‘Click Interview’ with Mark E Moon:  ‘I’m Constantly Battling My Demons’

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Set up and driven by Mark Sayle and Phil Reynolds Mark E Moon is hailing from the Isle Of Man. After having released an impressive debut-album “Refer” in 2019 they two years later confirmed their strong potential by the opus “Old Blood”. The band is clearly driven by good-old Dark-Wave and Post-Punk reminding legendary acts like The Sisters Of Mercy, Bauhaus, Joy Division ao.  Earlier this year they did it again unleashing the mini-album “Lux Vindictae”. I consider Mark E Moon as one of the hottest contemporary formations in their music genre. I talked with Mark Sayle and Shelly Rourke.

(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)

Q: Two years ago now we did an interview for the debut album “Refer”. A lot happened since then; lockdowns due to the ongoing pandemic, political scandals in the UK plus Brexit, the war in Ukraine… and you released a second album and now an EP while the line-up evolved as well. How do you look back at all these events?

Mark: The ancient curse ‘May you live in interesting times’ has certainly never been so apt. Don’t get me started on Politics or we’ll be here all day. Phil probably has something to say on Brexit but I doubt it’ll be anything complimentary.

The band line-up has certainly evolved, not that anyone was kicked out, we’d love the opportunity to work with Kieran or Steve again, but circumstances change and people aren’t always available for various reasons. The pandemic was, and is still, a terrible time for everyone. I know musicians moan a bit about not being able to be in the same studio but when you consider that more than a million people, in the US alone, have died from this disease it puts artists petty gripes into a more sobering light.

Q: Let’s get back to your second album “Old Blood” which was a rather engaged piece of music against fascism. Why did you feel the need to deal with this theme? And how did the transition happened from “Refer” to “Old Blood”?

Mark: After “Refer” we wanted to do a more cohesive album that felt like the sum of its parts. “Refer” was basically a bunch of, admittedly very well recorded, demo tracks. The title track “Old Blood” deals with this sea of right wing populism, white supremacy and outright fascism that has swept the western world, washing over some and sweeping away others in its spiteful currents. The incident that ignited the touch paper for me was the events in Charlottesville and the murder of Heather Heyer in 2017. The slogans chanted by the Neo-Nazis became a festering sore in my soul that wouldn’t go away. The only way I have to react to something like that is through music and my lyrics, so that is, eventually, what I did.

Q: Your newest work is the EP “Lux Vindictae”. It rather looks as a mini-album featuring six songs. What have been the main sources of inspiration for this work and its title? Was there any specific focus in the writing- & production process and were there aspects from previous albums you wanted to change/improve?

Mark: With “Lux Vindictae”, certainly from a writing perspective, some songs were created quite differently than the usual deal of me writing a bassline, a riff and some lyrics and taking it to Phil to transform it into a proper song. George, who happens to be Phil’s older brother, had joined us and had some fantastic musical ideas of his own. If you listen to “Anastasia”, for example, that’s George’s music and the Russian lullaby was Shelly’s idea.

Shelly: I was already a Mark E Moon fan, so being asked to add vocals to a track on “Lux Vindictae” was hugely exciting –and subsequently being asked to join the band as a permanent fixture was mind blowing for me! My first experience of being part of the creative process was everything I hoped it would be and I think some of our new dynamic shows.

Q: The lyrical themes featured at “Lux Vindictae” are quite different. ‘Depression, rage, assault, alcoholism, the murder of an innocent child and the sheer horror of life on an alien feudal world’. It all sounds more personal and intimate so did you have to chase inner demons? And how important is music to express inner thoughts?

Mark: I’m constantly battling my demons. Being bipolar and having ADHD gives me a certain perspective on situations I think, not a unique one by any means but they force me to try to think differently about subjects. My thoughts are generally pretty dark, even when I’m writing something quite upbeat, and I think that comes through.

Q: I noticed you also released a cover version of Soft Cell which has been released on a tribute-album. I didn’t exactly expect Mark E Moon covering Soft Cell. What did this band mean to you and how did you transform the original version into a personal adaptation?

Mark: I like to think of Mark E Moon as a fusion of Gothic-Rock, the darker side of Post-Punk and Synth-Pop. Soft Cell were (along with acts like Belois Some, Yazoo, Depeche Mode and Blondie) a very important band in my musical development. My sense of what Pop music could be had its roots firmly embedded in the darker (lyrically) themed bands. Of course, Soft Cell had had a massive hit with their cover of the Gloria Jones number “Tainted Love”, but it was “Bedsitter” that really turned me onto them. The cover we did of “Facility Girls” isn’t that dissimilar but we tried to put our own slant on it.

Q: I can imagine you guys must be excited to play on stage again. What are the plans and your expectations? What are the further plans for the second half of 2022?

Mark: We released “Dark Love” in September as a taster of the forthcoming album “Pop-Noir”. Whether the new album is ready before the year is up is anyone’s guess but we are beavering away to make it the best possible record it can be.

Shelly: 2022/23 will be busy and hopefully bear many fruits. We would like to add some UK gigs too. As Mark said, George is a wellspring of music so we have a deep pool of new songs to work on, and Phil’s excellent skills to weave them into a tapestry. After adding a few snippets of my own lyrics to some songs, the guys have given me the confidence to write more. Mark is always on hand to lend his expertise when I struggle. Writing about life from this woman’s perspective can be difficult as some of my past was painful and very dark, but I’ve found it cathartic. And if it gives the listener a new experience to explore then my worst moments will have purpose, whilst keeping the Mark E Moon sound ever evolving.

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