Interview with Mark27 of Terminal, San Francisco, CA 7/6/96

Jester: Can you give me a little history about the origins of Terminal?

Mark27: I had been playing keyboards and writing music since middle school In high school I was playing in a band that shall remain unnamed. I abandoned that to start my own project. I decided on the name Battery, and you can imagine how pissed I was to walk into a record store a few months later to see the Battery "Meat Market" single on sale. So I changed the band name to Terminal. I started putting out local limited edition tapes and didn't do anything major until three years ago when I released an EP. That started me networking with the whole scene.

Jester: How did Greg and Angela get involved with the project?

Mark27: Greg was a DJ that spun at all the industrial clubs in Oklahoma City. Angela is a drummer who was playing with the local guitar sludge acts in the city. I was going to do some live Terminal performances with Angela on drums and Greg doing keyboards but it never really happened. So I ended up remaining a total studio act.

Jester: So you don't think that you'll ever try and play live now that you dwell in the industrial mecca better known as San Francisco?

Mark27: For the moment I will remain a studio only project. Sometime in the future I will probably revive the live concept but I don't have that kind of time right now.

Jester: What sparked the move from Oklahoma to California?

Mark27: I got this fancy multimedia job and did not have the strength of character to resist the amount of money that they offered me.

Jester: Has the job been good for you?

Mark27: Moving out here and not knowing anyone has given me plenty of time to work on my music and build a decent home studio. It's a nice place and it got me away from the old scene. I still remain involved online but actually being in the club scene was really getting on my nerves prior to moving. I've remained rather solitary since moving out here.

Jester: How did you get involved with Ken at Arts Industria?

Mark27: When the first Terminal EP came out, he was one of the people that I chose at random to send a tape to. We started to exchange music and he sent me some of his early Signal to Noise and Epoch tapes. Then he ended up reviewing the EP in his magazine Arc, and he offered me a spot on the compilation when he started releasing CD's on his label.

Jester: So he is actually going to be the one releasing the Terminal album once you finally get around to writing it?

Mark27: Yes. I was 100% musician all the way through school, went to college for a year and then dropped out. I did that whole gigging thing, got sick of not eating and went back to school for a few years. Then the whole thing with Arts Industria came up and people starting asking me for an entire album. I finally got enough people asking me to write an album to finally agree to do it. I dropped out of the music business for such a long time because I was disgusted with the business side. So when Ken offered to conduct that whole side of the album release, I consented to release an entire album.

Jester: Are you going to be involved with any of the artwork and liner notes on the album, or are you going to relegate that to Ken?

Mark27: I enjoy all the creative aspects of creating a product, I just don't like the business aspect of it. As far as the artwork is concerned, I imagine that Ken and I will probably collaborate on it. I will do the bulk of the creative work, as with the Arts Industria web site. The web site turned out to be really fun and I enjoy that type of thing.

Jester: You mentioned that you had been playing keyboards since you were fourteen. Did you ever have any type of musical theory or training of any kind?

Mark27: My mother bought a piano for me when I was ten or eleven. I played with the piano and learned a bunch of classical stuff. Then when I was twelve or thirteen I decided that Prince was god. I painted the walls of my room purple and put up tons of posters. But it was the prevalence of synthesizers in his music that got me interested in keyboards. When I was fourteen or fifteen I discovered the whole Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Severed Heads scene and have been over the edge ever since.

Jester: What method do you use when sit down and write a new track?

Mark27: Usually when I sit down and start to write it starts with a single sound that I like. Then I just go with it. I end up creating songs around a certain sound. I almost feel as if I am not the one writing the song, but that single sound is. Then I'll start to pile vocals into the mix. I usually write pieces in three or four key sequences, leave it alone for a few months, and then come back to it. So I am working on pieces of maybe ten songs at any given time, all in various states of completion. I end up writing the basics of a bunch of songs at the same time, then all of the vocals, and finally finishing them at the same time.

Jester: Concerning your lyrics, some of them seem to be very political at times, and nonsensical at others. Should a listener be taking your lyrics seriously?

Mark27: Yes, they are meant to be read into more than casually. I use a lot of high tech kinds of imagery to express really basic concepts. Pains, problems, fears and other day to day human garbages. It isn't meant to be complex, but it is a convenient outlet for me. I simply say what I need to say and kind of put a industrial sugar coating on all of it.

Jester: What motivates you to make music?

Mark27: I make music because I really enjoy it. I put it out because other people want it. If it were up to me and I wasn't getting fan mail, I'd probably make a few tapes for myself and my friends and leave it at that. I'll always write music, and music will always be a huge portion of my life, even if the whole world decides that electronic music is bad. There will still be me with a synthesizer, plugging along.

Jester: How much fan feedback do you get?

Mark27: Quite a bit actually. I have gotten letters and e-mail from all over the world. It is a very cool thing. That is the whole reason why I will be putting out a full length album. I would be happy to make a single album and treat it like a trophy, but people want more from me.

Jester: Do you have any strong musical or political influences that you draw from when you write your music?

Mark27: I am not politically motivated. My music is based only on basic human emotions and feelings. When I was a teenager, I was way into punk rock bands and their politics. Now I think that kind of preaching is a little overly direct. I like to be just a little more subtle.

As far as musical influences, I have so many that there is no one single band that I could possibly sound like. I listen to just about everything; ska, country, rap, reggae, industrial. I like many different kinds of music and I try to draw from all of it. As far as how Terminal sounds, occasionally I will try to not sound like certain bands rather than trying to mimic someone. Having been totally immersed in the industrial scene before, I got really sick of bands trying to copying other bands. First I got really sick of Skinny Puppy. Then I got sick of the people who were trying to be like Skinny Puppy. Then I got sick of the people who were trying to be like the people who were trying to be like Skinny Puppy, etc. It got to the point where I felt like I needed to not sound like the N-th generation of Skinny Puppy clones. I am not trying to degrade Skinny Puppy in any way, but I just got sick of all the people not being themselves.

There is a certain middle ground that industrial has sunk into, and when you hear a :wumpscut: or Haujobb track it could be any number of German or American artists who could have written exactly the same song. Once music gets into a rut like that, it is time to burn it down and get away from it. All of the stereotypes that go along with being labeled industrial really have a tendency to sicken me.

Jester: How much of your music is direct sampling versus presets?

Mark27: I try to avoid presets for the most part. I generally work with a single sampler and an array of synthesizers. Most of the samples that I use are samples of my voice or other synthesizers which are reduced to a single cycle that becomes a simple unique waveform of it's own. Then I'll use my sampler as a synthesis engine using the waveforms that I have pulled out of the air. Essentially I treat everything as synthesis. I have never used a vocal sample from a movie, and for the most part I've never even used a sampled drum. Frequently I'll steal a drum sound and layer it with other things, but I was never really big on stealing big chunks of sound because it was too limiting.

Jester: Is Angela still going to be involved with Terminal, even though she is current drummer for The Razor Skyline in Seattle?

Mark27: Definitely. Terminal has always been just me, but I love collaborating with people. So you could consider Terminal to be me and whomever is around at the time. On the new album there is going to be at least one, maybe two songs, that Angela co-wrote with me. On one track, "Nitrogen," she will be doing the vocals. She is still a big part of the band as far as collaborators are concerned. If there is room, there may even be a track included that Reverend Ammonia D (of Manhole Vortex) and I worked on together.

Jester: Do you have any type of a release date for this album?

Mark27: It depends, and I really would like to get it done by the time the four horsemen of the apocalypse come charging through my house. 99% of the music is recorded but there are vocals and mixing left to do. I swear to god I'll get it done. But finding the time is always the real trick isn't it?

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