After a high speed chase through the ladies room, the venue, and the parking lot, I finally cornered Spitalfield singer/guitarist Mark Rose before the band played an amazing set in Atlanta, GA. Always a pleasure, Mark is a wonderful person and a great entertainer. His band is severely underrated, and if you haven’t picked up their new album “Better Than Knowing Where You Are”, go do it right now. Even if you’re reading this after midnight, go to Wal-Mart. They have it. I’m serious. Go buy it. Now.
Trevor: To get this going, are you guys pleased with the outcome of the new album?
Mark: Yeah. I’d say we’re very happy with it, mainly because we kind of took the elements of the previous two records that we thought worked best and put them towards the new record. Both production-wise and music-wise, I think we put together…I don’t know..kind of what would be like our definitive record. Anyone that’s been following us would hopefully hear all our favorite traits about us together on one record.
Trevor: How has the fan-reaction to the album been?
Mark: The response has been very good. The numbers have kind of started off slower than we were hoping, but for the most part, it’s been received very well. It’s always a unique experience for us because Remember Right Now came out and was a very slow, slow build. Then Stop Doing Bad Things came out and had a really big start, but the fans were kind of split on whether they liked the darker, more mature sound we had on that record. Now on this one, it seems like it’s being received very well. Probably better than the last one, but at the same time, the numbers aren’t even as high as the second one was for the first couple of weeks. We’re keeping our shoulder to the wheel on it, and we know that. We know we need to get some support tours going in the new year to kind of get back in the faces of kids that may or may not have checked out the new record yet.
Trevor: Do any of the new songs stick out as new favorites for you guys to play?
Mark: (laughing) Yeah, I think we love playing the new stuff live, because with the lineup of people we’ve got playing out there..TJ on the bass, you know had been playing someone else’s music. He was in the band, but he wasn’t a part of those albums recording-wise, so it’s got to feel good for him. I think that this type of music, this style, really carries over well live. We try to have energy, but try to keep it composed enough to sound as good as it can. I’d say “The Only Thing That Matters,” which we’ve been opening up with on this tour, really, if I had to pick one track off of the new record to sum up the album, it would be that one. We’re playing a good number of songs off of it. I really like playing “Won’t Back Down” live, like a whole lot. It’s a little more mid-tempo rock. It’s definitely not slow, but mid. I really like playing that one. I think it will change every week(laughing) until the album is a year old, because then I can look back on it and really say what my favorites were.
Trevor: How has Dan leaving affected you guys as a unit?
Mark: Well, in multiple ways. First and foremost, he was just a really good friend that we had spent the last five years touring with. We had always associated touring with touring with Dan. We had never not had Dan. The biggest thing was of course, he’s just not here. We all miss him. We miss him as a person. We were good friends, and we still are. That’s what makes it okay. He didn’t really leave on hard terms. It wasn’t like he got mad and quit the band. It’s just where he was at with his personal life and various things that were going on. The fact is he had been with us for five years and he gave us the heads up a couple of months before that he was going to be leaving. He didn’t just pull out last minute. That being said, we had Jeff just filling in for a while and now he’s with us full time. I couldn’t be happier with the change. I’m not going to say it’s a change that I’m glad happened, but I’m going to say that taking a negative, such as Dan leaving, turning it positive would be Jeff joining. He’s been great. He’s been singing back-ups and playing the riffs as good as anybody. He’s a really cool guy. We press forward, you know? The future’s a big question mark, but we’re not throwing in the towel.
Trevor: Yeah. Speaking of former members, have you spoken with “old TJ” lately? If so, how is he doing?
Mark: You know, I haven’t talked to him too much. We spend a lot of time on tour and busy with the band. We e-mail back and forth here and there. I wouldn’t be the guy to ask how he’s doing. I know he has a job and has done various musical things in different directions since he’s been home. I don’t have much room, ’cause I’d be making it up. (Laughing)
Trevor: What influenced the decision to use “Secrets In Mirrors” as the first single?
