Fear Of Speed - September 2004

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American Music Club
Publication: Fear Of Speed
Author: Paul Austin
Date: September 2004

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After almost ten years apart, American Music Club have reunited to make a brand new record called Love Songs For Patriots. The record is everything AMC fans hoped it would be when word first got out that the band was getting back together.

Recorded by drummer Tim Mooney at his San Francisco studio Closer, it reunites songwriter Mark Eitzel with original bandmates Mooney, Dan Pearson (bass) and Vudi (guitar). Eitzel has released several solo records, each its own beast, covering terrain from churning electronica to the whisper-soft, gentle balladry that first earned him the inevitable Nick Drake comparisons. But AMC has a chemistry undeniably its own.

I talked with Tim Mooney a few days before seeing the band play live at Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival in September, and spoke with Mark Eitzel a couple of weeks later. Love Songs For Patriots comes out on October 12 via Merge Records, and you really should buy it. (No, I don't get anything for saying that. I just think it's true.)

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FEAR OF SPEED: Okay, Tim. How did this happen?

TIM: I think the general idea of getting back together was kicking around for at least a year or two. We did an impromptu reunion once when Clodhopper were on the same bill with Mark; we ended up doing about three songs. And that felt pretty good to everybody.

We don't know who said it first (laughs), but it just started getting talked about. I'd talk to Danny and he'd say "maybe we should do a show." Everybody had something to say about it, and finally I called Mark in Chicago and we made plans for him to spend July of last year out here. And that's when we started recording. He went back, and then we picked up in September again. There were a lot of things to work around, so it took a long time to finish the record.

FEAR OF SPEED: Were there demos?

TIM: No, we just started recording. The very first stuff was just me, Mark and Danny. Vudi came up from LA the next week, and played on all we had. And we just kind of kept at it. We started a song that very first day we met up, which didn't make it onto the record...

FEAR OF SPEED: Really? What song?

TIM: It's called "In a Crowd". A really good song. But Mark never felt like he was completely done with the lyrics. But it's great. Very AMC-like.

FEAR OF SPEED: "AMC-like"?

TIM: By that I mean one of those slow, floaty songs. A "Gratitude Walks" type of thing.

FEAR OF SPEED: I know the sessions were at your studio Closer, and that gave you a lot of flexibility. It can make things pretty informal too, so I'm wondering if, as you were recording, there was always the idea that you were making a record.

TIM: I think so, because it was good right away. We just started behaving like we were making a record (laughs).

FEAR OF SPEED: And the record was mixed in Denton, Texas. All I know about Denton is that Centro-Matic are from there.

TIM: The drummer from Centro-Matic mixed the record with us.

FEAR OF SPEED: It's a very noisy, immediate record. Things floating around where you can't really tell what the instrument is, odd textures, feedback... I've heard elements of that in the past on AMC records but they always seemed very carefully placed. On the new record it sounds much more instinctually raw.

TIM: It became important to keep it raw. We did some preliminary mixing, and it became really smooth sounding. And that felt wrong; all the edges were smoothed out. If it sounds raw to you that's great, because I think these songs wanted some edges.

FEAR OF SPEED: I like the way it doesn't sound fussed over.

TIM: We fussed over it, but we left the looseness and some mistakes in.

FEAR OF SPEED: The last time I saw AMC play live, you were touring for the San Francisco record. And you know, everyone looked really unhappy. Is that how you remember it?

TIM: Well, not entirely (laughs)... but it was a tough time.

FEAR OF SPEED: And there was this guy who seemed to be running the soundboard, and on some songs he'd come up onstage and play acoustic guitar. And I couldn't figure out who he was or what was going on with that.

TIM: On the last European tour, we had to go out on the road without Bruce (Kaphan). And we were really used to having him. The European tour was sort of overly rock, and so we were trying to find a way to smooth it out a little bit for Mark and Vudi.

