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Interview with Mark Mangold | From the first legendary Monsters of Rock with Touch, till the release of "Free Angel Express" with American Tears.

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Hi Mark, thank you for this conversation. First of all, how are you?
Mark Mangold: I'm fine, thanks. Hope you are well and healthy as well.

 

 

Due to all this pandemic, spreading all over the world, affecting our lives, the musical and cultural community has sustained a severe damage with all concerts being cancelled. Give us your point of view of the mood, the feeling, if you will, of the people involved in the music industry ?

Mark Mangold: Wow, that's a big question. Of course there are literally MILLIONS of people involved in the music industry. I guess we all read the articles about how things are closed down, major companies going out of business, Broadway closed, venues closed. It's a disaster for people at all levels. Not only the performers but the club owners, the people who work at the clubs, the suppliers and on down the line.
It also means we will not be touring with American Tears, of course, and I also have many friends who are not able to make their living, as they had in the past. It's a traumatic situation.

 

 

If you could choose 5 albums that made an impact for the development of Rock'n Roll, which would they be ?

Mark Mangold: Good question. So subjective. I guess you are not talking about Rock 'n Roll for ME...but for the musical form... I would have to say it goes back to Elvis, and Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and many others during that time. As things developed I think it just gets down to who your influences are. Could be Deep Purple, or Zep, AC/DC, The Beatles (of course), the Stones, The Who...and a host of other bands that did their thing and contributed to the body of work we can enjoy with a flick of the mouse, these days.

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Which bands, or artists have a major influence in your career ?

Mark Mangold: I think I mentioned a number above, but foremost may be Jimmy Smith, the master of the Hammond organ. He took that instrument to the heights. I do also play the piano and any other keyboards I can get my hands on, so I am interested in who's doing what with what. For me, as a songwriter, using these instruments to express myself...and to make music...it all filters in and comes out in some new form...so it's hard to tell where things come from...everywhere really. 

 

 

Performing with Touch in the first, legendary Monsters of Rock, was quite an achievement for an AOR band. Share some memories and feelings about the atmosphere around that gig.

Mark Mangold: That was a wonderful time. We were on tour with Rainbow, and traveling around Europe opening up for them. This was the first Monsters of Rock and no one knew, at least we didn't, what it would become all these years later. It was mind blowing with all the people, as far as the eye could see...60,000 or thereabouts. It was wet and rainy...and everyone was working hard to pull it off in a great way. Rubbing shoulders with the great artists there, who are still huge to this day, is an amazing memory. As far as playing...we went on a little late due to technical things...and had to cut one song...but we "did our thing". We were so tight at that point, we had played that set and knew those songs inside and out, that it was not a matter of being nervous...sure there was loads of adrenaline...but the thing that was on our minds was how is it sounding to the people in the audience. Is the sound guy doing a job and how are we coming off? As time has shown us...it seemed to be pretty good, though as an opener, they don't let you be as loud as the bigger bands...so I think maybe they could have cranked us a bit more. Either way, our song "Don't You Know What Love Is" was top of the Melody Maker Magazine a few days later...so we did get some hard earned attention. It's a wonderful memory.

 

 

 

You have done many collaborations. What is the common denominator of all these artists you collaborated with ?

Mark Mangold: That they are willing to work with me ha ha.

 

 

In 1978, American Tears became Touch. Could you share with us the reason of this decision ?
At that point we got off of Columbia and moved over to Atco. American Tears was essentially, at first a keyboard trio, and this new "thing" Touch...was different...new members...different sound. We wanted to start fresh...

 

 

Please tell us some things about ''FREE ANGEL EXPRESS''.

Mark Mangold: This is the third album we've done in the last three years. We just keep on going. I love doing the American Tears records because these songs are free and in a way more creative. I am not falling back on formulas, either in structure, or playing. There is no safety net. It takes you where the music wants to go...and the songs are as long as they need to be. If a solo is one minute or 3 minutes...it's just as long as I feel it needs to be before it...needs to go somewhere else...and then WHERE is that somewhere else? It is not only exciting...and maybe risky....to create...but also unpredictable to listen to...so maybe full of surprises. I love creating the lush tapestries of these sounds...and using the many instruments available to me...(a good time to be alive as a keyboard player). I tend to use the vintage instruments of the early days of American Tears...for some reason...probably because I love them...ie. the Hammond, synths, clavinet, mellotron, and a host of synths that have varied sounds. Of course the musicianship is fun...really playing...and on this record with Alex Landenberg on drums...it took it to a new level. Barry Sparks played bass on Sledgehammered and working with great musicians, as the band builds a bit in stature, makes if so gratifying. There is alot on this record. Alot of emotions...creating "moments"....from lush beautiful (I hope) passages to kick ass rocking things... I love doing what could be a guitar riff, on an organ...and fill it out with synths and create a sonic combination that is neither the organ nor the synth...a new "animal"....and you just do it till you like it and go..."that's cool". The main goal is to NOT suck ha ha. And the lyrics are an important factor...some of the songs are "protest" songs...and make a point in some way. It is for me a very freeing way to get things out there, deal with things... and not go crazy. I don't think I can summarize anyone one thing about the record...I think that's up to the listeners.

 

 

How's your fans response to the return of American Tears with a brand new album?

Mark Mangold: It seems to be over the top. I am so happy people are accepting it. I think once people realize they are not going to hear a guitar...though they may hear a screaming organ playing a guitar riff...and that it's keyboard based...they see how many sounds can be pulled from these instruments...it's kind of infinite really.

 

 

After your recent album release and since this Covid 19 thing is over, do you have any mid-term, or long-term plans for any live appearances to promote it ?

Mark Mangold: Of course we would love to tour and play. At the moment we are relegated to these home made videos...which are strange...but also fun in a way. We just did one for Sledgehammered and also Woke....I'm in Sweden, Alex is in Germany and Barry is in Texas....STRANGE!!!

 

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Please give a message to your Greek fans.

Mark Mangold: Thanks SO much for listening. I very much appreciate that you have the patience to check this stuff out. It is not spoon feeding and maybe you have to just give in and go for the ride...ha ha.... As I said there is no safety net...not so much predictability...so gonna be some surprises. If it sucks...it sucks...and if you like it...you are crazy like me, ha ha. If you feel something from it...than I am totally honored. I certainly worked hard to make it an enjoyable experience...but the only way I can do that is to make it so I like it...and each new MOMENT you hear when a corner is turned...(ie ain't going back to the chorus ha ha)...needs to blow MY mind if I have any hope of blowing anyone elses mind::)) And hopefully you may agree...I think it hits EVERYONE in a different way. It's a personal experience...it's all a bit of a mystery to me...not sure where it comes from...but happy it's taken form.

 

 

 

Chris Mouskos, Kostas Kiouris

Black Velvet Radio

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