Mark: Iíve been in the business about 20 years. My big claim to fame in the Ď80s, I was in the band Kinetic Sect if that rings any bells to you at all. We worked with ĎTil Tuesday. We worked with Ministry. The Waitresses and a bunch of bands like that. We did some northeast touring. We were the American Duran Duran. That was the way the group was moving along. Ironically enough I met my wife because sheís younger than me by some years Angela and she was actually a fan of Kinetic Sect.
Nora: Yeah, there are five years between Mark and myself so in 1983 he was 20 and I was 15. I would always hear about Kinetic Sect on the radio and I was just the teenager. ďOh my God, Kinetic Sect is going to put Connecticut on the map. Finally as far as big music is concerned.Ē Now in Connecticut of course they have all ages shows but back in 1983 they did not. I would always hear about these people and I thought that sounded so exciting to be a part of that and I couldnít go. I was a sophomore in high school and Mark was almost 21. To fast forward through the years if you will, when I met him and he told me he was a musician I was like ďyeah okay, fine.Ē Then he told me he was the drummer for Kinetic Sect, I flipped out a little bit. I was like ďyouíve got be kidding me.Ē It was like ďwhat? What are you talking about? Youíre the drummer for Kinetic Sect?Ē I told him about what I just said to you and he was laughing. I did not believe this. To this day weíve got a picture of them. They look like Duran Duran. Itís down in the basement in our practice area. A band picture from the Ď80s of Kinetic Sect. Itís just the funniest thing to look at. Oh my God.
Mark: So thatís how I got my start and then through the years Angela, I formed a couple of other bands. Trag came out Iíd say in the mid Ď90s actually formed at that time with my partner Mike Townsend and thatís when we released one album. Build Machines came out in 2000. It was very different. There were no females. It was more swamp rock type with a progressive edge to it.
Nora: No, it was very southwestern. When I hear this, it sounds very southwestern. I canít explain it. Like desert, like Thelma and Louise-esque. That kind of thing. Itís very that type of genre of music. Itís very good though. Mike Townsend is very, very talented. Heís like Lindsay Buckingham the way he plays and heís phenomenal at what he does.
Mark: He did retire though back in 2002 and thatís how I was actually out looking for auditions and I met my wife accidentally at a place called The Georgetown Saloon at an open mike night while I was out trying to audition people. I actually hooked up with some of her friends by accident who are the guitar and bass player and then they introduced me to Nora and I was like ďokay, I was looking for a singer.Ē So that all happened by accident back in 2002 and since then we went out and we got married in 2004 but we released an album in 2006 called 11th House which is what you heard. People have said a little bit about the music, nothing negative but it reminds them of Blondie which was a very high compliment I thought.
That is such a romantic story.
Mark: When youíre out in the circuit you never know who youíre affecting. Iíve been on some major stations in the area and TV and all that stuff too. You just donít realize it. Youíre a small fish in a big pond.
You never know who you affect with what you do. Tomorrow night Iím doing an interview with this guy who was part of the underground movement in England. They call it the New Romantic Movement which spawned bands like Duran Duran and all that. He goes by the name of Marilyn.
Nora: Yeah, I know who youíre talking about. Oh my goodness, yeah. Iíve seen him. Iíve never heard anything heís done but Iíve seen him. I know who youíre talking about.
He was a very, very beautiful boy.
Nora: Yeah. Actually he was friends with Boy George.
Mark: That is so funny.
I was told I had to interview him because heís trying to do this, that, and the other and I said well, considering he helped spawn glam rock, why the hell not. Iíve got him on tomorrow.
Mark: You know the early 2000ís and the late í90s that death metal or real heavy grunge, thatís hopefully dying out. Cookie monster music they call it.
I love that stuff. Itís so cool.
Nora: Thanks Mark.
Mark: We donít really fit well with that style.
Nora: Nobody knows what to do with us up here in the northeast. I swear to God, nobody knows what to do with us because weíre not a cover band.
Yeah, I know thatís a problem up there. You either have to be a cover band or you have to do the cookie monster thing.
