ALLEN BAND is a new AOR/Melodic
Rockband from the USA that have released one album so far titled
'Six interlocking pieces'. This album is reviewed somewhere else
in this issue. The CD contains some great AOR/Melodic Rock. I
talked with leader Mark Allen about his band and the past
Please tell us about the beginning of your musical career?
The beginning of my music started when I was very young. Along with my twin brother...yup there is two of us! And hes a fabulous drummer at that! I started literally playing guitar when I was around 7 or 8. No one in my family was musically inclined, but my mother had purchased a Sears Silvertone acoustic guitar with a songbook that had a handful of folk songs in it.
I kind of confiscated it .learned the songs and PRESTO .3 chords later, I was a guitar player!! My brother and I did the usual school talent shows and what not. Then at the age of 15, I joined a band with my uncle and again, with my brother. It was at that time that I got a taste for clubs and teen canteens. I also discovered that GIRLS LIKE GUITAR PLAYERS!!!!
course, when you are that age
well you know. Shortly after
that, I formed another band and started playing bars. I believe I
was about 17, and didnt get to see much of the bars I was
playing in. In Indiana, you can entertain at any age, but you
cant be in the bar unless youre 21 when you are not
playing. Needless to say, the mens room was our place of
After that, came the first real serious gig. BANSHEE! That was when the traveling started to come into play and I got my first taste of hotel life! For the next 5 years, I traveled from Canada to Florida, and up the East Coast. It was also marked the beginning of my singing. I did not start singing until I was 20. And I lied to get the gig!! (I told the guitar player that I had been a singer for some time!!) It came naturally to me, and I quickly developed my tenor voice. I played bass in that band until our manager decided that it would best suit the band if I was out in front.
during my travel time, I spent a good part of a year with a band
called Tempest. I came off the road in 1987 to play locally and
reassess what I needed to do next. After some pleading and
begging with some of my road buddies, it was off to Los Angeles,
California. Only it would be by myself. Eight months after I got
here, I landed an independent record deal with a band that I
played keyboards for. The lead singer and I were and still are
long time friends. He was the singer for the band Tempest that I
was in, in Indiana. Small world!!
After 2 years with the band, I left due to business conflicts, and decided to retire to my studio, and see what Mark could come up with. I landed studio gigs singing main title themes for cartoons and radio commercials, not to mention television. I was able
to complete the Back Room (my studio) with the money I made.
When did you form Mark Allen Band?
After I spent some time writing and culminating a handful of songs, I got the itch to play and rehearse again. My first idea was to take the Prince route and record a CD playing all of the instruments myself. (I play 8 different instruments fluently.) My manager thought it was a great idea, except that, what would I do if a record company wanted to see it performed live?
I went searching for just the right people to form the Mark Allen
Band. We have been around as the line-up with Michele DiSisto on
drums, Barney Cortinez on bass, Tony Agapiou on keyboards, Carol
Kaye and Karla Giannelli doing backing vocals, and myself on all
guitars and lead vocals for close to 3 three years now. What you
hear is a magical mix of people that took a very long time to
find and an even longer time to hone.
Please tell us everything about your debut CD, Six Interlocking Pieces?
As you can tell by now, Six Interlocking Pieces is my pride and joy. This CD is one of those goals that I set out to accomplish a long time ago. It marks the first time that I successfully produced, and I LOVED it!! I must give credit to Tony Agapiou. He gave up almost an entire summer to be joined at the hip with me when we were engineering. We made a great team. And for that, I am grateful. The graphics were a brainchild of my wife, Christie, and one of my closest friends, Gary Grantham. Everything on this CD, from the songs, to the CD art, to the production and pictures, is all us! I set out to do a CD on my own label, and I think that what we came out with is a pure labor of love!
last part of the goal on Six Interlocking Pieces, is that it was
targeted for Europe!!! How ironic!! We never intended to market
it in the U.S. Just in a handful of markets. I believed right
from the beginning that this CD would do better overseas. There
are too many bandwagons in the U.S. If you arent on the
current one, you will be overlooked. Not true in Europe. The
first thing I learned is that the people of other countries do
not put labels on artistry. They may label the style of music,
but wont dismiss the artist for what he/she does.
Who inspired you musically?
is my most major musical influence. Steve Perry is my biggest
hero, I suppose. Neal Schon is my biggest influence for guitar.
Journeys harmonies and melodies just SOAR!!! That is very
rare! I also enjoy Bryan Adams
simple writing. The best!
