Interview With Mark Eitzel


We 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.

CB: what was it like growing up in Japan, Taiwan, and the UK? Do you feel fortunate to have lived in so many places in your youth?

ME: My friend I could write a book about this – but I just don’t have time today. Yes I feel fortunate – but it was weird moving around so much.

CB: Your first band was Punk influenced, what originally drew you to that type of music?

ME: I was in the UK in 1977 – and read the NME cover to cover. So I was a kid and it was very exciting – though I still loved Joni Mitchell and Joan Armatrading – and free jazz. My first rock concert was Yes and my second was The Damned / Adverts…

CB: The Guardian newspaper called you America’s greatest lyricist, what were your thoughts when you read that?

ME: I thought “god bless”. We all know hyperbole is twaddle – but my manager was so happy to see it…

CB: You have a pretty extensive catalogue of work, is their a piece that you are most proud of?

ME: Nope – I love it / hate it all the same.

CB: For people that don’t know, you recently had suffered a heart attack. Without trying to sound to religious, did you feel reborn as a songwriter?

ME: I wrote all those songs before. Actually it was just 6 months of recovering – if there is any affect I don’t know it yet.

CB: You reworked some songs for the album, did you feel they needed to be reinterpreted?

ME: Actually – only one song “All My Love” and it was originally on “The Golden Age” (AMC) – and I just liked the new arrangement. I thought it fit.

CB: You covered The Ira Gershwin song ‘S Wonderful’ for the soundtrack of ‘Vidal Sasson the Movie’, how did you become involved in that project? Did you choose that song?

ME: The music supervisor of the movie picked the song and chose my arrangement from around 6 other guys.

CB: What can we expect to hear at the live shows?

ME: Fake Mel Torme – just me and a pianist and a drummer.

CB: Can you share five records from your collection which are really timeless to you?

ME: Sorry not off the top of my head. Pink Moon? Lust For Life? Mahler’s Nineth? Toiling Midgets Sea Of Unrest? Modern Lovers, Jonathan Richman spring to mind so many many records.