THE MAENSION INTERVIEW
By: Lisa "Sunshine" Svelnys
LA Rock Correspondent Xombiewoof Magazine
Host, Hollywood Rock Underground TV
I ran into Mark Maension at The Viper Room in celebration and support of The Raven Black Project's new CD, "Midnight Dreary" with my camera crew for Hollywood Rock Underground TV, what we did not know was there was there was a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT.
The Maension is going on tour and The Raven Black Project (TRBP) was just announced as their USA Support Band July 4th - September 12, being HUGE FANS of TRBP, and seeing the support The Maension had at the show, it was time to find out more about this visually stimulating band, because honestly the blue dreds DID make me curious... First stop was YouTube, over 12,500 video views on "Fetus", it was time to take a listen... WOW, this band REALLY has it TOGETHER!!! First thing that popped out to me was just the level of overall professionalism, pro-technique, empowering vocal transcendental hard-driving groove and extreme commercial feasibility, definitely can not leave out the polished stage presence that makes their video's easy to watch and very "likable" to new fans.... all of these factors make THE MAENSION a true force to be reckoned with,..
1. Where were you, and at what age did you decide to make music your life? Was there a specific event or was it always just magic in your veins?
Mark Maension: For me it was love at first sight, literally. I was a teenager back in Italy (where being in a rock band is quite unusual..), I walked into my brother's room and saw him and two of his friends jamming on guitar and bass and when I asked what's going on, they told me they had formed a band! I felt like I just got hit by a lightening! Right there and then I decided I was gonna form a band too and become a musician and I was super determined to succeed from day one!!
2. How would you describe your music and musical influences?
Mark Maension: We describe our music as "FutuRock". Contrary to most bands who try to fit in with a specific genre or sound, we strive to be original. The British press called us Space Rock which we kinda liked, but we feel "FutuRock" fits our sound and vision much better. I am heavily influenced by sci-fi movies and anything that is both psychedelic and really intense! Our sound has been described as "a sumptuous banquet of Art Rock, Alternative Metal, Electro, Gothic, Prog and Psychedelic Rock. Think TOOL meets MUSE meets NIN meets PINK FLOYD meets DEPECHE MODE meets SOUNDGARDEN!!!"
3. Who are your band members, what do they bring to the table creatively as well as professionally?
Mark Maension: I formed THE MÆNSION in 2008 and since then I have gone trough my fair share of band
members, but I feel blessed to have reached a point where I have absolute trust in the skills, loyalty and good spirit of my team mates! I strongly believe they are the best bandmates I could wish for and that together we can achieve any goal we set up to reach!
My right hand and lead bassist "Jester" has toured all around the world, USA, Asia, Europe. He is a stage animal!! He has a very interesting approach to bass and brought a refreshing sound to the band. He brings his touring experience and knowledge of the music industry, also he is a very entertaining guy to be around, we have shared stage in 11 countries in 2013, he is like my best friend! Then there is drummer "Hitman", he has been on board with me on and off since 2010, he is a heavy metal machine, he seriously kills those poor drums!! He also has good touring experience and shares our "everything IS possible" attitude, so he is a great fit for our band. Lastly we have our new band member "Skye" on the Keytar. Yes we have a Keytarist in the band and we are proud of it!! Haha. She is a very energetic, motivated, gorgeous and talented girl proving once more that girl power is alive and strong in the Rock/Metal world and we are very excited to have her in the band. She was born in Ukraine so she has a really sexy accent too which helps us selling more merchandise at shows!! Haha
4. Who writes your songs? What are they about?
Mark Maension: I write, arrange and produce all the songs. Being a rock producer and multi-instrumentalist I
pretty much spent all my musical years perfecting my writing and recording craft. I have a nice recording studio in Hollywood, full of vintage analog gear, and while the stage is my life and passion and the place where I connect with people and share my essence, the studio is where I get to escape from the world and enter my own parallel dimension. (yes the name THE MÆNSION is indeed a play on the words "dimension" and "the mansion"..). So the stage and the studio are like positive and negative forces that need to be kept in balance to keep my world in a perfect harmony!
The songs touch a broad range of subjects from psychedelic trips (Fetus' Thoughts, The Essence, Lizard Eyes), to personal relationships (Retrospection, Absolution, Silence) to some more aggressive "don't mess with me" kinda lyrics (Freak, Hedonistic Goat, Chrysalis [Feat. Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit] ) all the way to the bizarre Dr. Jekyll/Mr Hyde-ish (Into The Dark, The Riddle).
