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A Dirty Dozen with MARK GUS SCOTT – June 2020


According to a recent press release: “After the success of his vocal debut, “With You”, Mark Gus Scott kicks down the door to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Trixter’s biggest #1 MTV Hit!  “Give It To Me Good” re-releases on Thursday, May 14th but this time, Mark takes it one step further. “I remember the first time I heard the guitar riff and all of the energy of the song came rushing through me. I couldn’t control myself!” exclaims Mark. That song went on to be a #1 Hit for Eight Weeks Straight… “Now that’s a party!” The new rendition of “Give It To Me Good” is electrifying and groovy, exhibiting a new sound that Mark calls “Power Country”, a mix of hard rock and country music. Co-Produced by Mr. Scott’s musical ally Lou Piccadaci, the song’s sound production is sonically stellar and takes the listener on a musical journey from country six-string acoustic to a rockin’ powerhouse hoedown that won’t let you quit stomping your feet. Signature melodies can be heard behind Mark’s powerful lead vocal and pulverizing drumbeat to which millions have danced to around the world.  Mr. Piccadaci defines his value not only as an engineer, but with his superior guitar performance throughout the track.” We get Mark himself to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

With the remake of “Give It To Me Good!”, we used a lot of tracks in the recording process. Listening to the intricacy of the backing vocals, auxiliary percussion, piano, multiple guitar tracks and some crazy lead vocal zaniness!  There’s a lot going on. I always recommend listening with headphones so you can hear the panning between the two speakers and hear the placement of the instrumentation. Sonically speaking, I really like the way the song came out. You really get the opportunity to appreciate it particularly with a good set of headphones. One thing is for sure though, I did not want to copy the original. If anything, I wanted a fresh take on it and present the opportunity of exposing it to a new market of people that have never heard the song before. I love it and it really gets your blood pumping and your feet stomping!

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

The earliest recollection I have is my mother playing piano and attempting to inspire me to play myself. From time to time she would take out her old LPs and show me what she listened to as a kid. The first record she gave me was Elvis’s Golden Hits and “Hound Dog” started me off! Then, there was the Grease Soundtrack and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, the first LP my father bought for me. Soon thereafter, I learned about KISS and bought my first LP, the Gene Simmon solo album! From there, the field was wide open but certainly a strong direction with rock and roll.  I was a sheltered kid attending private school, playing piano, eventually taking up trumpet, making the transition to public school and playing with the middle school and high school band. The only thing I knew about rock and roll was the Grease Soundtrack. It wasn’t until I was 12 years old and I heard my first KISS song, “Calling Dr. Love”. It awakened me to something so amazing. I came to the realization that there is so much more in this world than what I was being exposed to. It truly set the course for a new stage of life. As an infant, I was adopted into a family that nurtured music. I was very, very fortunate. I expressed an interest in playing drums at a very early age.  Around eight years old, my mother told me that if I wanted to learn drums or anything in music for that matter, I have to start on piano. She was right in the sense that in learning music, piano offers an amazing foundation for visually seeing all the notes right in front of you and understanding music as a whole. However, when you are eight years old, that is not exactly the thing you want to hear when you want to beat the crap out of a drum. Nevertheless, I did what mom told me and did not really start playing drums until about 12 years old. I took lessons from a variety of teachers including jazz great Sal LaRocca and the great A.J. Pero of Twisted Sister. It was truly valuable to gain insight from different worlds of music to incorporate into my playing. Concentration on wrist development and musical playing from different genres certainly help build some primary chops that I incorporated into my regular style of playing. I was exposed to a wide spectrum of music and drew influence from many unlikely places. I had many drumming heroes like Alex Van Halen, Robert Sweet of Stryper, Jason Bonham, Tommy Lee, Simon Phillips, Billy Cobham, Tico Torres of Bon Jovi and so many others. But it was also people like David Lee Roth, Angus Young, Gene Simmons, Evel Knievel, Burt Reynolds and the Six Million Dollar Man that also helped me develop a unique style. It wasn’t just drummers. It was people with certain attitudes and passion that ultimately helped me create my style.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

