Thursday, 24 May 2007

MPM meets... From Autumn To Ashes - May 23rd 2007

From Autumn To Ashes released their fourth full-length album, Holding A Wolf By The Ears, in April. Frontman Francis Mark was nice enough to spend a few moments of his time on a little interview, and drawing us a pretty little picture.

What would you be doing if you weren't in a band?
Francis: You're looking at it. Drawing pictures. I'm serious. It's really fitting that you asked me to [draw this picture] because I love to draw. I did all the drawings and cover illustrations for our new record.
What's the greatest memory you've had since the band formed?
Francis: Our first tour we ever did. We didn't even really have a tour booked, we kind of just purchased a van. We pulled all our money together and purchased a van and started driving around the United States and playing anywhere anybody would let us play. We played some basements, we jumped on some bar shows here and there, mostly people's houses and stuff that we ended up playing at. Very small shows and we didn't have any money, we had to steal food from supermarkets and stuff (laughs). Like we were flat broke. We were showering in bathrooms at truck stops and whatnot. But as hard hindsight it sounds like it was really brutal. But it was the first time I had...I was seventeen years old, I had never been away from home before, and we were so excited to be out playing music. Everyday was just amazing, it was really cool.
What do you dislike most about the music industry?
Francis: Well, I think that a lot of people who make very important decisions at record labels, people who hold high positions, really don't know a heck of a lot about music, and certainly can't play an instrument. And it's interesting because it's the one industry where you can be very bad at your job and manage to never get fired.
Do you find it easy to write songs or does that depend on personal events at the time?
Francis: I wouldn't call it easy, but I look at it as something that either it happens or it doesn't happen. I think all the best songs that were my favourite songs that we've ever written, came together very quickly. There wasn't much banging-your-head-against-a-wall trying to get your ideas out. They either really flow or...they don't.
What is your favourite song you've written?
Francis: Right now, I would have to say it's the song Streamline off of 'Abandon Your Friends'. Because I wrote it for a particular person that I, at that time period when I wrote that song, I was writing it for a person that I cared about more than I've ever cared about anybody else. And the two of us have definitely changed and our lives have gone separate ways in the meantime, but I still hold really fond memories... when I listen to that song, it immediately brings me back to that time, the people that we were, what we were doing, and it brings up real fond memories, even though you would think otherwise because that relationship has deceased, but it's really nice, I like it.
How does it feel to have had The After Dinner Payback on the Freddy vs. Jason soundtrack?
Francis: It wasn't too big of a deal for me really, but I guess a lot of my friends were excited about it, people who were into horror movies. To be honest, I didn't care too much. Horror's not my cup of tea, y'know.
What's your favourite movie?
Francis: My favourite movie ever? Right now I really like...there's a movie called ' Who Is Bozo Texino?' and it's a documentary about hobos who live on freight trains in the United States. It's a really interesting documentary, I like it a lot. I wouldn't say it's my favourite movie ever, but...I haven't seen enough movies to really say what my favourite movie ever is, I guess I have to do more research.
What's your favourite thing about playing in the UK?
Francis: Beans with breakfast. Well, except when I ordered them this afternoon, the lady acted like it was a strange request, and then I think she pulled the fire alarm and the alarm started going off and we had to evacuate, we never got our food. We paid ten quid for our food and we just got evacuated and that was it. No refund.
You're playing Download this year. How does that feel?
Francis: Great. We played Download in 2004, and it was something else. Real fond memories, got to see Metallica play their secret set, they played all those oldies. Everybody was running around partying. It's a cool festival.
Which band would you most like to tour with?
Francis: I'd like to tour with Queens Of The Stone Age. I think everybody in the band would like that.
Who's the wildest band you've toured with?
Francis: Maybe 36 Crazyfists. Yeah, I think it might be, those guys were pretty crazy. There were trips to the hospital. One night that dude Mick [Whitney, bass for 36 Crazyfists], he got so drunk he ran headfirst off a ten foot tall stage. He needed staples in his head, dislocated his shoulder. He missed a full week of shows from that one.
What's the best thing a fan has ever done for you or given to you?
Francis: Well, people have done pictures and paintings for us. People have gotten tattoos, which is really cool. One kid gave us a bag of mushrooms once, which was really cool (laughs), I guess. Not that I condone that sort of thing, but it was a nice gesture.
Have you ever thought about what might happen after the band?
Francis: Nope. I'm not even worried about what's gonna happen tomorrow. I'm worried about talking to you, and drawing this picture, and taking this teabag out of here so I can drink this (referring to his cup of tea). Almost forgot about that. Y'know, I think that too many people are so busy worried about making future plans that they don't stop and enjoy what's currently going on in their life. Right now, we've put out what I'd like to think is the best record we've ever made, we've got tours booked all over the world for the next couple of months, everybody in the band is best of friends and we get along. I can't see it really getting any better than it is right now, so I'm just gonna enjoy it. We'll see what happens in a few years I guess."
Who are your heroes?
Francis: My mom is awesome. She's probably my number one hero.

Did your parents support you when you started the band?
Francis: Absolutely, which is huge. I mean, we practiced in my parents house when we first started the band for the longest time. I mean, ever since I was a little kid, my dad worked really hard to buy me my first drum set and he'd put me through lessons. I'm very fortunate, y'know, because I never would have been able to do it otherwise. Or perhaps I would have but it would have been much more difficult.
Which one question do you wish someone would ask you and how would you answer it?
Francis: Y'know, I was really terribly sad for a long time, and I was surrounded by so many people who never...y'know, nobody ever just stops to ask "how're you doing? How's your day going?". Simple questions. "How're you feeling?". Everybody's preoccupied with the fast pace of life or something. I dunno, have you ever felt really lonely in a big crowd of people? I wish people would just stop and ask each other "how're you doing? How're things going?". 'Cause right now I would have a very positive response, things are going very well. But it would have been nice if someone was concerned when things weren't going so well.

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