Before we get started could you please give us your name and position
in the band Spitalfield?
- My name is Mark Rose- or as the ladies like to refer to me, ‘hey you in the bushes’. I sing and play guitar for Spitalfield.
User Submitted Question : What does the album title mean exactly? It's a very intriguing title, to say the least.
- Like all of our album titles, “Better Than Knowing Where You Are” can be looked at in different ways. I’d say that we meant it in a similar vein to “ignorance is bliss”. Within the music industry, there is a lot to learn. I’m sure I’m not telling anyone anything they don’t already know- but there is a lot more to music than just the music. There are some things we wish we didn’t know- and there are some things we wish we had figured out a long time ago. Sometimes you just have to push forward doing what you love, and try not to focus on “where you really are” in the business sense. The idea for the title actually came from our experiences with mapquest. It’s a wonderful tool, but has lead us astray many times—sometimes brutally. Haha. Where are we? Not sure. Probably better we don’t actually know.
You guys are about to release your third album? What is your opinion on the new stuff?
- I am very excited about it, and I know the other guys are too. I think stylistically it is a healthy blend of everything we’ve done so far as a band. We kind of took our favorite elements of the past two records, both musically and sonically, and tried to really find the sound we’ve been looking for. We spent the most time on pre-production that we ever have as a band, which was very exciting for me. We had over twenty songs demoed for the album—which gave us a lot of options when putting the pieces together.
I got my copy not too long ago and as soon as I put it on I listened to the entire thing, I was totally stoked and happy to see the progression. I have notcied with you guys that you are able to change your sound (in a very good way) with each album you release. To be honest, I haven't seen many kids complain (which is another good thing) how are you able to evolve so much and keep kids attached at the ame time? Because we all know, for the most part, when bands want to try something else they get a lot of heat for it in some cases.
- That is a really good question, and I’m actually pretty excited about answering it. I’ll never truly understand the way people think. Every time I think I have it figured out- I read or hear something to totally negate my theories. We definitely try to push ourselves with each release and try to keep things moving. We’d love to be at a point with our band where the music just “sounds like Spitalfield”- but doesn’t all sound the same. We don’t want to write the same record twice. “Stop Doing Bad Things” had a more raw rock sound than “Remember Right Now”. If you talk to two different fans about the records- you’ll get two totally different opinions. “Stop Doing Bad Things” got some great reviews, talking about how cool the production was, and how much the band matured and improved from the first record- while some kids who loved “Remember Right Now” will tell you that “SDBT” was poorly written and recorded. I’ve decided it’s easier to just not try to figure it out. I think “Stop Doing Bad Things” takes more listens to get into- and maybe some people wrote it off after one listen, or after hearing a burned copy on a car stereo of an un-mixed and un-mastered mp3 that leaked three months before the album came out. Who knows? In my opinion, “Better Than Knowing Where You Are” caters to fans of both albums, because it has- what I consider to be- the best traits of each record put together. But then again, I am a bit biased; I think I might be in the band.
I remember you seeing you guys almost three years ago, how are you able to tour for so long? Do you guys still enjoy it as much?
- I think part of the reason we’re still so excited about touring is that we know there is still so much more out there for us to do. There is so much room to grow. There are so many new people to play for who have never heard a single note of our music. As most musicians would tell you, there is no rush quite like playing a show. That hasn’t changed for me. I am just thankful we’re in a situation where we have the opportunity to tour as much as we do- and that anybody cares to watch and listen, whether it’s a crowd of twenty or two-thousdand.
What are some of the best experiences you guys have had as a band together? Some of the worst?
- We’ve been through so many amazing and hilarious experiences; it’ll be hard to narrow them down. Here’s one. On this past Warped Tour- we were traveling on an RV with a French-Canadian female driver who had a strange obsession with Wal-Mart, beef jerky and text-messaging while highway driving. She took photos of us while we slept, and once bought $100 dollars worth of fireworks from a truck stop. At one point, I was sitting alone with her in a frozen daiquiri bar (don’t ask)- which was awkward enough as it was- and while we were sitting in complete silence, “I Swear” by John Michael Montgomery (remember the slow jam that All-4-One covered?) came on the stereo in the bar. That was awesome.
