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Rothko - Interview with Mark Beazley

  by Olga Sladeckova

published: 21 / 3 / 2005

Rothko - Interview with Mark Beazley


Instrumental post rockers Rothko have a new line-up and have just released a seventh album, 'A Place Between'. Olga Sladeckova chats to main man Mark Beazley, back for a third interview with Pennyblackmusic, about both

Look back into your past and think. Lots of things happen in our lives. Every little thing can change something for good or bad. I have personally found that we tend to not to see the good things that happen to us and take them for granted a lot of the time. Bad things seem much easier to see somehow. Sometimes they can be devastating. I knew someone whose friend's sister got run over by car just by standing on the wrong spot of a pavement at the wrong time. Her brother can never forgive himself for not talking to her, for not delaying her leaving the house for at least another 10 seconds which would have made an incredible difference. But bad things happening can also end up in something good evolving from them. Everything that happens influences our future. Sometimes we don't know how we come to something that has changed our lives and then we look back and realize that something very little had done that. You can look back at those things and just be grateful that they happened. I certainly do. I had a fascinating conversation with Mark Beazley, the front man of Rothko, about all those things that often change our lives upside down. Rothko have been around for seven years now and during that time have been through many changes. They have been through line-up changes, label changes, they have played lots of gigs and during that time their music has gone in many directions. There were some changes that didn't make things easy for the band, but sometimes the harder things get the more you realize how much something means to you. Rothko are just about to release their seventh album 'A Place Between' on Low Recordings. The present Rothko line-up consists, as well as Mark (bass), of Caroline Ross (vocals), Michael Donnelly (bass), Ben Page (keyboard) and Tom Page (drums). I met up with Mark at the London venue, the Spitz - the home to our Pennyblackmusic Nights at which we have had the pleasure in the past of putting on Rothko. PB: You are just about to put out your seventh album, 'Place In Between'. When did you actually start working at it? MB: It was about 18 months ago - a long time! But a few of the songs were just sitting on my computer already and not doing anything. PB: Why did you decide to record this material then? MB: It was Caroline's idea. (Caroline appeared singing on Rothko's fifth album ,'A Continual Search For Origins', which came out in 2002.) PB: So you always kept in touch with her since she sang on 'A Continual Search for Origins'? MB: Yeah, I've been up to see her in Scotland, where she lives, and she just e-mailed me one day and asked if I wanted to do a record and I just said "Yes!" I had 6 tracks on my computer at the time to be released as a single and one of them is on the new album. I sent them to Caroline and she wrote lyrics for them. Then I went up to Scotland and we spent about 8 days recording all the vocals, guitars and flute and I went back to London and mixed it all. I also wrote some new tracks around the things she wrote and some tracks that she sang on or played the guitar on became completely new tracks compared to what they were like when she sang on them. It was like a jigsaw puzzle. PB: Did you ever talk about the lyrics that she wrote? MB: Yes! They are very personal to her. They are about situations she has been in. To me the album comes across as a series of letters. PB: I was wondering about this. With your albums I always find there is something behind them and they are quite clearly delivering some sort of a message. MB: It only came to me when it was finished. It's like the songs are letters that she has been reading or writing to someone else and they are all very personal. It's quite hard to try to match the lyrics with music because you want to make it personal as well. It's a real challenge. Working on the record was quite an intense time. It took me about four months to mix and produce the record. PB: The album came out on Lo Recordings. How did that come about? MB: After I put 'Wish For World Without Hurt' out, (Rothko's sixth album from 2003, which came out on Mark's own label Trace Recordings), I intended to release it myself but I ran out of money. I've known Jon for some time and I gave him a demo of the album. He came to me a few weeks later asking if I was interested in putting it out on his label. I was really pleased and glad he was interested. PB: Your music has been really popular with labels. There always seems to be someone who wants to put your music out. That must feel quite nice. MB: You never know what will happen, You can never take anything for granted. It's a great feeling but things always seem further away than they are. I never think that anyone likes our stuff. I'm always amazed. Seriously! I'm always quite surprised but it's a really nice feeling. PB: Do people come up at gigs and talk to you about your music? MB: Yeah, they are all very friendly and I've met some wonderful people and i'm very grateful to them for taking the time to come and talk to us. It's never easy doing gigs but we have been playing seven years now and it's really weird to still be going, but it's still good. PB: Going back to the album, the artwork of 'A Place In Between' is really good. MB: Caroline did the painting on it. It's from an idea I had and she took it a bit further. She is a proper painter. PB: I really like it. It's very sophisticated. MB: Yeah, it's very sophisticated for once (laughs). I think it looks really good. It looks really expensive but it wasn't really. It's very nice when you get the CDs from the manufacturer's and the cover's great and you start e-mailing people about it. PB: I think all your CD covers look quite special. MB: We've been very lucky. I think my favourite cover has been the 7" 'Red Cells' the black and white with red on it. PB: I liked 'A Continual Search For Origins' and then 'Wish For a World Without Hurt'. MB: Yeah, they're very special too. PB: I think they all relate to the music really well and are almost like a review of the album. MB: That's the idea of it. I really hope that comes across. It's nice to have a cover that is personal. I mean Caroline is on the album but she also painted the cover and then Jim Adams, who appears on 'Wish For The World', did the cover for that as well. PB: What are you working on at the moment? MB: We are concentrating on the band which is now me, Michael Donnelly on bass, Ben Page on keyboards and Tom Page on drums. They