Friday, August 08, 2008

Band of the Week


I've heard it called many things, a driving force, life's mission, and so on. Regardless of the name, it is what moves you, that underlying thought or background noise guiding your days and dominating your nights. You try to live a normal life, full-time thoughts and mindful ambitions, but you can not stop thinking, moving, singing, screaming, painting, writing; this is life. I say you should let it over take you and expand your passion.

Mark Hendryx is the main force behind the Chicago band otherWorld, but he is also a father, husband and the owner of a small business. Like many, he juggles it all and enjoys the time he spends in each area of his life. Yet, his music is ever present. otherWorld has self-released an ep and a full-length, and they will be performing at the Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine release party on Sept. 6th.

Recently, Mark was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): What are some of the challenges of self-releasing you music? Are you looking for a label?
Mark Hendryx (MH): Jason, self releasing your music, for me, is kind of difficult to sum up in a concise way. Basically, I record, send my stuff out, and pray. Actually, myspace has offered a great way to expose your music but I'm not sure of the quality of the exposure. I'm sure I could do more with it (on myspace) but I'm really more into trying to get it out on the radio or into the hands of people that may be interested in publishing it or performing it (a big name artist say). It would be great to have a lable but they usually want you to back up their investment with live performances, something I love but difficult for me from a time commitment and all the balls you have to juggle to keep a real band that is really together for live stuff. What I need is a hit song! If I did have lable backing, I'd record more and help promote more short of going on a world tour! I always think big.

OA: I am very impressed by the production value and appearance of your albums. How important is presentation?
MH: Presentation and/or image is critical in the music biz, especially since they've kind of lowered the bar over the years, in my opinion, by focusing so much on the look, image, etc., of the artist. It's a nice complement but to be honest, I think I could do a better job with the packaging - the production has been good, I agree, and I put time and money into that - there's no substitute. I've believed enough in my material to make an investment in it and usually it pays off. The songs have to carry their weight and no amount of money can turn a piece of you know what into a gem in the end, but it is important. Who you work with is critical too as to the chemistry, give and take of the project. The one that actully has some radio play was an EP done by Ramsey Gouda in a high end home/loft studio and between Ramsey's expertise, musicianship and our chemistry, it came out really nice and I'll always be proud of that EP (Sonic Dream). I've also worked in pro level studios and while the gear and all may be state of the art, the "feel" may be missing. I did have a great exprience however at Studio Chicago where I mastered Sonic Dream and also recorded 24 Hour Sun (my 3rd EP).

OA: Anyone in business has heard the term work-life balance, but I feel what you do is more of passion-life balance. How do to jungle music and family and life?
MH: Music really is a passion for me (unlike the corporate world where I have my "day gig"). Music makes me very happy and for me, it takes life to another level, enrichens life. It really is a soundtrack and it is amazing how you can hear older songs and how they trigger memories, good and bad. Fortunately, it's almost all a positive experience for me whether it's jamming, recording, playing live, listening to my favorite stuff on my I-Pod or listening to an old record on vinyl (yes, I have a turntable and an old Marantz tube amp - can beat the sound of that). I remind myself from time to time that the first priority in my life, at my stage particularly, is my family first which includes a 6 year old son that I refer to as an angel. So, the live stuff has been minimal for the past couple of years as when kids get a little older, they expect and need more in ways and dad can't be all burned out from a gig the night before on weekends (nor weekdays for that matter). Rock N Roll is a young mans game I tell everybody, but in the end, it never dies and I'll never give it up...never!!! I'm always keep hacking away until I write my "Sweet Child 'O Mine" or "Bittersweet Symphony." I believe anything is possible.

So, basically, with family first, a steady day gig (running a small company) and then my passion but in a kind of diabolical way, the music is always there, right behind family, make that part of family, life, the whole deal.
OA: Do you record at home or in the studio? How does the recording process usually go?
MH: I touched on this one early but I've done both home recording and studio. Home recording is usually just the process of writing the songs and getting ideas on a 4 track and drum machine. Over the past couple of years, I've pared it down to a sony walkman cassette player, hit the ideas on that and then flush the songs out lyrically and then take the material to the studio to perform, record and finish. The hardest part of songwriting, for me, is finishing the song, in total - and I mean lyrically and melodically as well as chord changes, all of it. You may have a great idea but you still need key changes, a bridge, etc., and then finally, really good words - usually where, I think, most songwriters struggle. I've always been a slow learner on the music stuff but as I continue to work at it, it seems, the words get better and the songs are getting more colors and all. It also helps a whole lot to have a partner to write with - think of how many great bands had two dudes really working it together. In any event, yeah, mostly studio stuff for me launched right out of my Sony cassette player! If it's good, it'll hold up even on that thing.
Recording can take a lot of time due to everyone's schedule and all but basically, it's flushing out the songs, getting a good live track to work with as a foundation, then adding textures (cool guitar sounds, percussion, etc.,) and then mixing the hell out of it. Again, in the end, a great studio can't save a dog of a song. All the wanking in the world won't do it.

OA: How do you judge success in your music career?
MH: I have to be careful with this one as sometimes, like many artists, my expectations are set too high. Over the years, success, to me, is having songs I have some pride in and feel they're worthy. Most of us do this to share our experience, life and all, with others so to some extent, success is based on people hearing it and digging it - so you have to get it out there somehow. Again, myspace is good for that - live performance is the best because it's immediate. My goal is to hear something on the radio so that would be a big shot at the success piece. When Q101 played "Before You" and 94.7 (back when it was the Zone) played "Automatic," of course, I missed it. Anyway, a spin on WXRT would be really cool and my new stuff that I'm currently in the studio working on, should get Richard Milnes attention. i nearly got him with my last EP with the song "Allelulia My Love." He's tough! Success also in knowing I did my best, challenged myself lyrically (and sonically) to really make something worth hearing, hopefully more than once or twice. Ultimatlely, real success would be to have a song in rotation with the big boys in radio and to perform live just enough to have fun but not interfere with my awesome domestic life! Being a dad and husband is really cool.

OA: What's next for Other World?
MH: otherWorld is in the studio working on a new EP, yet to be titled. I believe it will be my best work ever. One tune has a real punk rock rhythm and we're amping the whole record up so this will be more in a total rock vein, more up tempo, no ballads. I've made a big effort on this one to keep other influences out; while I'm flattered when people say, yeah you sound like Bono a bit, or whomever (INXS on one nasty review - a band I do love and Michael Hutchens has the ultimate voice), it's best to do your own thing. The only way to really get through to people is to be original and try to make it come from the heart, but we're all influenced to some degree. Hell, the Beatles influenced all of rock and roll man, how can you get away from that (or the Stones). But just singing and all, need to stay true to yourself, even if Bono or Liam Gallagher are people you love to hear doing their thing.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, where can you find the best cup in your area?
MH: I love good coffee and I'd have to say Sip coffee house on Grand, just east of Ogden. Cool place, great joe.

OA: I seem to hear a 90's rock influence in your music, but who are some of your current favorite bands?
MH: Current favorite bands, Coldplay (I think their singer is a bit of a tool but great band, really great), um...Mutemath rock, Death Cab for Cutie, Queens of the Stone Age, anything Chris Cornell sings on, Pinback, and I still love REM (curent as in album and tour). Michael Stipe and Mike Mills I have met and they're nice guys. Stipe was incredible for a "mature" dude at his show at the United Center. Amazing voice. I also like "Air" and a lot of that synth stuff, kind of Euro leisure class stuff - chills you out - something I've learned to appreciate as the years go by.

For more information on otherWorld please visit their website, and to purchase their album visit CD Baby.

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