Q&A with ringleader Mark Rechler of Circus Mind - delightful mashup of the retro sounds of ’70s rock and funk

"Regarding my music and social implications… one track on Joy Machine is called "The Longing Song”, which is about the children we locked up in detention centers on the Mexican border. But it's set in the future, and the children are all grown up...and how lost and troubled they have become, and how we are also in fact lost, for letting such a thing occur. Nels Cline of Wilco is a guest on this track. It's really powerful."

Mark Rechler: RU Ready 4 Joy & Groove

Circus Mind is a New York-based rock outfit and the brainchild of ringleader Mark Rechler. The band is entering their twentieth year and are soon to release their third album JOY MACHINE, a delightful mashup of the retro sounds of ’70s rock and funk with N’awlins swamp rock mixed with late-Beatles pop. The first JOY MACHINE single “ARE YOU READY?” features guest guitar phenom Brandon “Taz” Niederauer. “ARE YOU READY?” is a funky rock throwback that has roots in P-Funk, Sly Stone, and other ’70s rock and soul vibes, all flavors that CIRCUS MIND wears on its sleeve as a badge of honor, from the writing to the production. The JOY MACHINE album will release on May 21, 2021, and also features Walter Wolfman Washington, Scott Metzger, Ivan Neville, Big Sam, Marc Ribot, and more special guests. CIRCUS MIND has many faces, and the band is able to daringly swing from jazzy grooves to reggae roots then shoot out of a canon into rock without missing a beat. CIRCUS MIND is quite versatile and has opened for national acts (Toots & The Maytals, The Neville Brothers, The Radiators) and had many notable guests sit in on their recordings and live performances (Soulive, Rebirth Brass Band, Cyril Neville).                                             (Photo: Mark Rechler)

Circus Mind’s members are diverse in their influences as well as their playing. Lead vocalist, songwriter, keyboardist, and bandleader Mark Rechler plays in multiple bands (such as Falling Water), and has played, toured, and recorded with members of The Meters, The Neville Brothers, The Radiators, Soulive, The Brandon “Taz” Niederauer Band, Rebirth Brass Band, Ivan Neville, and more. Spending five years in New Orleans studying music and architecture helped influence his style and direction, and he always keeps his focus on the hook to keep his listeners salivating and wanting more. Bassist Chris Crosby has a serious case of spider-fingers and can solo as beautifully as any guitarist. Guitarist David Berg is rooted in jazz, reggae, and bluegrass. He has toured with Dark Star Orchestra and has played multiple shows with Garth Hudson (The Band). Dave’s fluid rock style keeps CIRCUS MIND in a constant snake-like flow. Drummer Dan Roth has been banging on things since he was a tyke, and he can’t seem to stop. He’s addicted to crosswords, motor coordination, and avocados.

Interview by Michael Limnios   

Special Thanks: Mark Rechler & Billy James (Glass Onyon PR)

How has Rock, Funk, and Jazz music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I think we are all made up of our musical influences. For me it was from the first music I listened to as little tike from my older sibling's rooms (Beatles & Stones), sitting in the back of a wood paneled station wagon with my folks playing AM and FM soul and pop stations or 8 -tracks, diving into Hippy and Prog music in Jr. High, to Punk, New wave and Alternative in High School, Then I went to college in New Orleans and yet another World of Music was thrust into my Psyche. Nola Funk just oozed out of everything and that just sticks to ya, and ya can't shake it off! New Orleans Culture is so rich and thick, where in NY, a typical night out for a normal person is dinner and a movie, but in New Orleans involves food, music and drinking, and then some more music! After some time, I got in tight with some top cats down there; Leo Nocentelli of the Meters, Dave Malone & Camille Baudoin of the New Orlean's Radiators, and a bunch of the Neville brothers. Post college I often got the call when those guys needed a keyboard player to fill in for a north east show or tour. So back to the question… I think if you told 10 different writers to write a song that sounds like Sly Stone, you would get 10 totally different and cool sounding songs that may or may not sound like Sly Stone, because it is synthesized through their own musical history.

How do you describe CIRCUS MIND philosophy and songbook? Where does the band's creative drive come from?

I play in at least ten different projects of various styles. Four of which are my babies. Each of those bands has a different function and sound. I kind of just write songs and then, when they are complete, it often seems obvious which pile that song would end up in. Circus Mind tend to play bars, small rooms and parties cause we are fun and upbeat. That lends itself to a certain type of song for sure. But we boldly go into lots of styles, sometimes even within one song. Creative Drive… I got nothing but Creative drive! I am an Architect, Artist, Designer and Musician. It's more a question of which of those is getting priority at the time. Not much time for Netflix or reading a good book. I am usually working on something.

