Mark Fosco – (Marvelous Mark if you don’t mind), to my ears is an old soul. His music is perfect power pop; we’re talking Big Star, Shoes, The Raspberries, The Records and Badfinger. As a musician he’s been around – most notably with Toronto’s The Marvelous Darlings (more on them in a minute), Roommates, and Rad Habits. Each of those bands played rock and roll with melody, harmony and pop hooks sharp enough to reel in the biggest fish. Even then, Mark’s new solo material is special. Not unlike revered song-smith Ron Sexsmith, Mark writes exceptional, effortless, melodies – even if he’s writing about bed bugs – you’ll be hooked. The guy is talented.
I don’t want to take the focus away from the music of Marvelous Mark, but I’d be negligent if I didn’t give some background on his previous band the enigmatic and catchy-as-hell Toronto outfit the Marvelous Darlings.
There’s not a lot of info out there about the MDs but it is beyond me why they weren’t raised up on the shoulders of anyone who has ever liked The Undertones, The Exploding Hearts, New York Dolls and whoever else you can think of that plays perfect earworm power pop infused rock and roll. Maybe it’s because the MDs were essentially a side-project of Mark’s friend – singer Ben Cook (aka Young Governor) who juggled his musical forays between the MDs, hardcore punks No Warning and punk champs Fucked Up to mention a few. The MDs sure put out some immaculate music but recently faded to black. They are worth checking out though.
Anyway we’re here to talk about the new music of MDs guitarist Marvelous Mark.
Let’s let Mark fill us in.
50third: Tell us a bit about yourself, your history as a musician, where you’re from originally.
I’m originally from Toronto, spent my teenage years playing in punk bands and in 2007 started Marvelous Darlings with Matt Delong and Ben Cook. Marvy Darlings had a relatively short active period, but continued for a few years mostly as a recording project. We put out eight or nine 7”s on a bunch of smallish independent labels, a live LP and a singles compilation LP before calling it quits with that. While that was going on I also worked on a project with Ben called Roommates. We did two cassette singles which later came out as a 7” on Slumberland Records. Then I lost my mind and started acting weird(er) and locking myself in my room and learning to record, which is pretty much how I started my solo project. I take really long walks and generally dislike the company of others.
50third: How did the Marvelous Darlings come about?
I don’t even know the whole story, but here’s my side of it: I met Matt (who is in No Warning and Yacht Club and has a bunch of other things going on these days which you can check at www.sugarcityroller.com) pretty randomly drinking beer on a warm night, we talked for a few minutes and he asked if I wanted to start a band with him, to which I’m pretty sure I said “I dunno”, which was most definitely me politely trying to say no because he mentioned Motley Crue which wasn’t really my thing. But we started hanging out after that, and I’m pretty sure I said “I dunno” a few more times. One afternoon he called asking if he could send me some demos to record bass parts over, so I said “Sure”, or something along those lines, and he sent ‘The Swords, The Streets’ and ‘Careerist’ demos, which Ben (who is in No Warning and Yacht Club with Matt and also plays with Fucked Up and has a solo project called Young Guv) had already done vocals on. I listened and thought they were pretty cool and not at all what I was expecting, so I actually made the effort and spent that evening learning the songs and writing/recording bass parts, and I was PSYCHED. I sent them back, he liked what I’d done, and a few days later there were a couple more demos in my inbox. This went on for another week or two til there were six songs written and demoed via email. So we got together to jam them a couple times, which was when I actually met Ben and spoke to him for the first time, and after I think two rehearsals we recorded them “properly” and made tapes, played a few shows etc. All the vinyl releases followed shortly after that. So it kinda just started in this funny and painless way. Apparently it was only supposed to be a “summer band” and not be “too serious”, but I wasn’t around for that conversation.
50third: How did the song-writing process work with the MDs?
Most of those songs started with Matt writing and arranging the music, he’d demo that just with guitar and drum machine, send to Ben who would write and record vocal parts and then send to me for bass. There were some that we all came up with together, and I think Ben wrote a couple by himself that we kind of messed around with. Usually started with Matt, but was a group effort to some degree.
50third: Now that you’re stepping out on your own do you collaborate or write with others?
I have a little bit. I wrote a couple cool ones getting stoned with Matt at his studio this summer. One of those is going to be on a 7” coming out on Drunken Sailor Records from the UK. Besides my project, I’ve been helping out/collaborating on a couple others. Ben and I wrote a bunch of songs together which are going to be on his upcoming Young Guv LP, and I’ve been recording and playing guitar in a new band called Bad Zeppelin which is the brainchild of my good buddy Dylan Bowden who is also an amazing artist and does the best album art Skulls Bowden Tumblr. So far we’ve done one 4 song tape for that, and going to get started on recording another batch any day now.
50third: What record would you say pushed you over the edge to do the rock and roll thing?
Probably Green Day ‘Dookie’ when I was ten years old.
50third: What artist’s career trajectory would you like to follow?
50third:What’s the story behind the video for “Paralyzed”?
Not much of a story, but still a good one: the ‘Paralyzed’ video features my half brother Ramón, who lives in Caracas, Colombia (he also starred in my video for ‘Bite Me’). He was living here in Toronto for about a year and had managed to get himself a couple serving/bar tending/bussing jobs in the east end, all under the table (he was here illegally). While he was here, he was sleeping in the spare room of my apartment, which is only slightly larger than a nice walk-in closet. One Friday night, he came home from work very late and started ranting about the “fucking bag heads” he had to serve for a living (I WISH I could do the accent for you). Of course, I had no idea what the hell he meant by “bag heads” (he was incredibly drunk and is super ESL), but it gave me the idea for the video, in which he literally serves a diner full of actual “bag heads”. It all came together quite beautifully, in my opinion.
50third: What do you think of the current Canadian music scene?
I have no idea. I generally don’t really pay attention to what’s going on around me, but also Canada is a very big country and I don’t keep up with what’s happening elsewhere. Large groups of people and “scenes” weird me out, so I don’t go to many shows and most of what I listen to isn’t Canadian. Though I will say, it seems that there are a lot of independent Canadian bands and labels who are doing very well for themselves these days, and Toronto in particular seems to be having a bit of a moment lately, so that’s probably a good sign.
50third: If you were to make a mix tape to help someone discover Canadian artists, what would be on it?
Limblifter, Sloan, The Killjoys, Gob ’Too Late No Friends’, a couple Doughboys tracks, Rusty ‘Fluke’, Forgotten Rebels ‘In Love With The System’, Hayden…there’s probably more but I can’t think right now.
50third: What are you listening to these days?
The Ramones always, Dinosaur Jr., Flaming Lips, Beach Boys, lots of random 60’s pop, Buddy Holly, 7Seconds…
50third: If you were making a sandwich – Peanut Butter and…….?
OK, get ready for this: club sandwich, two layers. Toasted wonder bread. Bottom layer: peanut butter and jam (any kind). Top layer: jam and nutella. Slather the bottom bread with peanut butter, the middle bread with jam (on both sides), top bread with nutella. If you really want to impress yourself/whoever you’re serving this to, do it French Toast style. Whatever you do, it MUST be called a “Marvelous Club Sandwich”. I invented it stoned.
50third: What’s coming up for you in 2014/2015?
I have a 4 song EP coming out on Burger Records (http://www.burgerrecords.org) very soon and a 7” coming out on Drunken Sailor Records which I mentioned earlier. Also a new Bad Zeppelin EP, probably some shows and tons of recording. Check www.marvelousmark.sexy for new releases, videos, songs, demos and any other things I feel like posting. Thanks!!