There are a few epic moments in my life that I can pinpoint that truly set me on a course. The first time I heard “Calling Dr. Love” from Kiss Alive II was an amazing wake up call. I really did not hear modern rock until that moment. (Well, it was modern in 1977 when I first heard it). The guitar riff, the cowbell and the skull splitting sound of the snare drum made me crazy! Just hearing it and seeing the pictures in the album cover was a huge awakening and became something that really had a very big impact on me. Attending my first rock concert was also a religious experience. Foreigner 4 live at the Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. When I heard the bass drum turn the walls into jello and the snare drum ripping louder then everything else on stage, it was very clear to me that this is what I wanted to do in life. It’s very interesting, I believe many people struggle with the idea of choosing a path in life, choosing a career or having a goal. At age 12 it was very clear to me what direction I wanted to go in and I developed a focus on obtaining that goal with the guys in Trixter.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Kiss, Van Halen, AC-DC, Travis Tritt and Elvis!

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

I would probably have to say Elton John. The biggest thing that I find most amazing about him is his ability to take lyrics on a page and create some of the most amazing music and melody lines for it. Again, again and again!!!!  I believe he truly possesses some unique insight on how to make that happen and I would love some of that magic. Another person who falls into that category is Phil Collins. I believe he is the king of simplistic excellence. How the hell does one person write that many hits?

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Hmmmm.  I think that is a tough question to answer because I have such a wide range of music that I have recorded. Classical, movie soundtrack, Rock, country, Christmas music, ballads. One thing is for sure, I’m starting to develop a direction of something I call power country. It is a combination of hard rock and country. It’s kind of like taking country music and giving it a kick in the ass! It’s more of a southwestern flavor as opposed to Georgia or the Carolinas. It’s funny how you can say a place and get an idea what the music may be like. Nevertheless, it is somewhat unique and it certainly has a hard-rock edge. I see more and more country acts today that are playing heavy metal songs in their set. Toby Keith plays “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent, Eric Church plays Iron Maiden songs before he goes on. The Zac Brown Band plays “Enter Sandman” live from Metallica and Brad Paisley plays “Hot for Teacher” from Van Halen. It’s crazy! These guys all want to be rockstars, not country stars. The main thing is that the crowd is eating it up! They love it! I truly believe that there is a common thread between rock and rollers and new country artists. I would like to explore that commonality between the genres and kick it into overdrive. With Trixter, we were always referred to as a hair band. I guess it is somewhat inescapable. we were around during a time that there were many bands that fit the classification. I guess a part of me doesn’t care but our music certainly reflects more than the average hair band.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Ha!!  With Trixter, all the guys play acoustic guitars and Lord knows I’ve tried to pick one up and follow along. But I must admit, I am the worst guitar player in rock and roll. So yeah, I was most likely the guy that’s getting the drinks and ordering pizza. I used to own a restaurant and catering and have some fun with that. These days, living in Arizona, I’m part of a group of five guys (commonly referred to as “The V”) and we ride motorcycles and party every weekend. Aside from myself there is Wild Mick Brown (drummer of Dokken / Ted Nugent), his manager Cabo Dom, Drop Diezel singer Bobby Sisk and computer genius Michael McAndrews.  We all take turns as to whose home we barbecue and swim at. So depending on whose home we are at, the host typically is responsible for providing libations and sustenance in great quantities and a good sound system is mandatory. Cabo Dom has a full stage set-up at his place and we all tend to jam and go FaceBook Live!

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

More recently I did a show with Mickey Thomas. The work he did with Jefferson Starship is nothing short of absolutely classic. He is truly one of my favorite singers. I certainly got giddy when my agent said we were doing a show with him in Kansas. When I got to the show and went backstage, I saw his door was open and I could hear him talking to someone. I leaned into the door to see him there and he said, “Come on in!’  I was blown away. He was the nicest guy! It’s always something special to meet a classic performer, particularly one that is so talented. Super cool!!