"I miss Albums, Artwork, Liner notes, being able to touch and stare at it or clean your weed on the double albums. That is all lost sadly, it was lost on the CD but now? the Stream … it's sad. I am hoping somehow these changes. I think the growing NFT digital CryptoArt might possibly be the next cool thing to change up this status quo. Check that out." (Photo: Mark Rechler & Brandon “Taz” Niederauer)

What touched you from the new album Joy Machine? Do you have any more interesting stories about the studio sessions?

Joy Machine was started a year and a half ago, and with everyone with day jobs, well it was a slow process. But then a weird thing happened, a pandemic hit and all of a sudden everyone had a lot more time! No gigs to prepare for or play, and no distractions really. I knew it was time to get down to business. As many artists took to the internet airwaves to play and stream from their homes, I decided this was a time to write and record and come out of this with something tangible. I had a bunch of great unfinished tunes that I literally sat down and completed in like a week, then I started to write. I had no control of it. Sometimes I don't like that, it's like having babies that you can't take care of, it's just irresponsible, lol! But there they were, and about 5 of the 14 tunes are brand new songs. One I wrote the night before we went into the studio and I sprung it on the band last minute. Which I am so happy about!

Which meetings have been the most important experiences? Are there any memorable moments with people that you’ve performed? 

Wow, so many we would need to sit down one night and have drinks so I can fill ya in. But here is a good one. Leo Nocentelli really threw me in the fire with his band. I mean they all have lightning chops and are super funky. He just believed in me and always gave me tips and advice. One night he called me up from Japan and told me that the “Icons of Funk” had a gig the following night at the Highline Ballroom and Bernie Worrell of P-Funk’s keyboard player was ill. He asked if I could fill in. He really didn't even give me the option of declining. I show up and the band is made of Monster players. Stanton Moore of Galactic on Drums, Fred Wesley on Bone, Bill Dickens on Bass (Stevie Wonder) and me on keys. Leo shows up and has full laryngitis and tells me I am singing that night. Needless to say, that was the best backup band I will ever have in my life. It was a sold-out amazing night and I will never forget it!

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss Albums, Artwork, Liner notes, being able to touch and stare at it or clean your weed on the double albums. That is all lost sadly, it was lost on the CD but now? the Stream … it's sad. I am hoping somehow these changes. I think the growing NFT digital CryptoArt might possibly be the next cool thing to change up this status quo. Check that out.

"Circus Mind tend to play bars, small rooms and parties cause we are fun and upbeat. That lends itself to a certain type of song for sure. But we boldly go into lots of styles, sometimes even within one song. Creative Drive… I got nothing but Creative drive! I am an Architect, Artist, Designer and Musician. It's more a question of which of those is getting priority at the time. Not much time for Netflix or reading a good book. I am usually working on something." (Photo: Mark Rechler)

What would you say characterizes New York's music scene in comparison to other local US scenes and circuits?

New York is like a music festival every day of the year. I mean the options every night from the small rooms to the large venues are staggering. I belong to an amazing group called the NYCFreaks. They are a group of hardcore music fanatics that see live music 4 nights a week. I have slowed down the last few years. But this crew is open to any form of music from the Avant Garde to the Funk and Groove! New York has everything all the time. Pick your poison!

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Don't quit your day job! Lol, I don't know, I mean it's a tough business. I found that for me it's better to balance my music, with a career that I can make some money with (in my case, Architecture) and then be able  to spend my other hours being creative or playing out. I also don't love being in a packed van with a bunch of smelly dudes, driving here and there waiting around to play and staying at crappy hotels. Some love it. I love writing and recording and playing. I want to do that the easiest way I can.

What is the impact of the racial and socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

Regarding my music and social implications… one track on Joy Machine is called "The Longing Song”, which is about the children we locked up in detention centers on the Mexican border. But it's set in the future, and the children are all grown up...and how lost and troubled they have become, and how we are also in fact lost, for letting such a thing occur. Nels Cline of Wilco is a guest on this track. It's really powerful.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Funny you ask. One of the songs on Joy Machine is a fantasy-fiction, in that it takes place during the Belle Epoque in Paris. It was a period characterized by optimism, and technological, scientific, and cultural innovations. Artists, Writers and Poets all gathered in Paris to party together and talk Theory. The song has sort of a Jellyfish power-pop vibe, meets a Southern Soul Cheryl Crowe thing. One of the lines is “Pablo, Django and Corbu were scheming the perfect coup in their canoe”. I just love the visuals of geniuses in their field gathering from around the world and getting in some trouble!

(Photo: Mark Rechler)

Views: 216

Comments are closed for this blog post

social media

Members

© 2021   Created by Michael Limnios Blues Network.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service