Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pheaturing Phile Alum Mark Dean From Dark Mean

Good evening and welcome to another entry of the Phile for a Thursday. How are you? Better than Taylor Swift I bet.  The heroic medical practitioners who risked infection and death to halt the spread of Ebola in Africa and give aid to the virus' ailing victims just barely managed to beat pop singer Taylor Swift for the honor of being named Time Magazine's Person of the Year. With all due respect to the men and women who deal with Ebola on a daily basis, I doubt their version of "Welcome to New York" would have been met with nearly as much glee. Can't believe the Ebola Fighters are Time's Person of the Year after all the heroic work the Foo Fighters did stopping the spread of Foo. FX's hit series "Sons of Anarchy"... which has, in recent years, tested its audience's patience for overlong episodes, overwrought melodrama and extended motorcycle chase sequences ended its seven-season run with a finale episode that succinctly wrapped up the final seven minutes of plot in a two-hour episode. I've never seen it, but it always seemed "Sons of Anarchy" was basically a seven-season Lynyrd Skynyrd song.  Republicans in Congress have successfully lobbied to attach a small rider to very important spending bill, effectively outlawing sales of marijuana in Washington D.C. despite city residents' decision on election day to legalize the substance. For their part, Democrats were similarly successful in doing what they do best: caving in immediately. I'm all for small government, but I'd still support any federal program to prevent blog typos. Haha.  Alejandro Inarritu's character-driven dark comedy Birdman is a force to be reckoned with in the 72nd annual Golden Globes, after racking up seven nominations for the prestigious awards, including Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical; Best Director; and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical. Not bad for a movie featuring a guy in a big, silly-looking bird suit.  Kentucky's Noah's Ark theme park... which will feature a 500-foot-long wooden replica of the Biblical ark has lost its tax-exempt status and $18 million in potential tax breaks, after it went back on its promise to not religiously discriminate when hiring employees and evolved from a tourist attraction into a religious outreach for Answers in Genesis, Ken Hamm's conservative Christian ministry that also runs the Creation Museum. What do you expect in a bastion of liberalism like Kentucky?  Moscow officials announced that they "are obliged to halt the Eye of Sauron", a giant piece of J.R.R. Tolkien-inspired art that would have looked down upon the city, in honor of the last installment of the Hobbit films... after the Russian Orthodox Church began complaining that it is "a demonic symbol." Sauron had some good points, you guys.  This is something that's been in the news this week but I have to talk about... Walgreens pulled a line of Hanukah wrapping paper after one woman found it contained a bunch of swastikas in the design. Carol Shapiro told NBC that she was shopping in the Hanukah section of a Walgreens in Northridge, California when she noticed that the decorative lines on the paper, chosen to be in blue and silver to represent the blue and white colors of Hanukah and the state of Israel, connected to create the Nazi swastika.

"I couldn't believe my eyes, I had no idea what to do," Shapiro said. First she called her rabbi, and then prevailed upon the store's manager to remove all the rolls. Apparently, Walgreens had been unaware of this problem, and they have have promised to recall all of the rolls, though so far they have been only found in one other location. NBC referred to the emergent swastikas as a "design fail," but the word failure tends to describe something accidental. While not impossible, it's pretty hard to accidentally cover your wrapping paper in swastikas, and the fact that it appears on gift paper for a Jewish holiday makes it all the more suspicious. As of yet, no one is named as the designer of this paper, but Walgreens should be on the lookout for a frustrated bigot who wasn't allowed to join the KKK because he had to go into his family's wrapping paper business. I did Nazi that coming. Sorry, I had to go there.  I mentioned Taylor Swift again, and I mentioned this before... Disney is re-releasing it's classic animated movies replacing the princesses with Taylor. Man, I'm milking this bit, right? Here's the latest...

Is that Brave? That's not a classic movie.  A company is coming out with pre-written gift tags for Christmas, and I have been showing them off here on the Phile. Check it out...

Christmas is right around the corner and I have been showing you some real crazy gifts you can actually buy on Amazon for your loved ones.

At less than $1500, you can't afford not to own this lobster mascot costume.  So, I saw something on the internet that I want to show real quick... this brought back a lot of good memories thinking about my parents...

