Look, he's not the fourth Beastie Boy, right. make his own groove, as forthcoming album Push The Button proves. Words: Jim Byres
MONEY MARK, BETTER known to his friends and family as Mark Ramos-Nishita, today ﬁnds himself a few thousand miles from his home in the high desert region of southern Califomia. For the next six hours, home is a London hotel room from where he will conduct today”s scheduled press interviews. ‘I”d rather be a musician than a promoter,” he admits, already weary of his obligations, ‘but, I”m okay with it, I agreed to do it.”
Mark is here in advance of his new album, Push The Button, which is due to charm its way into the nation”s consciousness next month. Released via the dependany hip and ultra cutting-edge label Mo Wax, it looks certain to pierce the commercial bubble, following hot on the heels of recent crossover successes Air, Reprazent, Cornershop, Beck and Finley Quaye.
influences I had when I was growing up, besides all that “groovy” stuff. I did have a lot of pop inﬂuences too, so I wanted to tap into them, not just the groove side, which I”ve covered already. I wanted to get into the pop side — the Beach Boys/Beatles side.’
Mark, who wrote and sang all the songs on the album, also wrote all the music and played all the instruments (with the exception of current single ‘Hand In Your Head”, on which Sean Lennon plays bass and Russell Simmins from Jon Spencers Blues Explosion plays drums).
‘I collect all these instruments at home,” he offers by way of explanation for his many talents. ‘I just pick ”em up and start trying to figure them out. I can”t say I”m proficient at anything really, but I can make sound out of them and that”s all that matters. I”m not a
m n A former carpenter who began his virtuoso at anything, except for career as keyboard player for the ‘ a maybe when it comes to putting them
Beastie Boys, Mark released his highly acclaimed debut album Mark ’s Keyboard Repair back in I995, also on Mo Wax. An unexpected Top 40 hit. the album introduced listeners to his strange but compelling fusion of styles, which combined lo-ﬁ, quirky grooves with an unmistakably accessible pop aesthetic. Push The Button trades on a similar axis, marrying hip hop beats with poppy hooks, Marks” own vocals and his trademark quirky keyboard sounds, though this time with additional rock guitar. ‘This album is my pop experiment,” he explains, now warming to the task in hand. ‘I wanted to make this record to show the
12 TIIEUSI' 16—30 Apr 1998
all together. [just tend to pick up an instrument and spend a month with it and take it wherever I go and drive everyone crazy around me.”
It”s a classic, thoroughly modem DIY ethic which owes much to the dance music world, where the lone producer replaces the four cornerstones of the traditional band, becoming singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer. For reference, witness French duo Air, who also played every instrument on their stunningly diverse album Moon Safari. Indeed, it was Jean- Benoit Duncklel from Air who said in a recent interview that Mark, whom he had met whilst shooting a video in New York, was a “genius”.
‘()h wow,” laughs Mark, clearly somewhat taken aback by this generous praise. ‘Wow, well, um . . . I don”t know about that, [just do what I do. I look at children and I see children doing things like painting and drawing, and I think that”s genius. Maybe genius is just being honest and doing your own thing, and doing what you feel comfortable doing. If that’s the case, I”m all that stuff. The genius part, I don”t know about. [H were such a genius, maybe I”d get myself out of this hotel room.”
He”s already thinking about the follow up to Push The Button, predicting that it will be markedly different to its predecessor. "I”his album is kinda light, maybe a little charming and poppy; the next one is gonna be the opposite. It”s going to’be — the way I”m feeling about it right now - some real bottom- heavy thing. I hate to use labels, but it”s
gonna be a real hard-assed funk thing, real rich on the bottom end.”
Mark continues to work closely with the Beastie Boys, having collaborated on three or four of the tracks on their new album. He will accompany them on their forthcoming summer tour, both as support act and integral musician. He is also contributing to Beck”s new album.
Meanwhile, he”s looking forward to visiting Scotland later this month. ‘I like Scotland a lot,” he reveals. ‘Good fish ”n” chips there. Weird sauce too.”
Yes, and little tartan drummer girls in plastic tubes too.
Money Mark plays King Tut's. Glasgow, on Thu 30 Apr. ﬁsh The Button is out Mon 4 May.