We recently interviewed Makar band. The best thing about this band is the members of this band Mark and Andrea are a happily married couple. We are sure you will enjoy this very interesting conversation with them.
Twist Online: First Tell us a little about the starting of your band “MAKAR”.
Mark: When Andrea and I got married I had no idea I had just married my songwriting partner. She hadn’t picked up a guitar since she was twelve, had never really sung before and was focused on writing poetry, short stories and her debut novel, Pushed. She is an exceptionally fine writer, but one night she heard me writing the Monkey, which would eventually wind up on Makar’s debut album, 99 Cent Dreams, and just started singing “you are alone, you can’t go home” over this instrumental part so beautifully that I was blown away. And that’s where Makar was born. The first time I ever sang a Makar song live was at our wedding when I sang the song Andrea to Andrea in front of 125 guests backed by the wedding band killing covers all night. They had graciously consented to backing me while I belted away. Unfortunately, they hadn’t learned the song very well and were playing some new and inventive notes that didn’t necessarily go with the key I was singing in so the first part was all over the place, but at least they nailed the end because it’s a high note for me and that might have been a little awkward. Everyone was very nice about it and loved the performance, most importantly my lady love, but it was a rather dubious start for Makar. Prior to Makar I was the lead singer in a skiffle band in Jersey.
Andrea: I’d never been in a band before Mark and I formed MAKAR. It was something I never even allowed myself to fantasize about because the few times I tried out for anything involving singing it was a disaster. And to be fair, I didn’t know what I was doing.
In college, I auditioned for an acappella group with The Beatles’ song You Got to Hide Your Love Away. They asked me what key I was going to sing it in and I didn’t know because I thought the whole reasoning with acappella is that you sing without accompaniment. Needless to say the audition didn’t go well.
It’s funny after I started playing and writing music, my mother said it made sense because that seemed like the perfect outlet for poetry in today’s world. Now I can’t imagine not playing and writing music.
Twist Online: Why you chose the name “MAKAR” is there any reason or influence behind it?
Andrea: The name came about randomly, but it stuck because the Makars were the poets of the dark ages. Makar is a term from Scottish literature though neither Mark and I are Scottish nor have any of our past bandmates been Scottish. As I understand it, the word means both maker and poet, which is interesting because writing or any kind of creating is all about crafting and making.
Mark: Andrea came up with it one day while working on her debut novel and reading the dictionary.
Twist Online: Tell us about your latest Album “Funeral Genius”?
Mark: Funeral Genius was inspired by a person we know who has no idea the album is about them. The theme of Funeral Genius is about living in the present and not being overwhelmed by the self-doubt that can kill one’s spirit. A Funeral Genius is someone who is a genius at being negative. A Debbie Downer, who obsessively looks at the negative side of things. An uber-pessimist, who is morbid and thinks of death all the time forgetting to live. The person who inspired the album is basically a composite of Funeral Geniuses everywhere and frankly a real deal buzz kill. If they knew the album was about them there would be hell to pay for A and me, so we’ll take that one to the grave thank you very much.
Andrea: When someone is a Funeral Genius, it starts to infect those around them, your world view darkens and becomes closed off and almost apocalyptic in how they see the future. This album is our rebellion against such people. To rebel and say yes instead of no, just like when John Lennon climbed up that ladder in Indica Gallery in 1966 and peered through the magnifying glass and Yoko’s painting said yes in tiny letters. To drown out the perpetual naysayers, and say I’m not going to do what you’ve narrowly prescribed for me. I only have one life to live and I’m going to live it my way. That’s the driving force for me.
Twist Online: What kind of response the album is receiving?
