Interview with Mark Hollis

(Translated From Original Dutch Article)
Music Minded April 1998:
"Because Mark Hollis was the only surviving member of Talk Talk, the name of that group was no longer needed and now he works using his own name. He's back after six years and worked -unknowing/uninfluenced of any trend- on his comeback album, simply entitled Mark Hollis. That cd has to be given much time, but after that it'll surely flourish. It's about a lone ranger who just fits into the popculture and only used two microphones for this cd."

Mark Hollis is a gentle Englishman who doesn't look like a rock artist at all. He really doesn't consider himself a popstar, more a composer of modern day classical music. The fame he built up with albums like 'it's my life' and 'the colour of spring' is something of the old days and he likes to be at home with his wife and children. Almost no rock 'n' roll and not very interesting, you would think. And that's right. But Mark does have something to say about his new record.

The Perfect Balance
Next to Hollis' name in the cd booklet stand 13 other musicians who, except guitar players Dominic Miller (sting) and Robby McIntosh (Paul McCartney), aren't really known. There are at least 8 brass players, so it's definately not a rockband, more an ensemble. With a traditional rockband Hollis wouldn't be able to make the music he hears in his head. Even though there is the precense of Miller and McIntosh there isn't an electric guitar to hear. Even bass and drums are -if they are hearable- just building blocks for the atmosphere and suggestiveness and not instruments of rhythm.

Atmosphere and suggestiveness, those are the keywords, because that is most important to Mark:
"I wanted to make a record where you can't hear when it has been made. Two albums that I really like are 'Sketches Of Spain' and 'Porgy And Bess', records that Miles Davis made with Gil Evans. They used arrangements and a loose manner of playing (their instruments) for a clear atmosphere and suggestiveness. I wanted to create that as well.

I also very much like the character and the realistism of acoustical instruments. Important was also that the atmosphere of the room where the recordings took place had to be hearable on the record. That's why I adjusted the volume of the instruments, so the manner these instruments resonate (echoe/sound) are a part of the total sound. I looked for instruments who could grow above the limitations of a certain style like a clarinet, trumpet and flute.
To let the sound of the room be heard, the producing was in this case to relax the musicians and give them a chance to find their own interpretations.
We only used two microphones. We searched a long time to find the right balance, we placed the musicians on different locations, that's the way the sound and the resonance are built up. Recording in its purest form, really, like in the old days. To me the ultimate ambition is to make music, that doesn't have a use by date, that goes beyond your own time."
A Familyman

What have you done over the last six years?
"I spent much time on the writing and arranging. I've played at home and built the whole record in my head. You can say that I first made a sort manuscript. Then, I reckon, is the actualy time to make the album, when you're ready. At the same time I've got a family, and I love to be at home." Were you tired of the rockbusiness? "I don't consider myself a piece of the rockbussiness. Since 1986, when we stopped touring, I'm not busy in that world" Still Hollis says not to hate the promotional circus of interviews and so on. Probably he says that as an English gentleman, because he doesn't want to pose for a photo. He also told me, later on, when he was in Belgium he did 13 interviews and it drove him mad.

Do you not even follow the rockworld of today?
"No, I don't have a clue, indeed, I don't pay attention to that, I'm listening to classical music from the 20th century or jazz from the 2nd half of the fifties to the end of the sixties."
Doesn't infiltrate, through the kids (10 & 7), the Spice Girls into the Hollis home? "Aah!" Mark says as if he is happy that he apparently knows something, "They don't really follow that, no. The do watch music programmes on TV, but they don't like something in particular". Will you go on tour?
"There won't be any gig, not even at home in the living room. This material isn't suited to play live. And I choose for my family. Maybe that others are capable of doing it, but I can't go on tour and be a good dad at the same time."

The Lamb of God

Tell me about the photo on the cover
"It is the lamb of God, made of bread. On Sicily at easter there is a festival for which the make these breads. I like the way something appears to come out of his head, it makes me think of a fountain of ideas. Also the manner how the eyes are positioned fascinates me. When I saw the picture for the first time I had to laugh, but there's some very tragic about it at the same time."
Thanks to Ros (aka. MissSka) for the interview.