Mark: A lot of things. We kind of left it up to the people who work with us and for us, because sometimes what you think would be the best single is not necessarily the case. From a band’s perspective, you want to pick your favorite song on the record. You don’t want to pick the song that’s commercially the most appealing. I think “Secrets In Mirrors” was a good middleground because it’s under three minutes long and has a chorus that’s memorable. It’s a little bit different, a little more dancey, a little more going on than most of our previous rock songs. I think it was a good decision, because it changed it up a little. From the singles that people would be expecting from us, this one’s a little bit different. People could debate all day long, is it their favorite song or their least favorite song? I don’t know. The whole point of a single is to reach out to the people who don’t already like your band. It’s good to get out a single for those kids that want to hear it, but the whole point of a single, of radio play in general, is to reach out to people who aren’t coming out to your shows and who aren’t already a fan of your band. So that being said, I think “Secrets” was a good choice. The label took a vote and they came with that one. We just kind of went with it and there you have it.
Trevor: How did the video shoot feel for you guys?
Mark: It was cool. It was different for us, because we’ve never done a serious video and it was the first time we didn’t have the reigns. We didn’t say how it was going to go. We didn’t choose it all. We helped to set up and make a decision on the location. Kind of the concepts, but even that kind of got taken from us and worked on. I guess I’m both ways about it. On one level, I think it looks very pro and I think it gets across a different message which is cool. On the flipside, me, myself being really into making videos when I was younger..not music videos, but just movies and whatever, I always want to feel like I have a grasp with what’s going on and I want to have fun with it. I usually end up trying to be too whacky and funny, so maybe it was in the best interest of the band to do a serious video. So there you have it. This next video, I think we’ll get more of our own personalities back into it. We worked with Darren Doane who recently retired, but he was behind “I Love the Way She Said L.A.” as well so it was cool working with him again. I’m definitely happy with it and I’m excited to see what we end up doing next.
Trevor: What was your Warped Tour experience like this summer?
Mark: It was hot. (laughing) Honestly, Warped Tour is like a double edged sword. On one level it’s great because it’s huge promotion and you’re out in front of what could be a few hundered kids, could be practically nobody, could be a few thousand. You never know. It depends on who you’re up against and what stage you’re on that day. Personally, I could take it or leave it. I like the performing part, and I like meeting a lot of people and hanging out with bands. It sounds like there’s a lot of pros, and on that level, there are. But on the flipside, as far as playing music is concerned, I’d rather be in a club. I just really would. I don’t like the fact that weather can make or break your performance or that the sound could be horrible outside. It’s not even the sound engineer’s fault. It’s just the acoustics of where you’re at. I’m sure we’ll do it again. This was our first time on it, and we gained a lot from it and learned a lot. Next time, we’ll be twice as smart about the way we handle things.
Trevor: Lots of sunscreen, huh?
Mark: (Laughing) Sunscreen..everything from learning the tricks of when to go get food and when not to, to learning how to preserve your own energy and splitting up the jobs that have to be done throughout the day, because it’s a mad house.
Trevor: You guys recently did a small in-store tour. How’d that work out?
Mark: It was definitely..different. That’s the best word I can use. On one level, it’s purely retail. It wasn’t at clubs, there weren’t promoters, there weren’t tickets; it’s free. It was free, and it was at record stores that were selling our cd. They’re all independent record stores, the exception being we did one Borders. The whole point of it was to get kids to come to those shows and get the new record. I think on some levels that happened, but in some cases, I think the stores may or may not promote it the way you want them to. We were also promoting this headlining tour at the same time. Some of which were very similar markets or nearby, so we had to pick and choose our battles with what we’re promoting, because you can’t overload people with what you’re doing. There were some nights that were jam-packed with kids that were singing every word, and there were some nights that were very, very scarce. It was cool, because almost 95% of it was acoustic, and that is a side of the band that a lot of people have never seen, including the band itself. That was fun, and I really did like doing that. There’s a lot of videos of it up YouTube and I was watching them thinking, “Man, maybe that was really cool?” It was intimate no matter what. Whether there was a couple of hundered kids or practically nobody in the store, it was always intimate because it was us sitting there playing music. I liked it. It was different, but it’s over though. I’m glad to back in a full-on rock atmosphere. It was cool, though, and hopefully those who saw it walked away thinking it was different and a cool way to see us play. Because, you know we tour full time every year, so if you’re going to see us play time and time again it’d be cool to see it done differently.