That's great to hear, because JOURNEY is one of the best AOR bands ever. But do you think your kind of music (80s AOR/Melodic Rock) will ever come back and become as popular as it was in The States back in the 80s?
answer this question, I would have to say, not for a few more
years. Every style of music seems to revert every 20 years or so.
We saw that with the grunge movement. It was very rebellious and
reminiscent of the punk era of the early 80s.
Again, that is what is so attractive about Europe. From what I
have seen, the artist and music, in general, are what is most
important. Not so much what is happening in Hollywood at this
I must really ask you if you could tell me a bit more about the song I Will Be There, who influenced you and whats the story behind it and when did you write this classic piece of AOR?
Everyone has his or her favorites!!! I Will Be There
is a song written for and about my wife, Christie. I wrote this
song for her as a birthday present, and frankly, it was so
personal, that I almost didnt want to put it on the CD. The
nature of this song is extremely personal and I would like to
leave it at that. Thank you for your comments about the song. It
is very special, and I am glad you enjoy it so much!!
In your band there are 2 back-up female vocalists, could you tell us more about the involvement of these two lovely looking girls?
have great taste! Yes, they are lovely and they can SING!!! Karla
and Carol have been with me since the very beginning. I met Karla
back while I was still with the band that got the deal after I
moved to Los Angeles. She was the sister-in-law of the drummer I
was working with. On a vacation, she met our guitar player and
ended up moving here. I was a
roommate with the guitar player, so she ended up being my roommate also. One afternoon, I heard her singing in the bathroom. Of course, a couple of years later upon forming the Mark Allen Band, I remembered those chops and gave her a call.
Carol through an ad I ran for a second singer. Carol was number
8, and met me just at my wits end! The previous 7 auditions
were scary, weird; you name it. She definitely fit the bill, and
we were soon doing vocal rehearsals. My idea behind having women
as backup singers originated from the beginning. I have a higher
range, and every harmony I heard in my head seemed to fit a
females range. The mix between the three of us is, in my
opinion, unmatched (if I may toot my own horn for a second). On
that note, it was Carol who introduced me to Michele DiSisto. She
is also very beautiful and is extremely
talented! She is our backbone, along with Barney Cortinez.
Did you know your kind of music is becoming very popular in some parts of Europe at the moment?
always known that AOR/ Melodic rock has had a place in Europe.
Living in Los Angeles, I have the privilege of knowing people
like Billy Sheehan from Mr. Big, and Paul Shortino from Rough
Cutt and Quiet Riot. As a matter of fact, I did a majority of the
backing vocals on Pauls CD Back on Track. They
have always talked about Europe versus the U.S., and have always
had great things to say. Im glad to hear that this style of
music is becoming very popular again
Do you also agree with me that the whole Grunge hype is now finally over and people want to hear the melodic rock music of the 80s again?
I really get the impression that people are tired of hearing
songs about gloom and rainy days. Music is suppose to uplift, and
make you feel good!! That is what my music is about
the top off of the Porsche and crankin it UP!! Music should not
have to make you think; it should make you react emotionally!!
With the Mark Allen Band, it is always positive!!
Have you had any contacts with European labels or with major labels?
to spark some contacts from doing articles and reviews like this
one. I cant thank you enough for the support you are
giving!! We have sent a couple packages to European labels just
recently and are awaiting their reply.
What are the plans for the next coming months and when can we expect a follow-up to your debut?
now, I have new music ready for a follow-up. The only thing I
will let out of the bag is that, Yes, it is in the same style. It
wouldnt be sporting of me to reveal everything about a new
CD, would it??? We want to get Six Interlocking
Pieces there and to see its success first.
Thanks for the interview and good luck in the future!
you!!! It has been a pleasure introducing myself to you and your
readers. Thank you for the support. It is much appreciated!!
/strong>DISCOGRAPHY MARK ALLEN BAND:
Six interlocking pieces (Blue Car Records/1997)
LINE-UP MARK ALLEN BAND:
Mark Allen - Lead Vocals, Guitars
Tony Agapiou - Keyboards
Michele DiSisto - Drums
Barney Cortinez - Bass
Carol Kaye - Backing Vocals
Karla Giannelli - Backing Vocals
WEBSITE MARK ALLEN BAND:
special thanks goes out to Christie Van Pelt for making this
BACK TO INTERVIEWSINDEX
BACK TO HOMEPAGE