With Luvplanet, Mark shows his strength and comfort in the producing realm, showcasing lush harmony vocal arrangements, awesome guitar virtuosity and a slick yet honest mix of classic songs. With Gregg Allman and Friends, Mark delivers passionate blues and wicked slide guitars with intense dynamics. With Vicious Rumors, Mark's aggressive, accomplished style and emotionally charged solos inspired thousands of metal guitarists worldwide. Mark's solo debut, entitled "Gem", is currently in the works and expands on a combination of all these styles.
Mark talks about "Gem"...
"In addition to playing guitars, I'll be singing all of the lead vocals as well as producing. I've had the pleasure of working with so many talented players over the years. All of them have unique qualities in their playing that I love, so I decided to include many of them in this recording. I know the result will be phenomenal!
"The title track "Gem" will include the beautiful harmony vocals of my Luvplanet partner, Nicole Sutton. Her angelic voice and mine mesh together in such a perfect way that it's truly beautiful. The song is written about her, so having her sing it with me is perfect. She's perfect!
"Drummer Jamie Van De Bogert (Gregg Allman) appears on 6 songs. "Voodoo Doll," "Everything I Needed", "The Awakening", "Solitary Tragedy", "The Mystery" and "Dream of You". "Jamo", as I call him, is an incredible musician. His meter, feel and technique are top notch, and his energy and personality are truly a joy to be around.
"The mystical track "Dream of You" features some mind bending fretless bass from one of my favorite players ever, Tony Franklin (Jimmy Page, Paul Rodgers). I am thrilled to have him appear on the cd and hope to work with him more in the future.
"On the song "River", I have monster rhythm section Stu Hamm (Steve Vai) and Jeff Campitelli (Joe Satriani). With an amazing solo from Stu and Jeff (playing with brushes), this song has a timeless feel to it. In 2000, I had the pleasure of performing on Stu's cd "Outbound" on the song "Remember". He is truly a master on the bass. Stu and Jeff also cut all of the tracks for the Luvplanet cd, on which you can hear their amazing chemistry.
"Bassist Jimmi Ward and drummer Jimmy Wells play on the songs "Find Your Way Home" and "Tumblin' Down". Jimmi Ward and I have known each other "forever", and he is the first bassist I ever played with. We even performed our first-ever live gig together back in 1977. It was in eighth grade at Lincoln School in Alameda, CA. We played at lunchtime on the outside amphitheater stage for all of our schoolmates. That band was called "Open Current", with Steve "Sky" Clems on lead guitar, Scott Rawley on vocals and Keith Davis on drums. At the time Jimmi and I both played guitar, but I didn't have my own amp yet. So I borrowed the only amp I could find: a bass amp. The tone was definitely heavy on the low end. Funny too, 'cause I remember going back to class after the show and everybody complimented me on my great bass playing. It was a little disheartening, I must say! Through the years, Jimmi and I have remained the best of friends working on various projects and performing many shows together. Drummer Jimmy Wells is also an old friend. His drumming is very high-energy with lots of technical expertise.
The song "Find Your Way Home" is dedicated to Carl Albert. Carl was lead vocalist for Vicious Rumors from 1986 to 1995. He was the most talented singer I ever knew. A natural talent with a 5 octave range and tons of power. In most European metal magazine readers polls, he would get in the top 5 out of a hundred vocalists -- beating out Robert Plant, Ian Gillan, Dio, Geoff Tate, Bruce Dickinson, Ozzy and countless others. He was a master at doing impressions. Actors, cartoon characters, you name it. He was a comic genius and had just begun getting tons of voice-over jobs before he was tragically killed in a car accident in April 1995. He is forever missed by me and thousands of music lovers worldwide. "Find Your Way Home" is my song for Carl.
"I plan to have drummer Scott McKenzie (Luvplanet, ex-Starcastle) playing on the songs "Gem", "Girl" and "Hear It Calling". Bassist Tommy Sisco (Luvplanet, ex-Vicious Rumors) will appear on the songs "Voodoo Doll", "Girl", "The Awakening" and "Gem". Scott, Tommy and I are now playing together in our dream band, Luvplanet. We've always had a desire to be in a band where the music has no restrictions, lots of vocals, and a pop element -- without internal drama, fighting or B.S. We've found that in Luvplanet. Scotty and I played together back in the mid-eighties with a new incarnation of 70's prog-rock legends Starcastle, featuring founding member and bassist Gary Strater. I remember the first night that Scott and I met was when we played a show together. He was in Starcastle, and I was in Now. From the minute we met, we were inseparable. It was like we were old friends who hadn't seen each other in years and were suddenly reunited. We've always had an almost telepathic chemistry. It's like we both always know what the other is going to play or say. Truly a once in a lifetime musical friendship. I met Tommy Sisco through Carl Albert. Vicious Rumors was in need of a bass player, and Carl recommended Tommy who he played with in their old band called Villain. Tommy is a sweetheart, a very gracious, considerate person. He has an untamed fire when playing bass and a tone in his hands that is very signature. He and Scott are yet another winning combination in a rhythm section. All the right ingredients to make magical music.
"Bassist Tommy Miller (Gregg Allman) will appear on the songs "You Don't Know", "If I Were You" and "Everything I Needed". Tommy's feel and tone are smooth and melodic and are a perfect fit for these songs. He has a seasoned feel to his playing that you can only get from having played for many years. Keyboardist Tommy Thompson (Alameda All Stars) will be playing Hammond organ throughout the cd, and drummer Preston Thrall (Alameda All Stars) will play on the songs "You Don't Know" and "If I Were You".
"Those are my plans, but of course you never know what the final choices will be until you're in the studio hearing your songs played by various musicians. "Gem" expands on my love for diversity, combining heavy, bluesy, acoustic, pop and progressive styles to create a colorful and deeply moving cd. It's a challenging and exciting process to say the least, but I have faith that whoever ends up playing on what, it'll be very special for me and everyone involved!