Don’t just hear it
The Mark Sexton Band
Despite the fact that they look like a bunch of kids, the members of The Mark Sexton Band have been around. Since their first CD came out in January 2008, the band has gone on four tours covering the Western states, developed a following, and is now getting ready to release a second album.
“We’ve covered a lot of ground—musically and physically—since the last album,” says Mark Sexton, the band’s namesake, lead vocalist and guitar player. The rest of the group consists of Dan Weiss on drums, Alex Korostinsky on bass guitar and backup vocals, and Ryan Parrish on saxophone. Aside from Parrish, who joined the band just after the first CD was released, these guys have been playing together since high school—which is still a number of years for these (mostly) early 20-somethings.
The closeness of the group, as well as its youthful sense of humor, comes through in conversation. The members back each other up and finish each other’s sentences.
“Dan and I have developed a psychic ability,” says Korostinsky. “We can anticipate what the other is going to play.”
“It’s almost like reading each other’s minds,” adds Weiss.
Going on tour four times over the last two years gave the band a chance to really spend some time with each other.
“We had a lot of time to get to know each other musically and our own individual interests musically,” says Parrish. “And sharing that with each other, in doing that, we’ve really developed our style.”
Since the first album, which was almost solely compiled from Sexton’s own tunes and music, the process of music writing has become more collaborative. Weiss also says that having the opportunity to play with other musicians has influenced the band’s evolution.
Their new album, Listen Out, reflects this progress. The style is different from their first album—more refined and definitive. Sexton describes it as “a lot more mature, musically” and “inspired by classic soul and jazz.” Or, in the words of Korostinsky, the album is “adult and big-boy sounding. Not an amateur album.”
Listen Out was recorded at Two Sticks Audio in Seattle and, except for the vocals, was recorded live. The band wanted the album to feel “real.”
“Some of our favorite music is recorded live—it has a feeling to it,” explains Parrish. “It takes away some of the musical experience when you track.”
More than anything, the band members want people to listen to their album. They see it as being an idea or a concept, hence the title Listen Out. The band members feel that often people don’t really listen to music—it just becomes background noise.
“You have to listen to really understand what’s going on,” says Korostinsky. “Put on the album, and just stare at a wall or something.”
“Don’t just hear it—listen,” adds Sexton.
The group also sees the album as a whole.
“Every song is special,” says Korostinsky. “There is no single. It’s an album.”
If the idea is to get out and listen, then perhaps a good venue to experience their live-recorded album is at the CD release party for Listen Out, where the band will play at the Nugget Celebrity Showroom.
The age and youthful appearance of the band belies the sound of their songs. They refer to vinyl and “good old-fashioned music” when talking about their new album. It combines rock with R&B and a little bit of funk with the result being a mellow listening experience. The influence of the older music comes through, as well as their dedication to their art, and literally gives it soul.