Northern Transmissions managed to track down Mark Eitzel for a quick interview on the eve of his upcoming tour. His new album “Don’t Be A Stranger’” is out now on Merge Records.Read More
Mark Eitzel’s new record, Don’t Be a Stranger, will be released by Merge Records on October 2 in North America, South America, and Asia.
After a string of bad luck that included a heart attack that set him back several months and the implosion of his band American Music Club, Mark Eitzel fortuitously found himself in the studio with celebrated producer Sheldon Gomberg (Rickie Lee Jones, Ron Sexsmith, Ben Harper), thanks to the generosity of an old friend. The result is Eitzel’s finest solo album in over a decade.
Mark began writing and recording the songs that would become Don’t Be a Stranger in early 2010. Initially planned as the next American Music Club album, it quickly became evident that the new songs would work better as a solo album. He visited the UK for a few months to play the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival and to help launch Marine Parade, the musical he co-wrote with Simon Stephens, which premiered at the Brighton Festival and has gone on to be produced in Germany.
Then in May of 2011, Mark suffered a serious heart attack that kept him flat on his back and out of circulation until the following October. He had to seriously re-evaluate his lifestyle and habits and take a step back from the recording.
Good luck suddenly appeared in the form of a friend who had just won the lottery and offered to fund his recording in a studio. Producer Sheldon Gomberg put together a band that included Attractions drummer Pete Thomas and American Music Club guitarist Vudi on a few songs, as well as a full string section and many Los Angeles musical luminaries. The organic collaboration between Mark and Sheldon resulted in a generous and beautiful record, about which Mark says, “I wanted to make an album more reminiscent of records like Harvest by Neil Young or Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake than anything I’ve previously done.”
Inspired by his experience writing a musical, Mark’s songwriting is simpler on this record and lyrically reflects a more straight-ahead approach. There is a haunted quality to tracks like “I Love You But You’re Dead” (a song based on seeing the punk band Destroy All Monsters) and “The Bill Is Due,” which are about broken promises, leftover people, the desperation one feels when time and cash are running out, and ultimately, the feeling of not knowing what comes next. “Break the Champagne” and “Nowhere to Run” were written in a fit of creativity just days before the album was completed.
Mark Eitzel has released over 15 albums of original material with his band American Music Club and as a solo artist. The Guardian has called him “America’s Greatest Living Lyricist” and Rolling Stone once gave him their Songwriter of the Year award. Originally formed in 1983, American Music Club released seven albums before breaking up in 1995. They reunited in 2004 and subsequently released two albums on Merge Records, Love Songs for Patriots and The Golden Age.
Mark plans to tour the US in late 2012 and Europe in early 2013 with his band Mark Eitzel��s Warm Gentle Rain, whose stateside members include Kristin Sobditch (Little Fuzzy), Marc Capelle (American Music Club), Jon Langmead (Loquat), and Pete Straus (Dwarves). His live set consists of a mixture of songs from his rich catalog, including selections from American Music Club as well as newer material. Mark’s touring band will consist of piano, bass, and drums in the classic lounge style, but he also plans to “bring the chaos” in the form of his electric guitar. Renowned for his self-deprecating sense of humor, Mark’s live shows are always unique and unpredictable in the best possible way.