Gun Lake

"I'm hoping to get out there and have people relate to the songs."

This time around, I thought I would do something a bit different. Instead of my usual type interview, I decided I would interview via Skype. This was the first time I had ever interviewed anyone using this program, so I was a bit nervous as to how it would turn out. All in all, my interview with Gun Lake’s lead singer, Mark Fain, turned out better than I had expected. Gun Lake is a talented band from Ann Arbor, Michigan. New on the scene, you may expect their sound to be unpolished, however it’s far from that. When I first came across their music, I instantly liked it. Being a big fan of Fleet Foxes, I noticed a lot of the same similarities in Gun Lake. With amazing vocals and harmonies, they’re bound to make a name for themselves in this business. Here is my chat conversation I recently had with Mark Fain. I’m happy that I had the opportunity, because this band will get noticed by many.

Crystal. First off, tell me how Gun Lake formed together.

Mark Fain: I started the band after writing a collection of songs.

Mark Fain: I was sad.

Mark Fain: It was the summer of 2009 that I started writing, and I recorded a couple demos with my friend Ben. When some people heard the demos, I guess I was encouraged to play, so I got Ben and another friend Aaron to play out with me.

Mark Fain: We played our first show in Febraury of 2010.

Crystal: Alright, so the rest of the band members. How did you meet them?

Crystal: Did you hold auditions Idol style? Haha.

Mark Fain: Nah, haha.

Mark Fain: Ben has been my friend since freshman year philosophy class. He was equally unimpressed with Anselm’s Ontological Argument for the existence of God as I.

Crystal: So, you two started talking music, rather than listening to your professor?

Mark Fain: Well, actually we liked philosophy. The good thing about it is the more you don’t like an argument, the more you like the subject.

Mark Fain: Anyway, he and Aaron are both in Lightning Love and so I eventually met Aaron through Ben.

Mark Fain: Gun Lake started as a 3 piece but we’ve kind of had a bit of a rotating lineup at times. Ben still plays bass for a lot of shows, but now Max Monson plays drums, and we added Ryan O’Reilly on guitar last October.

Crystal: So, being a new band on the scene, what would you say you strive for most?

Mark Fain: Mostly expensive hotels.

Crystal: That’d be nice. Please don’t say you’d trash it like a total rockstar though.

Mark Fain: I don’t know…have you heard Gun Lake? We’re basically Twisted Sister (probably our biggest influence).

Crystal: So, you have the 80’s hair and all?

Mark Fain: I do have long hair. I’ve stopped teasing it though.

Crystal: You’re living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Have you guys had the opportunity to play for large crowds yet?

Mark Fain: We’ve played some awesome shows with awesome bands.

Crystal: Okay, so tell me about some of these awesome bands you’ve played with. Who were some that you were uber excited to share the stage with?

Mark Fain: One of my favorite songwriters is Chris Bathgate, and we’ve played a few shows with him. Also, The Daredevil Christopher Wright, Lightning Love, Tim Monger, Roadside Graves, 4onthefloor, and Photographers.

Crystal: (Note to self: look up all of these artists).

Mark Fain: Actually, our first show ever was with The Daredevil Christopher Wright, and they’re one of my favorite bands. They’re from Eau Claire, Wisconsin of Bon Iver fame.

Mark Fain: Yeah, definitely look them up. They all rule.

Crystal: Bon Iver I do know. He is one of my favorites.

Mark Fain: Justin Vernon produced DDCW’s last album.

Mark Fain: Bon Iver writes beautiful songs.

Crystal: Truly beautiful.

Crystal: If you could have anybody produce your bands record, who would it be?

Mark Fain: Jim Roll. The man rules. He was the recording engineer on Balfour.

Crystal: From what I’ve heard of that album, it’s truly a masterpiece

Mark Fain: Thank you. What can be heard now are some slightly older unmastered mixes on bandcamp, but the album is currently being mastered. We’ll make it downloadable and, of course, get CD’s replicated and all that jazz. Actually, I’m finalizing artwork as we speak.

Crystal: And it releases at the end of the month correct?

Mark Fain: Yeah, its completion was going to fall pretty close to my birthday so I figured I’d just make my birthday the release date. That’s March 24th.

Crystal: Two things to celebrate that day.

Mark Fain: I will have to get SUPER drunk. SUPER= 2x. I will be 2x drunk.

Crystal: I’ll make a note to send you a drink on that day.

Mark Fain: Before shows, I’ve made it my tradition to get a whiskey ginger with no ice.

Crystal: Take the edge off a bit?

Mark Fain: It’s the perfect thing to sip between songs. Singing pretty music requires delicate drinking practices.

Crystal: I’ve actually heard Whiskey helps the vocal cords…maybe that’s not true.

Mark Fain: I think it’s dependent on the quantity.

Crystal: You did say Twisted Sister was a big influence on your band, so I only assume you drink large amounts of Whiskey before you play.

Mark Fain: While Twisted Sister IS the biggest influence, I actually hold off on drinking much before the show. Only the whiskey ginger.