FEAR OF SPEED: I had seen you on tour for the Mercury record in 1993, and it was one of the best shows I've ever seen in my whole life. And then, on the San Francisco tour, the lineup had only changed by one, but the whole vibe was so different.

TIM: It was a hard record to make. It did kind of rock, maybe to its detriment.

FEAR OF SPEED: Rocked to its detriment?

TIM: I kind of think so. It was part of what pushed us toward that direction for the tour, and led to that unhappiness.

FEAR OF SPEED: Do you think it wasn't what AMC fans wanted to hear?

TIM: It didn't come out the way we wanted to hear it either. I mean, some of the songs are beautiful. And if you take it song by song, it's fine. But as a whole, somehow we shoehorned the rock songs into a more standard format. Just made it more normal.

FEAR OF SPEED: Which was quite a change after the previous record.

TIM: The Mercury aesthetic is far better for us. Just let the songs be what they are, instead of thinking that we should make the song in 4/4, and it should go verse chorus verse chorus bridge. You know?

FEAR OF SPEED: Your studio shares space with Badman Recordings there in San Francisco. Was there any thought of putting the new record out on Badman?

TIM: A little bit. I mean, Dylan has certainly expressed interest. But I'm already a business partner with Dylan, so maybe it wouldn't be so good to then add a record into the equation. And Merge were really great about wanting to release it.

FEAR OF SPEED: I've never heard a band on Merge talk about having a poor experience with them. Not a bad word to be said. That's so rare. And I can only attribute that to the fact that they must be totally realistic up front about expectations.

TIM: I think they are. What they offered us up front was less than what some other places offered, but they said "this will allow us to put x amount into promoting the record." Which is really important. I think if record companies give you a lot up front, and then the record doesn't jump off the shelves, they start feeling resentful at some level. This way it allows for more promotion, which is great.

FEAR OF SPEED: Because the music business has really changed a lot recently.

TIM: Oh, yeah.

FEAR OF SPEED: I was listening to the last three AMC records in a row the other day. The first thing that jumps out is the songwriting, obviously. But each record also has a very distinct sonic identity. Mercury is a very inventive, sonically interesting record.

TIM: Right.

FEAR OF SPEED: San Francisco, although I love so many of the songs, sounds really fussed over.

TIM: I think so, too. It was fussed over, and it sounds like it.

FEAR OF SPEED: And Love Songs For Patriots... it's such an immediate sounding record. I put it on and "Ladies And Gentlemen" kicked in, with the squall of electric guitar and fuzz bass. It really sets the tone.

TIM: We struggled a little bit with whether that should be the first song.

FEAR OF SPEED: Because it's so aggressive?

TIM: Yeah. But Mark felt strongly about it, and in the end it does seem right. Later someone pointed out to me that it's similar to the way Sgt. Pepper begins (laughs), in that it kind of introduces the record.

FEAR OF SPEED: "Ladies and Gentlemen, it's TIME!"

TIM: Right.

FEAR OF SPEED: I have all of Mark's solo records, but I really missed your drumming. Not many drummers have that much propulsion but still swing.

TIM: I think the songs want that. It's funny, we rehearsed a bit this past week without Mark because he's in Europe. And it's super hard to rehearse without him, and always has been, because everyone is very much reacting to him. The lyrics and the way he's singing them. If he isn't there, it feels like an entirely different song and we sound like a different kind of band.

FEAR OF SPEED: It's hard to find the emotion in it.

TIM: We just have to follow him. Push him on when he needs pushing on, pull him back when he needs pulling back.

FEAR OF SPEED: I've never talked to someone who's part of something like this. You were a great band, and now this great band is back together. And something I really admire about it is the same thing I admire in Mission of Burma for doing it. Both bands have a huge legacy. Very influential, and a great body of work.

But you didn't let AMC’s reputation keep you from reopening the book on the band. Many bands get worried about tarnishing their legacy, and it takes a lot of courage to start it up again.

