Life After The Band: An Interview with Mark Rose of Spitalfield

Spitalfield was one of the first bands in the scene I ever got into. After three great releases on Victory Records and countless tours, the band disbanded in 2007. Some say they never got their chance that they so much deserved and others have probably begun to forget their music, but Mark Rose was kind enough to clear the air on some issues and tell us what happens to those in the scene when the band is no more.

UTG: Mark, Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, how’s 09
been treating you?
Mark: With the exception of the Chicago Bears not making it to the post-season, 2009 has been pretty great thus far.  I think it’ll be a good year.

UTG: Let’s start this off by stepping back in time. Can you give us a little look into your life in the final days and what followed the end of Spitalfield?

Mark: What immediately followed the farewell tour for Spitalfield was a good amount of rest & relaxation.  It was definitely the right time to take a step back and clear my head a little bit.  There was a lot to reflect upon looking backwards and a lot to think about looking forwards.  The final performance may have been the most bittersweet experience of my life thus far.  It was a good time to take a little time to re-group, both mentally and physically.

UTG: A lot of people have their theories on why Spitalfield came to an end. Some blame Victory, some say you just got frustrated with the industry, but what was the true lynchpin?

Mark: I wouldn’t say it was frustration with the industry– because if anything, we had learned quite a bit about the industry over our many years as a band- and had a better understanding of it then than ever before.  It was definitely a business decision, and really had little to do with music itself.  JD (drums) and I started playing in Spitalfield together back in 1998, and we remain good friends today.  I think when you try to talk about what did or didn’t happen when it comes to labels, you end up playing a game that really has no winner.  Sometimes, you have to play the cards you’re dealt.  I think the band had a great run– sure there are things that we’d do differently if we could start again, but there is also a lot we’d do the same.  We tried to stay true to ourselves, make the music we wanted to make, and treat others with the same amount of respect that we’d like to be shown.  Whether we’re together making music or not, the songs will live on.

UTG: You’ve obviously had your self titled project going for awhile now, but did only arise following Spitalfield or is this something that had been on the back burner until you had more freedom?

Mark: I had always written music on the side– but it was never a priority until the band called it quits.  My main focus was always the band while the band was together.  There’s always been different sides to me musically, I am always writing music.  What I had in my CD player and what I was performing on stage every night with Spitalfield was often quite different, but I think that’s a good thing.  Spitalfield was truly the product of who we were when we were together– and all of our different styles and tastes being thrown into a blender.  I think the direction things are headed now is perfect for the next chapter I have in mind for myself.  We’ll see how it all plays out.

UTG: Spitalfield had developed a loyal fanbase througout the 3 big releases. Is it strange to go from everything that built in audience to basically starting over again?

Mark: Absolutely.  There was a lot of things I grew accustomed to that really became second nature.  It is difficult to pull the rug out and start again, but at the same time- it’s not as if I’m not starting with a foot in the door.  I really learned a lot from everything Spitalfield went through, both positive and negative, and I hope to apply all of that to what I’m working on now.  Hopefully the only mistakes I’ll be making will be new ones– if that makes any sense.

UTG: How would you say your writing has changed with this solo project?

Mark: The music I’ve been playing and working on now has much more of a soulful pop sound with some r&b qualities as well.  I’d like to think I continue to grow and mature as a songwriter, both lyrically and musically.  There are certain elements to the new songs that should ring familiar with Spitalfield fans, as it is still my writing and my voice– but it would be a stretch to say the sound is similar.  My target audience might not be the same as it was with Spitalfield, but I’ve also never liked the idea of a target audience to begin with.

UTG: Do you mind requests to play Spitalfield songs at your solo sets? Is that a book you want to “leave on the shelf” so to say?

Mark: I don’t mind Spitalfield requests at all- though I am slowly trying to shed that skin.  I think it’s cool to play alternate arrangements of Spitalfield songs now and again, especially if people want to hear them.  It’s actually a lot of fun to really re-work a song and give it a new flavor, though I’m not sure that’s what people are always looking/hoping for.  These days, I almost always have my backing band on stage with me– I rarely am performing with just a guitar and microphone– though that can be cool, too.

UTG: Do you want a deal out of this musical adventure or is it solely a hobby? Would you want to get back into the corporate world of the industry?

Mark: This is definitely a full time venture for me.  I’ll play cards & throw around the football as a hobby– music is my life.
UTG:  Let’s say its a normal work week for Mark Rose, what can we find you doing?
Mark: That’s an odd question, solely because I’m not sure what a normal week for me is, just yet.  Right now I am working on new songs, prepping for my Spring tour, playing music business, frequenting the gym, arguing about sports & trying to beat “Donkey Kong Country 2:  Diddy’s Kong Quest” for SNES with my brother, Danny.

UTG: A lot of people assume given the promotion and endorsements bands get that they are rolling in money. Are they right? Were you set for a bit upon the end of Spitalfield?
Mark: I was able to afford myself a little time to relax, but was hardly putting a down payment on a house.  With the end of the band came some lifestyle changes, but nothing I wasn’t prepared for.  Spitalfield spent a lot of time on the road, and that was were most of our income came from.  Most endorsements we were involved with got us discounts and some free threads and gear- but rarely put cash into our pockets.  I think, like any other job, you have to make a budget that makes sense for you– and then do your best to stick to it.  I think everyone has a different idea of what “success” or “being set” entails, especially artists.  There is probably one thing we can all agree on, though, and that is that we are nothing without our supporters.

UTG: Having seen the world and industry change and evolve, what advice would you give bands hoping to “make it big”?
Mark: Set realistic goals, do your research and expect to work hard.  It shocks me how many young bands don’t expect to eat dirt at first- but I think that’s just a product of technology and, sadly, a sign of the times.  Instant gratification is a dangerous combination of words when you’re referring to an art form, or how to find success within that field.
UTG: I know I’ve asked a lot of you up to this point, but I have to know, what do you, if anything, miss most about the “old days”?
Mark: If by old days you mean watching “The Real Ghostbusters” cartoons, playing “Electronic Survivor Shot” outside with my friends & park district baseball, than yes.  If you mean writing, recording and touring with Spitalfield– still yes, but keep in mind our last concert was only thirteen months ago.  Haha.

UTG: Mark, I want to thank you so much for talking to us. You’ve been an influence to me personally and hundreds more around the world. We always close with a closing statement from the person we are interviewing. No boundries or rules, speak your mind :

Mark: Thanks for thinking of me for the interview- you asked some well thought out questions.  Keep your eyes and ears open for an EP release this Spring.  And lastly, if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it.

*Written By: James Shotwell*

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