Nora: Yeah, and we donít. Iím 39 and Mark is 44 years old and we represent the Gen X thing. When I wrote the cover letter of the press kit itís like we play real music. Original music. We do everything ourselves and we bring back the musicianship and the music that the Gen X remembers from 20 years ago. We bring that back for them in the 21st century. I wrote that. I came up with that and people are like ďyeah, youíre right. Tell us about it. You absolutely do.Ē Well, thatís the whole point. Thatís the whole reason why I got into this 20 years ago for myself. Tell you a little bit about myself. I got into music and I got into being a singer because of Steve Perry. Iím not going to mince words. Heís the whole reason why I do what I do. Heís absolutely fabulous. I saw him in 1983 on the Frontiers tour, 1986 Raised By Radio tour, and for the solo tour for Strange Medicine. I went all the way to New York state up in Poughkeepsie to go see him. He is just the top of the line and Iíve always admired his work ethic. Heís so focused. Thereís just something about that that makes me want to do that. I want to be like that. I want to have that discipline and I just grabbed on to that and ran with it. At the same time on a technical end, I went the Pat Benatar route. I studied classical training because I hear thatís what she did but then she could turn around and sing this throaty rock chick kind of thing. It sounds like itís ripping her throat out but itís not because sheís got the training and she knows what sheís doing. Itís like the technical and the passion thing of Pat Benatar and Steve Perry. Thatís why I do what I do because itís just amazing. I just always knew I was going to do something with this and it took me 20 years but you know what? I donít care because now weíre getting ourselves out there and I donít care how old I am. I donít care that weíre up against all that Britney stuff and everything and Christina Aguilera. I call them rocking Barbies. I donít care that weíre up against them.
I think all sheís known for right now is having two rugrats and being divorced from K Fed. Does that woman actually do anything anymore?
Nora: No except for going out with Paris Hilton and Iíll be polite and leave it at that. Thatís all I know about her but you know what? I just feel like our whole generation, the whole Gen X thing, has been kicked to the curb if you will. Weíve got talent. We know how to write songs. I know how to do all these different things. Backing vocals, front vocals, multi tracking, keyboards, percussion, whatever. I really think that thatís what is missing in a way. Itís bizarre. The music landscape is like what? Weíre not old and weíre not dead. Come on.
Mark: Just a quick question on your end. Do you get a lot of CDís every day from different people all over the country?
I get CDís from people all over the world.
Mark: Really? Wow. Weíre a member of CD Baby. Thatís our label. They have something called the Independent Disc Bible thing that you can sign up for. Itís pretty neat and that lists sources of where you can market your music. Where you can send it to different things and you were listed on that as a person who would take a look at it and listen to it. I was wondering when we sent it to you, do you check out everything that you get?
Yes, oh yes. I listen to everything. Music has always been a huge part of my life because Iím 39 years old too and I grew up with MTV and watching Solid Gold.
Nora: Amen sister!
When Culture Club came out I thought those guys were badass but I also loved Judas Priest. I donít know why no one ever realized that guy was totally gay. You could just tell that by the way he straddled that motorcycle. I could tell that as a kid. But everyone was like ďoh, he came out of the closet and heís gay.Ē I was like ďoh my God, you just figured that out.Ē
Mark: Thatís funny.
Heís one of the most badass metal singers out there. It was so cool to see him reunited with Judas Priest again. That boy is back where he belongs.
Mark: Thatís funny. Iím glad when you saw the cover and everything it attracted you. I was just curious.
Yeah, it actually reminded me of a book I read a while back called 11 Harrow House.
Nora: Wow, I had no idea about that but hey.
Mark: That was actually Noraís idea. She wrote the title song based on a thing with her life. A history of trials and tribulations.
Nora: Yeah. I donít know if you know of these kind of things or if youíre aware of them but religiously and faith wise Iíve been all over the charts if you will. One of the things that I used to do 10 or so years ago, I used to do peopleís charts and thatís where the whole phrase of 11th house comes from. Itís a slice of the pie if you will of somebodyís birth chart.
Is that like the tarot thing?
Nora: Well, itís astrology and that particular of the house, itís the first of the 12th house and the 11th house according to the book that I read that I followed, that the 11th house in the chart represents what I talk about which is hopes, wishes, dreams, and friends. Thatís really what it represents. But I used it in the song, itís kind of like a metaphor for my life. I put too much faith in the material and things of that nature and itís a true life scenario. Itís a true life situation from the time period of 2000 to right before I met Mark who is now my husband obviously. About 12 to 18 months which were just really the worst of my life. Itís how things line up to show you in my personal experience. You think things are a certain way and theyíre really not. In that whole time period, a lot of things were brought to light for me. Some things in the dark were brought to the light kind of thing. The song is actually a poem because I donít know really how to write a song. The whole thing is really if you look at it a poem.
