REBEL Editorial || July 8th
Once upon a time in a land called Stoke-on-Trent, a dark and twisted man - with an annoyingly perfect image to be a rock star - was lord of the stage, his poetic calls echoing around the venues as he swooned across the stage and rolled around the floor. He took the hearts of the girls and was the envy of the lads. And he is back.
Mark Mason, complete with leather jacket and stripy T-shirt is finally going to be owning our stages once more, starting on Friday 29th July when he takes his new band Dead Rabbit to The Exchange when they support Shimmer Trap for their launch of KEMOSABE. REBEL spoke with Mark about the forming of a new band, along with the prospect of being part of the thriving music community of Stoke.
First of all, it's great to see you will soon be hitting up the stages of Stoke once more. Has having time away from performing given you a chance to develop your craft?
It has yeah, I've not gigged for over 2 years now but that doesn't mean I've lost interest. I've been working with a couple of veteran musicians in a studio project and tried to learn as much as I can from them. It was really cathartic to be able to create without pressure or preconception; to make music just for ourselves with no agenda. They've taught me a lot technically and also how to properly express myself lyrically. That being said, I'm in a really good place at the moment, I've got a load of energy and I'm ready to go out there, write songs under pressure again and smash some shit up. I've missed that.
It almost sounds like you've been on a journey of discovery...
Yeah I guess so, I didn't feel like that at the time though, it was just four mates with a shared interest. They say travel broadens the mind and I definitely feel more receptive than before. Not quite sure what I've discovered though, I guess that's not up to me to decide.
A lot of people were left feeling broken hearted with the split of The Black Mirrors, was it a difficult process for yourself no longer being in the band? We can just not talk about black mirrors at all if you want?
No man it's cool. I'm ready to talk about everything. The gloves are off... Yeah definitely, I don't think any one of us realised how much love there was for the Mirrors back then. We were getting airtime in Spain and the offer to travel over there for gigs, so leaving the band was incredibly difficult, but on the other hand we'd become stale, the new tunes didn't touch the older stuff and that was kinda down to me. In hindsight I shouldn't have taken on the responsibility of guitar and vocals, it detracted from what I'm made to do, which is channel emotion through a performance. I can't do that when I'm trying to play guitar. There's no love lost between any of us though, it brought us all closer together even the guys that left after the Rorschach Sessions. You have the kind of experiences we did back then and not come out of it without some kind of bond, especially with Dan and Stu. We've talked about a reunion and there's always a part of me that would love to go back and do it all again, but I want to keep moving forward musically. I feel at some point I'm gonna write an album and be able to think "this is it, this is my gift to the world". I don't think I'm even close at the moment but I'm hoping to get there with Dead Rabbit.
You had a special relationship with Paul (Baggaley, now of the band WIRES), your combined charisma on stage was a big part your reputation. Was it difficult to replicate that when Paul left? And can we assume that you won't be playing guitar with Dead Rabbit, but will be instead free to perform?
Yeah we had great chemistry, it's pretty much impossibe to replicate that, it just happens. Working with Scott's really cool though. We used to jam now and then at house parties and stuff so I knew he could play. I didn't know he could write until a few weeks ago though.
So will Dead Rabbit see you taking a completely different musical path sound wise?
I don't think any of us are sure where we're going musically at the moment but we're all really enjoying the ride. As long as it's dark and weird though I'm cool.
Dark and weird is what we love you for, Mark. So how did Dead Rabbit actually come about?
When Joe (original bass player from The Black Mirrors) moved back to Stoke there was always the intention of doing something musically again. We've been working together on and off for the last eight years and I think we work well together. I'd jammed with Josh, the drummer, few times before. We got together and theres a decent chemistry. It's still early doors but the songs are sounding raw with a good energy. I'm looking forward to playing them to an audience man.
So what's the game plan with Dead Rabbit?
There's no agenda. We just wanna write good songs for people on the fringes of popular culture. I've never tried to engage the mainstream, I don't really care about money. It's all about being able to find a connection with someone outside the capitolist sphere. Those are the people we wanna try and communicate with. Not some empty, plastic automaton.
We can rely on Mark Mason to never sell out then. But when can we start looking forward to seeing Dead Rabbit recordings being released?
At some point yeah. I've been in a position before where i've been rushed into recording. I wanna make sure everything's ready this time. I don't think I'd ever be in a position where I could sell out to be honest. I can't imagine a record company AR person thinking "yeah lets get this weirdo in and try and turn him into something profitable". Theyd need their heads checking.
So 29th July. Your first gig in what, almost three years? How is preparation going and how are you feeling about it?
Preparations good and we're all looking forward to it. The sets ready and I'm f**king psyched, there's a few people coming down to see what the hypes about, I just hope we don't disappoint.