Photo Credit: Danielle Holbert
Breaking up doesn’t always mean relationships of the former romantics. We can break up with friends, jobs, family, and for musicians…bandmates. That was the reality for Mark Fredson and when things ended for The Lonely H, it hit hard. That’s where we begin but as we go from heartache to his new solo venture, we’ll find everything from some pain to Ryan Gosling along the way as Mark Fredson talks about his debut, ‘Going To The Movies.’
Kendra: Your time with The Lonely H lasted a decade. Anyone who does anything for that long has to get stuck in a certain rhythm of things. When the band decided to part ways, did you know you wanted to continue doing music, or did you entertain any other career paths before going solo? You’d been with them since high school and pretty much spent your entire early adulthood alongside them, touring, writing, creating. When you did start your solo venture, did you feel that you not only grew as an artist but as an individual because you no longer had bandmates to help when times got tougher than usual?
Mark Fredson: With the Lonely H, it kinda felt like I had to write in a box. And the longer I stayed in that box, the more I felt a little confined and stuck. I’d bring songs to the boys towards the end that were a little on the poppier side. Once we split up, I knew I wanted to continue with music, but I felt a little lost, like the biggest part of me, was missing. Being in that band from such an early age became the number one part of my identity and without it, I was heartbroken. Like the most serious heartbreak of my life. It took a while to recover. But I never entertained any other possible career, the jobs I had were all bill-paying gigs only. Not that I didn’t learn a thing or two from managing a restaurant, but it wasn’t a career to me.
I never stopped writing, but there were times when it slowed to a drip. It’s hard to imagine doing anything else when you’ve been doing it for (now) more than half of my life. It took me three years after the band officially split to play my first full-band show under my name. Took a bad breakup to light a fire under my ass, as these things go. Enough woodshedding had gone on and I felt like I was able to shed any old conceptions about how I was supposed to write or be and just lean into the music I really wanted to make, which is what you hear on ‘Going to the Movies.’
Kendra: Speaking of ‘Going to the Movies,’ I recently chatted with another artist who said he likes to write every song like it’s the end credit scene of a movie. Did you approach this album like that at all, or close to that?
Mark Fredson: I can’t say that the thought crossed my mind. I’d like to think that there’s a place for every song on the record in at least some part of a film, or at least a Subaru commercial.
Kendra: With “To The Moonlight” you mentioned how it’s about being obsessed with the darkness that comes from the aftermath of a breakup. Why do you feel some like to live in misery and pain?
Mark Fredson: I mean it sounds a little cliche, but that’s where a lot of the good stuff comes from. If you’re in pain and are able to put it into words and music successfully, it doesn’t get much more real than that. Being in that state of mind can be really inspiring. I can get a little obsessive about chasing that darkness, and sometimes looking for it/forcing it just to be inspired. But then after you’re in it for too long, a horrible emptiness follows and you can’t write for shit. I’ve been to both places.
Kendra: The video for that gave me big Ryan Gosling in ‘Drive’ vibes. Was that where you were pulling from?
Mark Fredson: Yeah, the director and I went for a cross between ‘Drive’ and ‘Taxi Driver.’ I just wanted to slowly lose my mind on camera, or at least try to. I’m super proud of what we came up with.
Kendra: Your latest single, “R U In It” feels much lighter than the last. Almost like it could have been plucked from the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. Was that song homage to those simpler times?
Mark Fredson: I just started with that horn line and went from there, it was pretty organic. But when it came to the production, I actually was going for a more ’90s R&B thing. But I’ll take ’60s/early ‘70s, too.
Kendra: Speaking of simpler times, they were just a few months ago when we could go to the store without masks and gloves, head to the park, and even watch a movie at our local theater. Keeping in line with your album title, which 2020 movie release do you hope you’ll be able to see in theaters once we’re back to normal?
Mark Fredson: I mean, outside of the live-action remake of ‘Mulan,’ the Tom Hardy movie where he plays Al Capone, aptly titled ‘Capone’ looks like Hardy’s making an Oscar play. I’m rooting for him.
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are. You can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned but can you also share a song that never fails to get you through when the world around you feels like a mess?
Mark Fredson: Been working on finishing album two at home, and I’d tentatively say I’m 90% done with tracking. So that’s exciting. As far as the song goes, I’d say that the new Waxahatchee song, “Lilacs,” has really been doing it for me. The whole record is great, but that song knocks me on my ass. She’s in complete control of her craft, vocal performance, and the instrumentation is just timeless. That and “Pretty Please” by Dua Lipa; pop perfection.