Songs are poems set to music I think.
Nora: Right. Well, Mark had asked me to write what I feel. We were talking around the idea of 11th House and how that would be a cool title song or a song and I was like ďfor Godís sake, I donít know how to write songs. What are you talking about?Ē He told me to just sit back and think about everything and jot down bullet points and just see what happens. Thatís what I did and I think I was still living in my apartment. I wasnít living here. I was living upstate in New Milford and I think it was actually during a blackout in a winter snowstorm and I had all these candles going and dead silence. I was going ďokay, well 11th House bullet pointsĒ and I was writing all this stuff out. Then all of a sudden, I donít know where it came from because I donít write poetry, all these words just started coming into my head and I was like ďall right, Iím going to keep up with this. Iím just going to write everything down.Ē Then when I was done I was like wow. Thatís what really happened but itís in prose. Itís in poetry four line stanza form. I just felt like something creative was starting because yeah, Iíve got the technical training. Iíve got this and that for 20 years but you have to understand, I was all set to just shut up and walk away from music and now all of a sudden Iím asked to write a song. Iím like what are you talking about, I donít know how to write a song. It was all very free style. Even the way that I came across the chord progression on the keyboard was an accident. The melody line that I chose was just me singing free style over the tape loop sound progression. Iím not writing anything down. Itís all up in my mind. Iím not writing anything down. Mark was just like holy crap. I donít write anything down. I took classical voice training of course but in theory I had to take a year of training and I had to take written theory. In ear training I was off the chart like over 100 percent or something like that. In theory writing things down, I couldnít and they were like ďwhatís the matter with you?Ē
Mark: Angela Iíll say one thing that you pointed out earlier in the review which is really cool. 11th House does stay in a linear mode for most of the song kind of like youíre feeling a mood but then it changes. It stops like the ďMinutes Before MidnightĒ theory and then goes into a cacophony type thing which remember like you summed it up. Thanks for saying about ďMinutes Before MidnightĒ, how we like to change with the environment. The timbre with the sounds, theyíre different things. Theyíre different like your weather. Not too many people notice those types of things. That changes. Music is dynamic like light.
Nora: This whole thing and my point in my life looking back which was just at that point in time still very fresh and new, thatís how it was. If you go back and listen to the song again, if you listen to the back ground music, if you shove me out of your head and listen to the background music, it does sound like a tape loop in the beginning of the song. Thatís what I wanted. I purposely wanted it to sound like a tape loop because itís all live musicians. Nothing is recorded and played back. Itís all live all the way through but the effect that I wanted was a tape loop effect because I felt like I was on a tape loop. I keep doing the same things over and over and the weird thing is that Iím talking about that I have everything in my life. Hopes, wishes, dreams, and friends but the music is in a minor and it sounds like itís skipping. It sounds like itís dull and it keeps repeating and then when it comes to a complete stop, this must sound crazy to you but this really happened to me. ďThis is totally insane. Am I going crazy or are things being rearranged.Ē I said to myself that Iím just going to get off the treadmill and thatís what the stop in the music represents. I walked away from people that I knew. I cut ties with everything I knew. I completely cut things and people out of my life. There was other stuff that went on too that Iím not going to get into but I felt like I needed to do that just to survive and these people were not helping me. Things, situations, and atmospheres are not helping me and I just had to completely cut and start again. Thatís why the music sounds so crazy and then that goes on for about 30 seconds and then it stops again and then with a choir of angels sounding thing which is the three part harmony that I did, thatís like the peace that I found again and even though I didnít know where I was going, I didnít have the security of the hopes, wishes, dreams, and friends but I moved ahead and I was happier. Then the music is kind of funky at the end. I donít know if this makes any sense to you but thatís basically my life in 18 months put to music and I never thought that Iíd be able to ever write a song. That was the first song I ever wrote.
