Mark Eitzel biography 2016
Mark Eitzel’s tenth solo album and his first in three years, ‘Hey Mr Ferryman’, will be released on Oct 7 2016 by Merge Records.
‘Hey Mr Ferryman’ is Mark’s first full studio album, recorded entirely in London. It was made at 355 Studios with Mercury Music winning producer Bernard Butler (ex Suede/McAlmont & Butler) producing and handling all the electric guitar, bass and keyboard parts.
Bernard Butler Quote about Mark here
Butler has produced and/or recorded albums with Tricky, Ben Watt, Bert Jansch, Edwyn Collins etc as well as producing Duffys Grammy winning album. ‘Mr Ferryman’ is Mark’s first solo album that harks back to his work with American Music Club, featuring strong melodies with Butler’s distinctive guitar complimenting Mark’s voice, which sounds both stronger and more intimate than it ever has before.
Eitzel quote here
Many of the tracks on ‘Hey Mr Ferryman’ were road tested during Mark’s 2013/14 tour and initially recorded with his UK touring band in 2015 as well as Bruce Kaphlan in San Francisco, before being worked on afresh with Butler in early 2016.
As both a solo artist and the front man for enduring cult favourites American Music Club (AMC), Mark Eitzel has established himself among the big names and truly powerful forces in contemporary music. A hauntingly evocative singer, he has earned even greater notoriety for his brilliance as a composer, combining the intensity of Ian Curtis, the pastoral beauty of Nick Drake and the melodrama of Scott Walker and Jacques Brel, to build one of the most impressive and darkly poetic bodies of songs in the modern pop canon.
Rolling Stone has previously awarded Eitzel with the Songwriter of the Year and AMC have been credited for starting the slow-core movement (Low, Red House Painters, Galaxie 500), as well as being a major influence on post-rock.
Born near San Francisco, CA, Eitzel’s military upbringing had him living everywhere from England to Japan and then onto Ohio. As a teen, he became a born-again Christian, but at the age of 16 he rejected religion in favour of alcohol – his love/hate relationship with the bottle going on to fuel much of his subsequent work as a performer. Inspired by punk, he eventually formed his own group, the Naked Skinnies and with them relocated to San Francisco in 1980. There the band quickly dissolved, but Eitzel went on to form American Music Club in 1982.
AMC shows were never predictable, showcasing a raw honesty, with Eitzel bearing his soul onstage every night. Despite the lavish critical praise heaped on albums such as ‘California’ (’89), ‘Everclear’ (‘91) and ‘Mercury’ (‘93 – their first album for major labels, selling over 70,000 copies), plus major festival appearances and support slots with Bob Dylan, Nick Cave and Pearl Jam, AMC never crossed over into major sales as enjoyed by their contemporaries R.E.M.
While still fronting AMC, Eitzel issued his solo debut, ‘Songs of Love’, a live acoustic set recorded in London. AMC, however, did not break up until after the release of 1994’s ‘San Francisco’. At that point, Eitzel began pursuing his solo career in earnest, with his studio debut the jazzy ’60 Watt Silver Lining’, released in 1996. Eitzel’s subsequent solo career found him following a wildly eclectic path. In 1997 Eitzel teamed up with R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and recorded ‘West’, which matched Eitzel’s verse with Buck ’s intelligent and engaging pop melodies. His next album, 1998’s ‘Caught In A Trap…’, was an unusually stark and downbeat affair, recorded in part with the assistance of Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth and James McNew from Yo La Tengo.
Eitzel next embraced both pop and electronics with 2001’s ‘The Invisible Man’ and in the following 12 months recorded two albums of covers, one of which featured Greek folk musicians performing AMC songs.
With acts such as M Ward, Lambchop and Calexico recording songs for an American Music Club tribute album in 2001, there were calls for a reunion which finally took place in 2004, featuring sold out shows at London’s South Bank Centre and across the US. AMC’s new album ‘Love Songs for Patriots’, recorded for Merge, was given 8/10 in Pitchfork and 5/5 stars in UNCUT, which gave it Album of the Month, calling it a “brilliant return to form”.
In early 2008 AMC returned with a new line-up and a matured sound with the release of ‘The Golden Age’. Again the album received glowing reviews and was called their best album since Mercury, while the band embarked on their longest ever tour, before again dissolving following Eitzel’s meltdown on stage at the Benicassim Festival in Spain.
Mark switched gears in 2010, working on his first musical ‘Marine Parade’ with UK Olivier Award winning play write Simon Stephens, which debuted at the Brighton Festival. Mark then released his acoustic based album called ‘Klamath’, which was written in a cabin in the Klamath mountains of Northern California. UNCUT once again gave the album 5/5 stars and said it was his best solo album yet. In April of 2012, while working on his album ‘Don’t Be A Stranger’, Mark suffered a heart attack, which forced him to slow down, delaying the album, which was eventually released on Merge in 2013, again to great critical success. After the release of ‘Don’t Be A Stranger’, Mark went on to perform his most successful tours to date, followed by his second musical with Simon Stephen’s entitled ‘Song from Far Away’ in 2015.