TIM: Well, that’s really nice to hear. Because when we first started this record… I don’t know if we were conscious of that specifically, but we knew it better be a good record. And Mission of Burma probably felt the same way, you know? Like they really weren’t done yet. It’s an interesting place to be.

FEAR OF SPEED: What’s it like to get together and play again after ten years have elapsed? I’m sure everyone’s goals are different now, and there’s no reason to do it unless you’re enjoying it. People start families, and build up other parts of their lives. You have a recording studio now, and to take time away from that to record and tour with AMC… it really has to be a special thing.

TIM: I think we all have a stronger appreciation for what we are together. It’s easy to lose that when you’re in the midst of the major label experience. Everyone is telling you there’s no hit single, and you start to put all this pressure on yourselves. What you should and shouldn’t be. And you know, we’re certainly not the kind of band that should attempt to “write a hit single”. The attempts at that were never that satisfying. That’s when you get into that “can you guys make it be more normal?” kind of thinking. (laughs)

FEAR OF SPEED: It takes away from what makes AMC unique.

TIM: Sure. All those things. If it’s long, or the time signature’s funny… if that’s what it takes for Mark to present what he wants to present, you have to respect that.

FEAR OF SPEED: I was listening to West the other day, the record Mark did with Peter Buck. As much as I like the lyrics on that record, the standard pop rock format of much of the music never really hit me. I missed the way AMC let the lyrics dictated the music, in terms of emotion.

TIM: That’s the way it has to be.

FEAR OF SPEED: Was there ever any thought of including Bruce in the reunion?

TIM: Well, certainly not initially. I think from everyone’s perspective… well, he quit, you know? He quit during the making of San Francisco. And so those last tours that became so stressful (laughs), he never did those. And through those tours we always thought, “this is the final four guys. The final incarnation of the band.” So no, it didn’t really occur to anyone at the start. We got conscious of it later, because people would ask. But he quit, and he wasn’t there at the time we all sat down and said “let’s stop doing this now…”

FEAR OF SPEED: It does make sense that it’s you four. It was you four when you stopped, so why wouldn’t it be that way when you decided you hadn’t finished after all? That you weren’t done.

TIM: That’s a good way of looking at it (laughs). Because obviously he was done.

FEAR OF SPEED: I’m looking forward to seeing you play this weekend at Bumbershoot.

TIM: Yeah, that should be good. Well, I hope so. Mark will be flying in to San Francisco the day before, and we’ll just take off. We haven’t had the chance to do any playing together for about a month and a half, so we’ll see how it goes.

AMC live at Bumbershoot September 2004. L-R Dan, Tim, Mark, Vudi, Marc

FEAR OF SPEED: Hey, it’s a raw and immediate record.

TIM: It is. And a lot of the songs, like “Patriot's Heart”, we didn’t even really try to rehearse. Because it all keys off the vocals, as most of the songs do.

FEAR OF SPEED: Did you notice a change in the tone of the lyrics when you got back together?

TIM: A lot of what he’s talking about is really positive stuff. Love, hope... Although I think he always talked about that, and I never quite got why people thought all our songs were so depressing.

FEAR OF SPEED: The humor in the lyrics is a lot more overt now. A song like “Myopic Books”, where the narrator goes into the bookstore and everyone who works there is really skinny, and very unfriendly, and Dinosaur Jr. is playing…

TIM: Well, that humor certainly reflects who Mark is. I mean… he’s a funny guy.

FEAR OF SPEED: Did you ever envision yourself recording and producing an American Music Club record?

TIM: My interest in recording started about the time of Mercury. I learned a ton about arranging from watching Mitchell, and a ton about recording by watching Tchad. I’d already spent a lot of time in studios, but their whole aesthetic really made sense to me. And after the band broke up, that’s what I started doing next.

Doing it ourselves this time really made sense, because our last experience recording a record wasn’t that good. And it turned out well; it really reflects us. Which I hope is a good thing (laughs)

FEAR OF SPEED: I heard you play a few of the songs live on KEXP, and when I heard the record I noticed right away how similar it is. There were some added textural things, and the sound was much more 3-D, but otherwise it sounded the same – very much a live band.

