Dagger - March 1989
American Music Club
Publication: Dagger (#9)
Author: Tim Hinley
Date: March 1989
San Francisco's American Music Club have been making haunting, honest, and beautiful music for the last few years, and it's a real shame that more people haven't taken notice. Their records have as much power, angst, and honesty as any Black Flag record, but looking at the record covers (or the band) you'd never know it.
As I write this AMC are touring Europe, and should be back in the States to tour sometime in early May. Vocalist Mark Eitzel answered all (well, almost) the questions that I spouted at him over the phone.
Dagger: What's the Frontier/Grifter records deal? I guess Grifter is your own label?
Mark: Yeah, it's the drummer, Tom Mallon's label, he's our producer too. The only other band that's on Grifter is Flying Color, and they're kind of a pop band, kinda like The Beatles or like The Untouchables used to be a long time ago, or, uh, I don't know, they're pretty good. I'm gonna go see em' tonight with their line up.
Dagger: So Frontier....
Mark: Well, Frontier does a distibution and promotion deal. They get a cut, they get, well I don't know how the money gets split but they get paid for promotion and distribution, as far as the records, all we have to do is make the damn thing so it works out really good. And they're really great to work with, they're a really good indie, they don't have a whole lot of bands on their roster and they don't talke many bands, so they do a lot of work for each band. Like Twin/Tone has like a thousand bands and SST has like 20 trillion bands.
Dagger: So you were originally from Columbus, Ohio?
Mark: Uh, no I am an army brat. I was originally from Walnut Creek, California, which is a suburb of San Francisco, and I grew up in Taiwan and England.
Dagger: But you were in Columbus for a while?
Mark: I was only in Columbus for about three years. I was in a sort of punk rock band, we were called The Cowboys (laughter), yeah, shut up...
Dagger: Wow, cool name.
Mark: Yeah, thanks a lot. In 1979, and we played around and did our punk rock thing, then we quit because hardcore started, and I don't know, it was supposed to be about being different, and suddenly everyone's wearing a uniform and it's like as bad as high school and, well, I dont know....
Mark: Well, no, I love the music still, but it was like '79/'80 when hardcore started and I felt it was getting pretty redundant and I felt like shit, fuck this. Then there was this big famous Dayton show and we were suddenly like acceptable and not shocking anymore, as if we really were, right? I thought, fuck this...then I did the Naked Skinnies which was sort of a Joy Division suck-off.
D: I think Gerard (Cosloy) said that same exact quote...
Mark: Yeah, Gerard, It's the best quote. Yeah, he's pretty on the ball, I like him.
Dagger: I actually picked up Engine on a Conflict recommendation, not personally but I saw some reviews, then his review of it and I said, "I just gotta listen to this band."
Mark: Yeah, well he likes us, it's eerie, but in every review he brings up GG Allin which is like, it's weird, 'cos I'm like 360 degrees opposite, the other side of the coin. So I don't understand it, but I like him, when I first saw Conflict I thought "man this guy must be such a bitter...."
Mark: Yeah, asshole, I mean all you've got is this critical facility that just won't stop but when I met him he's like a really nice guy.
Dagger: Yeah he is. Conflict is really funny.
Mark: Yeah, it's real entertaining, it's like the same for Engine, We got this review in Melody Maker and it was like real slavish like "Oh you'll love this record", but Gerard's was better, I mean half of it put us down but it was more intelligent and a more entertaining thing.
Dagger: Do you wanna say more about the Naked Skinnies?
Mark: Uh, no not really. I mean we were great, but we were a bunch of artists and we couldn't deal with each other, and they couldn't deal with me because I was going through some stuff, and I was getting pretty weird.
Dagger: It just sort of fizzled out...?
Mark: Yeah, I tried to beat someone up and they were amazed because the guy wasn't doing anything wrong, but it was no big deal.
Dagger: "Bad Liquor" seems to be really different than anything else you've written, how did that come about?
Mark: I just did it. When I write songs, I write like three at a time and that was just like, ya know, i was getting sick of writing all serious songs and I just wrote that. It's weird, it's the most popular song that we do.