Another time, in a hotel room, somebody went to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and turned on the “heat lamp” while they were in there—and who can blame them? It’s such a cool concept to have options on lighting and temperature when sitting in the bathroom. However, apparently the knob was broken, because when the little timer on the heat lamp went down to zero, it never turned off. We woke up to the fire alarm going off in the hotel—the lamp had burnt a hole through the top of the bathroom door, and the room was filled with smoke! What made it even better was that I popped up when the alarm went off and freaked out. So did our tour manager. No joke, at least three of the guys in the room just laid there—as if they were too tired to be troubled by the smoke and fire. I even saw Dan sit up- look around at the smoke- and then lay back down and pull the sheets over his head, as not to be disturbed. My band is brilliant.
What is your favorite part about our city of Chicago? What is your least favorite?
- You’d get different responses from different band members—but I’d say my favorite part of Chicago is a toss up between the food and the Chicago Bears. My least favorite part would have to be the constant construction on highways that seems to never end. If it’s not one highway, it’s another—and I think I wont start seeing benefits to the work being done until I’m in my 70’s- at which point I’ll be driving 30MPH on the highway, and still not getting anywhere any faster. It’ll be a viscous cycle, really.
User Submitted Question : What are your expectations for the new album, and what is in it for you guys if the album is successful or unsuccessful? And what is up with the panther on all of your Merch?
- We’ve been a band for eight years- and this is our third full length on Victory. We’re giving this release all that we have- it’s kind of a “make or break” record for us, and we know it. So we’re going to put everything we’ve got behind it, and hope for the best. As far as the panther thing… I am pretty sure that is just a design that Victory carries in their catalogue on a t-shirt and a sticker. We’ve never had that on tour—and I really hadn’t even seen it all that much other places. I guess I’ll throw the question right back at you… What IS up with the panther on all of our merch?
When you guys first started out, how did you get in touch with Victory Records? Were you talking to anyone else at the time?
- We started playing together in 1998. It was in 2000 that we hooked up with a small label from Chicago called Sinister Label, who really helped us out- and funded our first releases. It was 2002’s “The Cloak & Dagger Club EP” that we used kind of as a springboard to talk to labels. We had never even really thought about taking that sort of step until around that time. We put together a press kit—and sent it out to about ten independent labels that we were into. We were shocked to hear back from half of them within two weeks. We didn’t really expect to hear back anything, so we were very excited to even be talking with labels. Victory was on them- and, being from Chicago, a label that we had grown up with. Bands like Snapcase, Refused and Strife all played a huge part in our lives and getting us into punk rock a long time ago- and we were so excited to be in talks with the label. It came down to about three labels that we were in serious talks with—and we ended up going with the hometown label.
How is your situation with Victory? Have they been helpful when you needed them?
- Victory is both “like” and “un-like” other labels in many ways. Like other labels, they are a business, they have sales goals, and they are competitive. I suppose it’s a bit different for us than some bands, being that we are from Chicago, we’re able to keep a very personal relationship with Tony and the entire staff. We’re friends in addition to business partners with the label, and that is something that I’m guessing a lot of artists can’t say. And those that can know exactly what I’m talking about. There have been ups and downs with our situation with the label, but what else can you expect in this business, ya know? When it comes down to it, we know that both Tony and the staff care about us as people, not just about our record sales.
User Submitted Question : Do you think any of your fans who like you, more or less, to feel "scene" will understand the lyrics/meaning of "Secrets in Mirrors"?
- I’m not sure, really. The song and video aren’t really meant to alienate anybody- and I hope nobody feels that way. The song is written about how un-important the music itself has seemed to be in the music industry lately. Some people could look at the concept and say “they’re just jealous and jaded”- and I’m sure that’s part of it, too. The song is about finding out the rhymes and reasons to why things happen or don’t happen, and seeing the big picture. The definition of “scene” these days can be so loose. It’s not like I have a problem with bands who wear make-up. In fact, some of my favorite bands have worn make-up… The Cure, Misfits, Mrs. Doubtfire, AFI… I guess the message in the video is to be you and be happy while doing it. There are real people behind every mask.