TIM: That was the task. Mark would play a song for us, and then we’d spend a couple of hours figuring out how we were going to play it. And then it was just a matter of getting the take. A couple of songs that came later were more constructed in the computer. “America Loves The Minstrel Show” is one, and that’s because it has such an odd drum pattern. I don’t know if I could have even done it for a whole take that day, although I can do it now. But even that all happened in day. So if it was done in the computer, it still felt like this new song we were all there making together.

FEAR OF SPEED: Did you read Wish The World Away, the AMC biography?

TIM: Pretty much.

FEAR OF SPEED: What’s it like to read such an exhaustively detailed account of your band?

TIM: It somehow didn’t capture what’s great about the band. And maybe you can’t do that in a book, talking about music. But at times it just came off like a litany of poor business dealings. I learned some things by reading it, like the extent that the managers thought Mitchell was wrong for us and ruining the record. Because really, we were making the record we wanted to be making.

FEAR OF SPEED: It must feel odd to read a book about your own band.

TIM: I just don’t have any perspective on it. Because I love to read about the Rolling Stones, or read Mojo… I love reading that stuff. But I don’t have any perspective on this one. And there were some people I wish would have talked but didn’t, so you kind of got all the… displeased people (laughs). But maybe that’s always the way it is. Other than that, it’s really flattering to have someone write a book at all.

FEAR OF SPEED: How far ahead is the band planning?

TIM: Not that far. Through the touring that we know about. It would be nice to keep doing it and to make another record. I’d like us to stick together, and keep doing it how we want to do it. Mark’s solo work is very different than this, so he could do both. We haven’t really talked about it, but that’s what I’d like to see happen. Everybody missed it.

FEAR OF SPEED: I missed you.

TIM: Well, that’s the other thing. It really means something to people. And if it means something to us too… well, let’s keep going.

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FEAR OF SPEED: How's it going?

MARK: I've had, like, the weirdest night of my whole life. This millionaire who owns Maxim magazine funded this poetry reading, and they had like eight different kinds of this really expensive French wine. All in a corporate environment. So strange. He's the owner of Maxim, and he's a poet. Go figure.

FEAR OF SPEED: I'm sorry I called you earlier, while the reading was still finishing up. It rang for a long time. I hope I didn't disturb anyone.

MARK: Oh, no, it's okay. My phone was on vibrate. You didn't quite give me a hard-on but I did start thinking about it.

FEAR OF SPEED: I'd just like to tell you that when you played "Home" at Bumbershoot, I almost cried.

MARK: Because you felt sorry for me?

FEAR OF SPEED: No, it was just so gorgeous. Transcendent. I wanted to mention that right away, so readers will know there's no pretense of objectivity here. When a band reunites and tours, you know the new songs will be mixed with the cream of the crop of the older stuff. It was pretty exciting that the new songs were some of the highlights.

MARK: Thanks, man. That's really cool.

FEAR OF SPEED: It must be hard trying to create any intimacy playing those outside festival shows, when everyone is spread out on a lawn kind of squinting at you...

MARK: Oh, we weren't even trying any more by that point. And my ear monitors kept falling out of my ears.

FEAR OF SPEED: Well, it was a great show.

MARK: A lot of people got up and left.

FEAR OF SPEED: Everybody does that at Bumbershoot. People race around trying to catch as much music as they can. You know, get their money's worth for the all day ticket. I've never seen a guitar player do windmills and not look foolish until I saw Vudi doing them during that show. I didn't know whether he was being ironic or not, but it was just so damn majestic...

MARK: He practices that at home, I swear to God (laughs). But you know, you gotta understand Vudi's idea of rock. I mean, Vudi was at Altamont. And he saw the Who at Winterland, and shit like that. So his idea of rock is pretty classic. He really believes in that kind of a show. He's the shit, you know?

