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Eric Smith & Peter Marinari: Of Lines, Lyrics & Technology.

September 5, 2011

Text by Lauren Gordon. Images by Ashley Hall.

Peter Marinari and Eric Smith probably would have stumbled across each other at some point. They are both savvy with technology and obsessed with social media.

But it was music that ultimately brought them together – albeit through the Internet.

“I’ve been obsessed with music all of my life,” says Marinari, a local singer/songwriter. “I was that 5-year-old kid in the back seat of the car who had my headphones on because I needed my tunes.”

The solo artist and founding band member of the indie-rock band Arcati Crisis openly admits he was more than likely rocking out to Jem, the pink-haired cartoon goddess from the 80s. That show launched a deep love of music, though he didn’t begin performing until much later.

While attending Masterman High School, he wrote countless songs. He continued writing while at Drexel University, though he also became immersed in theater. While he enjoyed his stint in the theatrical world – he can function on stage because of it – he wanted a more satisfying performance experience.

He started taking voice lessons. He hit as many open mic nights as possible. Then his best friend, Gina Martinelli, suggested they take their playful songwriting to the next level.

Since 2007, Marinari and Martinelli have performed as Arcati Crisis, playing stages all around the region, cherry-picking lyrics from Marinari’s unbelievable archive of songs.

“For every song that makes it into the band, I’ve got 25 more songs piled up,” Marinari says.

To build their following, Marinari turned to social media to garner attention.

He already had been a blogger. He launched his site Crushing Krisis in 2000, and now claims to be the longest-running blog in the city. He held blogathons when he released 25 songs in 24 hours annually between 2001 and 2003, And he operated a podcast from 2000 to 2008, with many of his listeners becoming regulars at concerts.

It was Twitter that finally connected Marinari and Eric Smith.

The co-founder of the local geek culture website Geekadelphia, Smith has an impressive background stretching from editing Uwishunu to marketing for Quirk Books. In November of 2010, he added novelist to his resume with his debut work of fiction, Textual Healing. The novel is a Nick Hornby-esque tale of a once-famous writer, Andrew “Ace” Connors, who just lost his literati girlfriend, found his book on the discount rack and was suckered into buying an apartment-wrecking sugar glider.

Ace goes on myriad adventures in a short span of time in an attempt to rekindle his passion for writing with a cast of eclectic characters that readers could easily fall in love with and identify.

From its birth, Textual Healing was a DIY project, a self-released and self-promoted novel. Smith decided to create an audio version and he cast his friends as characters in a “podiobook.” He promoted it via Twitter and Marinari gave it a listen.

“The way Eric writes is this super sarcastically realistic,” Marinari says. “I actually had a tangible vision of the apartment where the character starts out.”

Naturally, Marinari had his guitar in hand as he listened to the first few pages of Smith’s novel. He began playing a few riffs with a few words stuck in his head. Suddenly, there was a whole song on paper inspired by Smith’s character. Marinari played it once for his wife, Elise Wei of the band Filmstar, videotaped it and released it immediately on Youtube at 2 a.m.

The next morning, Smith found himself tagged in a Twitter post, linking him to a song called “Curves Sketched In Letters.”

“Peter’s a poet,” Smith proclaims. “I loved his interpretation of the story. It really spoke to the whole struggling writer aspect.”

Marinari and Smith exchanged several emails of gushing compliments, which ultimately lead to a second song, “End With Me,” based on more of the book.

Marinari played the book’s release party at Tattooed Mom’s, and he and Smith have developed a friendship.

“This all happened through social media,” states Marinari. “I always encourage local artists to constantly engage. You need to talk to people, constantly.”

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