Mark: Funeral Genius was called “essential” by Rust Magazine, and has helped land us interviews with Paste Magazine, Buzzfeed, Peverett Phile, Ehtnocloud and Vigilantes Radio (2016) as well as a top 10 spot on The Deli Magazine’s Top 300 NYC Indie Bands along with Vampire Weekend, Fun., MGMT and Santigold (2015). Our title song, Funeral Genius, was played on Detroit’s #1 station, WROM’s The Quinn Spinn show, for their 2014 Guest Appreciation Edition. It helped us play CMJ’s music festival at the Pyramid Club October 2014 and got us named Rust Magazine’s Critic’s Pick of 2013 as well as receiving continuous airplay across the United States, Canada and the UK, on such stations as WROM, CIUT 89.5 FM (Toronto), CKRL 89.1 (Quebec), Radio Alchemy, The Waiting Room (UK), Hub Radio, Radio Crystal Blue, WFDU-FM, WRSU-FM, and Insomnia Radio’s “Daily Dose.” I think one of the coolest things was that Funeral Genius got included on The NBTMusicRadio’s Top 100 Tracks/Singles of 2012 and Top 100 Albums of 2012 ahead of David Byrne, Sigur Ros and St. Vincent. It also charted ahead of Rush on the College Radio Charts in September 2012 and won us the title of Band of the Month for January 2012 on Ear to the Ground radio.
Andrea: The response has been truly incredible and it inspires us that so many thoughtful people in the indie music scene have written such kind words and played our music.
Twist Online: Why you chose to be an Indie Rock band? Any reasons for going for this particular music genre?
Mark: Just happened naturally. My parents bought me an electric guitar when I was sixteen, which I loved, before migrating to piano. I’d always sung since I was a young lad, singing in the school choir and performing Christmas carols in Lord & Taylors every year. My musical influences are folk, blues, rock, punk and 80s music, and I had been in some musicals when I was younger, The Music Man and Hair. The first bands/albums I was obsessed with were The Beatles/The White Album and The Who/Who’s Next. The Beatles songs Hey Jude, While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Let it Be were always favorites of mine, so all these elements go into Makar’s songwriting. Nick Drake, PJ Harvey, Public Enemy, The Zombies, Cat Stevens, Fats Domino, Van Morrison, Run DMC, Elvis, Chuck Berry, U2, Little Richard, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Cure, The Verve, Depeche Mode, Joy Division, Aretha, A-Ha are all musical acts I love and many more so when I started writing songs on piano all those influences came out as Indie Rock. But labels are funny because as a musician I’m not writing or playing songs because they fit a genre. I’m just writing songs that come out of me, so whatever someone wants to call it I guess that’s what it is to them. To me it’s just Makar music and like Elvis said, “We don’t sound like nobody baby.”
Andrea: I’m not sure it was a completely conscious choice, it’s just what we are or turned out to be. We like a lot of different kinds of music and combine different elements deliberately and subconsciously. But I think it’s the do-it-yourself quality that resonates the most with me. That you don’t have to rely on experts to create music and promote it. (Although in promotion, it certainly helps and we have had some great experts on our team throughout the years. But sometimes the musical “business” experts dampen creativity). And that DIY vibe has caught onto other genres. Record labels are doing less and less for their artists because there is less money in music in general. But we’re lucky that today we can put out music ourselves without selling a limb or two.
Also, indie rock encompasses a lot of the kind of music we enjoy – punk, garage, folk, pop and blues. It’s a very freeing genre overall. I don’t like to pin us down in any specific genre so if the shoe fits, we’re going to wear the soles out.
Twist Online: In last 14 years you got so much appreciation, top ratings, good reviews. What will you rate as your biggest achievement so far?
Mark: For me it was receiving the following review by a fan named Marina back in the Myspace days in 2007. It says everything I could ever hope to have someone say back to us about our music. I still find it hard to believe someone wrote it. We never met her in person, but her words mean a lot to us.
