“So you tour two records, see the world and you build up, somehow; a fanbase and some records get sold. Had I been on a major label, I would have been dropped by now, or shot in the head or whatever happens to those poor bands who don’t make money for their labels. Bye bye time. I would love to have a comfortable life etc, but at what cost… so I never took the fast money and artistically speaking at least seem to have lived to tell the tale?”
Instead its 2008 and Mark Geary is releasing a new album, Opium, on 11 April 2008 on Independent Records.
His third record, to date, it will be preceded by a single, “Tuesday”, which tells the story of “the day all the shit changes! The guy in the song – maybe me? – has to change all the shit and the baggage he has been dragging around. But change brings uncertainty that can be so scary that maybe you’re better off just living a kind of quiet hell?!”
So begins the tale of Opium, an album which has taken Geary through places in his head that he didn’t know existed in a processes that has infused the new album with an energy and an emotional power that is barely contained within the melodies and instrumentation of each song. But he tells the story of Opium better than anyone else…
“It’s about escape and the notion of consequence. All of that plays a part in what I think about or was thinking about when I was making the record. I think sometimes I kinda like to torture myself with these dark thoughts and in so doing reveal some of my demons and drugs of choice.
“I started writing this record over two years ago. I had written a song called “Maid Of Gold” that seemed to me to be the advent of something new and I had the beginnings of the song “Tuesday”. At that time I had being reading Robert Fisk’s books and the “God Delusion”; the ‘war on terror’ was on the news every night and I became aware of my discomfort with people on telly using ‘God phrases’: “With God on our side”; “In God we trust”; “With God’s help we will prevail”…
It seemed that people were using God as an example of rightness - their rightness – and I was just really interested in how people find themselves with this kind of “faith” and “crusade”. All fun stuff that led on to thinking about all the things we do to fill the void or the hole in us: God, money, sex, religion.”
“For the record I had definite ideas about how I wanted it to sound. It needed a band and because some of the songs would be pretty heavy and dark it needed lots of instrumentation. And rather than hiding behind melody and being obscure I wanted to try write as directly as I could. I was working with this drummer Eric Gebow, from New York. and Irish producer Karl Odlum who had done some great records with his brother David and had worked with me on some soundtrack stuff. So we all got together in Dingle and played for three weeks. It was amazing and I found a real confidence in writing and playing because I trusted them so much to tell me if things weren’t working”.
So I came back from the session in Dingle with about 16 or so songs and for the next year and a half worked on vocals, guitars and over dubs. Month after month after month. Adding new songs, new vocals…I’ve never spent so long listening to and changing a record.
Then I sent a few songs over to Sam from Josh Ritter’s band to have a listen to. And he put strings on some and some piano on others…and then Karl and I just deleted parts that didn’t work and mixed the record.
11 songs and then off to Abbey Road for one day of mastering. Job fucking done! Haha!
Opium is Mark Geary’s 3rd record. His first, 33 1/3 Grand Street was released in 2003 [“Grand street was kinda the diary, the whispered words in an attic. Confessional kind of album.”] Ghosts followed a year later [“Ghosts was like stepping down from the attic, over some skeletons and bones and into the day light.”]. in 2005 Mark wrote the soundtrack to the feature film Loggerheads. Mark lives with his wife and two children in the depths of Co Westmeath.
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