I think some of the best songs that are written result from peopleís personal experiences. Sometimes you just fall in with people and you think that everything is cool with them and then you find out that things arenít so cool. I remember getting out of high school and hanging out and having my best friend and another friend coming to visit me when I was in the Air Force. Then they both got married and that was something I had not chosen to do because Iím not into being married. All of a sudden they wouldnít talk to me anymore because Iím not married. I was like wow, thatís what you base a friendship on? Then you realize hey, these people arenít my friends. Theyíre a bunch of image conscious, trendyÖyou know?
Nora: I was kind of hoping that what I wrote was a true story without names or places but all that stuff did really happen to me. I was hoping to make a universal song. A universal kind of message or whatever. You have to understand, I went from the whole thing with the astrology and Mark is my witness here, man. I go to church every weekend now. I completely did a 180 and the words that I came up with just came into my head. I couldnít even keep up with them. ďThereís only one way it will be shown to me if I put my faith into what I canít see.Ē I just wrote that down in a flash and I read it back. I was like where is this coming from?
Mark: You got inspired. You know Angela, the theme of the album overall you probably noticed has a Christian very positive experience on it. You probably noticed that.
Iím not a religious person myself but I definitely got the idea that it was a pretty positive sort of thing. I think thatís pretty cool. You need that out there because a lot of music out there admittedly is pretty negative.
Mark: Blow this up and kill somebody. Come on guys, weíve got to get to todayís youth.
Nora: I just wrote what I went through and it just happened to fall into that realm. You have to believe me when I say I never thought Iíd write a song like that with any type of whatever theme you want to put to it but thatís the Godís honest truth.
Sometimes you have to reach inside of yourself because music is a part of life. Life is a background to music and a lot of people just donít realize that. They donít appreciate things like that.
Mark: Whatís your favorite song on the album or do you have a favorite song?
Well, actually I like that song that she was talking about. I thought that was a really cool one because it seemed really passionate to me.
Nora: Yeah, well it was kind of frightening to record. Iím not going to lie to you. Iím shaking in my boots and Iím talking about people that I had to cut out of my life and lord only knows whoís going to hear this. They could probably hear it and be like excuse me? At this point in time I donít care.
Mark: You got to do what you got to do. Well, thatís cool. So you like ď11th HouseĒ the title track?
Yeah, I thought that was pretty cool. Tell me something. When you guys were putting the record together, how long did it take?
Mark: Thatís a good point actually. When me and Nora got together back in 2002 and going out, we were talking about stuff and I realized then that yeah, letís start getting this together. Nora was kind of new to this getting going so we actually started back at the time laying the foundation and we didnít even actually have a guitar player or a bass player in mind at that point. We had tried out some people we were working with and who were playing with us live but they moved on. They were doing something else or they were going to Boston or California and get discovered, God bless them. What happened by accident totally, we tried to find people and I hate running ads so I put up fliers. Thatís my resort lately and I just happened to put up a flier in one of my pizza joints in Bridgeport called Marioís which Kevin McLauglin, the gentleman on the album called up from that flier. That was one in a million. We just happened to put it there and he came in a day or two later and I had only put one flier up. It wasnít like there were 1,000 all over the place. Kevin did a nice job. We started working with him. Rehearsing and getting the stuff together and unfortunately the bane of my existence though is the bass players. We had the three of us there and we were going and that was in 2004 getting ready to do it. Then our bass player who was our standard guy, he was in one minute and then he was out and then he did something else. We were so frustrated. So then we happened to find another gentleman named David Crespo who we credit on the album and he joined us in 2005 midyear to pick up where Lou had left off. A very, very good bass player. Older gentleman but he helped us get in the studio and start but of course when weíre there recording the album we like to do everything live. We only had about two weeks scheduled. Well, he comes in the first week and we did most of the tracks. Thank God. He never showed up again.
Nora: Yeah, he never showed up. What we did was we rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed for almost a year so that not in a bad way but in a good way, it was almost autopilot as far as knowing what we were doing. We didnít have to stop and start again. I didnít want to do that because as they always say, time is money. Studio time is money also.
Yeah, thatís pretty expensive.
Nora: We really didnít have a lot of money so thatís why we just really put ourselves to the test for a year. We just rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed until we were blue in the face.
Mark: Everything you heard was one take.
Nora: Yeah, basically everything you hear is one take. Itís all live and itís all one take. I might have screwed up a few, like hit a few clunkers on the keyboard. We had to go back and erase and put that back in. Really the only thing that was really studio time to go back and do was my own background vocals because I did all of them.