Dagger: Live it's your most popular?
Mark: Yeah, we do other songs that are almost like that live, ya know, we have other songs that rock like that, but not really. I don't know, it's kind of a fluke, but we're kind of embarrassed by it, we like it because.....
Dagger: I personally don't like it too much.
Mark: I think it's fine, I have no trouble with it. Actually we weren't even gonna put it on the record because we thought it didn't fit in with the rest of the material, but what the fuck man, I mean...
Dagger: Well, for me there's a group of your songs that I think are brilliant and others that I think are just good, and that would be just a good one....
Mark: I think it's fine, it doesn't take away from anything else, so we just put it on there. Plus it's the only song of ours that anybody will ever play on college radio, so that's good too. I don't know, I write lots of dumb songs but we don't play them all.
Dagger: Well, maybe some people wouldn't consider them dumb?
Mark: No, most people don't actually. Most people say, "I really like that Bad Liquor song, most of the album doesn't hold up to that, but that song's really great, good tune, man." So that's what I usually hear, so I don't care, y'know, great, thanks a lot, whatever.
Dagger: Are a lot of your songs based on personal experiences?
Mark: Yeah, thay all are, they're not completely autobiographical just because I don't....... Most of them are completely autobiographical but I change things to make it a little bigger, so it's more than just me, because that's not much. So they're not really autobiographical because I include all kinds of things. A song like "Blue And Grey Shirt," that took me, well, "Firefly" took about 20 minutes to write, but "Blue And Grey Shirt" took me like seven months. It was weird because I wrote all this other stuff, it was a really big deal to me, that song, and I wrote all this other stuff about it, then I trimmed it all down so you could never really know what I was thinking about. I mean I don't really want to think it matters so much what's happening, it's the song that's important and the closer you are to an emotion, then the harder it is to write the song.
Dagger: What's your daytime job, when I called up they said a research lab of some sort?
Mark: I do data entry at Fleshman Field Research on the computer.
Dagger: Do you like that?
Mark: No, I hate it, it's horrible, they don't even know I'm there most of the time. I get all these calls and they're like, "They wouldn't even put me through to you!" and I'm like, "They didn't know I was there." Yeah, most of the time I'm on the phone talking to my friends.
Dagger: How did the recent tour go?
Mark: The most recent tour was better than the last one.
Dagger: You didn't play a whole lot of dates, did you?
Mark: No, well, Vudi and me, we couldn't afford to lose our jobs, and Tom can't afford to take a month off after our record, so we only had a month. The first couple of weeks ....well, it was really hard to book it, uh, I don't know, we said to this agent that "We have to do this!", and he worked out pretty well, Craig Koon....
Dagger: Oh, from Ohio?
Mark: Uh no, or yeah, he is from Ohio. He's a really cool guy.
Dagger: Yeah, I read the Offense Newsletter, and he's always mentioned in there, in fact Tim always mentions you guys as well....
Mark: Yeah, well he used to manage The Cowboys years ago. He also helped us out with the Naked Skinnies single and stuff, so he was a good friend of mine. I think he likes AMC too, cos other tapes I've sent him he's never liked, and he's pretty vocal about it, but I think he actually likes AMC.
Dagger: Oh yeah, I mean he always mentions good things about you guys. As a matter of fact, in my latest issue, TKA sent me a Desert Island Disc list, and The Restless Stranger was one of them.
Mark: Yeah, yeah the first album, huh?
Mark: Good, I hate it. I can't stand the fucking thing, I don't like it at all, I think it stinks...I mean, "Room Above The Club" is a good song, but it's the only song I like, and "Hold On To Your Love" is a good song, but the rest of it is kind of horrible. We made it in two weeks. We had to.....it was our first European tour in which we flew to Hamburg, stayed there for 4 months and played 4 shows.
Dagger: Really? Oh my God!
Mark: Yeah, we do that kind of stuff all the time.
Dagger: Are you pretty well accepted over in Europe?