“Makar, I miss you, a lot. Another day is the most charming song I have heard I think, yeah with the piano and pretty guitar, it’s like coming home after a trip, all warm inside the belly, mm it’s a great feeling and that is like your music to me, and the harmony, yeah it brings shivers, with the guitar, and the way you sing wayyy, ah elegant, I feel so bad for missing you, your music is like the sunshine on this dreary evening, or I guess the moon, but yes it feels so good to hear your voice again, so wholesome, it’s like being surrounded by family. Mmm Makar, I also feel so bad for taking you off my top 8, I’m sorry about that, I’ll bring you back, you are probably one of the most genuine sounding bands I have heard on myspace, maybe in general, think so. Ahhh I live in an amazing world to be able to hear you, your voices are so happy and make me feel all warm and happy inside like a new born puppy or something, but yes you are so brilliant, and I like the “What Can I Tell You” it’s catchy and yes just wonderful, what a voice you have there, you could bop around to this type of music, wonderful! Your phrasing is special as well, ahhh marvelous and classics definitely to me. Um I hope you remember me by the way I certainly remember you very clearly. Ahhh here’s my favorite song ever, I totally remember this one, “The Country Song” ahhh yeah really this is the all time favorite song of yours, it’s the one that I first heard when I added you and I was so happy, really I was, your music is illuminating or something, so brilliant, ahhhh, wooo, oh and the “I Hate My Job” yeah it’s so negative, but you seem to be so happy about it, a song about hate, but it’s so upbeat, why, ahhhh I love it, I wanna hear you say I hate you more, go ahead hate me, I just want to hear you sing it, with the catchy guitar, and the way it is sung with passion, wooo and you get all energized and it picks up pace. I think you should rock, because this music has saved my soul..mm yes. So how have you been? It’s special how it gets a bit slower towards the end, it’s my favorite, and the riiiiight part and then the pace quickens, it is pretty exciting for a song about hate, ah so perky about the hate, see songs like this make you great, so great right now, so yes cheeers! And cheers to your tempo changes, it is thrilling! Mmm thank you for letting me find you again, it was the bulletin, I’m so glad my ears are refreshed and you made me happy, oh you don’t even know how happy, so anyways I hope you are well, the pleasure has been all mine to listen to you again, thaaaaaaaaank you.”
Andrea: Definitely what Marina said above and that we’re still around and kicking!
Twist Online: You have performed in so many renowned clubs in New York. What do you enjoy more performing live or working in studios on your music?
Mark: Great question! They are both amazing experiences in completely different ways. The experience of playing live is indescribable. The energy, the fear, the excitement of having to nail everything right there in front of an audience, especially because I do and don’t like being in front of an audience. It’s like my ultimate nightmare combined with my ultimate dream. You feel plugged in to the universe and to yourself. You’re buzzing and it channels into your playing and singing. It gives you this incredible energy inside and lifts you into the stratosphere. Recording is a different beast, one that is not easily tamed. You have to get used to doing it the same way you have to get used to playing live but it’s different. You have to generate the energy from within and you don’t have the benefit of the audience or the fear from without. You have to connect to the song sometimes in the dark in an enclosed space, cut off, insular and project everything into that microphone. And it’s got to be perfect. You have got to be as pleased on the thousandth listen as you were on the first. Live you can make mistakes and no one will notice, recording you can’t. People listen to songs over and over again and they will eventually hear a mistake or an untruth, so you have to listen and listen and listen until you are satisfied that you have delivered the best, the most honest, the most riveting performance you can deliver. You practice over and over so that when you play live it’s as good as it’s going to get in that one shot, but recording you play and sing over and over until it’s perfect for all time. Sometimes you nail it in one take, sometimes it takes a long time to get what you want. In the end I like them both evenly, but if I had to choose, I’d take recording over performing. The intimate pure connection to the music. Not performing for anyone but yourself and what the song demands.
Andrea: Me too. Recording is a record of what you have done, a record of a certain point in time in your life even. But if you don’t perform live, you definitely feel off and out of sorts.
Sometimes when performing live, I’m terrified or at least I feel that way, it’s hard to tell the difference between excitement and nerves. But I do relish pushing myself to perform for I was a very shy kid growing up. But I attended this school Gill St. Bernard’s which would let anyone graduating speak at their middle school and high school commencements. My English teacher, Ronna Storm, encouraged me to read something when I graduated 8th grade. The idea of speaking in public frightened me but I knew if I didn’t do it then, I may never be able to do it. I’m always pushing and propelling myself forward in live performances and I feel a real sense of immediate accomplishment every time we end a show.
Twist Online: As a band what would you like to achieve
Mark: I’d like to reach the toppermost of the poppermost!
Andrea: We would like to be able to do music full-time and make a living solely through art and creativity. That’s the ultimate dream.
It was really nice meeting MAKAR. To follow and for further updates you can visit the band website