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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Exclusive Interview with Mark Fox (Shakra)

When vocalist John Prakesh left Swiss Hard Rockers SHAKRA two years ago, nobody thaught that former singer Mark Fox would return to the band, but as you see: mircales happen all the time and Shakra present us one of their strongest releases with Mark Fox on vocals. With that in mind it was time to talk to Mark about his return, reunions in general, his solo activities and of course the new album "High Noon".  Check out what he had to say below.

Hello Mark, it’s a pleasure to talk to you. How are you?

Mark: Hi! I’m fine thank you! Hope you too!

If someone told you four years ago that you'll team-up with the guys of Shakra again what would you have told him?

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.

After your break with Shakra John Prakesh filled the gap. How did you feel when “your” songs were sung by someone else?

Mark: Well, I didn’t really care about that. As I said. My whole concentration was on my goals and there was no time to look back.

What were your thoughts when you heard the news of John Prakesh leaving the band? Did you imagine to rejoin the band at this point?

Mark: As I heard about John was leaving, I took a note of that. But I never thought about rejoining the band till Thomas made first step in my direction. This was first really strange for me but after thinking about it a few hours I was motivated to give it a shot, at least to talk to Thomas from eye to eye to find out what his plans are. And as we see now, it works again!

2016 seems to be THE reunion year. We heard the news about Guns'n'Roses and everybody is also 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 means for the purpose. I didn’t want to just fill that gap they had again in the band. I wanted to have fun doing music with the guys, otherwise this never had been a passable way for me. In general it’s a good thing to reconcile with your enemy in this evil times. Making music should be fun and not selfish.

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 on the same eye line. High Noon, is a good metaphor for some important is coming up. For that reason we took the owl with those penetrating eyes.

Was it kind of difficult for you to write songs together with Thom Blunier and Thomas Muster after such a long time?

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 on it was „Hello“. When we listened to that demo, we just looked at each other and said, wow, sounds like I’ve never been away, that’s the real deal!

Which tracks are the most personal ones for you on this new album? 

Mark: As I said before, „Hello“ was the initial detonation. I can’t pick one song on this album, I think they are all really great!

Chris Von Rohr played a big role in bringing you guys back together. How did he affect the recordings to “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 Chris helped us a lot whit his experience to make the right choice and he gave a huge amount of motivation.

A new tour is also in the making. Which countries will you visit and which ones you would like to play in the future?

Mark: We first start in Switzerland then we go to Germany, France and Spain. I’d really like to play once in the USA or in South America. But actually it doesn’t matter for me in wich country we play, the main thing is that the people have fun with us and our music.

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 of FOX it was supposed to be a band. This worked quiet good, we had a lot of fun and success here in Switzerland. But then things happened, I won’t name them here because I don’t wan’t to penalize someone. Anyway, it wasn’t possible to go on with this line-up. On the second record I worked together with studio musicians. But the whole process was so familiar that I decided to go on with these guys as a band.

Are you still interested in doing such projects beside Shakra?

Mark: It’s always cool to have some variations in your life but at the moment Shakra is my priority. You can’t do 2 things together because there’s a need for full attention if something should be more than good.

Let’s talk about some more general things: What do you think about the Swiss Hard Rock scene? There are so many great bands like you, Gotthard, Krokus and so on and they all play this similar Hard Rock style, 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 the secret but when I go to Jamaika, the people there like reggae and there are so many bands over there making that kind of music. I can’t explain that. We just have fun!

Who inspired you as a musician in your youth?

Mark: Bon Scott, Brian Johnson, Axl Rose, Steven Tyler - all that stuff you know? I think you hear that.

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, making 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!

So, when you look at all those new talented bands out there, which advice would you give them to start a good career in music business?

Mark: On the top: have fun and be proud. You’re musician, you are free in your mind. Don’t sell yourself under price. Be honest to yourself, always have a realistic self-assessment and don’t have to high expectations, they will bring you down when it doesn’t work how you want it to. Oh and of course, don’t go for short-term hypes, you won’t be fast enough, stay true to your style. 

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 songmaterial 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 not, if you try to do something that is really selling like hell at the moment. There are so many musicians out there, you only can match if you are authentic.

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 do the same thing, 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 matter?

Mark: Everybody has the right to say his opinion. I’m not doing politics, I would name it ethic and morality. I often use subjects like that in my lyrics. And if anybody thinks he can criticize my music and who’s not musician, he should agree with me that I’m right if I criticize the society.

Do you have some final words for all your fans out there?

Mark: Get our new record „High Noon“ and enjoy how we enjoyed to create it! See you on a show!

Mark, thank you for your time! See you on the road.

Mark: Thank you too! See ya!

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