Guitarist/vocalist Marcus Rezak has released his new EP, Truth In Sound, which features contributions from Trey Anastasio Band members Russ Lawton (drums), Ray Paczkowski (keys), and Tony Markellis (bass) as well as Kalyan Pathak on tabla and percussion.
The project came together Rezak’s high-octane Grateful Dead tribute project, Shred Is Dead, played a show with Lawton on drums at Nectar’s in Burlington, VT in November 2019. Noting their onstage chemistry, Rezak invited Lawton and his Trey Anastasio Band colleagues to record some new material he had been writing. Russ, Ray, and Tony humbly obliged.
Truth in Sound was recorded at Tank Recording Studio in Burlington, VT and engineered by Ben Collette, the studio owner/operator who has served as an audio engineer for Trey Anastasio and Phish since 2004. The band took the energy sparked by that initial Shred is Dead performance and leveraged it in four invigorating tracks. All of the guitar tracks and mixing were done by Joe Hettinga of Third Coast Recording Company.
Rezak approached Truth In Sound with a story-telling mindset. While the album displays the same fierce jams and guitar shredding found on his debut, Gateway to the Galaxy, Rezak shifted his focus to showcasing heartfelt lyrics and musical healing to mirror his experiences since his initial album. As a press release explains, “During the challenges of COVID, he felt compelled to uplift and fill in where depression and confusion had become a part of so many people’s everyday lives. In those initial lockdown months, renegade-style drive-up concerts were some of the only ways to keep music present for both musicians and music lovers alike. He saw a new purpose while observing his music keep those isolated in good company and helping release some endorphins. ‘The final outcome of this record truly encapsulates a time in my life, through a sound, that I hope brings healing, joy, and excitement to those with open ears,’ says Rezak.”
Marcus Rezak – Truth In Sound – Full EP
The release day for Truth In Sound became bittersweet for Rezak with the news of Markellis’ passing coming late in the afternoon. Read the full eulogy Marcus Rezak penned for the late Tony Markellis below.
A life has been taken, not just any life, but one whose whole existence was dedicated to create, produce, and share musical talent with the world. Tony Markellis instilled young aspiring talented musicians with the love of music while hoping to share his celebrity in order to help them reach more of an audience. Tony connected to the heart and soul of many musicians he played with, making them better musicians.
I am humbled and beyond lucky to have been blessed with the opportunity to record my latest album, ‘Truth In Sound’ with one of the deepest grooving bass players in the universe, Tony Markellis. I was completely shocked and heart broken to learn of Tony’s passing on the day of my album release. Some sort of cosmic yin and yang was all I could think about, and then I realized, Tony said, “I consider myself extremely lucky to have played with the people I have. I just hope I’m able to use some of my celebrity (real or imagined) to help some of them acquire more of an audience.” My purpose became clear, that this was a sign I must continue to connect people, lead the way, and create an atmosphere of encouragement, positivity, and support.
I was introduced to Tony by his longtime bandmate Russ Lawton, and we met at the recording studio. I personally grew up listening to TAB in 1999 when I was 16, and have been strongly influenced by this sound all of my life. Tony’s contributions to this album are endlessly clear with his larger than life sound of his bass tone, melodic and harmonic choices, and remarkable improvisational approach. We sat down together and looked over the tunes before the session and Tony was all over my tune charts with suggestions that made so much sense…His influence was immense and I am so grateful to apply his insight to my project!
Tony’s very last endeavor musically may have been playing on my new record, ‘Truth In Sound’, that officially released the same day of his passing. Sadly, we had no idea that his participation in this effort would be amongst his last recordings. We were all so honored to have an artist of his caliber joined with the other incredible musicians and friends (Russ Lawton, Ray Paczkowski, and Ben Collette) whom he loved playing with over the years. I feel so lucky to have been centered between Russ and Tony, a true one of a kind rhythm section (most well known as the backbone for Trey Anastasio band), and to record some incredible jams together. I was really looking forward to perform live together, but I will always cherish our time in the studio and these recordings.
Knowing Tony as a person, I can tell you he was very intelligent, compassionate, gentle, witty, tasteful, dedicated, and passionate. While in the studio, he showed genuine care about the outcome of the songs and put all his effort into making the groove perfect! He emphasized that the grooves should have the proper “strut” that we all know and love coming from Tony’s bass. While in the recording sessions, we all instantly connected on each song which made it feel like we had been playing together for years, communicating seamlessly as each song take kept getting more exciting. I will never forget the “magic” created while getting into the solo sections of each song. We completely treated the jam sections like a live show, totally opening up the vibe to see where things went. All of this, captured at Tank Recording Studios, a place where Tony always felt comfortable.
Tony’s music will forever live on, but for those of us professionally he left behind, he will always be front and center in our mind and hearts. May his memory be a blessing to all the musicians and friends he was a part of along with his admiring fans, friends, and family.
In the end, it’s not what I got, it’s what Tony Markellis gave: Truth In Sound