User Submitted Question : Besides the awesome headlining tour with Punchline & Over It for the fall, do you have any plans to headline any other big tours in the winter/spring or support a "bigger" band, like say somebody like NFG or maybe even +44 (a band I'd like to see take them out)?
- Yeah, our original October/Nov touring plans fell apart. We were kind of informed last minute—and struggled to get anything together. So we came up with the in-store plan, and routed ourselves with free shows up to CMJ in New York City. We’re playing the Victory Records showcase with an amazing line-up: Bayside, Action Action, Moros Eros and Endwell. Right after that we kick off our full US headlining tour, which runs through mid-December. I’m really stoked about the headlining tour… the line-up came together very well. Punchline, Over It, Valencia & Boys Like Girls… pretty sweet if you ask me! Fingers crossed for some good turnouts. We’d really like to get some solid support tours in the New Year. That’s definitely a goal of ours. There are a lot of great tours going out; hopefully we can be a part of one of them!
What is the meaning behind the artwork for the album? I have to admit, this is my favorite artwork for your album to date.
- Thanks—for starters, credit is due to the photographer, Chris Strong. He did the photos for “Remember Right Now” as well. We love his photos- and he is so easy to work with. Going along with the “Better Than Knowing Where You Are” theme, we thought it would be kind of cool to take photos individually, kind of creating a “middle of nowhere” or “alone in a crowd” vibe. I think what really sells the photos are the colors. Strong’s photos have a very distinct look and feel. We are very fortunate to have been able to work with him on more than one occasion.
What are some of your favorite bands?
- I recently tried to compile a list of my Top 20 albums of all time, and failed horribly. It was a really fun thing to try and do, but eventually I started arguing with myself, and that was just pointless. But here are some of my favorite artists, and you’ll quickly learn that I am all across the board… The Promise Ring, Depeche Mode, Foo Fighters, Matt Pond PA, The Police, Genesis, John Mayer, Miles Davis, Minus The Bear, Jimmy Eat World, Hey Mercedes, Texas is the Reason, Quicksand… I could go on and on…
User Submitted Questions : How did you find being on a bill with the likes of Silverstein and Hawthorne Heights, who are quite different to your sound? Do you like being on tours with similar-sounding bands, or bands that are completely different?
- Diversity is a good thing. We know getting up on stage in front of an audience predominately there to see someone else is always a challenge- especially if the band has a much different sound than us. We find ourselves on a lot of tours like that, but I guess that’s a great way to play to some kids who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to your band. I’ve kind of realized over the years that you can’t discredit anybody. I have a very wide taste in music, so I can only assume other do as well. I guess we’d prefer a solid blend of rock and (insert other style of music) tours.
What was the best tour you guys ever did? What bands did you play with and what made it such a good time?
- One tour that sticks out in my mind that was a ton of fun was back in March of 04. The package was with The Early November, Hey Mercedes & Limbeck. It was such a good time; everyone was always having a blast before, during, and after shows. Lot’s of hanging out… lots of pranks… I mean, we’ve done a bunch of amazing tours—that’s just one in particular that I look back on fondly.
It seems like a lot of kids are worried that proper bands aren’t getting proper attention. On more then a few cases I have heard a lot of kids refer to your band as one of them. What is your opinion on this? Do you think with better attention from your label would be able to help you reach the maximum amount of fans?
- I guess what it comes down to is exposure. For the most part, people can choose for themselves whether or not they like what the see/hear. It’s why a band like Nickelback or Creed can be hated by so many people, and still sell seven million albums. They have exposure to that many people. It’s why Clay Aiken SHOULD go platinum, and if he doesn’t it’s considered a failure. I feel like there is so much room to grow for us- and with the right marketing and push our music can at least get out to a whole lot of new listeners. Like I said, they can choose for themselves what they think of it. It’s getting them to hear it in the first place that is the tough part. We’ll take any help we can get in that department. We’re not proud men…
What was the reasoning for the departure of Dan Lowder?
