You know those days when you’re struggling to decide whether to have a solo act on your site, or go all out with a band? And then along comes Mark Nelson so you can have both!
Simple things first – where are you guys from?
Farnham in Surrey
How did you meet?
I was performing solo on the local circuit and I met with my blues band members along the way. We began playing more and more blue songs together so I now continue to do this with them, as well as playing and recording my pop ballads solo.
How long have you been playing as a band?
I was in rock bands for around 20 years then I decided to go solo and started playing acoustic. It was then that I met my boys in the blues band around 10 years ago and we’ve been performing original blues together on and off since then. I also play solo with my own pop ballads.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
It’s just my name, nothing sexy or mysterious , just that really.
What are your influences?
My influences are wide and varied. The Beatles influenced me enormously and mapped my path so far from an early age, as did The Who, The Kinks and late 60’s pop and rock and psychedelia. I am also hugely influenced by ballad artists like Nick Drake and Ralph McTell as well as more contemporary solo artists such as Graham Coxon and Jon Allen amongst many others.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
I was born with one arm and play guitar one-handed which I suppose is fairly unique. I also write pop songs that people seem to want to hear. With my blues band we mix blues with pop and with a degree of humour on stage that audiences remember and are an important part of the whole live experience.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
I write songs both for my acoustic blues band and pop ballads for myself. Love is obviously a powerful recurring theme. Falling in and out of love, losing love, reminiscing about love, feeling bitter about love and feeling triumphant about love. ‘Lost love in a day’, my latest single released through Animal Farm Music, is one such song.
I also write about other themes on human existence such as bad luck, the bottom falling out of your world, greed, stupidity and, occasionally, current topics such as Syria or the state of the planet.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
I must have played 300-400 gigs in all but most of those in the last ten years. It’s important to me to connect with the audience and to enjoy the show as much as I want them to enjoy it. I always inject humour and a bit of self-deprecation. I sing my songs with honesty and meaning and I feel what I’m playing and singing about. In between songs I like to keep a smile on people’s faces. I like to mix lively songs with slow ballads, creating a set of changing moods.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
At my sister’s wedding I was asked to play a song of mine along with special words wish I’d written especially for the occasion. This was live in the church during the ceremony. Halfway through I completely forgot the third verse I kept playing the melody on the guitar hoping that the words would come back to me but they didn’t. Eventually I decided that they weren’t going to appear so I had to make up words on the spot to fit the song and the occasion. Somehow, I managed to do it and miraculously this live version was better than the one I had planned. Nobody noticed a trick but I breathed a huge sigh of relief afterwards. Not so much wild as scary!
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
I play a Line 6 Variax Acoustic Classical guitar and Little Martin Acoustic.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
Staying alive and healthy for one! No, musically I have this brand new single out now and another one coming out at a later date. I’m working on producing my blues band’s new album of original blues songs and I’m about to start my own funk/punk album project. I’m also quite keen to learn more piano licks as I hear a lot of piano in my songs. So quite a lot really!
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
The dream would be to share the stage with the likes of Paul McCartney or Pete Townshend but I would love to support Jon Allen. I greatly admire Jon’s voice and his songwriting is second to none. Supporting me I would probably have Vic Cracknell, he’s a talented local musician who is our local impresario really – organising gigs and events for unsigned musicians and a bit of a hero.
Mark Nelson: facebook