Sunday, May 27, 2007

Money Mark Interview

Courtesy of Goose's Ganders and

George, Washington -- Money Mark was hands down the coolest guy at our picnic table. And that's saying something as both MCA and Mike D dropped by. In fact, we've decided he was the coolest guy at the Sasquatch Music Festival. Whether it was one of two sets with the Beastie Boys or his solo set at the Wookie Stage, Mark's infectious personality quickly took fans' minds off the elements and into the music. His music-ability sent fans grooving off into the cosmos. It was our pleasure to sit down with Money Mark this blustery Sunday afternoon, where instead of tickling the ivories, he tickled our fancy.

Mark's easy-going demeanor put us at ease from the start. We arrived at the picnic table where Mark was honking a hand-crafted clown horn at anyone within earshot. This modified instrument piqued our interest in his background, which he was happy to share with us. The son of a Japanese-American electronics wizard and Tejana songstress, Mark and his dad began tinkering with instruments from an early age. This began with his first Fender Rose and was evidenced today by the modified horn. He mentioned early influences such as Herbie Hancock.

During his solo set, his workman-like attitude and craftsman past bled onto the stage with a healthy DIY attitude. When he wasn't pounding out healthy grooves or busy laying down frenetic funk with his tailor-made gee-tar, he would look out into the crowd through his trademark sunglasses and crack a smile between breaths. Backed by a talented group of musicians, Mark's solo set had the crowd swaying even harder than the wind-blown trees from start to finish.

Mark's classic storytelling kept us rapt with tales from his varied past. He recounted growing up in South Central Los Angeles where he spent countless hours watching his musical heroes perform on Sunset Blvd. While standing at the urinal one night at the Rainbow Room, Mark noticed one of his musical idols peeing beside him. It was at this moment that he realized being a popular musician wasn't so far out of reach. And over the ensuing minutes, we realized Mark was just a normal guy like us. But with a clown horn.

We would have been remiss to conclude our interview without discussing Mark's most recent album and notably his inventive video effort for the single, "Pick Up the Pieces". Anyone who has spent a Sunday afternoon in Southern California has witnessed the artistry of a sign spinner. While Mark was taking a drive, he took notice and recognized the hip hop influence on the artistry of sign spinning. Mark's first inclination was to take a picture, quickly realizing this had the potential to be among the most inventive videos of 2007.

Before relinquishing Mark back to the Beastie Boys, he showed a profound respect for the power that comes with the microphone. He spoke of the positives and negatives that come with amplifying one's voice to the masses. He hopes his voice is one of poetry.

Were this a seven page spread for Rolling Stone or Spin, we would delve into the brilliance that is Mark's stage presence with the Beastie Boys. Do not miss your next opportunity to see the sporadic, commanding organ player for one of the most influential groups of our time.

Check out his new album Brand New By Tomorrow.

Interview by Danny Dancer & MJ

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