If you were lucky enough to be in Miami in the mid to late '90s and of drinking age (okay, truth be told, anyone could get in anywhere back then), there's a good chance you know exactly what Arsenal 88 vocalist Andres Aguero means when he says, "I grew up singing along to The Agency during the golden days of Miami rock!"
The golden age he refers to is prior to techno's rule, when places like Fubar and Cheers regularly buzzed with the din of crowds coming to watch live rock bands. I still remember slipping into Society Hill when I was 15, with the help of a guitar teach I had who played in Fat Peter, and once inside, scoring a few Coronas from the bar with little more than a raised eyebrow from the bartender. Ah, the Golden Age.
The Agency was one of Miami's premier acts then. Comprised of Mike Marsh, Klaus Ketelhohn, Chris Drueke and, at different points later on, Chris Carraba, Joe Williams, and John Owens, The Agency itself was something of an incestuous little spring of SoFla rock talent, if you will. Marsh and Carraba both form part of Dashboard Confessional, as well as having lent their chops along with the other members, variously to Seville, Vacant Andys, and Arsenal 88.
The Agency more or less went inactive in 2001, at least in typical
terms, though 2004 did see the beginning of a recording process that
eventually resulted in Turn (realized in 2007). But it's always
continued to exist in non-traditional terms, the band a loose accord
between friends, and the project a happy place they could all reside,
even if only for just a time. And this Saturday, The Agency will reunite
onstage for the first time in a long time. "Basically the show was put
together by me," explains Aguero (Ketelhohn is a bandmate in Arsenal),
"because I wanted to celebrate my birthday in style!"
got a chance to catch up with drummer Mike Marsh, and he told us all
about the reunion, life with Dashboard Confessional, his solo work, and
the rare treat The Agency is offering fans this Saturday.
New Times: You guys pretty much stopped in 2001 (though 2007, until the release of Turn). I know Mike has said that it'll "always be a
band because of friendship," but what sparked this reunion now?
The Agency will always be alive in some way, shape, or form. We simply
love playing music, but most importantly, we love playing our songs
together. This reunion show came about as a request to play our friend
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Andres' birthday party. It started as an acoustic set and turned into a
full-blown rock show.
Tell us about The Agency's sort of nonlinear timeline, and the way you guys have developed organically.
me, it's been just that ... an organic process. I've learned so much
from my years with Dashboard Confessional from all angles. Most of all
from the producers. Understanding now what "less is more" really means,
which I feel was my/our approach gearing up for Turn. And of course
playing with other musicians with different ideas has been a big
influence on all of us. For Klaus, Arsenal 88 has been a learning
experience. For Chris, even though he's had his nose in a book for the
past few years for his Engineering degree, I'm sure Seville was a big
change and learning experience.
The Agency had something of a
revolving cast, and tons of big talent among them, but the 3 originals
have always been the backbone, and it's back down to you 3, huh?
for our current line-up ... we're not exactly a true three piece. We are
playing most of Saturday's set as a trio, but we will have special
guests. One of which is my good friend Craig Schlensinger, who will play
bass on my project Paper which I'm recording at The Dungeon in North
Miami. Klaus is playing on my record as well.
How have things changed for you as individual musicians over the course of these years since The Agency?
all changed quite a bit. As I said before, I've been writing my own
record. The process has been a long but important one for me. I've had
to teach myself piano and guitar in order to actually write by myself as
opposed to sitting with Chris and/or Klaus to write anything. I'd have
lyrics written on paper and the melodies that go with them and because I
couldn't play anything other than drums, I'd need Klaus or Chris to
What about as a band? How do you think things are different than when you guys last performed together?
terms of where we're at as a band, we're always so happy to get
together and play these songs. Because that doesn't happen very often,
it seems fresh and has an almost youthful vibe to it. Also, we are
always changing as fans of music. We always bring that to the table in
rehearsal. In terms of what we can and can't do, I get exhausted
rehearsing these songs by myself and an iPod, but when we get together
it's always exciting, as if anything can happen.
You guys have
this gig at Transit. But what's next? Are there any plans for another
record or more shows? Will we be seeing more or The Agency?
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The September 11 gig at Transit Lounge is all we have planned.
Fans haven't seen you in a while. What would you say about this week's gig?
We're older now ... but so are you! We're just as excited to play as you are to see us play. We're all gonna have a blast.
The Agency plays Transit Lounge this Saturday, Sept. 11 at pm. No cover, but bring bread. They'll have merch for sale.