Mark: Well they're bringing us out there in a month. Yeah, they're putting me on the cover of Melody Maker, and they're giving us all this money to tour. It's really amazing,
Dagger: Who's they?
Mark: Uh, this booking agent in London. It's weird huh? I don't get it.
Dagger: I didn't think that things worked that way?
Mark: I don't know man, I mean this has all happened in the last few weeks. It's like, "Yeah, this booking agency wants to book you guys!" And I'm like, "OK!" And they wanna give us $3000, and put us up in the Hyatt Hotel. I don't know, I guess that American music is big over there, like Green On Red and Thin White Rope, so a band with the name American Music Club can really make it.
Dagger: Yeah, they GOTTA be American, right?
Mark: Yeah, I don't get it. I'm all set to go, but it's really creepy, I know the big pronoter guy is like the Bill Graham of London.
Dagger: Oh, like a really slimey character?
Mark: Yeah, like, oh no! 'Cos we're like the wimpiest shits in the world, the Hoodoo Guru's we're not, who I view as normal rock.
Dagger: Should be interesting, I guess?
Mark: Oh, not for him. It'll be devastating, it'll be like...
Dagger: So how long are you guys going over there for?
Mark: Three weeks.
Dagger: Oh, so another month off your jobs?
Mark: Oh I'm quitting my job cos after that we're gonna go on an American tour, and after that we're gonna make a record, and after that we're going to to Europe again. This guy is insane, I just don't understand it, it's like white slavery.
Dagger: Does this happen often, not just to you, but to any bands?
Mark: I don't think it ever happens, I was talking to Thin White Rope, and they said it doesn't happen to them. It happened in Greece, so they toured Italy and Greece.
Dagger: Well, Pussy Galore just went to Japan?
Mark: Well, that's understandable, y'know heavy metal, headbangers, young kids, I mean that's right up their alley in Japan. I don't know, maybe we're just losers and in England they're like, "Yeah, they're American and they're losers!"
Dagger: How has the response been so far to AMC?
Mark: Well, it's usually mixed, most people......it's mixed. We get all kinds of responses. All of our shows are different. Sometimes they're just inescapably boring cos of the slow songs, and sometimes they're not. Sometimes I get so drunk that I can't stand up, but I don't do that anymore, not before a show.
Dagger: Do you drink a lot?
Mark: I went through a period when I drank a lot, yeah, the last five years I really drank a lot but as a band we drink a lot. But the older you get, the scarier it gets, it's like man, oh man.
Dagger: How old are you?
Mark: I'm thirty. I'm an old fuck.
Dagger: Who's Lisa Davis?
Mark: She's our bass player, Dan Pearson now plays acoustic guitar only, so I don't play guitar. I just sing now, but I'd always break like four or five strings a set, and I'd always drop the guitar, and I'm not very good at playing live either.
Dagger: Was she out on your most recent tour with you?
Mark: Yup, she's the most popular one, the one who likes to talk to people. She's wild, a really nice person. She was just a really good friend of mine for a long time. She gets really drunk and really wild, and I get really drunk and really maudlin, and she calls my bluff all the time.
Dagger: Really, maudlin?
Mark: What? You mean you don't think that it's true after listening to that fucking album, that I'm not a maudlin asshole?
Dagger: Well, it's kind of ironic, 'cos Gerard said in his review that you never become maudlin or gushy. It's just kind of ironic...
Mark: Well, then quote that, I don't know, maybe I don't get maudlin, forget that, maybe when I get drunk I have rage that encompasses all kinds of stuff, sometimes when I get drunk I become a human being, write that! Sometimes when I get drunk I become a lover, sometimes I don't get drunk, I don't know, shit! Maybe because drinking is the only... ah, I don't know. It's the only thing, it's something that I really like to do, but all my friends want to get me into Alcoholics Anonymous, but it's not good for me, drinking and writing songs, it's hard to do both....I guess.
Dagger: There was a long stretch of time when I didn't drink, to this day I still don't really like the taste of beer, but that's all I drink is beer, but I just like being drunk. Everybody must like it, thay all do it, they just don't admit that they like being drunk.
