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Interview with Out Out - conducted via e-mail 1/98

Jester: Are the conspiracy theory samples used on "Voiceprint" taken from Williams S. Burroughs?

Mark: No. The source of those Burroughs-like samples is from an LP I picked up years ago called "News - A Discovery Of The Mind" by Kenneth C. Kittinger, Ph.D. I have no idea when it came out, but it was free to anyone requesting it. My guess it was in the '50s. The really scary thing is, even though I took stuff out of context to heighten the 'message' - this guy is really talking about a mind-control type society.

Jester: Do the Kenneth C. Kittinger samples play a prominent role in the title of new album?

Mark: No, but I hope they contribute an eerie sensation to "Radio Valkyrie Two", the sequel, as it were, to the opening track of "Finched". Hopefully it creeps people out a little because is sure does for me.

Jester: "Voiceprint' sounds very dated in places, was most of the material written recently while the rest of it taken from old outtakes?

Mark: Well, there are no outtakes used for this record - it was all new material, but it was written over a 2-1/2 to 3 year period.

Jester: Unlike previous albums, on "Voiceprint" you chose to use several short tracks as a way of linking together the longer tracks. Why is that?

Mark: On previous records, if there was an interesting sonic tidbit kicking around, I threw it between tracks to alter the flow or mood of the record. On Voiceprint, the flow of the record seemed to need some connecting material to unify the album.

Jester: There seems to be a space / science fiction theme in your track titles with 'Codec Star Network' and 'Radio Valykrie'. Was that intentional?

Mark: About as intentional as anything Out Out ever is. I don't usually have much of a theme in mind when working on an album. I try to let the album dictate it's own theme as it grows. I did, however choose the title 'Codec Star Network' on purpose, for the techish sound of it, and the idea, maybe, of a network for distributing audio from a central location via an encoding/decoding scheme.

Jester: What motivated you to cover the Wire track 'Forty Versions'?

Mark: I always loved that song. I though about covering that song for five years, and finally got around to it.

Jester: How did you go about choosing the cover song you wrote for the Newer Wave compilation?

Mark: Don from 21st Circuitry actually suggested it. I loved the Cars when I was in Junior. High, so I thought, why not?

Jester: How do you approach writing a cover song?

Mark: I don't have a method. In the case of 'Candy-O' I tried to remain faithful to the original arrangement, but record it with new sounds, as opposed to trying to get overly clever and screw around too much. I just felt that I personally was going to deliver a stronger track that way. On "Voiceprint", the Wire cover took a few more liberties, but was still also pretty faithful to the original arrangement. Aside from those two covers, I haven't really done any others.

Jester: How did you first get involved with writing and composing music?

Mark: Starting out in grade school, wanting to be in radio, and playing around with whatever audio equipment I could get my hands on, fueled the fire. In middle school and high school I started playing around with computers, programming them to make noise. After I bought my first synthesizer, it was all over. I was hooked. Oddly, though, my main focus wasn't writing music, but in the process of recording sounds and altering them, capturing them, sonic manipulation - audio engineering in it's more naive sense. Using two cassette recorders to bounce back and forth to layer up ten or twenty layers of sound - that's what really started it.

Jester: Have you ever had any type of formal musical training?

Mark: I studied piano and clarinet while growing up, and taught myself drums and bass as well, but not a whole lot of formal training, no.

Jester: Has your minimal musical training been useful to your current musical interests?

Mark: Actually, yes. In many ways. For example, in trying to deliberately stretch out my songwriting, I can recall some of the theory training to attempt a more interesting arrangement or key modulation. Also, working with other musicians on their music has taught me tenfold of what I enow before; melodic and harmonic structures, new ways of looking at instrumentation and arrangement. In fact, although people often say that Vein Cage had a profound effect on the sound of my more recent albums, I think it is also largely due to my exposure to a few hundred other artist's creating music first-hand.

Jester: I heard rumors of new Vein cage material. Will you be helping out if that project once again comes to fruition?

Mark: There are a bunch of tapes that were demos for a new Vein Cage album that Pater was working on a few years ago. I've been sifting through them to possibly compile them into a new album. Even though they're demos, the stuff really kicks! Sadly, these demo tracks are all that's left of that material as all of the masters are gone now. Pater is currently gearing up to get some music going for himself again, and I may or may not be involved. Vein Cage was always his baby, really.

Jester: Do the re-issues of "Finched" and "Pepperbox Muzzle" contain any new material that was not on the original Axis Records versions?

Mark: I remastered both of them, giving them a bit more punch than the original releases, but I tried not to step on the sound of them too much. I wanted to keep the original sound preserved as much as possible. There is a bonus remix of "The Warning" on Finched that wasn't on the original CD.

Jester: What is it like both running a music studio as a business while trying to find time to release and promote your own music?

Mark: Hectic. The most difficult part has to be trying to get enough time and energy to actually write new music. I used to write fifteen or twenty songs a year. Now it is somewhere between two and twelve, since I took on engineering full-time. Sometimes the last thing I want to do now, after getting home from the studio, listening to music all day, is to fire up the gear and try to be creative. But I still love making music. I doubt I will give it up for a long time to come.

Jester: Now that all of your older material has been re-released, what does the future hold for Out Out now?

Mark: The next project in the works is a album of remixes from all four albums, all never before released versions, some done by outside remixers. After that, who knows?

Jester: Is there anything you would like to add in conclusion?

Mark: Yes. First of all, thanks for taking the time out to do this interview. It's always a bonus when people are interested and enjoy what I do. Secondly, thanks to everyone who likes Out Out! 'makes my day when someone says they like my music.

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