Trevor: Would you maybe consider doing a couple of acoustic songs to release online?
Mark: Yeah. I actually recorded “What Were You Thinking” acoustically, not too long ago, just because I wanted to. It came out really cool, but we hadn’t really thought about taking the time to put together anything acoustically until we had done it. Everyone was very supportive and excited about the way it sounded.
Trevor: Do you think that the ongoing Hawthorne Heights lawsuit against Victory will affect any of the other bands on the roster? Are you worried about anything happening to the label?
Mark: To answer the first question, yes 100% because Victory very much so treats their label like a family. That being said, it’s publicity and publicity is good, whether it’s good or bad because it’s getting people to talk about your bands, your roster, or whatever. It’s really..we’re caught between a rock and hard place with this lawsuit, because we’ve toured with Hawthorne Heights multiple times. We’re friends with them and we’re very excited for how much success they’ve gotten. At the same time we see that and it keeps us going, and it keeps the drive alive to want to achieve that level of success and to play to that many kids on a daily basis. It’s kind of flipping a coin really, because on one side it’s people who are behind us and behind our music and who make it possible for us to do what we do vs. people that we tour with and are our peers. It’s like we can’t really pick a side, because we don’t really know what’s going to happen and each way has a different outcome for how it’s going to affect every band on that label. There’s some pros and some cons to each side of it, too. We’re just going to have to wait it out. We’re not going to make any public statements about what we think should or should not happen. We’re just going to let those two fight it out.
Trevor: Do you think you’ll ever re-press or maybe do an online release for your old material, maybe remastered?
Mark: Yeah, there’s been talk of it. Since we signed to Victory, there had been talk of them getting the rights to that material, and the label that put stuff out was definitely interested, but wanted to hold onto it for a while and really see how the band does and what kind of demand for it there would be. I would love more than anything else for our next release to be a b-sides and rarities record that would have the old material plus un-released stuff from over the years; some demos that didn’t make the albums, some covers, some acoustic stuff, and some live stuff. I’d really like to do that before we do another full length, because I feel like this era of our band, for the past four or five years, has a lot to say outside of just the records themselves. I think it’d be to mostly cater to just the fans. I wouldn’t push the record to someone who had never listened to us before or tell them to pick it up, because if they’re going to have a starting point, I’d want it to be one of our actual releases. I think it’d be cool, and looking back on that stuff, we’ve been a band for eight years now; we’ve got everything from our very first demos in 1998 through like I said, outtakes and b-sides from the past three records and our independent releases before Victory. We could pick and choose through all of that stuff and put together a really cool disc, I think.
Trevor: If you were to release that collection, do you have any footage you’d want to include as a DVD?
Mark: Very possibly. We’ll see what happens. Victory, you know, we kind of have to sit down with them and go over whether or not this is going to happen, and time-wise, when it would happen. We’d probably want to get some current footage as well as collections of old stuff. We have a lot of old stuff, some really cool stuff that’s handheld camera in a basement, but it really shows you where we were and where we are.
Trevor: Finally, what do you guys have planned after this tour?
Mark: This tour runs right through mid-December, then we get home for the holidays. After the new year, we’re actually going to Australia in January, which will be our first time down under, so that’s cool. Then we plan to be supporting the U.S. throughout the entire spring through summer. Possibly be back out on the festival circuit, possibly not, depending on what’s going on. I mean, this record is brand new, so we have a baby to raise.
Trevor: Well sir, thank you for your time. It’s always fun talking to you.
Mark: No problem. No problem.