Episode 56: Mark Ibold (Pavement, Sonic Youth)

Mark Ibold has been a part of a few things in my life that I hold very dear. First, he was the bass player in Pavement. Easily one of the most unique bands of the last 25 years and one of my favorite bands ever. Secondly, he is a bartender at the Great Jones Cafe in NYC. Its a place that I go regularly and have had countless memorable days and nights in. There is something incredibly magical about the Great Jones and Marc and the rest of the staff play a big part of why that is.

I’ve wanted to get Mark on the podcast for a long time. I’ve seen him around for years but it was until a few months ago that I let him know that I was a huge fan and I really wanted to sit down and talk for this show. He agreed to do it and we had a fantastic conversation. I’m not really sure what I thought talking to him in this context would be like, but it greatly exceeded my expectations. This was a lot of fun and he is a great guy. I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did.

[audio  https://whatbringsustogether.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/episode-56-mark-ibold.mp3%5D

Across the Night: When I realized that Silverchair went from a shitty 90’s teen band, to a force to be reckoned with.

When I was a teenager and I first heard the Australian band Silverchair, I hated them. I hated their music. I thought that Daniel Johns (their lead singer) was a pretty boy asshole. I probably harbored so much resentment because he was frighteningly good looking, and a lady…well, at that time a girl that I was really into was all sorts of moist for him. I’ve never claimed to not have my own variety of issues, so fuck you. It wasn’t until somewhere around 2005, 10 years after my heart was broken by the aforementioned now lady, that my mind was blown and my opinion on them changed drastically.

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a bit of a music nerd. I love geeking out about music. I’ve spent a lot of time from the age of six to present day listening, playing and reading about music. At some point in ’05, a friend of mine was talking to me about the Beach Boys and orchestral arrangements. I fucking love the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson in a hard way. I also really like Van Dyke Parks, who was the man who wrote the arrangements for their now infamous “Smile” album, as well as a variety of other things (Randy Newman, Rufus Wainwright, etc). As we were in the midst of this discussion, my friend had asked me if I’d heard the latest Silverchair album. I told him that I had not heard anything they had done since their 15 minutes of fame came and went in the 90’s and that I would rather listen to elk making passionate love to each other than listen to Silverchair. He laughed and then made me sit down and listen to “Across the Night”, the first song on their record “Diorama”. There are moments in our lives that we remember clearly for various reasons, and this is one that I can remember like it was yesterday. I didn’t want to like it. I tried not to like it. I wanted it to be like the fluffy non-talent dribble that I remembered their first album sounding like. I was happily disappointed.

In my opinion, “Across the Night” is the strongest song I’ve ever heard from them. Their are a few others on that record and some I’ve heard since then that were also very good, but that song was different. The melodies throughout the song are great. All of the arrangements are absolutely incredible. To my surprise, the song was arranged by Van Dyke Parks AND Daniel Johns. I can still put this song on and feel the same way I did when I first heard it. Surprised and impressed.

Years ago I used to teach an introductory music theory class and I would play a “Can You Guess This Artist” game with the students when we came back from our break. This one always astounded them.¬† No one ever could figure it out. Once they got past the shock, they loved it. I hope that you feel the same way.