That just made me smile and I had to share it. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things Overheard When Will And Kate Met Jay Z And Beyoncé.
5. I've been working on my flow, Jay... might I spit you a couple of bars?
4. I've always wanted to watch an American basket-ball match!
3. Yeah, man, totally. If you were just a regular balding white dude, I'm sure we'd still be friends.
2. We simply must go skirt-suit shopping together sometime!
And the number one thing overheard when Will and Kate met Jay Z and Beyoncé was...
1. What's it like to make your own money and have actual power?

Haha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, before we continue I have to mention something I forgot about just now. Christopher Lee is best known for playing Sarumon in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (he's a huge nerd who reads the series over again every year), and for playing Count Dooku in Star Wars: Episode II and Episode III... and also the "Clone Wars" series). Before that, he was known for his many roles in scary movies, particularly Dracula in many Hammer Horror films. Even further back, he was a spy in WWII for the British... long before he played the villain Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun. His missions were classified, but he did once correct director Peter Jackson on what a man really sounds like when he is stabbed in the back. What I'm trying to say is that this dude is a badass. He's also 92. Somehow, in between all that, he's had time to produce heavy metal Christmas songs for each of the past 3 years.

You might want to check out the Dark-Ages-themed heavy metal album Lee put out in his 80s... his 80s, not the '80s, "Charlemagne: By The Sword And The Cross", or the follow-up album he released last year, "Charlemagne: The Omens of Death" arranged by a member of Judas Priest. Christopher Lee: a man who has been cooler in each of his 92 years than you've been in your whole life. Okay, it's Thursday and the reason I post on Thursdays is so my friend Jeff and I can talk football.

Me: Jeff, how are you?

Jeff: I am doing all right. Hope all is well with you.

Me: Let me cut to the chase as I can't wait anymore... am I in the lead?

Jeff: I am sorry yet somehow I am not sorry to tell you I went 2-0 with a Steelers win, you went 1-1 with a Giants win. So my margin of victory is now five points ahead of you.

Me: Ugh! Okay, let's talk about this weeks NFL news... there was a riot at a game this week. What's your take on that?

Jeff: I wouldn't refer to it as a riot. There was a fight on the field between two teams, but that's not exactly a riot. Cam Newton scored a touchdown versus the Saints and did his Superman pose and the Saints defense didn't like that so they started to push the Panthers players and a few punches were thrown. Both teams have a record under .500 so I am not entirely sure what they were celebrating.

Me: Any other news?

Jeff: The biggest news is watching two teams that were expected to contend for the playoffs crash and burn, namely the 49ers and the Saints. There will be a lot of coaching openings at the end of the season, so if you ever wanted to be head football coach you may want to put your name out there. 

Me: And Cam Newton was in a car accident, right?

Jeff: Cam Newton, starting Quarterback of the Carolina Panthers was involved in a car accident. No word on how serious it was or if he will be able to play this week. It's something to keep an eye on. 

Me: Anything else?

Jeff: Johnny Manziel will make his first NFL start for the Cleveland Browns this week over former starter Brian Hoyer. A lot of people have been waiting for this. Me personally I think Johnny Football is highly overrated, but maybe he will prove me wrong.

Me: Okay, this week's picks. First one is the Ravens will beat the Jaguars by 13. Second one is the Lions will beat the Vikings by 4. What do you say?

Jeff: I will go with Denver by 10 over San Diego and my second pick will be New England by 7 over Miami.

Me: Good job, Jeff. See you next week!

Jeff: See you next week.

Mary Ann Mobley 
February 17th, 1939 — December 9th, 2014

Today's pheatured guest is a Phile Alum and the lead singer in the Canadian band Dark Mean whose new album "Samuel the Phoenix" is available on iTunes. Please welcome back to the Phile... Mark Dean.

Me: Hello, Mark, welcome back to the Phile. How have you been?

Mark: I have been great. Thanks for asking.

Me: It's been a few years you were here, have you been busy?

Mark: Yes... all of us in the band have been incredibly busy. Billy and I both got married. We started careers outside of music. Billy had a baby. Sandy travelled the world. So it has definitely been a transitional period for us.

Me: You're from Canada, right? Hamilton? Have you lived there all your life?

Mark: Yes, Billy and I were born in Hamilton and Sandy was born in Ottawa. We all lived in Kingston, Ontario, for 4 years during university... Queens University.

Me: I have interviewed a few of your friends on the Phile, Mark. Amber Edgar, Adam Bentley and I think we mentioned it before... Dean Povinsky from Wildlife. Did you go to school with Dean?

Mark: Yes, Dean was at Queens with the rest of us. There were so many different musical incarnations during our university days. We used to play with him a lot. Each of our houses had jam spaces... usually dark and dingy, mould infested basements.

