Does it feel like a real sense of achievement knowing that Songs Of The Third And Fifth is finally done and dusted?
“Yes, it does. In fact it is one of the biggest I’ve ever felt in my life to be quite honest.”
Six years between live shows is a long for any band, did you ever feel that you were losing sight of the end goal?
“No, no, no! A couple of things, it isn’t a commercial entity and for me it is this art form of trying to concentrate on a certain philosophical style of writing and performance. If anything what was going on in my life was making it difficult to get in to the studio and finish it. So I guess I’d go in there and hide and other times it was this cathartic thing to go in and empty my soul in to it. I never felt that it was too hard but a matter of keeping on going and going. Finally we decided on a deadline for ourselves and we met it. I guess it was a different thing because it is do it yourself and not funded by anyone else but ourselves. We just made it happen.”
With the whole “Do It Yourself” ethos changing where bands are reaching out to fans to financially support the process, is this something The Mark Of Cain would consider for the next album?
“It’s interesting and I’ve thought about that but I’m not sure if I totally agree with it. All our albums have always been funded by the band by us working nine to five jobs or taking the money we would make by playing to fund it. I don’t know if I agree with it because I think the work ethic is lazy to expect your fans to pay for your so called artwork. I don’t believe I would ever choose that route to go because while it’s nice that art is supported, I think it needs to be the artist in the end who needs to control how that output is done. Doing so by saying give us some money to record is fucking lazy.”
Was the direction for the album always clear from the beginning and you didn’t really deviate from that or did it evolve and take on a life of its own?
“From the get go when we discussed what we were going to do for the next album John Stanier always harked back to our second album Unclaimed Prize by saying how much he liked the production of it, which was done in Adelaide. We had financed that ourselves as well as the first album Battlesick. There was a lot more melody on that album and he liked the idea that sometimes I would do more of that singing style rather than just barking it out. I said alright, this next one we’ll look to maintain some sort of melody in there because that was also giving myself a bit of a hard goal to go for. This is something I haven’t done in a long time and I didn’t want a repeat of what I’ve done before because it’s just lazy. It was always something out there in the ether of what we were going to do but when we recorded in 2008 over three weeks, the music had been written and set in stone. The thing that had changed over the course of the next couple of years was me going in there and adding guitar, maybe doing some arranging with everything connected up. Of the songs, four or five were lyrically prewritten and in four more the lyrics lend themselves to what was going on in my life at the time, but not necessarily as a straight narrative. With what came out of it in the end, I was surprised that it didn’t sound like it was recorded over six years. It just sounds like it’s us and it doesn’t really have a stamp of any particular year attached to it.”
“We had eleven songs originally but we felt nine was strong and I’d rather put just nine songs out than put out filler material. I think that’s a mistake some bands make by putting filler on there that’s not particularly good. I believe whole heartedly on each song on that album. It has about the same time that a lot of albums run and it’s the same time bracket we would normally do on an album.”
What was your reaction to hearing the final mix?
“Oh god, I was so close to it I was finding it hard to appreciate it. I think after Forrester did the mixes I probably listened to them for a week and we went back and redid Milosevic. After that I don’t think I listened to it for three months and then I would put it on in my car and home stereo to check it out. Then all of a sudden I finally had that space to look at it without feeling too connected. I love the album, I’m proud of the album and I knew it was something I could release without any fear that there was something substandard about it. I think Kim was the same and he was saying that he’d been listening to after it had just been done and was like yeah before it gripped him. He was then in a stranglehold thinking this is the best thing we’ve ever done.”
Do you agree that it’s the sort of album you can’t just pick particular tracks to take in?
“I agree, there are lots of bands that I love, that when I think about their albums that I cherish, they’re ones that I’ve bought and I think I’m not too sure about this. Then all of a sudden it becomes clear to me and I think that is a good sign of an album that’s not immediately captivating, maybe only one or two songs, but then suddenly when you listen to it just grabs you.”
I remember the statement you made at the two Fowlers Live shows the band played at where you said you would tour every year because there aren’t enough good rock bands touring. What happened?
“Yep, didn’t do it. Thanks for reminding me of that! I’m looking forward to the March tour, I live for the band and it’s been hard for us is with John Stanier, he has had a great level of success with Battles. They’ve been in the studio every year and touring, then he has Tomahawk as well. It is another factor we have to work in, whether John is available or not.”
Will this be the only run of dates in the short term?
“At the moment this is what we’ve planned. There’s Golden Plains Festivals and the dates fit around that and both myself and Kim want to do another tour on top of that. It’s all connected in with John. John has always endeavoured to ensure he has the time available for us when he can but we have been a little surprised by the level of attention this release has gained whereas we might have been looking at doing just this tour. I think we’re a little more geared to look at a tour later on.”
What did you think about the petition to get the band on at Soundwave?
“I saw that! Then I saw that some guy had released that we had asked for some huge amount for playing. From what I’ve been told the guy who published those details can be a bit of a dick!”
The back catalogue is almost impossible to find these days except at ridiculous prices on eBay, is there any plans to re-release these classic The Mark Of Cain albums?
“Yes, that’s something we’re looking at. When we signed with BMG part of the back catalogue went with them. We managed to get Battlesick, The Unclaimed Prize and Ill At Ease back so we are looking at re-releases of all of those. I’m not sure where we stand with This Is This, which is still tied up with BMG but they have also been helpful in that when we toured in 2006 and the album was no longer available we did do a run. The back catalogue will become available but then again I could be talking out of my hat.”
The Mark Of Cain are touring nationally throughout March. Tickets to their Adelaide show at HQ on Friday the 8th of March can be found here
Interview by Rob Lyon