Mark: Yeah, it's true, I..... (inaudible)
Dagger: So who did the photographs on the album?
Mark: A friend of ours, this guy called Bobby Neel Adams, he also does a lot of pictures in something called, uh, it's a local thing called Research.
Dagger: The back picture is really beautiful.
Mark: Yeah, really nice, huh? Yeah, we were gonna put a big crucifix on there, but everybody would've thought that we were born again or something.
Dagger: You mean you're not?
Mark: Well I have been, years ago I used to be. When I was a little kid I was a little Billy Graham, and when I was living in England I was born again, and I went to Catholic schools all my life so there's not a lot of religious background there. I'm not born again anymore (laughter) although that's supposed to be impossible.
Dagger: Do you consider yourself religious?
Mark: Well any drunk would. Most of my friends are confirmed atheists, they think I'm out of my mind, when I get drunk I go to a bar and pray.
Dagger: Do you consciously try to write depressing songs, or do they just come out that way?
Mark: Uh no, they just come out that way. I've always liked depressing songs, sad songs so that's what I tend to do. I don't know, I think about it a lot. People come up to me all the time and are like, "Are you a manic depressive?" It's like "Well sometimes, whatever." But I've just always liked really sad songs, it's another viewpoint. It's like I don't like Muzak, I like real classical music.
Dagger: How about "Electric Light", that's a pretty intense song, is that about a personal experience?
Mark: I'm not trying to be mysterious or anything, but the song is bigger than the real thing. It's just a song, take it for what you want, then throw it away.
Mark: Yeah it was, but we, well Tom took all the electric guitars off of it, 'cos it was a screaming rocker, but he took all the drums and guitars off it and replaced it with all this other quiet stuff, and I re-sang it.
Dagger: I'd like to hear the original.....
Mark: Well, it no longer exists, Tom hated it so he got rid of it. It made me sick, it really made me mad that he did that, 'cos we did all these great live takes and we had the song down, I mean what else do you want. But some people really like it.
Dagger: I really like it.
Mark: Oh yeah, when we play it live it's like an out and out rock song. We play everything different live than on the record, we barely play stuff off California anymore, we have all this new stuff.
Dagger: Do you still play stuff off Engine?
Mark: Not really, well a lot of the new stuff we play isn't that different from "Gary's Song". Now I'm getting into a lot of European pop music so......I don't really have any roots, I just like all different kinds of music.
Dagger: It's pretty much the same with me, I mean, it's all music and If I like it then I like it.
Mark: Yeah, maybe I'll even get into soul, hey did you hear the new Replacements album yet?
Dagger: Uh, we just got it at our school radio station, and I think I heard like one cut off of it.
Mark: Oh man, everybody really hates it, but I really love it. I think it's fuckin' beautiful.
Dagger: Yeah, you're a real big Replacements fan right?
Mark: Yeah, this new album is really good, boy I really like it. There's like this near-funk thing on it which is kinda strange. It's amazing, it's the kind of album that doesn't jump out at you, you have to listen to it a couple of times.
Dagger: That happens to me a lot, it'll take a few spins...
Mark: Yeah, the lastest Pixies album did that to me, you know? The first time I heard it I thought, "This thing is trash!" But I kept listening to it and it's not bad at all.
Mark: Oh thanks.
Dagger: Is there a big Joy Division influence?
Mark: Uh, yeah, about ten years ago I would listen to everything they ever did, I loved it. Ian Curtis was one of the greatest lyricists in the world I thought, nowadays I don't listen to it anymore at all. I mean Nick Drake is the only thing since Joy Division that I caught onto and thought was really good. For me it said a lot of stuff that I was trying to say in 1979. It was like, "Yeah, I can understand this shit."
Dagger: Were you in college at the time?
Mark: Yes sir, I was at Ohio State. I grew up in England until about 1979, and I was really into Wire. I remember going into record stores in Columbus and asking, "Do you have Real Life by Wire?" And they were like, "Is that the punk rock shit?" And I was like, "Yeah,I guess so." "Uh, no, we don't carry that here." I remember going into what since became a very hip record store, and the same employees who in 1979 were like, "Fuck, no," then a year later were like, "Yeah."
