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June 03, 2008

Full Bohemian Interview

Here's the full interview with Mark and The Northbay Bohemian's Matt Pamatmat that his Critic's Choice featurette was based on in the 7/23/2008 issue.

Q- I’m curious about your influences. I’m definitely hearing some sadness in the songs on ‘Love & Barbwire’ akin to, say, Townes Van Zandt. But there are also hopeful songs, and ones with more levity and playfulness. Besides the somewhat vague descriptors like “Americana”, “roots”, “alt country”, tell me about your
(and the band’s) specific influences, heroes, heroines.

A- The band members have been playing classic rock, country, blues, gospel and jazz leading up to this unit.

As a writer/singer what I do has been hugely influenced by those who play a fairly wide range of styles with a grittyness and a pop sense of hummable melody. Hard, soft and in-between. Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Marshall Crenshaw and John Hiatt are big for me. Also country and soul music and 70's punk and new wave. I think the variety of the a.m. radio station in Boise in the 1970's that I grew up listening to helped form my taste. I would hear The Spinners, The Temptations, Rolling Stones, a country song by Creedence, The Beach Boys, The Eagles and Neil Sedaka back-to-back. Country music radio was prevalent too and my Dad played stand-up bass in bands.

Q- Though I haven’t had the pleasure, it seems like you guys’d be good live. Any interesting road stories, live stories?

A- The most interesting gigs are usually in tiny places like Manton, CA or Point Arena. One time when we were done with a gig at the Arena theatre in Pt.Arena, we were just hanging out and a funky artistic marching band (with dancers and mimes) called the "Extra-action marching band" came marching in and did an impromptu performance at midnite. They were just in town, passing through on their way somewhere else and took the opportunity!

Q- Tell me a little about the recording process of Love & Barbwire. I sensed that below the production & group effort of this album, these are songs essentially written alone an acoustic guitar, especially the more tender ones.

A- Very astute! They were all written on an acoustic usually in my bedroom. I do the music first and then pick a subject matter that I've been jotting down notes on and try to plug in lines that rhyme. I mainly have the arrangement in mind to bring to the band and they contribute their talents and things often change a bit. We recorded live in the studio, vocals included, to try to get a live feel and the overdubbing we did was fairly minimal.

Of course the sounds we made were certainly enhanced by the able
hands of engineers Darryl Webb and Warren Dennis Khan at Banquet Studios in Sebastapol.

Q- Tell me a little about living & gigging in the North Bay. Other bands, politics, venues, culture wars, scenes, crowds, etc.

A- The Dustdevils have been doing this for 14 years and I'm impressed how live music perseveres. Places close, but new places open and people keep trying to have live music in their clubs or house concert or wherever they can cobble something together. Especially now, with so many entertainment options it's
heartening that the live music spark lives on.

Q- You’re the namesake of the band. Tell me a little about yourself. Something I might not find on the Internet or official press releases.

A- I grew up on a farm in eastern Oregon and I and my late brother played country and top 40 rock. Me and my brother's musical lives changed the day I went to a used record store in Boise and came home with Graham Parker's "Heat Treatment" and "Rocket To Russia" by The Ramones. Smart, simple, high energy music with memorable melodies.

When the "Do It Yourself" ethic of late 70's Punk and New Wave
hit, we got the guts to start writing our own songs and to play something in addition to country and top 40. Started our own band in college at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

I lost my brother when he was 25. We had a band together in Orange County at that time.

Q- Anything else you’d like to say about you & your band?

A- Though all the band members have relationships with members of the opposite sex, we were inspired by the noteworthy San Franciso weddings a few years ago and have been playing our equality of marraige anthem "True Love” for the past three years. We are excited that our album is releasing just when same-sex marraige is legal in California. Love is breaking out all up and down the state!

Posted by Mark at June 3, 2008 05:53 PM


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