FEAR OF SPEED: It went against the whole indie rock thing, where performers are afraid to do anything in broad strokes for folks in the back of the crowd...

MARK: Vudi's never been into any indie rock ever. We're all too old.

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FEAR OF SPEED: Can I be honest with you?

MARK: Sure.

FEAR OF SPEED: I have this feeling AMC is never going to be super popular.

MARK: I agree. I never thought we would be.

FEAR OF SPEED: I think the problem is that the music is just too beautiful. I was reading an interview with Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, and he was wondering why his songs, even the really pretty ones, never get on the radio.

MARK: Hey, welcome to America, man.

FEAR OF SPEED: And he was telling this to Tom Waits, and Waits said something to the effect that the beauty in it was too raw for the radio. He said "we'd have secretaries listening and crying in their cars on the way to work, and you know, we just can't have that."

MARK: I don't know about that. I think the problem is America. It's over.

FEAR OF SPEED: Over?

MARK: Over as a force that transcends the world. And of course it doesn't acknowledge its own artists.

FEAR OF SPEED: That's strange you say America is over. Onstage here just a couple of weeks ago, you were telling the crowd that you said that to a friend, and she said "if you say that, you're just as bad as they are." And you said she was right.

MARK: Yeah, right. I did say that. I am trying to be more positive, but I think America has to recognize that the people who express the truth about this country are important, you know?

FEAR OF SPEED: So "America is over" isn't a bad thing, it's a good thing. Because it's a necessary step to finally...

MARK: Oh, I don't know if it's good or bad, I just know it's true. I know it's true. Hey, I just saw the owner of Maxim doing a poetry reading, you know? And it was really lite poetry. And sometimes lite poetry is worse than bad poetry, because lite poetry suggests what good poetry could be, you know? And he did lite poetry great . It was actually really fun. He bought everyone wine and had a video presentation, and wants to brand his name as a poet. So then he can go TV with Jay Leno and be the scary, eccentric British millionaire poet.

You know, I don't know if America is over. But how do we... I mean, Clear Channel owns everything now. And how do we get out of that? We're a monoculture now.

FEAR OF SPEED: I remember you once saying "I write songs about love. That's it. Politics is something you have to wipe and flush after." And a few years later, here you are writing political songs. I guess it reaches a certain point where things get so bad that writing about personal politics isn't enough, you have to speak out and...

MARK: Yeah, well now we've invaded Iraq. And everyone who's 17 now is going to be drafted within three or four years, for a war that's bullshit! And all these Iraqis are dying because of one crazy man's political dream. And that's wrong. We never had this kind of government before. I always used to believe that we had a government that would try to do the right thing. And now, guess what? They ain't.

And for me, being a gay person... George Bush has made me come clean in a lot of ways. I can't write the kind of songs I want to write and not talk about these things. Because it's affecting my future. I don't even know if I have a future in America anymore. It's a future without social security or healthcare, where the very rich are in protected camps and the very poor are desperate and dying. What kind of future is that? I went to Brazil, to San Paolo, and I saw it there. The future of America. Everyone who's semi-bourgeoise has a fence around their house and a security guard.

FEAR OF SPEED: Everyone but the poor live in protected compounds.

MARK: They live in compounds! And that's the future of this country.

FEAR OF SPEED: I'm not disagreeing with you

MARK: I know... (sigh) I know. I just hate it. It's wrong. And it's taken me all this time to... hey, but you know what? You know what I'm doing right now? I've had all this fabulous French wine, and now I'm driving around in a Ford Mustang, and it's the best car every built! (laughs) I'm in this fabulous fuckin' Mustang with a V-8 engine that's fuckin' HUGE! And it's so much fun.

FEAR OF SPEED: So it's not all bad.

MARK: America was a wonderful place. But this new government is different. It's not America, it's fascist.

FEAR OF SPEED: I was in Europe in May, and found I spent a lot of time as an apologist for this country, trying to explain that most of us here don't support the war.

