Mark Cross is a 17-year-old singer/songwriter who seems to have a lot more in common with John Mayer than he does with anything his own contemporaries may be playing. Not adhering to any of the musical trends, Mark has written some really impressive pop songs, delivering the lyrical content with a smooth and soulful voice. Now backed by a collective of kindred spirits, The Mark Cross Band is ready to share their timeless music well beyond their SoCal hometown. Here is an interview we conducted with Mark a few weeks after he and his new band debuted at the Cobalt Cafe in Canoga Park…
Introduce yourself, how old you are, and how long you have been singing.
My name is Mark Cross. I am currently 17 years young and I have been singing for about a year or so now.
Where are you based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
I live in Moorpark, California. I can safely say that I am far out of place when it comes to the music scene. Most of the bands out of Moorpark are either hardcore/metal bands or school orchestra/jazz musicians.
Kids your age are in hardcore and metal bands. What made you decide to pursue this style of music?
I think what really made me decide to pursue a different style of music was my own personal music taste. Most of the kids my age are really into high energy, loud, driving music (which I am a fan of as well at times), but sometimes it’s nice to just sit, have a coffee, and listen to nice music. This really influenced me into starting a “different” genre of my age.
You have a terrific singing voice! What kind of vocal training have you had?
Believe it or not, I have never taken a single vocal lesson in my life. The only things people have told me have been “sing like you mean it”, “use your diaphragm!”, and “LOUDER!”
What was the very first song you ever wrote and how old were you?
The first song I wrote was called Rockers when I was about 12 years old. I wanted to start a band with my elementary school friends as the drummer, but the only problem was none of us knew how to play any instruments, including myself!
What could someone expect from a live Mark Cross show?
You could expect to be surprised and satisfied at a Mark Cross show. The second we start playing our opening song you’ll say “Wow, I like this!” The acoustic/alternative blend is not expected by most people. Most of the kids in my age group play Metal, which surprises most people who come see us when we play something else.
Please select two of your most recent songs and tell me what inspired you to write the lyrics?
Together: When I wrote this song, I was thinking about relationships that want to work out, but for some reason always turn out bad. Being in High School, people go in and out of relationships which inspired the lyrics “the tide comes in and the tide goes out.” People in general may be in love with each other, but when they hit rough points they can’t help but think, “What happened to the old us?”
Just Another Day: This is somewhat of a powerful, uplifting song. People try to bring you down all the time (government, friends, adults, bosses, etc.), but at the end of the day, you can’t let them. You have to hold your head high and say “hey, it’s just another day.”
Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of your own solo work?
I am currently not involved with any other “real” side projects at the moment, but my friend and I often write instrumental songs just for fun. We have yet to perform though.
Please introduce your other band members and how they become involved with the project.
At first, I pursued a solo project. After about 8 or 9 months, I became involved with a group of my schools Jazz students who truly knew how to play. We had one rehearsal and knew instantly that we fit. The band includes: Hunter Van Dam on Bass (16), John Butzer on Guitar (16), and Kevin Lopez on drums and other various percussion instruments (17). After about a week of practice, we had learned 5 of my original songs and had our first show at the Cobalt Cafe in Canoga Park, California.
What is the most embarrassing song you have on your IPOD?
The “Banjo-Kazooie opening theme song” from the Nintendo 64 video game.
If you could open up for any band or musician either from now or in history, who would it be and why?
If I could open for any band I would have to say Jack Johnson because he inspired me to start writing music in the first place and he is such a cool and caring guy.
Going with the flow.
Any final words of wisdom?
Do something that you love. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. If you follow your heart, you’ll never be led astray.
(Interview and Cobalt Cafe photos by Kenneth Morton)
The Mark Cross Band on Myspace