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Well, one thing is for sure, aside from doing the one thing in life that makes it so worth living, music has also offered me opportunities to work with charities. I love working with Hope 4 Kids International. Since 1973, they have been providing aid for children all around the world that have been afflicted in so many ways. They dig wells around the world to bring fresh water to poor villages. They find families for children with lost their parents. They gather sponsors from around the world to support children in need… And 90% of the donations go to the cause. Truly amazing! The staff at Hope 4 Kids aren’t just office workers. They all support kids and sponsor them. They all take the trips to places like you Uganda, Mexico and the Philippines to meet these children and work with them face-to-face. A true investment in the cause. It is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever been privileged to be involved with. What an amazing feeling to help a child in need and truly make the world a better place. I am truly honored to be their spokesperson.  Yeah, I wouldn’t have a problem working with them full-time if I had to.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Just last year, I recorded a song called, “With You…” that inspired me to sing lead for the very first time.  I wrote the song purely because I couldn’t help but to write it and tell this one special woman how deeply I felt for her.  Sometimes, there are songs that hold special meaning and different meanings to different people. This song is pretty straightforward, no hidden meaning.  I wrote it for someone who came out of nowhere that totally captured my heart. I could not even believe that after so many years of unhappiness in a bad marriage and crappy relationships that someone like this even existed. That this person was able to bring out feelings in me that I never thought I would experience. To instill so much hope, only to have it ripped away. A profound sadness so deep, that years later, tears still fall. But yet still, there is hope… It is that kind of feeling that inspired me to reach down deep and write. I wrote this song for one person to hear and understand how I felt about them. Amazing to see how love can be so beautiful, have such a positive effect on people that ultimately, can make the world a better place. But at the same time, can produce so much evil, jealousy, negativity and bring out the very worst in others. I wanted everyone to know that I truly loved her with everything I’ve got. Sooooo, when the song came out, I just wanted every interviewer to ask me, “Who’s the song about?” or “What inspired you to write that song?” Now, I just tell them it’s someone that doesn’t matter anymore.  And now, I hate answering the question.  Haaaaaaaaa!!!!!

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

It’s very interesting; we (Trixter) just got to Europe for the first time only a few years ago. After all of our success around the world, we never made it to Europe. Does that make any sense? Not to me. But here’s what happened, (this is the kind of story that most people never hear about). When we got our first record contract with MCA Records, they had a long-standing contract with a distribution company called MCA Distribution. Pretty creative, right? Nevertheless, once our record was complete and went to get foreign distribution from America, MCA Distribution was going to lose their contract with MCA Records. A new Distribution Company was going to take over called Uni. MCA distribution said, “Why should we push this record if we’re going to lose the contract 6 months from now?” Uni Distribution was not able to effectively handle our product as we were already in motion and they were behind the ball. Yes, we did not get any distribution in Europe at all. We even had some good press but we had no product in the stores. Without product in the stores, it is also hard to tour a particular region. It was a very big mistake in our career that we could not make up for, at least at that time. I would like to make good on it now though. We should be touring extensively in Europe and Japan as well.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Great question!  Kiss Alive II was always a very special album to me. It’s the one that really started me off.  So I must tell you, when we toured with Kiss in 1992, I had the amazing and rare opportunity to sit with the great producer/engineer Eddie Kramer in a remote recording truck and watch the recording of Kiss Alive 3!  A total dream-come-true!

BONUS QUESTION – Due to the current world situation with COVID-19 / quarantine / shelter in place, what have you discovered you miss the most from your life before the pandemic struck?

LIVE PERFORMANCES!  Let’s face it, that’s the real reason we got into this racket. Without that, then what’s the point?  America, it’s time to wake up, take off the masks, eradicate social-distancing, get some sunshine, have a drink and let’s party!!  The people that end up becoming the biggest losers are the fans and it sucks for all of us. To the person reading this right now I say, “Thank YOU!”  I would be nothing without YOU!  The Fan!  The individual that waits in line, that buys the CD.  When Mom and Dad tell you to keep it down, you turn it up!  It’s YOU – That pays too much for parking at the show.  That buys the tickets and waits for the show to start.  And when the lights go down and the band takes the stage, it’s YOU that can be heard screaming your head off… because you love it.  And Damn It… I love it too!  I Love You!  More than anything I do…  I love to play for you!!! And you know what, I just don’t feel like stopping yet.  Let’s get Live Music Back In Action! Thank you for listening!!!





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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