Mark Geary is the type of person I hoped to interview when I started this blog. Someone that several friends have referred me to listen to through the years, but I still don’t really know enough about. A writer with great depth in his storylines and lyrics with a passionate delivery. Someone that’s hung out with Jeff Buckley and Glen Hansard. A person that gives truthful and interesting answers to the questions. Mark also answers almost how he write lyric phrases. It’s interesting and I like it. This was fun. You’re gonna enjoy it.
Mark Geary is a Dublin born musician who has split his time between Ireland and New York City over the last 20 years. He spent his early years performing in NYC at the famed Sin-e Café alongside other up and coming musicians, including friend Jeff Buckley, garnering respect and attention from both audiences and fellow artists. Of Mark’s time in New York, Time Out NY magazine said “His delicate songs about love and defiance…recall Richard Thompson and John Lennon….one of the East Village’s favorite adopted sons.”
Touring and performing live is Mark’s lifeblood. He has been featured on bills with musicians as diverse as Joe Strummer, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, Coldplay, The Frames and The Swell Season among others.
Since 2002, Mark has released 4 studio albums and 2 live recordings. His second album, the acclaimed Ghosts, was named 2005’s Album of the Year by the Irish Voice. Billboard Magazine said Ghosts “evokes Van Morrison, particularly his early-1970s era,” and called it “a collection of superb songs delivered with a quiet intensity that will endear itself to listeners.”
To capture Mark’s talents as a performer and storyteller, the 2009 live album Live, Love, Lost It NYC showcases some of his best songs performed in front of audiences at various venues around New York City. Mark’s second live recording, Songs: Vienna was just released in December 2013. It was recorded over one night at Casino Baumgarten in Vienna with Mark’s band Grainne Hunt and Mark Penny.
In addition to his own albums, Mark has composed the score to several films; 2005’s Loggerheads, 2006’s Steel City, and 2010’s Sons of Perdition, a Tribeca Film Festival favorite and one of the first documentaries featured in the Oprah Winfrey Network Documentary Club. His songs have also been featured on various television shows including One Tree Hill and Bones.
In 2013 Mark toured throughout Ireland, the UK, New York, the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. In November of 2013, Mark collaborated with Glen Hansard on a new version of his song Christmas Biscuits as a charity single for St. Vincent DePaul of Ireland. The song hit the Top 40 and was made the song of the week on TodayFM Ireland’s largest commercial radio station.
In 2014 Mark will be touring in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Switzerland and the Czech Republic while also working on his 5th studio record.
Our Scattered Words: What is your songwriting/composing process?
Mark Geary: I guess it changes. From song to song . But generally . After a bucket of coffee I pick up my guitar . And play. Humming melodies or looking at bits of paper I’ve scribbled on .. And just kinda join the dots . Sometimes just for the joy of playing or singing to myself. When songs come they seem to come very quickly . Almost fully formed like the 90% perspiration. 10% inspiration . Thing . You have to work on it.
File down the bits. They don’t quite work . Etc
Our Scattered Words: Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Mark Geary: They can be both really. There’s a feeling of toil . Sometimes and a feeling that . The hard songs . Are a channel to get the other song out .
Our Scattered Words: You’ve had a true career music. If fact, you’ve been in music longer than some people I’ve interviewed have been alive. What do you wish someone told you about the music business hen you were starting out?
Mark Geary: I guess I would be a little less hard on myself as opposed to seeing each show . Opportunity as something fearful.
To choose my battles better.
And to be a little more forgiving on where I was at the time .
Those years of playing the shittiest venues . To uninterested people . And wondering what it was that I was doing badly . Etc.
To give myself a bit of a break.
Our Scattered Words: What is the biggest change in your music career now from 20 years ago?
Mark Geary: The challenge is . To be heard . And noticed .
Over the shrill of constant bombarding of media . We are all shouted at . In a lot of ways . From the moment we get out of bed.
Facebook and Twitter . ” you have to see this video . You have to watch is . Listen to this ..”
When a lot of times . It’s a kitten sitting typing on a computer 🙂
So the challenge is . To believe in the beauty. do what it is you’re doing and trying to achieve .
Our Scattered Words: What was it like doing shows with Jeff Buckley following you and in the audience for your sets?
Mark Geary: He was a friend of mine . My brother had opened the Sin-e cafe . So it just happened a lot . That I was playing before him . In guess in a lot of ways . I was aware of the buzz around him, and justified of course . So when I played there was usually a crowd waiting for him to play . That’s a challenge in and of of itself. So I remember . Just trying to make an impact on a crowd that had no idea who I was .
It’s a great experience to try silence a room that . Honestly have no interest . Or thought of you .
Our Scattered Words: Where do your stories come from for songs? Are you influenced by books you read or movies?
Mark Geary: Yes . A lot of songs would be autobiographical . Or an essence of me .
A little phrase that I say . Or have heard . Sometimes just a stand point . Or an aspiration
Our Scattered Words: You’ve done a few Film Scores which is a totally different world. How is your writing process different on those scores?
Mark Geary: Well the difference is you’re serving the film you’re working on .
Watching a piece of film and trying to serve it in some subtle way. To capture the mood of what the director has in mind .
I really like doing them . As it’s not songs as such .
Little pieces of music . Where you can really . Dig under the film. And create unsettling dark music.
Our Scattered Words: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Mark Geary: Mmmm. I have a song called the ” volunteer ”
Our Scattered Words: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Mark Geary: Oh always to find your own voice. To capture the essence of e song . The little melody is far more effective than . Lots of complicated chords and tricks of singing .
Sing about what yu know . And sing things that yu believe are true .
Our Scattered Words:
If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Anything. That David Bowie and eno . Fripp. Might have done .
Heroes . Etc... The Berlin sessions
Our Scattered Words: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Well Bob Dylan would be one .
I got a chance to talk to the edge about what he did . I found it truly a privilege .
So humble was he . And this constant seeker .
Mark Geary On The Web
Twitter and Twitter2
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Our Scattered Words