Music fans, your prayers have been answered. A new music venue opens its doors this week: The Chapel, located at 201 South Skinker, is directly behind First Memorial Church and is associated with the Presbyterian church. Mike Marquard, bassist for Via Dove and head of new local label Might Be Time Records, is a helping with public relations for the new venue, and he explained the origins and aims of the venture. The Chapel will have its grand opening on Friday, June 13, with Tell-Tale Heart, Beth Bombara, the Great Lakes (Marquard’s other band), and New York singer-songwriter Foster McGinty. Christian Schaeffer spoke with Marquard.
What’s the story behind the Chapel? The Chapel is kind of an idea between a few people at First Memorial Church when they brought on a few people from out of town to start working on it, like Via Dove’s Andy Shadburne. [Correction appended: Caleb Travers was not brought in from out of town.] The goal was to create an art space, not just music. There’s gallery space as well, and they do lectures and poetry readings. For a long time, anytime Christianity got hooked up with music, people just thought about Michael W. Smith – which is fine – but this is a way to say that art is a way to do good things. It’s half gathering space, half music space. Art is the main object on display, versus going to a bar where music is played. There will still be a social aspect. They are allowed to serve alcohol. Two drinks are included in the ticket price and then after that guests are on the honor system.
What is the space like? It’s really Gothic and super-tall – the ceiling really stretches to the sky like old European cathedrals. It seems taller than it is wide. There is a lot of original stained glass in it. The added features are very modern and simple – white IKEA type chairs and a really simple bar – and they reincorporated elements that they had to move to make the stage and added them to the sound booth area. What kind of shows will be booked? It’s gonna be any type – a lot of eclectic music. We’ve already had folk groups and pop groups. It will be mostly local, though there will be some touring acts that come through. You don’t have to have a certain type of music or viewpoint to play at the Chapel. There was a hip-hop artist the last time I was there. Some of the most successful events have been speakers and lecturers.
Tell me about your new label, Might Be Time Records. The idea behind the label is to work toward a more unified music community in St. Louis. I see a lot of good bands here, but it seems hard to organize them. It seems like you have to work really hard to access the music scene here. So the label is one aspect, but promotion is another thing I want to work on. Every time I see bands I like, I wish it would be a bigger event and that more people would have heard of it. Whenever an event is created, it always does better – there is a focus behind it.
What are you planning on releasing? The first release is Via Dove’s Twilight EP, which comes out on June 17 on CD and online. I try not to hide that I’m in the band (laughs). We were trying to figure out how to release this CD and there wasn’t a lot of consensus. The music was so good and I believed in the band and what we do promotion-wise that I decided I’d rather not sit on it. I’ve been thinking about creating this label for the last four years, and this was the right time with the right people. But I obviously have more ties to it that being a financial investor.
What about future releases? I won’t get ahead of myself until I get this release out, but there are some folks I have my eyes on. There are a lot of good artists out there. The things you look for are bands that do good promotion and have a good following. I don’t know any band that got signed on just being really good – you have to work your ass off.
What is the meaning behind the title of Might Be Time Records? Well, Via Dove had a meeting about putting the record out and nothing got solved. I was driving home and this idea dawned on me – it might be time for me to do this, or it might be time for St. Louis to get more organized. It’s a simple nonsense name. If I thought about it more, I might think of something too sophisticated.