Lewis Lockridge // Contributing writer
The Nashville-based band Maradeen has come a long way since their debut album earlier this year. With roots at MTSU, the band has attracted a lot of buzz lately by adding their own spin to rock ‘n’ roll music.
After playing shows for only a year, Maradeen recently released their debut album Mirage on Sept. 22.
So let’s get the most obvious question out of the way: What does Maradeen” mean?
“There was a billboard for the mayor of Nashville, Karl Dean or “Mayor Deen,” outside of the apartment I was living in, and I saw it every day. It sort of got stuck in my head,” explained Whit Murray, who plays guitar and vocals for the band.
“I thought it sounded like meridian, (which) means ‘peak.’ So that became our band’s theme: to take our music as far and deep as we can,” Murray said. “The peak is the best part.”
The band didn’t start out with all of its members as one group. Murray and Thomas Galloway — who also plays guitar and sings — were originally both members of a band named Mama’s Love, based out of Atlanta, Georgia.
Mama’s Love shared gigs with a MTSU band Afro, of which Kaitlyn Connor –who plays piano, organ, keyboards and sings vocals — was once a member.
In 2012, Murray left for Boston to pursue a degree in guitar performance at Berklee College of Music, while Galloway stayed behind at the University of Georgia.
In the summer of 2014, Murray moved back to Nashville, reached out to Kaitlyn and brought in bassist Sterling Miller and drummer Russ Garner. In 2015, Galloway rounded out the lineup after moving back to Nashville.
Their recently released, finely crafted album, Mirage, is packed with influences that range from rock ‘n’ roll to jazz fusion to Americana. Songs are marked by beautiful three-part vocal harmonies and a unique Southern flavor.
It was recorded in four days at Nashville’s Welcome to 1979 Studios. 11 tracks were recorded on the first day alone.
“Recording at Welcome to 1979 was by far the greatest experience I have ever had in a studio, because, not only were we able to get the sound we wanted, but I feel like we also succeeded in finding our sound in the 4 days we spent there,” Connor said. “There was just something about the comfort of the vintage atmosphere and the feeling that we really were stepping back in time that helped inspire us and create some really unique moments.”
The songwriting dynamic between Murray and Galloway is particularly special. Take, for example, the band’s song “Tears of Rain,” which exposes a sound the group didn’t realize they were capable of creating.
“It makes me think of those cloudy days where it’s hard to get out of bed, but you find your inspiration to do it however you can,” Miller said.
Galloway cites “Between You and Me” as a personal favorite.
“I’m a big fan of ‘Between You and Me,’ which was written before I joined the band, and has become a rarity at live shows,” Galloway said. “The layers that build throughout the song, the emotion behind the lyrics and the strings that climax at the end make it beautiful and powerful at the same time.”
While the band is proud of their record, their real passion lies in doing live shows.
Connor describes playing live as “the high you can’t buy,” and Miller calls it “the craziest rush imaginable.” The band’s fall tour dates include stops in Atlanta, Chattanooga and, of course, Nashville.
“It’s crazy to think about how we used to barely have enough music to fill a 45-minute set,” Connor said. “Now we have a large enough repertoire to not only fill that much time but to choose between songs and create a unique set list every night.”
With new music and a batch of upcoming shows, the band continues to expand its audience, getting a few steps closer to its peak.