Me: Do you know Amber well? What do you think of her music? She is just starting to be a performer.

Mark: I love Amber's music. We met Amber through the Hamilton music scene. She is such an all around artist. She has done some artwork and design work for us in the past. But when I first heard her actually play the guitar, I was floored.

Me: And everyone in Hamilton knows Adam, don't they? It seems that way. Were you surprised his band the Rest broke up? What is Adam doing now, do you know?

Mark: Yes, everyone in the Hamilton music scene either knows Adam or should know him. He is a passionate ambassador for Hamilton bands and has been keeping busy with his project, Auteur Research. He has a lot of experience grinding it out in the industry and is huge source of knowledge when it comes to preparing for a release. I highly recommend his services.

Me: I just looked at the credits for "Samuel the Phoenix" and it's like a Phile's Alumni on the record... Adam and Anna Jarvis. Are those two working together still?

Mark: I do not know. We met Anna through Adam and the Rest, but I have no idea as to their current situation.

Me: Kori Pop... I love that name, hasn't been on the Phile yet. She's cute, talented, so I need to get her on the Phile. Do you think she's be interested?

Mark: Yes. For sure.

Me: Okay, you're not there to talk about other musicians, you're here to talk about Dark Mean. Remind us again where the name of the band comes from.

Mark: The name was a silly joke in the band that somehow stuck without anyone really noticing or caring. It is my name with the first letters reversed.

Me: Who is in the band with you, Mark?

Mark: Billy Holmes, Sandy Johnston... Robbie Holmes, Micheal Dean, when they are available.

Me: Where did you guys meet?

Mark: I grew up with Billy, and we both met Sandy at university.

Me: Okay, let's talk about the new album and single. The single is called "Albatross". Are they common in Canada, the bird albatross?

Mark: I don't think they are common. This is going to sound horrible but I have no idea where that song title came from...

Me: What is the song about?

Mark: The idea is a conversation between two versions of yourself... the verses and choruses are different versions of the same self talking back and forth to one another. Sometimes they are approving, other times they are judging one other.

Me: The EP is called "Samuel the Phoenix". That sounds like a cartoon character. Where did the name come from?

Mark: The name is based off of a nickname we gave to Billy's son, Sam.

Me: Who is on the EP cover, Mark? Is that one of your kids?

Mark: That is Billy and Sam.

Me: So, how would you describe this new EP to your past work?

Mark: I think this EP is fairly consistent in terms of ideas and instrumentation from the last album. The EP is a bit of a "Use Your Illusion" type record in the sense that it was written in chaotic circumstances in which one or more of us would often be absent from the recording sessions. There wasn't a lot of focus put on reinventing our sound. Most ideas were accepted on first pass... If something sounded good, that was the end of it. We were all so busy with our personal lives that we didn't spend much time experimenting. We are proud of the EP, but I would expect a less traditional sound on the next recording.

Me: Where was it recorded and how long did it take you to put together, Mark?

Mark: It was recorded at Threshold Studio with Mike Keire. As usual, the songs were written in a very short time but the recording process was stretched out over a year or two.

Me: Do you do most of the songwriting for Dark Mean?

Mark: The musical ideas come from all of us. Usually they develop over jams in Billy's garage. I write the all the lyrics.

Me: So, I have to ask you about your new publicity photo... do you guys play tennis?

Mark: Give Amber Edgar the credit. Our photo shoot moved from a park to the tennis court that day...

Me: Okay, so, on the Phile I am asking random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Here we go... Shit, I hate questions like this. Is work valuable for its own sake?

Mark: Hmm... this seems deep. I think work fulfills a sense of purpose. I think we must have evolved to feel this need because as soon as I stop working I start to feel guilty. But I don't want to project my experience on everyone else. But I do think work IS valuable for it's own sake. And it can also produce valuable stuff... like music.

Me: Good answer. Mark, thanks for being back on the Phile. Mention your website... you don't have one really, right? Please come back again soon. All the best.

Mark: Thanks for having us. Visit us as

Me: Thanks, Mark. Take care. Tell Amber and the others I said hello.

That about does it for this entry. Man, am I tired. Haha. Thanks to Jeff Trelewicz and Mark Dean. The Phile will be back Sunday with Mike Louttit from the heavy metal band Fractal Control and Monday it's singer Lindsay Mac who I've wanted to interview since 2008. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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