Mark Gardener Interview (RIDE)

Mark Gardener played his first amazing solo shows SXSW Festival in Austin Texas, two years ago. That started the ball rolling. Mark has now completed his debut solo album that is called "These Beautiful Ghosts." It was produced by Bill Racine and features the band Goldrush. Songs like "Snow In Mexico" and "Magdalen Sky" show signs of the new direction of the former Ride front man. Ride is one of the main bands associated with the Shoegazer thing. The album is to be released on the US indie label United For Opportunity (www.ufomusic.com) on October 11th, 2005.

Mark is releasing a special limited edition advance version of the album too, which will come with a bonus DVD. Mark has been asked to support Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on their North American tour in September and October 2005. Mark has also been busy working with French duo Rinocerose. Back in 2004 Mark co-wrote and sang on a couple of tracks that the duo were working on in their studio in Montpelier. The tracks now feature on their forthcoming V2 album. After so much calm, now there is a storm of activity.

There is also Mark's solo live album, Live At The Knitting Factory NYC. Also still available online is the Falling Out Into The Night EP that Mark released with Goldrush. We caught up with the ex-Ride front man right after a sneak Los Angeles show in July 2005. Many musicians from other bands like The Warlocks were in the audience. The first show of the legendary tour with BRMC is of course in SF at the Great American Music Hall. We got to talk about all the busy things in his life.

AL: How are things going in Oxford?

Mark: Pretty good. I have only just got here. I was on the West Coast last week. I played a show there. I have been flying around all over. I just did this thing with the French band, Rinocerose. They have been playing all the summer festivals. I have been up for four days. I am still here and still standing.

AL: You lived in the United States before that?

Mark: Most of this year I have been living in New York. That is where I really pulled the album together. I have been working with Bill Racine who lives in New York.

AL: You have played with Goldrush a lot.

Mark: They are not from America. They are an Oxford band. We have been playing a lot of shows in America last year and the year before. They have just released an album. They were always Ride fans. I heard there was a band that played a cover of "Dreams Burn Down." I went to a Goldrush gig with a mutual friend about three or four years ago. It was great. They found out that I was going to do my own thing in the future. They said, "Whenever you need a backing band, we want to back you." That was really good for me because they are really good musicians. There are two really good singers in that band. It was good to get harmonies going again.

AL: When did this album "These Beautiful Ghosts" start for you?

Mark: It's something that has been in my mind since Ride finished which was in 1996. I knew that at some point when I wasn't in a group I would do my own record. It's always been in my mind. I guess the last five years I have been writing bits and pieces. I would think that some ideas I had would be good for a solo record. Basically it has come together in the last four or five months while I was in New York. I have also done some intense recording in upstate New York at Tarbox studios. It's where Dave Fridmann has a studio. I made three other tracks with Goldrush about a few years ago. I did it in bits and pieces. That is the only way I can work because I funded it myself. I wanted to do it my way before I even talked to any labels.

AL: You ended up working with this new label United For Opportunity.

Mark: It's called UFO. The way the record industry is changing. They are just trying to be a new model label. They have more realistic ways of doing things. When you are dealing with bigger labels you end up never meeting the people who make big decisions about your life. It was nice to meet people who are running the label and into the music. I like them. After developing a relationship we decided the time was right to release this record.

AL: How do you write songs? Is it different from the days of Ride?

Mark: It was different from Ride in a sense. Andy Bell and me were the main writers. There was a lot of input between us on each other's stuff. I guess it has changed in a sense where I have more time to work on things and get them the way I want them. Even though it is my album, I also believe in the power of letting go. As long as I was working with people like Goldrush and people that I trusted musically, I have been able to have people add their input on it. I am still the guy who wrote the Ride songs. People can spot that out that thread. I have similar concerns in music. I just hope that I am doing it better. I wanted this record to be a little bit more exposed and honest. I wanted to have some trippy things that I like in music. I wanted to make something that was interesting to listen to.

AL: So do you start with music or lyrics?

Mark: It usually starts with music. The music usually suggests words and lyrics to me. I start out with some chords or a rhythm. I play around with loops, and things like that. I'll have a beat with acoustic guitar and bass guitar. You just end up mucking around until you have something. You have to have something moving.

By alexander laurence