Crystal: On another note, It’s still early on, but have you gotten comparisons to other bands yet?

Mark Fain: Mostly The Monkees, The Mamas and The Papas, and strangely sometimes a band called Grizzly Bear.

Crystal: I might have said Fleet Foxes

Mark Fain: Well you just did.

Crystal: They were first to come to mind when I listened to you.

Mark Fain: They make beautiful music.

Crystal: Absolutely. Being compared to such talent, you almost have to feel honored.

Mark Fain: While I was kidding about the Monkees and The Mamas and The Papas, it’d kinda be sweet to be compared to them. I guess it’s an honor if the comparison is meant as a compliment.

Crystal: Well, me comparing you to Fleet Foxes most definitely was. They are one of my favorite bands.

Mark Fain: Then I’m honored.

Crystal: What’s next for you guys? Do you have a tour planned?

Mark Fain: I don’t have a proper tour planned. We’re going to do what I call, wagon wheel touring.

Crystal: Please explain.

Mark Fain: Because a couple of us work full time during the week, we plan on making weekend excursions to various places in the Midwest.

Mark Fain: Indianapolis can definitely expect us.

Crystal: I sure hope so. Seeing you guys play live would be a treat.

Mark Fain: Yeah! We’re not bad!

Crystal: Are there specific venues in the Midwest you hope to play at?

Mark Fain: I don’t know the names of all the coolest venues.

Crystal: Here, you should definately play Radio Radio. I love that venue.

Mark Fain: Oh, I’ve heard of that one.

Crystal: In Chicago, maybe Schuba’s?

Mark Fain: Radio Radio is where Justin Townes Earle had his infamous relapse. I’ve heard Schuba’s is a place where bands play. Now that I’m pulling my head out of the sand that is making an album, I can finally look toward booking a ton of sweet shows.

Crystal: A lot of people will get to hear and see you guys. I think it will be such an awesome thing for your band.

Mark Fain: We’ve made a lot of good friends with whom we can get shows in a variety of places. Wow, that sentence was vague. Mine not yours.

Mark Fain: I’m hoping to get out there and have people relate to the songs.

Crystal: What is your opinion on most of the music that plays on the radio these days?

Mark Fain: I am a terrible person to ask.

Crystal: You like Kesha don’t you? If so, we have to end this interview right now.

Mark Fain: I have nothing against her as far as I know. I know Aaron, our first drummer, legitimitely loves Kesha…er Ke$ha, right? We should be careful to represent her accurately in this interview.

Crystal: Either works I guess.

Mark Fain: We should probably just make the rest of the interview about Ke$ha, in fact.

Crystal: That would be enjoyable. What one of her songs if your favorite?

Mark Fain: I think I only know that one about the boy with a vag.

Crystal: I don’t think I know that one…

Mark Fain: Your world may change.

Crystal: It might. I should probably abandon the type of music I love and write about and just dedicate my entire blog to her and her music.

Mark Fain: If the sounds that matter to you were decided by the market, that’s pretty much what you’d be doing.

Mark Fain: Sounds That Matter: A blog about Ke$ha and Bieber.

Crystal: Thank God it’s not what matters to me. Instead, I appreciate arists like you.

Mark Fain: (single tear). Honestly, I’m flattered. Thank you.

Crystal: Few more questions. Which of your songs are you most proud of and why?

Mark Fain: That is a good question. I like ‘I Gave Enough’ a lot. It’s a good mix of slightly complex with extremely simple, and, hopefully, fairly catchy throughout.

Crystal: Ah, so the perfect song?

Mark Fain: Haha. Has that been written yet? Wait…of course, Elliott Smith wrote all of them.

Crystal: And then it all ended with such a sad horrible death

Mark Fain: Yeah.  It’d suck to stab yourself.

Crystal: Especially in the heart.

Mark Fain: I think the Beatles might have written one or two of those perfect songs.

Crystal: Personally, I think they wrote them all.

Mark Fain: I won’t argue, and Elliott channeled the Beatles so it all makes sense.

Crystal: The great thing about music is that writing the perfect song will never belong to only one singer or band.

Mark Fain: If I were sitting across from you, I would give you a quizzical look so that you would elaborate on that.

Crystal: Ah, okay. Well, what I mean is that every great band can come out with a song that is perfect. Either to them or their fans. A perfect song doesn’t just come from one band EVER. It can come out of many artists.

Mark Fain: Ah. Art is subjective. I get you now.

Crystal: This is the last question I ask every band I interview and with each band I get such a great response. So, I’ve always made this the finale question.

Crystal: If you were stranded on an island for the rest of your life and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which one would it be and why?

Mark Fain: Trials. That’s probably the most evocative song on the album. At least to me, it is.

Crystal: And you could listen to it forever?

Mark Fain: I guess if I were on an island, I’d want to remember the good things. Even though that’s a really sad song, it would still remind me of the emotions between people.

Here is “Brother’s Bed” from their latest EP “Balfour.”

*Note to readers: This interview was done before the release of their EP, “Balfour.” It is now completed. If you missed Mark’s birthday, make it up to him and purchase their album here.*

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