Dagger: So what's San Francisco like to live and play gigs in?
Mark: Uh, it's pretty good I guess, although we never get any money. I don't know, it's a normal big town, it's like they'll like you if they think your popular, and they won't like you if they think that you're not popular, because most people don't care about the music itself.
Dagger: That really irks me that people are like that, like you said, they don't care about music itself.
Mark: It's like BAM magazine, this local magazine that's a really big deal, right? They have the end of year report, what are the best shows that they went to in the Bay area, what are the best records. OK, the best records, none of them were by any local bands, none of them. And there are some good records coming out of here.....I think. But their favorite shows were all like at The Filmore, which is huge. The most underground band that they liked was REM, oh and they like Tracy Chapman, and this is like 30 people who write for this local magazine. The most underground things were like Public Enemy, which was the best album put out last year.
Dagger: I really hate rap music....
Mark: Well, tough. Ya know it's like Never Mind The Bollocks of our time. It's a really great record, anyway, ummm, it's gonna go nowhere because white people can't get behind it and who can blame them, anyway, so uh, Tracy Chapman, and all that kind of shit, so typical. Graham Parker, Brian Wilson, Traveling Wilburys, The Pogues, Michelle Shocked, Crowded House, Was Not Was, Jane's Addiction, well they're the top ten.
Dagger: I can't understand why everyone is popping a boner over Jane's Addiction.
Mark: Well, they've got three good songs, but they sound like Yes. I used to be a big Yes fan. Everyone's favorite place to go was like Oakland Coliseum, it's wild, they didn't even put on any local clubs. (Talk strays more to San Francisco)
Dagger: Have you guys thought about a bigger label?
Mark: Uh no, We wouldn't mind a bigger label but if it happens, it happens. I'm not holding out. I mean Elektra was the last one, they saw me being interviewed on this videotape, and it was like Elektra was gonna do it for us, they had the papers all ready to sign, then he saw me being interviewed on that videotape and he thought that I was the most negative person he had ever seen, and that I was down on the band, and down on rock, and he didn't want ANY of his people on Elektra to ever be like that. So I am like, "OK, sorry", but the videotape was badly edited so I don't blame him.
Dagger: Yeah, like what you were saying about people only liking popular bands, there's this club in Philly called Revival....
Mark: I know some people in Philly...
Dagger: Oh, who do you know?
Mark: Um, she runs a record store called Anarchy Records?
Dagger: Oh, Chaos Records, you mean Kathy and her boyfriend Brubaker?
Mark: Yeah, Kathleen! She's great, they're really nice people. We stayed at their house, we played Chaos Records.
Mark: Oh man, a few years ago. I guess it was when they just opened. 2 people came to see us. Yeah, we stayed at their house and they were really nice people.
Dagger: Yeah, Brubaker is a cool guy, he used to have a really bad reputation around Philly....
Mark: Yeah, his band was supposedly the scariest band in the world or something?
Dagger: Yeah, his band was Circle Of Shit, and he had a bunch of followers who were assholes. He's always been cool to me, I don't really know Kathy that well, just from seeing her in the store.
Mark: Yeah, she was like, "I don't like your record but you're nice people, I'll tell people to buy them because I have to move the things, but you guys are really nice." It ended up being a really nice time in Philly.
Dagger: It's unusual that you guys played Chaos Records because there's this other record store, called Philly Record Exchange, who usually books in-store performers who are pretty hip....
Mark: I'm not hip and I don't wanna be considered that, I mean "hip", fuck that shit, That's usually worthless, I just do my music and.....
Dagger: When I say hip, I just mean bands that I like, I don't mean like popular at the moment, like Butthole Surfers, or Soundgarden....
Mark: Well, I like the Buttholes, I don't like Soundgarden too much though, I don't like much heavy metal.
Dagger: Bands who are billed as "hip at the moment".
