Hello Mark,how are you?
I’m doing pretty well considering the state of the world.
You are an artist from Southern California how did it all begin for you?
It all began with a mix tape that my best friend’s brother made for him and he shared with me. Rush was on that tape & I fell in love with their music, which eventually led to me wanting to play drums. Drums got denied by my dad, so I wound up getting a guitar for Christmas when I was fifteen.
What did you listen to growing up?
I was mostly surrounded by Oldies, Surfer music, Country & Western and top 40. I am not from a musical family, so the television was on way more than the radio. According to my mom, when I was just a little kid I would fall asleep at night while playing with my toys, but if the song “Rock Around the Clock” came on the TV, I would wake up and start dancing. Once I discovered Rush, they were my main source of music. Of course, I listened to what was popular as well. When the 90s came and brought all the amazing grunge & alternative rock bands, I really fell in love with that music, too. The emotive nature of that music really spoke to me and helped me process a lot of the pain of my childhood & early adulthood.
You picked up the guitar at the age of 15, what was the catalyst for this?
Rush. The answer to a lot of my music-related questions is Rush. Their importance in my life can not be overstated. Also, my best friend Mike is a massive influence on me. We wanted to be like Rush. Coming from a family of non-musicians, I don’t think I would have been so interested in pursuing the playing of music without his influence.
You played in legendary venues like the Roxy Theatre in your formative years what was that experience like?
It was depressing, really. It’s a pay-to-play venue. We didn’t have a following, so it was foolish of us to do it. Standing on that stage, playing in front of a handful of friends who drove all that way just made me feel guilty and lame. People say, “But you played the Roxy!” I say, I could have paid the same $350 and put on a puppet show. The promoter just wanted our money. I don’t want to be a downer about it, but it’s not my style to inflate the reality of the “accomplishment.”
Covid has impacted the creative industry in a big way, what’s kept you motivated?
I haven’t felt the effects of Covid on my creativity. As far as motivation goes, my drive began before Covid. Honestly, I neglected music for a very long time. It took me years to develop my singing voice. Now, I am just dealing with the same existential angst that I had before Covid. Sure, it’s impacted many aspects of my life, but I don’t sense its impact on my artistic drive.
You released two albums in 2020, what were the challenges and positives that you faced while writing and recording these albums?
Writing & recording is the best part of making music for me, except vocals which are a bit of torture. I generally and genuinely dread them. The biggest challenge was learning to mix. It’s a never ending process, but I have committed to learning the craft, because it is such a huge part of the finished product. I have old recordings of the band I was in that just don’t sound good. I make music for my own enjoyment, so it didn’t matter to me if it took me 300 attempts to mix a song correctly (and it did… for many songs). Beyond that, my song “Inside My Head” really made me pause and debate releasing my album. It’s deeply personal and I didn’t want its dark honesty to affect how friends treat my family. Ultimately, with the encouragement of some trusted friends, I decided that it might help others if I released it into the world.
As for positives, I got a huge sense of accomplishment from completing both. Also, I get to enjoy the music.
You are a California native what are your three favourite things about it?
The weather is great, although I live inland so it gets quite hot in the summer, but generally it’s amazing and winter is something we don’t have to fight, but can easily visit! It’s nice to live an hour from the beach, an hour from the big city, an hour from the mountains and an hour from the desert. Second, my family loves Disneyland, so it’s been so nice to have that an hour away…we are looking forward to it opening if we can visit safely. The third favorite thing would be that most of my friends and family live within an hour of me, so pre-pandemic visits were fairly easy.
What artists are getting you excited at the moment?
The list is long! This is the part of the interview where I am supposed to give shout outs and then I would ultimately leave out some amazing artist…so I just want to say I love when artists explore their truth, sing from their heart and bring it all together in a music statement that amplifies that truth. There are countless artists doing just that.
You are a multi instrumentalist, how does a typical writing session begin for you?
Typically, I start with a basic drum beat to play to, then I either play bass or guitar to that and develop ideas. As soon as I play something I like, I record it. Then, I started layering other parts. For me, it’s about mood and feel. That lays the foundation for and inspires everything that follows.
You are part of an ever growing community of independent artists, what have you learned from your peers?
I learned that I’m not alone in my dislike for self-promotion. Sure, some complain about it, because it is time consuming and they’d rather do something else. For others like me, it’s against our nature and it’s an emotional drain. I don’t like calling attention to myself or my art in a way that feels selfish and boastful. It’s been helpful to find a handful of artists that go through the same struggle.
What’s next for you?
I have my third album that is basically done, so releasing it will be next. Although, I may do one more single before the album. I am not sure. Beyond that, I will probably keep making music. I have been enjoying the creative process & liking my results thus far. Ultimately though, happiness and mental health are my focus. If that involves music as it likely does, then so be it, but I am not driven by anything other than my own quest for inner peace and I can’t say what that means for the distant future.