College Times

Valley Music Scene Rallies for Gospel Claws Front Man’s Medical Bills

By Ana Anguiano • College Times

Published: Thursday, July 12, 2012

Updated: Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gospel Claws

Susan J. Anderson

To say the Phoenix music scene takes care of its own is an understatement.

Three months ago Gospel Claws' Joel Marquard was diagnosed with testicular cancer and with a wife and baby to care for he more worried about the financial consequences that came with being ill than his personal health.

Without asking for any help, his friends rallied together to put on a benefit show and release a compilation album, with the proceeds from which go directly to Marquard.

According to the Mayo Clinic, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in American males between the ages of 15 and 34. At 32, Marquard fit the bill. Hearing the word cancer can be frightening and worrisome, but Marquard was assured it was highly treatable, thus making it much easier to have a sense of humor about it.

“[Testicular cancer is] pretty survivable,” Marquard said. “It’s one of the better ones to get; I’m lucky I got it.”

When Marquard broke the news of his cancer to his band after practice, band mate Sloan Walters said it was terrifying. Walters has known Marquard since he was 12 and refers to him as his “big brother for music.”

“I’ve had people get sick in my life, but never someone I was extremely close to,” Walters said. “If you can imagine somebody from your family telling you they have something that could potentially take their life, it makes you stop and think about your life.”

Shortly after being diagnosed, Marquard had surgery to remove the cancer and recovered from home for six days. He then had to visit the Ironwood Cancer & Research Center for 17 days for radiation treatment. Luckily, the cancer had not spread and it was all preventative treatment. The side effects, however, interrupted his daily life.

“It was a little difficult,” Marquard said. “I had to work while doing it. It makes you extremely tired and being a delivery driver, it’s a pretty physical job. It wasn’t very fun being tired and trying to hustle boxes.”

Marquard’s friends wanted to help ease some of the financial burden that had piled on, but rather than have a simple fundraiser or a sexy car wash, they decided to go all out.

Common Wall Media owner Chuckie Duff and promoter Psyko Steve put together a benefit show unofficially titled “Farewell Ball” for Marquard with What Laura Says, Snake! Snake! Snakes!, Ladylike, Roar and Yellow Minute at Crescent Ballroom. Gospel Claws will also play along with Marquard’s solo project, Through and Through Gospel Review, for which he is putting together a band and choir composed of friends.

Flying Blanket Recording also donated studio time to put together a compilation album, titledBalls Benefit Compilation, with new and exclusive songs by Ladylike, Yellow Minute, Black Carl, Snake! Snake! Snakes!, Gospel Claws, What Laura Says, Sister Cities, Mergence, The Go Reflex, and El Sonida de Reposa.

Marquard said he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Chuckie Duff, Pysko Steve and Flying Blanket’s Bob Hoag for all that they’ve done. For Duff, however, helping his friend was a no brainer.

“Joel takes everything in stride and finds the humor in everything so it’s not awkward to be around him and talk about it or ask him how he’s doing,” Duff said. “He didn’t complain. He didn’t act like a victim. He just acted like Joel.”

Duff and Marquard have known each other since high school and met through youth group church friends.

“I played bass in some band that he was in that needed a bass player briefly, or something, and it was all very terrible,” he said.

Eventually they reconnected with the band Dear and the Headlights and spent time together recording touring. Now Duff releases Marquard’s music on his label and is just as much a fan as he is a friend.

“It’s really weird being his friend because I’m a fan of his music,” he said. “I kind of forget about that when I’m hanging out with him but then if I listen to a Gospel Claws song... It’s not the same Joel. The Joel that gets channeled in those songs is something special.”

Gospel Claws is working on a new album expected be done in the fall, and Marquard said he has been working on new “fucked up doo wop ‘50s music.”

Now that he has completed his treatments, he gets checked every four months to make sure he stays healthy, but said it’s pretty much all over now and he’s okay.

Duff said putting the show and album together has been humbling and that the response has been huge; The music scene came together to donate their time and help out a friend.

“We’re lucky to have Joel,” Duff said. “I think the whole Phoenix music scene is lucky to have Joel.”

 

The Through & Through Gospel Review w/What Laura Says, Snake! Snake! Snakes!, Gospel Claws, Ladylike, Roar, Yellow Minute, Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Avenue, Phoenix, 602.716.2222, Saturday, July 14, 8 p.m., $10

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