Mark: Well we're not that, and we'll never be like that, maybe in England we'll be like that, that's kinda scary. I don't regret it at all, I'd much rather play someplace like Chaos Records by accident for two, well maybe there was four, five people who were like totally bitchin', rather than play any kind of scene. I think that Frontier knew what they were doing when they did that. Things always work out, I believe in that kind of stuff, it wasn't painful. We opened for Jonathan Richman twice last year in front of all these people, and that's supposed to be a really good break, but I didn't like it at all, it was the most painful thing that we ever did. I didn't like the Jonathan Richman crowd, I don't like Jonathan Richman, I mean he's great in the way he opens and closes each show, but in between you gotta deal with this guy trying to be so cute and everything, which I don't object to but it's embarrassing. I don't understand it, and the only song....when he did, "People all over the world need affection" it was beautiful, it was so good! But it's a really old song and he doesn't write songs like that anymore, he writes stupid stuff, who cares, who gives a shit.....I mean, he's great, and I'm not putting him down at all, and I'm not saying that 'cos I'm afraid that he might read this because I don't give a shit, and he hates us anyway, but these are the worst shows, and I would much rather play a place like Chaos Records than to play any big shows like that.
Dagger: That's cool, you don't hear too maqny bands say that.
Mark: But it's true, you know, it's more important, it's like a quality thing. If you can entertain five people, if you can touch them, if you can do something good, that's twenty times more satisfying than playing in front of 700 ignored people who you can't touch. I prefer that, I guess it's just the artist in me.
Dagger: You don't like it just because there's that many people there, or do you think that you could play a show with that many people where you could touch them?
Mark: Well, when we play in front of the AMC crowd here in San Francisco, there's usually a lot of people there and they're real accepting, and they'll let anything happen. They're really great, they're awesome and that's probably the biggest crowd I ever want to play in front of because they're all really nice people. The rest of the band doesn't have my beliefs, they're older and they want the money, it's like either you want rock success, and I'm not gonna name names, but you want rock success and you can be the biggest asshole in the world, or you can be a human being and play music for other human beings. So if you play music for human beings most of the time, people will think you suck, but I'd much rather do that because somehow it makes things a lot bigger. I don'y have any doubts about my future, I know that something good's gonna happen all the time, well actually that's not true, I don't care about my future, I mean I planned for the worst from the get go, you know the worst always happens, but hell, I think I'm richer or better off than....I don't know, I can't compare myself to anybody.
Dagger: I've gotten a few friends of mine into you guys, I just want people to sit down and listen just for a few minutes....
Mark: Well you know this guy from Cleveland was interviewing me and he's like, "So yeah, you guys play this music and I can't play it on the radio 'cos nobody wants to hear it 'cos it's like so quiet". And he doesn't like "Bad Liquor", he likes the quiet stuff, like the rest of our records, and he says, "No one wants to hear it so you guys don't really stand a chance."
Dagger: Well, he sounds to me kinda like an asshole?
Mark: No, no he was totally cool. So I said, "Well you like it, and you're calling me up for an interview in your fanzine, so I'm obviously doing something right?"
Dagger: Well, if I had a radio show I'd play whatever the hell I want, if I want to play AMC, then I'm gonna play it.
Mark: Well, radio stations here have a certain rotation and playlists. It's weird, they only play specific records off records, and I hate that. That's what I hate about college radio, it seems like they format it and all you hear....well there's now this college radio sound, like the Coolies, stuff like that.
Dagger: I don't know mich about them?
Mark: Well their big college hit is "The crack pipe is burning my hand," that thing is just....
Mark: Well, I'm not gonna have an opinion 'cos I hate most everything, except for stuff that has heart & soul in it, that's why I'm a big Replacements fan.
Dagger: I just like music, whatever it happens to be, just music.....
Mark: Yeah right, I don't get caught up in any styles or anything. One woman who reviewed me live said that she hated me and wanted to slap me on the head, and say "Come on...", but the end of the article said, well it said, "I wanted to slap him upside his head, send him home to get a job and an attitude." And I thought, "Wow, I need an attitude, I don't have one?" And I still think about that, it's weird, I like that.
