In honor of Brooklyn’s own Sightings record release today, Diana Kinscherf caught up with guitarist/vocalist Mark Morgan on the how’s and why’s of a different kind of rock band and what it’s like to have Andrew W.K. as a roommate…
What made you deviate from a regular rock sound into something noisier?
I remember when I was ten years old and hearing certain sounds and I was really excited by them. I wasn’t inclined to punk rock or any other off-kilter music; I was really isolated in this suburban town of Detroit. There was this thing on MTV in 1983 or 1984 called “Closet Classics”; they played a lot of 60’s acts like Jefferson Airplane, the Rolling Stones, and “Summertime Blues” by Blue Cheer and I remember thinking, “This is really amazing!”. I never really woke up one day and thought I was going to oppose everything that’s going on.
What did you grow up listening to?
The first tape I ever bought was Van Halen’s 1984 when I was nine years old; by all rights, it should have been Def Leppard. It didn’t occur to me to buy a record, so my parents bought me a boombox. The second thing I bought was Crazy From The Heat by David Lee Roth. Then I lost touch with modern music, when I was eleven I decided I was going to listen to classical music. I don’t know why I thought that; it was really ridiculous. I remember when I was twelve, some guy came up to me and said, “Do you like the Beastie Boys?” “No…I only listen to classical music”. I was into a lot of pop-metal stuff like Dokken, the aforementioned Van Halen and Ratt. When I was thirteen, my next door neighbor played the Doors for me. I got really into the Doors, at fourteen, fifteen, that was how I got into the Stooges. It was hard to understand how earth-shattering it was to me.
The extended interview after the jump…
Gathering from what you listened to growing up, and hearing the music you make now, there seems to be a gap in between.
Well, we haven’t gotten to college yet!
What did you do [instead of] college?
In the last two years I did a lot of pot smoking, and listening to records; those were very formative years, age eighteen to twenty two. I was a total trainspotter; I wanted to hear every band, I would endlessly read about music. Just going through the usual bullshit, like Gang Of Four, the Birthday Party, I was a really big Jesus Lizard fan, going to all their shows when they came to town.
I can see the influence drawing closer. What other art do you do?
Just the music? It’s all about the music.
I used to draw a lot when I was a kid, but after I started playing music, I lost interest.
What do you think of noise rock musicians?
I don’t refer to it as noise rock, I just refer to it as rock; obviously it’s noisy, as an adjective. As I see it, we’re fans of rock and we just want to push it forward, if people want to foist upon us being noise, that’s fine, but sometimes I get annoyed. Some people just slot us into being this kind of band.
I’ve heard a lot of comparisons between Sightings and Einst√ºrzende Neubauten. What do you think of that?
I don’t think of Einst√ºrzende Neubauten as being a rock band; they’re a great band, but terms like “noise rock” and “industrial” are meaningless ghettos and are not going to convey how that band sounds.
Who on the current music scene are you really into?
We played with this band Sword Heaven a few weeks ago, they’re from Columbus, and we’ve played with them a few times before. It’s just a guy with a bunch of shit on a table and a drummer. They’re a fucking great band – I don’t think there’s anything quite like them that I’ve heard before. I don’t think they sound much like us, if at all, but I think all three of us in Sightings feel a kinship with them, and I feel they think the same about us. this is a really great, phenomenal band. Truly amazing,
Where did the name Sightings come from?
It’s actually kind of funny; I used to live with Andrew W.K. when he moved to New York, It was the summer of 97, and I met him through a friend of a friend, and he contacted me and asked if he could stay at my place for a while until he found an apartment. So he lived in my house, and a month ended up turning into five months. He did this homemade magazine, and it was called Wolf Slicer and he wrote fictional articles and he had all these collages; utterly bizarre, and truly amazing. He wrote fake letters to the magazine, and one of the letters was like “Hi, my name is George, and I have an act called Sightings, and I was wondering if you would review our cassette”, and I was reading that and was like, “I gotta use that as a band name!”; so that’s how we got the band name!
Are you happy with where you stand? Is there anything you would change?
No, I think this is the best we’ve been. We’ve been playing for eleven years this November. I’m pretty happy with it. The only thing I would change is that the song writing process is up and down, sometimes we’ll be kickin’ it and other times we’ll go through these dry spells. But it always comes back where we’ll get excited by new stuff. Most bands have their weaknesses, but you know, I just want to be consistently good. What would I change about the band? It’s fine, I’m pretty happy with it!
Sightings’ new record, City Of Straw is out now.