This Goes To 11 is a new column hosted by Mark Dalbeth.
Mark was born in New Zealand and now lives in Los Angeles, and would be better known in Australia as having been part of the band Bellusira.
Following his dreams, Mark moved to LA and has been working on Rav Medic plus an exciting new project he has in the works. As a performer, Mark has been the subject of many interviews and as a result of often being asked the same generic questions himself, has come on board with HEAVY and plans to conduct interviews with an edge.
No bullshit questions, no boring anecdotes and definitely no soft edges, This Goes To 11 is a column where the musician finally gets to turn the tables with hard-hitting questions you won’t hear anywhere else.
This week Mark speaks with Tiana Woods, singer from LA Rock act VARNA.
Mark Dalbeth: Your biggest fear right now with the music industry?
Tiana Woods: Hey Mark!
Since we are conducting this interview in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, it would be obvious for me to say that my biggest fear right now is that we might have to wait a year or more for all of us to rock a stage again! On the flip side, I actually think this is one of the most amazing things to happen to our industry because it has forced people all over the world to appreciate the weight and value of art in drastic times. Due to this virus, I believe that the live touring industry will also experience a boom for years to come. We will also be seeing bills passed in our Congress in regards to fighting for fair songwriter and royalty rights among the various streaming platforms, which I am very passionate about. I am so excited for the future.
Why do you think Rock Music is always the genre fighting for commercial acceptance?
I think Rock music is the genre fighting for commercial acceptance because the biggest festivals in the world are rock based and yet if you look at the commercial charts, we are nowhere to be found. There is a disconnect on what is happening on the ground. We will always be on the outskirts because rock music is founded, played and listened to by the rebels, the outcasts, the misfits–people who won’t conform to society when everyone is trying to fit in and be accepted. We are badasses.
Was there a moment in your career that you thought about throwing it all in?
I would be lying to you if I said no. Everyone has and I don’t care how positive you are, how talented you are or how much you believe in yourself, especially in this day and age. The ongoing joke has always been that ‘musicians never make any money but with streaming being one of the main avenues where people consume music, we literally can’t even pay an electric bill with what you make these days. I have been homeless, spent all my money on recordings, lost bandmates, lost relationships, ran myself into the ground from working so hard, screamed and cried and had nothing to show for it. I also have had 2 consecutive Top 40 Billboard Mainstream Rock singles (“Living A Lie” and “Survival of the Fittest”), won awards, been nominated, toured with major bands, wrote the most amazing songs and had the greatest nights of my life with strangers and made the most amazing friends because of music. When I want something, I don’t give up–to the point of stubbornness. I don’t understand people who don’t go after what they want in life–as far as we know, we only have one shot at this and we never know when we are going to die.
What is your typical writing process?
It happens a bunch of different ways for me. I can either be by myself and an idea will just hit me out of nowhere (usually in a very inconvenient place like sitting in traffic, in the shower or standing in line at the grocery store). I can be having a conversation with someone and a situation will spark an idea. I also just love having a moment in the rehearsal studio where you just start to piece together a song as everyone throws out ideas. If I’m feeling overwhelmed or stale, I usually go out to Sedona, Arizona (in the US) and that helps bring me back to the creative part of myself.
Is there still value in printing CD’s or do you believe the digital world has taken over completely now?
There is still value in the printed vessel! I just read an article where Vinyl has outsold CD’s since the 1980s. People are craving for a tangible experience with their music again. Everything went digital for a while and now people are either nostalgic for the old days of reading along to the lyrics, looking at the artwork…or if you’re super young, experiencing it all for the first time. Humans love to use all their senses when they are having an enjoyable experience, it makes total sense and I am here for it!
Are you prepared to sacrifice money and comfort in order to progress your career?
I think that’s all I’ve ever done in my whole career so far, HAHA! You absolutely have to if you have professional musical goals for yourself. You have to be obsessive and almost to the point where someone else observing your journey would call you ‘delusional’ to get to where you want to be. If you dig hard enough, you will see that it is the blueprint for every successful person that has come before you. You must be willing to do whatever it takes to get to where you need to be. Most people are not willing to do that.
Can you see modern Rock music returning to (commercial) radio in the near future?
Sure. I say that not because I love the genre, but because everything comes around again in cycles.
Was Lars Ulrich right?
When I was 14 and downloading music off of Napster because I could no longer afford to purchase a CD at Tower Records with my lunch money, I thought Lars was being a selfish rockstar prick. Now that I am an adult musician myself, I fucking get it and he was absolutely right! Now, I think his initial approach was totally off base–the record company suing Metallica fans and their grandmas, but I understand why he did it–because he was afraid of the world we are living in right now. People not and/or paying very little money for music and musicians going down with the ship because of it.
Has Rock Music become too safe?
It depends where you are getting your rock music. Thanks to the beauty of the internet, you are able to create music as dangerous and odd as you want it to be and anyone can have access to it around the world. If you are listening to the bands on rock radio, I’m sure a rock fan who has been around for decades would say yes. That’s only because the bands that you hear are being vetted by a system to create maximum results. In my opinion, anytime a rock band or musician can get to the top, it’s a win for us all.
Do you think it’s important to play in multiple projects or solely focus your attention into one?
I have always only been focused on one project at a time. I’m a leader of a band and a business–I have to be. If you are a hired gun in bands that don’t demand a lot of your time or attention, sure, it’s possible to be involved in multiple projects. Would you hire someone at your company that has 4 other jobs? Probably not.
What have you got going on or coming up that we should know about?
Like everyone, we are trying our best to ride the wave of this pandemic while continuing to be creative as possible with what is available to us. We have some new blood in the band and we have plans to record new music this year which we have been writing for. We are going to be doing some live stream Q & A’s, rehearsals and bringing in some new merch to our fanbase. Considering we had the most listeners from Australia last year, I can not wait to rock the stage down under. Silverchair is one of my favorite bands. As always, our music is available on all digital platforms and you can keep up with us at our official website, VARNAROCKS.com
Watch “Survival of the Fittest” below: