-- The MÆNSION gets shredded --
I was already in touch with the Californian alternative metal band THE MAENSION through a mutual friend. Originally I planned to see the band at the Foyer in Zottegem (a couple of kilometers from my home) in September but that gig got cancelled. Fortunately, I soon received a second chance to meet these RÆVOLUTIONARIES from Hollywood in the B52 Music Club in Eernegem on Friday 30th November 2018. Right after arriving at the venue I met up with Mark, Skye and their current drummer Gunner. We talked about their ongoing RÆVOLUTION world tour (including a major gig at the Rocklahoma Festival), the band’s multicultural aspects and the making of the epic “Imagine Tomorrow” music video that you can find at the end of this article.
BMS: Hey there! You’re nearing the end of your RÆVOLUTION World Tour. How have things gone thus far?
Mark: We’re currently at the fourth leg of this major tour that took us all across the western world and in over 250 cities, we actually began promoting the RÆVOLUTION album in 2016, a whole year before we actually released it.
Skye: That’s right. We wanted to review the material we had written for the album by bringing it live on stage and once we were fully satisfied with it we jumped into the studio to produce the actual album and then back on the road to further promote it.
Mark: After we’ve finished with this six-gig part of the tour here in the Benelux, we’ll be playing a few more shows in the UK and then finally heading back home to the US.
BMS: It’s not your first tour through Belgium, right?
Mark: Yeah we toured in Belgium several times before. We love it here! Delicious beers, friendly and professional people and a very vivid audience everywhere we go!
BMS: You also played at the Rocklahoma Festival this year, right?
Mark: Yes, we played right after headliner Godsmack, they played a tremendous show, so it pushed us to bring all our energy into our performance ourselves. Our appearance on the festival ended up being a major success for our band. We obtained many new fans and our album sales skyrocketed. Hell, we even managed to get into the US Billboard charts for that week! We were absolutely blown away! Now, we recently got into contact with people from major Belgian metal festivals so we hope to appear on such stages as Graspop Metal Meeting or Alcatraz Metal Fest. Last weekend we played at the Belgian charity festival Rocking Thals 4 Life and played alongside your countrymen 10 Rogue, Scarved, Our Hate, Wildheart and Waves Of Decay. It was awesome!
BMS: I read you’re a multicultural band. Can you be a bit more specific as to what cultures your band represents?
Mark: THE MAENSION as a band was formed in California and has been based out of Hollywood for 10 years now, we are really much a product of the Hollywood scene. In fact, we even won an award as Hollywood Rock band of the Year with our debut EP, that being said, we all have different ethnic origins. I’m Italo-American born in Naples, while my partner in crime Skye is Ukrainian-American and was actually born in Siberia. As for Gunner, our good-looking drummer here, he comes from the bison prairies of Oklahoma.
Gunner: Yeah, I’m a mid western cowboy! YEEHAW! I joined the band recently, on this last European leg of RÆVOLUTION world tour and I’m very happy to be here. I’m a very intense guy and Mark’s songs are pretty damn intense for me to slam my way through!
BMS: Great! You know, my fellow writer Glenn and me had a great time checking out the RÆVOLUTION album. It was full of catchy, attention-grabbing songs and the electronic lines from Skye give the sound a kind of retro game feel in my opinion.
Mark: Thanks for the kind words! When it comes to the electronic component of our music, bands like The Prodigy, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson among many others were definitely a source of inspiration. Before we released RÆVOLUTION our two previous records were more progressive and psychedelic rock oriented with many complex song structures and time signatures. But with RÆVOLUTION I aimed towards a more straightforward style with powerful choruses and more traditional songwriting. I wanted the new songs to speak more directly to our audience; I wanted the message of the album to stick inside people’s heads like a chant at a stadium!
BMS: And what message do you wish to send through your music?
Mark: A lot of music I’m hearing on the mainstream channels nowadays (especially those in California) is always happy and optimistic. They want to distract you from today’s social issues and let you live in ignorant bliss while the governments and big corporations take away your money and freedom. And with the RÆVOLUTION album in particular I desire to wake people up and encourage them to take their individual responsibilities and get back in touch with themselves and the people around them and to prove that we all can make a difference no matter how big or how small.
BMS: A very noble cause! So what will you be doing after the RÆVOLUTION World Tour is wrapped up?
Mark: We’re going to take a much needed few months’ break from the road, since we’ve played almost 500 shows in 17 different countries in the past four-five years and need to refocus our energy before the next step. However, we’re already working on some new stuff and we might do a short US tour in May 2019 and maybe return to Europe in the fall.
BMS: I see. Well, over the years you’ve built up quite an expansive fan base and you’ve played on several major stages in both American and European continents. Now, what sort of advice could you give to aspiring young bands?
Mark: It’s important for young bands to realize that living the life of a professional musician isn’t for everyone. It requires a lot of dedication and sacrificing other aspects of your life. You’ll have to pretty much focus your entire life and all your efforts around your band. Write material you’re fully satisfied with, go out and promote your band as much as you can, not just with your music but also by getting in touch with promoters, record labels, booking agents and your fans in general. Be willing to travel long distances to reach certain gigs and constantly work on improving your strengths as a musician as well as improving your public image. It’s a tough industry to get into and even tougher to survive and thrive into. But above all else, remember to have fun making music, no matter if you play in front of 10 or 10.000 people.
BMS: Very inspiring speech, Mark. Now, you recently published an impressive music video for the song “Imagine Tomorrow.” How did you make that video?
Mark: One of my childhood friends, Kiara Tomaselli, is a popular Italian actress and for a long time we had been discussing the idea of making a video together along with her husband Davide Armogida, who is an amazing film director. Eventually we got together with them in Italy and shot both the “Say It!” and “Imagine Tomorrow” videos. Thanks to their efforts, we managed to shot in places like the seaside cliffs of Sorrento, the medieval “dying city” of Civita Di Bagnoreggio as well as inside the majestic 1000 year old basilica in the infamous “Rione Sanitá” in the heart of Naples. For “Imagine Tomorrow” in particular I wished to pay homage to my Italian heritage and because the song is so motivational and cinematic I really aimed to make this a true visual spectacle.
BMS: I’m already getting pumped to watch the video again. So, you guys have anything else you wish to add to this fun shred?
Gunner: Keep on rocking, man!
Skye: Thank you for spending time with us!
Mark: Enjoy the “Imagine Tomorrow” video (right below this picture) and hopefully we can see you during one of our future gigs! And don’t forget to pickup a copy of our new CD or stream it online and let us know what you think!