- It was a personal thing for Dan—and we have no hard feelings about it. He has been an amazing friend and loyal band member to us for years, and we’ll miss having him around. Anyone who knows him would say what a great guy he is- and how his intentions are always positive. Basically, without going into personal details, he let us know at the end of July that come this October, he was going to have to leave the band. Knowing that October was a very important time for the band, we opted to miss the last ten dates of Warped Tour to begin rehearsing with a touring guitarist, so that we would be pre-pared for the release of the new album. Everything seems to have worked out- as we have a great guitarist out with us now, named Jeff, who is doing a wonderful job. He’s learned an impressive amount of material over the past two months, and he has been very helpful on many levels. So in summary, we’ll miss Dan very much- but we will press forward. It’s not like we’re losing him as a friend.
User Submitted Question : Did the introduction of TJ Milici change the way you wrote/performed any of the new or old material? Especially considering the distinctive sound of the bass in your musi(particularly in Remember Right Now)?
- When TJ Milici first started playing with us, we has just filling in for TJ Minich. And yes, their names are so similar; there is no easy way to do this. Haha. It wasn’t until we had official word from TJ Minich that he wouldn’t be re-joining us that we started to think about the actual change. TJ Milici toured with us for a quite a while before he officially joined the band—which is a good thing— it really gave both the band and him the chance to get a feel for things. We had known TJ Milici for over five years through other Chicago-land bands that he’d played in (Divide By Zero, Logan’s Loss- to name a couple). And because of our pre-existing relationship, he had his own view of who Spitalfield is, as both people and musicians. I think that is part of the reason this record has some elements of past recordings. Each album has a certain amount of change and growth to show for it—and TJ Milici had been there through all of it.
What was it like working with producer Matt Opal?
- It was a totally different experience for us. Matt is a newcomer to the field and is very young and excited. He was actually the one doing our demos and pre-production this past Spring. We hadn’t really thought of asking him to do the record until we took a step back from the demos and thought, “Hey, these sounds pretty damn good! Imagine what he could do with a budget and some time”. And that’s just what we did. Rather than opt for a bigger name producer with a lot less studio time, we went with a new name, and spread the budget thin. It was helping him build his studio and name, and helping us to record the album that we wanted to record. The process didn’t come without its fair share of delays and rookie errors—but that came with the territory and we knew it. There were a couple major scares here and there—but everything worked out in the end—and we’re very happy with the final product. Matt Opal is a name that we’ll be saying “Yeah, we did a record with him” in a few years.
What is your favorite track off the new album? What will be your next single?
- My favorite track changes every day depending on what kind of mood I’m in. The record is still brand new to us- so it’ll probably be a while before I can clearly state my favorites. My current top picks are “On the Floor” and “Hold On”. Please note that in an hour, that will change. Not sure what the next single will be. Singles should be based on what appeals to the most people, especially those who aren’t into this style of music. That’s the point of them—to reach out to new listeners of all styles. So I guess we’ll see what the general response is like before we make our next move.
You guys recently shot a new music video, what was that like?
- We shot a video for “Secrets in Mirrors” with Darren Doane, Dan Dobi & Jeremy Jackson (collectively known as “The Film Core”). We’d worked with Darren before, and have known Dan for a while—so it was awesome to do a project all together. They are very easy going people, and they have some amazing talents. We helped build the concept together, but really let them take the reins on putting it all together. This was the first “serious” video we’ve made. I know it shouldn’t be left up to me, or it would just be a lot of moustaches, wigs and colonial outfits. We tried something different this time around compared to the last two videos. I am happy with how it came out. It’ll raise some questions and cause some debate—and that’s a good thing.
User Submitted Question : How do you feel being one of the few true pop-oriented rock bands on Victory, who seem to be more keen on signing hardcore/metal/screamo bands you would never tour with?
- Love it. Only in the underground do labels get lumped into categories. I don’t think anyone ever talked about how Atlantic Records has Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin and Fat Joe. Haha, you know? Victory’s roster is all over the place… with every style of rock music. If being a pop/rock band helps us to stand out a bit- awesome. If we get buried by all the other stuff- not awesome. Having been with the label for four years now… I think we’re as much a part of the roster as anyone. It seems to me that everyone is “for fans of” everyone these days anyways, so we’ll just keep writing the music we want to write.
Great review. Good questions and he was really open about answering them.
I can't wait to pick this up. I've liked both of their releases, but neither really stuck for me. The sweeping endorsements from Tate and the rest of this site made me decide to hold out on listening to this one til I could buy it and listen to the entire thing. Now I'm even more stoked.