Mark: There are no guitar overdubs.
Nora: And Kevin came up with this really wild kind of syncopated acoustic strumming for ď11th HouseĒ at the last minute. We didnít know he was going to do that. He asked if we minded if he did that. We said go right ahead. If he knows what heís doing then go, just go. He sat in a little booth and he just added that extra texture and it was just beautiful. Mark and I thought that was just great. It added an extra texture and it was just really wonderful. He did that for ďMinutes Before MidnightĒ. He did acoustic strumming behind the whole ska sounding really staccato electric guitar. Like the high tones in the beginning of the song. He did acoustic strumming behind that also. It brought an orchestral kind of really layered thing that Mark and I for Godís sake, thatís what we remember. Weíre just trying to bring that back. What is so wrong with that?
Mark: Dave Crespo did the first couple of sessions and whatever it was, I donít know if it was his family or something came up, he worked as an art dealer. That was his main job. Selling pretty good pieces of art. Some major artwork. So he had to go to New York and he never could come back to finish up the session.
Oh, so nothing happened to him.
Mark: Yeah, so what you heard though was, did you ever hear of a gentleman named Steve Clark by any chance?
The only person I know of with that name was the guy that was in Def Leppard.
Mark: Oh, the guitarist. He plays a lot. Have you ever heard of the name Stanley Clark, a bass player?
I think so.
Mark: This guy could be his brother even though theyíre not related. Heís a monster bassist. Heís a six string and heís going in there. Thatís how the guy is. Thank the lord he saved the project. He had been hearing everything for the last couple of weeks.
Nora: Because heís our producer.
Mark: And he told me not to worry about a thing. All of a sudden I plugged him into the board, heís talking to me and heís running through the songs, and he picked up three or four parts of the rest of the songs. He nailed them.
Nora: Yeah, and the thing that made me almost fall over was the fact that that song ďSound View JamĒ is the last song. Itís the funky instrumental. I forget how it came about. We were just messing around in a practice session and Mark came up with this crazy thing and Kevin was doing that Red Hot Chili Peppers John Frusciante type riffing and we didnít have a bass player. We let Steve Clark the producer hear it and I am not lying to you. Steve Clark heard it once, maybe twice, and he said he got it. He is sitting there at his console board and we recorded everything in this three family house in the attic, this tiny little place in Bridgeport. He plugs his bass into the board and I swear to God, not even transcendental, not even thinking heís just playing what you hear and at the same time heís talking to Mark. Heís going ďso Mark how about the Red Sox?Ē Heís saying all this stuff, having a conversation with Mark as heís playing what you hear on ďSound View JamĒ. My eyes are bugging out of my head.
Heís doesnít even have to think about it.
Nora: He doesnít even have to think. Heís talking to Mark having a conversation with him as heís recording whatís supposed to be on our CD.
Mark: Iím punching him in and out. Heís a pretty amazing guy.
Nora: He plays without thinking and what you hear I swear to God and Mark can attest thatís exactly what happened in that recording studio. He heard the playback, he plugged himself in, heís having a conversation with Mark about the Red Sox, and heís playing what you hear. Iím like ďwhat? Youíre insane.Ē
Mark: Isnít that crazy, Angela? He saved the day believe it or not.
Nora: Yes, Steve Clark man. God bless him he saved the day otherwise we would not have a CD.
Mark: It was two years in planning and a year in production.
Nora: 48 hours in recording.
Mark: We love to mix so about six months in that. Going back tweaking and getting it another six months to get it out because we had to master it and send it out to California. Get all that stuff done and it finally got released in July of this year.
Nora: Yeah, Tuesday July 11th which is what I wanted because I wanted it to be on a Tuesday and I wanted it to be the 11th tying it in with the whole 11th House and we found July 11th and there you go, thereís our release date.
That reminds me of all these people who were trying to get their records released on June 6th for the whole 666 thing.
Nora: Oh no. No, weíre totally against that.
Well, unfortunately it didnít work out for some people. Theyíll never be able to do that again in their lifetimes.
Nora: Yeah, Iíve noticed in the industry they always release everything on a Tuesday and I was wondering when the 11th was coming up on a Tuesday. It just happened to fall in with our pattern of getting everything packaged and produced. We were like July 11th, okay. We totally did it that way but itís all via the Internet like I said. The iTunes, the Rhapsody, the Urge, CDBaby and all that stuff. Itís not in retail at all.