Dagger: That's cool, she wrote about what she thought about you....
Mark: Yeah, totally cool. But I think, "That's what you need is an attitude, wow." How weird, that makes no sense to me at all, but I think it's interesting. Maybe I'm just a limp geek up there flailing around at nothing. I guess that's what I am, but it's certainly better, well uh, more palatable than, uh, let me think of a good rock singer, I don't know, oh, the singer from Soundgarden who is supposed to be one of the most handsome men in the world. I'll never take my shirt off on stage, no way. I did that once and what a mistake that was, people laughed for four days.
Dagger: In this day and age it just doesn't seem to be happening as often as it used to.....
Mark: It happens just as much, it's just for me the older I get I see I'm not one of those kinda people. There's a famous song, it's just....I don't know, there's different ways of living. But I mean, shit man, I'm this 30 year old guy who is balding, who can do nothing else but write songs, so what else am I gonna expect out of life except for this summer touring England. That's like the best thing that can happen. Then after that's done, fine, maybe I can go stay with my sister for a while, and then you know maybe I can write another few songs and keep going but as far as, what is success? I mean you listen to the new Replacements record, a rock and roll ghost, you know he's looking into the mirror saying, "Oh wow," but then he's great, he can sing about that because he's generally great.
Dagger: Well, 98% of the people in the world could be like, "Who the fuck is Mark Eitzel?" but there's the other 2% like me and other people who listen to your songs and get something out of them, and are pretty happy that this guy Mark Eitzel is alive on this planet....
Mark: Well yeah, whatever, it's kind of what I'm doing. I guess that I'm an old punk, I make music to affect people, not 'cos you want some ulterior motive, but you make music to get in contact with people. I mean I'll certainly never be a glamour, I'll never be on the cover of Face magazine. I'm not a fashion model at all, God!
Dagger: You mean you're not like the singer of Soundgarden!?
Mark: (laughter) Not at all! That guy has it all going for him, good luck. Even the Beastie Boys guy, I don't understand it, well I do understand it, I think really could've gotten into that, but somehow, luckily it all passed me by. In the songs that I write, I sort of set myself up, like I won't let myself write any other....it's like with these new pop songs it's like I don't even want to let myself even get into a place where I'm gonna sing songs that are gonna be impersonal. I'm gonna have to sing songs that will force me to get in people's faces and sing, "Love, love, love, love.."
Mark: There's enough bands doing that though?
Mark: Like some friends of mine in Columbus, they're called, uh.... Great Plains. Yeah, like Ron House is like one of the best songwriters in America right now, he's great. Then there's like the Royal Crescent Mob, and one of those guys was in The Cowboys with me and you know, their first LP was pretty good, I haven't heard their second album though, but it's always hard to do that. It's hard to be a party band. I wish them all the luck in the world. Anyway, Scrawl are from Columbus.
Dagger: Yeah, I was gonna say, that my two favorites from Columbus are Scrawl and The Gibson Bros....
Mark: I've never heard The Gibson Bros, I know them as people, they're certainly great. I heard 'em once a long time ago. But like Scrawl, they write songs that they can, like show after show, get their teeth into 'cos it means something to them. And it makes sure they're gonna have to be emotional about these songs. I mean.....I don't ever want to be in a position where I have to walk my way through a set, and never feel anything. Some bands do that.
Dagger: A lot of bands do that....
Mark: Yeah, and I think that people love that more than me 'cos I'm like, well if a song is going badly then I'll stop the song or walk off the stage.
Dagger: Bands going through the motions, that's the phrase I was looking for.
Mark: Yeah right, I set myself up so you can't do that.
Dagger: Well that's good.....
Mark: Yeah, it's good. Well, who knows? Maybe not? Who knows what will happen? Ever since I saw myself videotaped I'm a little queasy about it.
Dagger: So we better wrap this up, anything to close this with?
Mark: No, nothing. I gotta go get drunk, that's my goal for tonight.