Overall every song channels an uplifting, positive message that aims at inspiring and empowering the listeners. I believe that we all posses the power to create our own world, that our thoughts have a direct effect on the manifestation of our everyday reality, and even though mine might just be a small contribution, I do like to give out the gift of inspiration by connecting with my audience trough these songs.
5. Describe your live show musically and visually?
Mark Maension: We currently have two different live shows that we bring on the road. In USA we tour with a
sick custom light show that I designed. It syncs to our music and it changes "scenes" as the songs progress, so it becomes like a 5th band member on stage! It brings an element of stage production that is rarely seen from independent bands and it makes the whole show go from very trippy and psychedelic to crazy intense and aggressive!
In Europe we have a more traditional show, we don't use the lights since it's quite a big setup and we still have some logistic limits over there, but we also love to just play without it because we find that we can connect to the audience on a more personal level and we also are very active on stage when we don't have to interact with the light show.
We have a few more peculiarities, like the fact that I sing trough a custom made LED enhanced wireless headset that looks right out of a Tron movie! I love the freedom it gives me on stage. Being a singer and guitarist, I used to be limited in my movements by having to stand in front of a mic stand, now I get to move around, jump and engage the crowd while at the same time singing and playing my guitar! That's just another way of how we think outside the box.
6. What are the biggest obstacles for "today's bands", what are the best ways you have found to "push through"?
Mark Maension: I have one word for ya… "Entitlement". That is the biggest obstacles for musicians today. In my personal experience most bands around the world tend to make no substantial step for their career because they expect someone else to come and do it for them. (Record Labels, Manager, Booking Agent..) as if it was owed to them because of their (presumed) talent. We understood long ago the power of just going out there and making it happen on your own strength! Granted, it takes an extraordinary amount of creativity and determination to keep pushing and pushing with no outside financial, know-how or logistic support, but frankly if it was easy then every one would do it. We are proud of what we achieved on our own and we have gained the respect of fellow bands and industry professional internationally, and while we are still far away from reaching our goals, at the pace we are growing that might just happen very soon.
7. What has been your biggest triumph as a band?
Mark Maension: We have had a few great moments! Being in the studio with Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit was quite an experience and I am very grateful for his support. I recorded him in my Hollywood studio and he was so cool, professional and incredibly talented that I was literally speechless! He improvised both melody and lyrics on a song he had just listened once and he nailed that track in like 3 takes! I barely had to do any comping or touch anything, I was really impressed! I think he sounds amazing on it and it was so spontaneous that you can feel the energy he put in it!
It was also amazing to open for Mudvayne at the Locofest in Florida! What a rush to play on that stage in front of thousands of people!
Winning the Award for "Hollywood Rock band of the Year" at the LAMA 2008 with our debut Ep
INTROSPECTION was also very cool.
Of course I also have to add that being able to do 3 tours in 11 countries in about 10 months in 2013 was a huge triumph for us as artists in a band and as a team of business minded entrepreneurs managing our own band.
8. What songs are getting the most airplay, either on the radio or media views? Why do you think these songs are resonating so strongly with your audience?
Mark Maension: I would say "Freak" our first single off the new album "ÆVOLUTION". The song got featured
in the movie "Hold Your Breath" released in movie theaters in the US, on several TV channels in US and UK and also on Netflix and Red Box. The song was mixed by world famous producer Sylvia Massy (Tool, Deftones, SOAD..). It also got played on several radios in Europe and some digital stations here in the US. We made a video for it showcasing our crazy light show that we take on the road in the US. I definitely invite you to check it out on our youtube page. (youtube.com/themaension) The song is about the hypocrisy of society in regard to people that step out of the "norm". I find it interesting how some groups of people place these "standards" on us (or at least try to) for what it means to be "normal" in our society, hence marginalizing people who are original, creative and different which is indeed a proved, valuable, evolutionary tract in our species. While on the other hand also glorifying, sometimes beyond reasonable need, these very same people as soon as they strike success. I think a lot of our FÆNS (that's how we call them, connect to that message.
9. Where can your fans and future fans see you next? Tell us a little about your touring schedule...
Mark Maension: We will be on a two and half months tour starting in Europe on July 1st 2014 and ending in US on September 12th. We'll touch many states in US and several European countries including UK, Germany, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands, Czech Rep and Italy. In the meanwhile we will also have a few shows here in California and just one in LA, so make sure to catch us when that happens! Then it will be back in UK in February 2015, US in March 2015 and hopefully Asia late in 2015. Yes we plan way in advance!
You can get more info at the following links, Rock On All !