MARK: Hey, I've spent all my life being an apologist. I grew up as an army brat in Europe, and I spent all my time in high school as an apologist for America, you know? I know what that is. And I'd like to still be an apologist, but I don't have a good argument for America anymore. I just can't do it. I do really love this country, but what we're doing now is... evil. Invading Iraq was just stupid. And sometimes stupid is evil.

FEAR OF SPEED: Do you plan on continuing to live here?

MARK: I don't know. Maybe not.

FEAR OF SPEED: I ask because I heard that your boyfriend...

MARK: ...might get deported, yeah. And if that happens, maybe I won't stay. Maybe Paris. Paris is great. I think if I sell my house, I could maybe afford a studio apartment in Paris. That would be awesome. And you know, America wouldn't care. All the artists could die at the same time, and Letterman would come on TV and make a joke about it, and that'd be it.

FEAR OF SPEED: You know, I did want to ask you about a couple of recordings you did prior to Love Songs.

MARK: Okay.

FEAR OF SPEED: The sessions in Chicago called "Desert Whorehouse"...

MARK: Oh yeah, that was with Jay Bennett. I think we did seven songs, and... (momentarily distracted, looking out the car window) Hey! I did acid in that park. Oh my god, I was really fucked up. Anyway... I did seven songs with Jay that no one will ever hear again. They were good but American Music Club is better.

FEAR OF SPEED: Are any of those songs on the new AMC record?

MARK: Yeah, but I rewrote them. I rewrote them for Vudi, because Vudi doesn't like shit, you know? And I really respect him and he scares me (laughs). So I rewrote everything for Vudi and for the band. And it's a much better record. They really understand my songs, and I'm really happy to be back with them.

FEAR OF SPEED: I got the record and put it on, and was immediately knocked out by how raw it is at the beginning.

MARK: Well that was the thing, you know? When I play my music with people, I find that everyone starts to play really soft... and they want to make this really pretty, compassionate music. And I was like "No", and... (drifts away from phone) wait, I'm gonna go pee over there.

FEAR OF SPEED: Are you talking to me?

MARK: What? No. I'm here. I'll pee right here. What was I... oh yeah. I was like "No, I want to make a record that reflects my rage. I want to make a really loud record."

FEAR OF SPEED: It's so visceral.

MARK: I know, I know. And I read reviews now that say skip over those first five songs.

FEAR OF SPEED: Really?

MARK: Yeah. But it's okay.

FEAR OF SPEED: The other recordings I wanted to ask about have to do with the West sessions. Recently I ran into Scott McCaughey, and I said to him "I heard that after West you all did more recording..."

MARK: We did a lot, actually. We did a lot.

FEAR OF SPEED: And so I said, "Is there any chance I could hear those songs? I'm a really big fan, you know." And he kind of looked at me from behind his shades, and gave me this really long answer about how he'd have to check if they were going to be used for anything, and then he might be able to look for them. Possibly. Ultimately what he gave me was this very confusing but gracious "no fucking way".

MARK: Ah, God bless him. He's an expert at that. But you know, they aren't done. None of it's done. And the problem is... see, I wrote those songs with somebody that gets a thousand phone calls a day. Literally. And it's really hard to finish something with someone like that. I mean, I love Peter. But I don't know when we'll finish it or if it will ever even be finished.

Maybe it doesn't need to be, you know? I write enough of my own songs already.

FEAR OF SPEED: You can understand my interest, though? These songs that you obviously put a lot of energy into...

MARK: Yeah, well... I don't care. (laughs) I can be an asshole if I want to, right?

FEAR OF SPEED: Hey, they're your songs; you can do what you want with them. I was only expressing enthusiasm.

MARK: Unless Peter and I sit down and decide to put a lot of time into them, no. They will never come out.

FEAR OF SPEED: A friend was at your recent EMP show, and she said "After the show, I was standing in the lobby going on and on about how great Mark is, really gushing loudly, and then I turned around and he was standing right behind me, looking at me. I was mortified."