were all once in Delicate Awol. Ben and Tom lived in Scotland with Caroline but have just moved down to London. They are really amazing musicians. It's nice to have a band and a bit more sound. We are having some fun. It's really good. We are actually working on another album. In fact we are working on two albums. They are going to be quite different. One is going to be called '11 Stages Of Intervention' and the other one is going to be called 'Living the Wrong Life', but I'm not sure yet. PB: That's interesting that you start with the title. MB: I always try and have a plan and it's always good to have a title to work with. PB: I think that shows because your music has obviously a lot of depth to it. MB: For me, everything has to mean something. Every little thing means something. I wish I could be flippant about stuff and be like really easy going and joyful but that's not how I am. I do have days like that but it's never always like that. PB: I think maybe that's one of reasons people like your music. It's not joyful in general and life is like that so people can relate to it. MB: I can't really speak for other people. Everyone tries to find meaning and we all look for our own meaning. People come up after gigs and when someone talks to you and they say they understand something it's an amazing feeling. It's hard to know how to respond, but knowing people feel like that is great. PB: Do you think having more people to play with again will change your music ? MB: I don't think it will change. They are great people and great musicians and I don't have to tell them anything when we rehearse. If I have a new track we take it into rehearsal and we just play and it all works well. We talk about a lot of stuff and try sharing things and it's all really good. About a year ago I didn't really play and didn't want to really do anything and now I'm really enjoying it. We have been around for a long time now! It's strange and it's hard to stop. It would be easier not to do it for many reasons but then it's kind of even harder not to play anymore. PB: How did you come up with the title 'A Place In Between'? MB: You know what limbo means? The place in between is the opposite of limbo. Limbo is like nothing but the idea of this is a bit more hopeful . I think it is like that for Caroline too. The more the album progressed the more the title became pertinent to the tracks. I think it's important to have that title there to know how you want the album to sound. This album is more positive. I hope that comes across because 'A World Without Hurt' was very dark. There was a lot of distortion and heavy sounds. PB: 'A Place In Between' sounds definitely much more positive. I like the harmonica in it. MB: That's done by Simon Tilbury. I've known Simon for years. He sang on '40 Years To Find A Voice'. He is a great harmonica player. It was kind of a gamble but I knew he would come up with something good. The harmonica part was actually supposed to be in the middle of the song after the bass and piano line. I asked him that part to play but changed it and he never heard it like that until it was done (Laughs). Even I didn't know it would work out like this until I started mixing it. PB: The album starts with a song called 'Traces Of Elements' and ends with 'Elements Of Traces'. I like the idea of that. MB: A few lines in both songs are the same as well. I like the idea of a definite beginning and end. The titles don't really mean anything in particular. I just like the way it bookends the whole record and I'm pleased with it. PB: You mentioned other 2 albums you are working at. Could you tell me more about those? MB: It's going to be a long time before they will be out - 20 or 30 years yet (Laughs). 11 Stages Of Intervention' is going well though. I've already finished one track. PB: How did you come up with the title for that one? MB: It's about the way things come into our lives and the way they make a difference in some ways for good or bad. it is quite hard to answer the question... It is also about trying to find a method to help change your life and trying to understand what difference those methods made when you look back. The first track is called 'Light a Lantern On the Water'. It is about the rituals you have as things happen in the world. I like the idea of things coming out of the blue and you don't know how they might affect you in the future. I find that quite fascinating. It's only going to have 10 tracks . The eleventh stage is actually someone buying it, but that's a bit of a concept . No one might buy it. (Laughs). PB: I'm sure lots of people will. MB: That's the plan for that album, and the other one I'm not sure about yet. it's title is something like 'Living The Wrong Life' or 'I Lived The Wrong Life'. It's going to be pretty harsh I think. PB: That's what life often is about. MB: It's nice to be loud and unpleasant sometimes. Things aren't always great. I'm always wary when people are endlessly happy and I'm just as wary when people are always down or aggressive. There is too much of that nowadays. Another thing I'm sure of is a lot of people who make music will tell you is making music is not an escape but it's a way trying to make some sense of your life. It's almost trying to live another life, [instead of 'living the wrong life'] recreating an idea which is impossible to do day to day, but in music you can take time to create just one feeling. Music is an ongoing fascination. PB: Are you working on anything else ? MB: I'm doing some mixing for a band called My Winter At Sea. They play fairly similar music to us. They have their own label called JetPak Records in Florida. I'm mixing three tracks for them. They got in touch through the Rothko web site. We have been communicating for the last two years. I'm trying to give a bit back and to help in any small way that I can. we'll have a single coming out here on a label called Bad Hand Records. It will be called 'Personal Account Of Conflict' and should be out on CD this year. The gigs are going great. We are playing a lot of tracks from the new record, and also from 'A Continual Search Of Origins' and 'Wish For The World Without Hurt'. The band is just great. They are all fantastic musicians. The hard part was to get the band playing the new album, because it's not really written for a band situation but it brings the record alive. It gives it a kind of life. I've missed that from just working at home in the studio. Every incarnation of the band has been really special. I've been so lucky and privileged. It's incredible. It's great. PB: Thank you very much. MB: Thank you.

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Rothko - Interview with Mark Beazley

Rothko - Interview with Mark Beazley

Rothko - Interview with Mark Beazley

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