time all 138 re-mastered Marshmallow Overcoat songs in an extremely limited
edition. The entire Marshmallow Overcoat discography later became available as digital
downloads (along with the 28-song “best of” set).
But now, more than 25 years after plucking their first notes, it seems they’ve slipped on their
paisley shirts and Beatle boots for the last time. Their Vox Jaguar keyboard sits silent in the
corner, their fuzzboxes finally quiet. But The Marshmallow Overcoat won’t be forgotten —
there’s a band in a garage down the street right now trying hard to learn their songs.
— by MARCUS TYBALT, Jr.