The right place

Mark Sexton Band

Guardians of old-fashioned love songs: Dan Weiss, Mark Sexton and Alex Korostinsky of the Mark Sexton Band.

Guardians of old-fashioned love songs: Dan Weiss, Mark Sexton and Alex Korostinsky of the Mark Sexton Band.

Photo By Brad Bynum

The record release show for the Mark Sexton Band's Young and Naive EP is at 8 p.m., April 20 at John Ascuaga's Nugget, 1100 Nugget Ave., Sparks. For tickets, visit www.janugget.com. For more information, visit www.marksextonband.com.

A few months ago, the Mark Sexton Band was on tour in Southern California, enjoying a night off in Santa Barbara, arguably the hardiest partier in California’s network of party hearty college towns. The three members of the group—singer-songwriter-guitarist Mark Sexton, drummer Dan Weiss and bassist Alex Korostinsky—were having a good time, enjoying themselves out and about, and not too concerned about the next day. All they had to face in the morning was the short drive down to Los Angeles. The group had nowhere to stay that night, but they weren’t too worried about it—worst case scenario, they’d do what any road hardened band does, and sleep in their touring vehicle, in this case, a Jeep.

At some point in the course of the evening, the band decided to get a jump on the next day and figure out accommodations for the following night. Korostinsky called up an old family friend, Larold Rebhun, and asked if he could put them up for a night. Rebhun said, sure, and asked if the band would be interested in doing some free recording the next day. The band members shrugged, said, “Why not?” and continued to enjoy their night off.

The next morning, the band members found themselves, groggy, hungover, unshaven and underslept—they had indeed slept in the Jeep—pulling up to Glenwood Place Studios in Burbank, Calif., and their jaws dropped.

“We’d just had the worst night of sleep ever,” says Sexton, “And we show up, and we’re amazed at how professional the studio was.”

Turns out, Glenwood Place Studio is one of the nicest, most luxurious recording studios in California. It’s a favorite recording destination for huge, well-financed pop acts like Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and the Black Eyed Peas. The week before the Mark Sexton Band showed up with no idea what to expect, Usher had been recording there. Additionally, it turns out that Rebhun is an acclaimed recording engineer, whose long, diverse CV includes an Emmy for sound mixing the TV miniseries The Kennedys.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the members of the Mark Sexton Band went directly from sleeping in their car to recording at a top-tier studio.

It was a stroke of luck, a combination of knowing the right guy, and being at the right place at the right time. They jumped right in to make the most of their eight hours in the studio, recording the basics for six songs, what’s now the Young and Naive EP, the group’s new release—online, on CD and on vinyl—officially out on April 9, and with a Reno record release party on April 20 at John Ascuaga’s Nugget.

The music on the EP draws heavily from ’70s-era Motown, like Marvin Gaye and especially Stevie Wonder. It’s mostly smooth and upbeat, with reggae-like syncopated guitars, jazzy rhythms, and cosmic, funky keyboard and organs sounds. The record was mixed by Alan Evans, drummer of the jazz-funk group Soulive, and, befitting its origins, the album has a sheen and polish rarely heard on records by Reno bands.

The album is a showcase for the musicians, as well as Sexton’s songwriting chops. Most of it is upbeat stuff, but possibly the strongest track is the mid-album ballad, “Heart Holder,” a romantic tune with an appealing structure—it seems like the song might try to kick it up a notch when it gets to the chorus, but instead it breaks down, adding space to accentuate the vocal melody.

“One of our main goals with this album, and our future music, is to write simple music,” says Sexton. “Simple is so complicated.”

He says he enjoys the challenges and pleasures of writing simple, strong melodies.

“I’m a guardian of writing old-fashioned love songs,” he says.