The Internet to me is probably the best way to get music out any way because it cuts out the middleman.
Nora: Oh yeah, totally.
Mark: Remember I was telling you Angela we actually for the first time too had somebody on iTunes buy the whole CD off iTunes.
Oh, thatís awesome.
Remember I told you before weíve actually sold a copy in Scotland. And weíve had reviews out in Australia too. Nora: And New Zealand. This guy Ian out in Scotland. Iím going to give Andrew major props here because he has the greatest site. I belong to www.melodicrock.com.
Yeah, I know that site.
Nora: Oh you do? Well, Iím on the Journey board all the time and thatís where I met a whole bunch of really amazing, great people and one of them was named Ian and heís out in Scotland. He ordered the CD to be shipped from America to Scotland and he also wanted my autograph and I wrote back to him and said that Iím in Connecticut and the CDBaby warehouse is 3,000 miles away in Oregon. I didnít know how I was going to do that for him. He wrote back and gave me his address so I wrote him a short note and I signed my name and I mailed it to him from the address he gave me in Scotland through snail mail. Irony of ironies the old fashioned way. He got my little note. I have met the most interesting people online. I got a Christmas greeting from a woman Iíve been speaking with on Melodic Rock and sheís from Romania. You just meet the most amazing people.
Mark: More recently a guy shot her an email I couldnít believe it in Florida. Heís coming up here in July 2007. Itíll be around the July 4th weekend. We donít know if weíre going to play anywhere but heís coming to Connecticut.
Nora: Yeah, he said heís going to just happen to be in Connecticut on the July 4th holiday and wanted to know if weíre going to be out playing anywhere. Iím like what?
Thatís a little far in the future.
Nora: I was so surprised. The Internet is incredible. Weíve had people want us to play in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Texas. People in California are interested. A guy wanted my autograph in Scotland.
Well, that brings me to my next question. What kind of gigs have you guys done and what are you guys looking to do in the future?
Mark: A quick rundown on that. Just with geographical locations but in the past pretty much weíve stayed in the New England area. In our geo area where itís pretty cool, weíre in Connecticut which is actually not bad because weíre only 50 or 60 miles from New York City.
Youíre in the middle of everything.
Mark: Then weíre two or three hours where we can be in Boston too. Thatís usually my delve. We try to play in New York when we can, weíll tramp up to Boston, mostly in Connecticut. Have you ever heard of Toadís Place in Connecticut? Thatís our favorite spot. Weíre planning also to do that. Weíve done that only once this year. Weíre supposed to get a couple of more next year. Then we do the Webster Theater. We plan to hopefully get back into that one. Unfortunately in Connecticut there arenít a lot of regional music venues. Once in a while weíll do a classic bar or restaurant. We donít seem to do too well in those environments. We have to do a lot of covers.
Nora: Yeah, thatís the whole thing. Weíve had to temper our sets if you will. Instead of being original, original, original we have to play to what the region dictates.
If you want to hear those fucking songs why donít you go see those bands when they come through?
Nora: I donít know. Iíve lived here my whole life. Iíve lived here for 39 years. Iíve lived in Connecticut. I donít get it. Iím being completely honest with you man. I donít understand why people just cannot for one iota of time peel away one of the blinders from their eyes and look over to the right and say ďoh my God, thereís a new group.Ē We could be poised like I felt about Kinetic Sect back in the Ď80s putting Connecticut on the map. We could very well do the same thing because between Mark and myself, weíve got over 40 years of experience between the two of us. Weíve both been in the trenches for right about the same amount of time. Twenty something years.
Mark: Weíre getting better, not older.
Nora: It just boggles my mind that this state is ďplay íFreebirdí.Ē I donít know what else to do because we donít play that type of stuff.
We have this one club in town called Firewater and itís a really nice place but the only bands that play there for the most part are tribute and cover bands. Iím not going to go out and pay to see someone do AC/DC songs. If I want to hear AC/DC Iíll see them when they come through town because they do occasionally.