MARK: Really? (laughs)

FEAR OF SPEED: The funny thing is, I've heard that same story from at least a dozen different people, all in different places. It's almost the Mark Eitzel urban legend.

MARK: I guess I never hear any of that, because I'm talking to someone else at the same time. I do remember that show, though, and I was probably talking about Mark Kozelek, and how much he hated me at the moment. Although I didn't insult him. I just didn't know he was in the audience when I started talking about him.

FEAR OF SPEED: Oh, this was your most recent EMP show. The show where you changed shirts after every song because your manager told you you needed a gimmick.

MARK: Ah. He did tell me that. And then he fired me.

FEAR OF SPEED: You know, I was looking the AMC dot net website today. And I've only met Ben Londa once...

MARK: A sweetheart. He's a sweetheart.

FEAR OF SPEED: I was really impressed when - before anyone had a clue AMC might reunite - someone took the time and care to archive all this stuff about the band. Lyrics, interviews, photos... just a really comprehensive site about the music, an outpost to keep spreading the word about the band's body of work.

MARK: It really blew me away. It was so nice.

FEAR OF SPEED: When people have faith, it's so cool when it's rewarded by something happening like the band getting back together to make another great record.

MARK: That might be one of the reasons it happened, the faith of... well... actually, no. It was more that Tim had a free studio and said "Come on!" Because I'm probably the only member of the band that even knows about the website.

FEAR OF SPEED: Really?

MARK: Yeah. (laughs) None of the other members of the band really cared that much.

FEAR OF SPEED: That surprises me.

MARK: Well, that's normal for musicians, you know? You should know, you're one. But I was really blown away. He's a sweetheart.

FEAR OF SPEED: I just recently noticed that site has the lyrics to every song you've released, as well as a lot of unreleased songs you've played live.

MARK: And from the new record too, yeah. I want to have those on my website too, but I haven't done it yet. I can't figure out CSS. Cascading style sheets. I just can't get my mind around it. But I have to, because I always want Verdana, 9 point text, no decoration... I just have to figure it out so I can make a whole new website.

FEAR OF SPEED: I was looking at the lyrics for "I'm In Heaven Now"...

MARK: I'm so embarrassed by that song.

FEAR OF SPEED: I really love the line "it's the theme park of my dreams."

MARK: Oh, come on. "Michael Jackson's on his knees," I'm so embarrassed I wrote that song. I don't want Michael Jackson giving me head. Not with that mouth. Hey... I'm sorry. I'm so drunk, I've had all this really fine wine.

FEAR OF SPEED: That's OK. But you know, I've probably listened to "Mission Rock Resort" hundreds of times, and until I read the lyrics, I always had some of the lines wrong.

MARK: Really?

FEAR OF SPEED: Yeah. When you say "over the graveyard of ships, and your conversation", it sounded like you were singing "over the graveyard shift of your conversation." I thought it was a pun. The graveyard shift.

MARK: That's a better lyric. That would have been have been better.

FEAR OF SPEED: Where does it go from here?

MARK: I don't know. Nowhere, really. I don't think AMC is going to go through the roof or anything. I'm basically just trying to sustain songwriting as long as I can, until I have to find a new job. And I think I will. I think I'll be okay. But I have to change my life pretty soon, because I know this will never make me money anymore. And that's a weird thing. But really, I think we'll just try to sustain it for a year or so, and then... it'll be done.

Or maybe not. Who knows? Maybe I can write a song like that "I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt" song, and keep it going.

FEAR OF SPEED: I remember you being asked what a typical AMC fan was like, and you replied "lonely chemistry students."

MARK: (laughs) I did say that.

FEAR OF SPEED: Have you noticed any change in your demographic while AMC has been away?

MARK: I have, actually! But you know, everyone still has a little bit of that lonely chemistry student in them. I know that I certainly do.