Interviewed by: Thomas Schwarzkopf
Pictures Sourced from: Shakra Facebook Page
When vocalist John Prakesh left Swiss Hard Rockers SHAKRA two years ago, nobody thought that former singer Mark Fox would return to the band. Miracles happen all the time and Shakra presented us with one of their strongest releases featuring Mark Fox on vocals. With that in mind it was time to speak with Mark about his return, reunions in general, his solo activities and of cause the new album “High Noon”. Check out what he had to say.
MGM: Hello Mark, it’s a pleasure to talk to you. How are you?
Mark: Hi! I’m fine thank you! Hope you too!
MGM: If someone four years ago mentioned to you that you’d team-up with the guys of Shakra again, what would your reaction have been?
Mark: This is a question I often heard after I left the band. My answer was, no! Never! I just wanted to do my own thing and was not interested about anything concerning Shakra. But I think it’s a normal feeling. You can compare this with a broken relationship. You don’t want to see those faces anymore and you look forward for new opportunities.
MGM: After your break with Shakra, John Prakesh filled the gap. How did you feel when you heard your songs being sung by someone else?
Mark: Well, I didn’t really care about that. As I said, I was concentrating on my goals and there was no time to look back.
MGM: What were your thoughts when you heard that John Prakesh was leaving the band? Did you imagine rejoining the band at this point?
Mark: As I heard about John’s leaving, I took a note of that. But I never thought about rejoining the band until Thomas first made a step in my direction. This was first rather strange for me but after thinking about it a few hours I was motivated to give it a shot, or at least have an eye to eye conversation with Thomas to find out what his plans were. And as we see now, it works again!
MGM: 2016 seems to be “THE” year of reunions. Since the news from Guns ‘n Roses, everybody is hoping for a Skid Row reunion… maybe in another life. So, what are your thoughts about reunions in general? Do you like the idea?
Mark: You know; there are different kinds of reunions. In our case it not just a means to an end. I didn’t want to just fill a gap they had in the band. I wanted to have fun making music with the guys. Otherwise this never would have been a plausible for me. In general, it is a good thing to reconcile with your enemy in these evil times. Making music should be fun and not selfish.
MGM: Now Shakra is finally reborn. On January 29th you released your new album “High Noon”. What is the album title all about?
Mark: The title is about meeting each other eye to eye. High Noon is a good metaphor to describe an important event. For that reason we use the owl with those penetrating eyes in the album artwork.
MGM: Was it difficult for you to write songs with Thom Blunier and Thomas Muster again?
Mark: Not at all! You know, we never had confrontations concerning the music. This was always the part of the game that perfectly matched! The first song Thomas wrote and tried some melodies was “Hello”. When we listened to that demo, we just looked at each other and said: “Wow! It sounds like I’ve never been away, that’s the real deal!”
MGM: Which tracks are personal for you on this new album?
Mark: As I have mentioned before, “Hello” was the initial detonation. I can’t pick one song on this album; I think they are all really great!
MGM: Chris Von Rohr played a big role in bringing you guys back together. What role did he play when you recording “High Noon”?
Mark: Chris helped us particularly in choosing the songs for the album. At the end of songwriting process we had about 30 or 40 songs and if you write songs, they are all your babies. This makes it really hard to decide. So with Chris’ experienced hand guiding us, we were able to make the right song choices. And he provided a huge amount of motivation.
MGM: A new tour is also in the making. Which countries will you visit and which ones would you like to play in the future?
Mark: We are starting in Switzerland, and then we are off to Germany, France and Spain. I would like to tour the USA or in South America. But actually it doesn’t matter to me in which country we play in, the main thing is that the people are having fun with us while enjoying our music.
MGM: After your break with Shakra you concentrated on your new band FOX. I think it was supposed to be a band and not a solo project, right? Two records were released – both with a total different line-up. What happened?
Mark: In the beginning, FOX was supposed to be a band. This worked quiet well, we had a lot of fun and success here in Switzerland. But then things happened; I won’t mention them here because I don’t want to be unfair to anyone. Anyway, it wasn’t possible to continue with the original line-up. On the second record I worked with studio musicians. But the whole process was so familiar that I decided to continue with them as a band.
MGM: Are you still interested in doing other projects beside Shakra?
Mark: It is always cool to have some variety in your life. But at the moment Shakra is my priority. You can’t do 2 things at the same time because there is a need for your full attention if you want something to be better than good.
MGM: Let us talk about some general things: What do you think about the Swiss Hard Rock scene? There are so many great bands that are similar to you, such as Gotthard, Krokus and so on. They all play a similar style of Hard Rock music, and some people call it “Swiss Rock”. Why is this kind of music so popular in your country? What is the secret?
Mark: I don’t know what the secret is but when I go to Jamaica, the people there like reggae and there are so many bands there making that kind of music. I can’t explain that. We just have fun!
MGM: Who inspired you as a musician during your youth?
Mark: Bon Scott, Brian Johnson, Axl Rose, Steven Tyler – all that stuff you know? I think you hear that through my music.
MGM: Speaking about youth. When you started your career, what did you expect from being in a band or in music business in general?
Mark: Making music was always on my mind. I expected to tour around, playing in concerts everywhere, sell many, many records. I made my dream come true and there is no end in sight. We’ll see what future brings next!
MGM: So, when you look at all those new talented bands out there, what advice would you give them when starting a good career in music business?
Mark: Number 1: have fun and be proud. You’re musician, you are mentally free. Don’t sell yourself short. Be honest with yourself, always have a realistic self-assessment and don’t have high expectations, they will bring you down when it doesn’t work out the way you want it to. Oh and of course, don’t go for short-term hypes, you won’t be fast enough to keep up, stay true to your style.
MGM: How important is commercial success for you? I mean you still have to live from your music. With that in mind, is it hard to find a good balance between writing song material that is appealing for a bigger audience and something that fulfills you as an artist?
Mark: The most important thing is, to write music that you like yourself. Best is when the people like it too but there is never a guarantee. Also there is no guarantee to produce something that will be selling like hot cakes at the moment. There are so many musicians out there; you can only stand out if you are authentic.
MGM: I know that you are also very active on social media and that you are a person who often speaks about unfair treatments in the world. When I take a look at other musicians, who are doing the same, there is the phenomenon that some fans really don’t like it if their favorite musicians have a political opinion or something like that. It feels like you, as an artist, are just there to entertain the people – no more, no less. How do you deal with that?
Mark: Everybody has the right to his or her opinion. I’m not in politics; I would call it ethics and morality. I often use subjects like that in my lyrics. And if anybody who is not a musician thinks that they can criticize my music, they should agree that I have a right to criticize society.
MGM: Do you have any final words for all your fans out there?
Mark: Get our new record “High Noon“ and enjoy what we have enjoyed to create! See you at a show!
MGM: Mark, thank you for your time! See you on the road.
Mark: Thank you too! See ya!