Nora: I designed our banner. Weíve got this humongous three foot by five foot banner that I designed with our Trag logo and underneath it in humongous font in quotes so people know what theyíre getting it says ďoriginal pop music with an edgeĒ so there you go. Itís literally in your face. Itís up against the wall. There are no excuses. You look at that and you know what youíre going to get. What is the problem? ďHow come youíre not playing this?Ē ďHow come youíre not playing that?Ē Because weíre not a cover band. Did you read our sign? Did you see it? You canít miss it. Itís 3í X 5í.
Mark: Sometimes some of the clubs in Connecticut really like when youíre out trying to do some shows, weíll give them a 11th House CD. You call them to follow up because this is what you do. They go ďwhatís this CD? Whereís your cover CD?Ē
Nora: Yeah, whereís our cover CD.
Oh my God. Iím sure Iím going to waste time and money making a CD of someone elseís songs.
Nora: Youíre in Texas. Welcome to our world. This is what itís like up in the northeast. Thatís what weíre railing against. Even though we donít look the whole thing with being in the spotlight. You have to look young and all that other junk. We do. Weíre not as far as our musicianship and our work ethic and what we grew up with and what weíre trying to bring back to people. Itís just mind boggling. What weíve come up against is just youíve got to be kidding me.
Mark: Exactly. The good news on the promotion thing to give a little plug. Being a drummer for many years, I teach it and I enjoy working with kids, did you ever hear of Modern Drummer magazine? Iím kind of connected to them in a way. Over the years I go to all the festivals and Iíve been in the magazine as a teacher and advisor and coming up just to throw in a plug, I believe in the March issue they started a new section called ďtaking the reinsĒ. I think itís about time. Itís about drummers who are band leaders. They have 11th House and I think theyíre going to put a little blurb in that magazine coming up. People keep an eye on it. Iíd like to see it when it comes out myself. I was listed one time as one of the top 20 teachers and drummers in the country for them back in the late Ď80s. People were calling me all over the state. I was doing a lot of traveling around. Itís good to get a different perspective on that realm too. Itís a little different than guitar players driving everybody to drink.
Are you guys working on any new stuff?
Nora: Oh, yeah.
Mark: We have about four or five songs going.
Nora: Yeah, I think weíre up to five for our next CD. Theyíve just come about so easily, I canít get over it. Weíve got a bunch of working titles and we just grab the songs. Again they represent what we remember and what we grew up with. Thereís one song where the structure of it sounds very Led Zeppelinesque.
Mark: Itís a little heavier.
Nora: Another one is basically a rock funk thing called ďBound To SurviveĒ which was inspired by me getting into a fight with my lovely husband. ďSorrowful And PitifulĒ which is like a rock military kind of thing. You have to understand that I walked into this, all of these songs that were on 11th House with the exception of the title track and ďSound View JamĒ were all written for a project that Mark was going to be a part of in the late í80s and early í90s but then of course the Seattle thing came along and it killed all that off. All of that was written ahead of time and they just handed me lyrics. But on top of that, they were all written for a male singer in mind so I had to throw my knowledge and just working with musicians, I had to invert and turn upside down and raise up because he couldnít transpose anything because it was too late. I had to work out my own melody lines by myself because they were all written for men. For ďOn The Way DownĒ, it starts off the same but the guyís version started out really low and I had to think of something to do with that because I canít sing it so I raised it up an octave. I went on from there and I was like for Godís sake Mark why did you do this to me.
Mark: Weíre in the same boat as 11th House ironically enough as we speak because Kevin has left. I donít know if Iíve mentioned this to you but Kevin has left about a year ago now since we made the CD and he went to Boston to pursue a career out in that area. Not in music but in different things so heís come back now and then to do different things so thatís less a guitar player. Then a gentleman named Alan, he was in and out. We thought it was going to be all right but the more we worked with him, the more it just wasnít what we really wanted with the style. He was really too much aboutÖI know that you love metal but weíre not into that. Most recently we did our last show with him in late November and then we decided it was time that we moved on and so now believe it or not we are auditioning the next guitarist. We do have a bass player though believe it or not. Not Lou of course. Lou is always in and out. A guy named Joey Concepcion. Like the shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds. A really nice guy. Heís about 47. Good background. Heís been married, divorced with two kids. His youngest son is 16 years old and is an excellent guitar player.
Nora: Yeah, heís like Eddie Van Halenís kid. Heís like Wolfgang. Heís completely amazing.
Mark: Heís real young. Right now thatís the situation ironically enough. Weíd like to get someone aboard. Weíre rehearsing now and then when we get this person again, weíre going to pick it up and rehearse the new songs. Weíll be doing some shows for 2007. I was just talking to Nora. Iíd like to go in late 2007 and record the next album.
Nora: Now that weíre set, I was stepping into the unknown going into 11th House. Now Iím in and I know what Mark is capable of. Heís a phenomenal drummer and songwriter and he knows my vocal range. He knows my vocal range because as I remember Mr. Tragianese, he said that Trag would never have a female singer.
Mark: I never had a female singer in 20 something years.
You should never say never.,p> Nora: Well, now youíre married to one honey.
Mark: If you had talked to me back in 2000 I would have said youíre crazy. I thought Mike was going to be around and he was good but he wasnít going to retire. His kids are getting older now and theyíre in college and he wants to spend more time with his family. But he checks out our material too. He actually checks out our website. A lot of the former members come back and say they like what weíre doing.
Nora: Like I said, I was singing somebody elseís songs going into 11th House because they were written for a guy. I had to change them but moving forward going into wherever weíre going to be with our next CD, itís completely collaborative between myself and Mark. I know what he can do and he knows what I can do. The songs are very strong and theyíre all written in the correct keys so I canít complain.
Mark: I hope you like the new stuff too. Weíre trying to flesh that out and get it going. We just want to keep the good faith. The band is like the basic soap opera there. A couple of times weíve wondered what weíre doing because the bass player has quit or weíve played some major showsÖ
Nora: Mark was totally shoved against the wall a few months ago. Mark is very easy going and heís very calm. One night he threw a fit and he said what are we doing this for? Why are we doing this?
Youíre going through the same birthing pains that every band goes through.
Nora: Thereís no pressure because I know we know what weíre doing. Iím trying to say in the grand scheme of things, I hate to bring this up again but itís the way with the world. The whole thing with the ageism. When people meet us and they know how old we are, they automatically think that each one of us are five or 10 years younger than we are. What difference does that make? We know what the hell weíre doing. The thing with the whole ageism.
People are so overly obsessed with age. You see these commercials on TV and they talk about how you can use this and that product to look 25 years younger and all that. Weíre all going to be old goats if weíre fortunate enough to live that long.
Nora: When youíre trying to do something with music or the arts or performance.
People are so obsessed with age.
Nora: I know, I agree with you. What am I supposed to do, say Iím sorry Iím too old to make the cut on American Idol? Please, I donít want to be on that show. Give me a break.
Mark: Isnít that sad? The state of music today with Simon Cowell thatís on there?
I have never watched that show because to me for some asshole to put people down because he doesnít like the way they sound. These people are up on stage for the first time in their lives putting everything on the line and for that guy to be such an asshole to them. Fuck that. Who the hell wants to watch that?
Nora: When I first started out in my 20ís, I feel like Iím an old woman looking back on my life.
Weíre just seasoned.
Nora: Yeah, weíre seasoned. Thatís right. Iíve gotten laughed off the phone and Iíve gotten hung up on when I was their age. You want to know why and I totally know why.
Because you were 20 at the time.
Nora: Because I was 20 something.
Youth is nice but you can get doors slammed in your face because youíre young.
Nora: Did you know that the human voice for singing does not mature and does not have full potential and power until you are in your late 20ís?
Because youíre still developing.
Nora: Exactly. Looking back in retrospect on my life, Iíve been to auditions all over the place. For theme parks and stuff like that in Florida and New York and I look back on those things and Iím like good lord I wouldnít even hire me. Now I feel like I like how I sound. When I was making demos in my early and mid 20ís, I would sit there and listen to the playback and be like oh my God. Now Iím 39 and when I hear the songs during playback of the 11th House during production, I wasnít cringing. I was like holy crap. Yeah, thatís what Iíve always wanted to sound like. It just took me 39 years to get there. I donít care.
People ask me what I feel like being almost 40 and I tell them Iím comfortable in my own skin. I donít think a whole lot of people can say that.
Nora: Oh, to hell with that. For myself, my attitude about everything and the way I present myself, I actually look younger than when I was younger simply because of a better diet and exercise.
Itís something that radiates out from within. Any other thoughts or comments?
Mark: Thank you for the interview.