When it comes to ambition, Boston musician Mark Lind has it. The passion this guy has for music runs through his veins. Just in his late teens when he started the Ducky Boys after the adolescent love affair we all had when Rancid and Green Day broke out on the scene. The Boys had developed popularity with the help of Ken Casey and Dropkick Murphys.
Lind has also released music with his brother Rob, of Blood For Blood. A Victory Records release for Sinners and Saints, The Sky is Falling was a different direction from the street punk style the Ducky Boys had performed. After disbanding, Lind formed Dirty Water, another band that would bring back the rawness of Boston street rock.
Mark is a machine of never-ending lyrical spewing. He proved this when the Ducky Boys rejoined and released Three Chords and the Truth then The War Back Home. Not long after, leftover songs were recorded as a solo album and EP, Death or Jail and Compulsive Fuck Up, respectively. After gigging the material and playing with Jay Messina (Ducky Boys) and Jeff Morris and Mike Savitkas (The Bruisers), the foursome took it to the next level, playing out and recording two full-length albums as Mark Lind and the Unloved, The Truth Can Be Brutal and Homeward Bound.
Presently, the Ducky Boys are back with a new album, Chasing the Ghost—the first in six years. It was released not long into the new year. A few short months later, in May, the band released Chemicals, a 4-track digital download on Bandcamp.
This past summer the Ducky Boys held a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to release another album. Lind and Doug Sullivan (Ducky Boys) created State Line records, to provide a platform for other artists to get their music out in a grassroots, not-for-profit manner. The newest DB album will also be released through their latest endeavor. Fortunately, the funds needed were acquired and a new album and new releases from other bands are officially a go.
Lind continues to be active in the social media platforms to let the fans and donors know the status as the process unfolds.
Since I’ve been overwhelmingly busy with owning a business, promoting a book and starting my own media distribution business, I’m finally getting around to posting this interview, which Mark and I did last year, so keep in mind some of the timing or events have passed. Away we go!
LD: Recently, the Ducky Boys seemed to have reassembled and just finished recording a new album. How did this come to be?
ML: It was just one of those things that happened. I had studio time booked. We had talked about making a new record a dozen times over the years and it just never happened. And then I shot them an email about the studio time I had booked and the timing happened to be right. We initially just planned to record a 7″ but unexpected events in my life (IE upheavals) tapped a well of creativity that I didn’t know existed. I thought the old oil field had just about run dry when I happened upon another hot spot. That turned the idea of a 7″/EP into a full blown album and the longest album we’ve ever done.
LD: How is this record going to be different from the rest?
ML: We went into the studio to make the best Ducky Boys’ record that we could. We choose to develop and hopefully improve with each album but we’re not gonna suddenly release a reggae album or anything. We know what we do and I think we do it well at this point. Our first four records had a consistent path to them. With “No Gettin Out” we really didn’t know what we were doing from a songwriting or recording perspective so we offered a very simple and basic snapshot of what we were. We improved on “Dark Days” and we managed to harness some sort of youthful energy on that record that resonated with people. That was also the record where our message started to come into focus. “Three Chords and the Truth” comes out swinging with a ton of energy but with improved song structure and melody. Then “The War Back Home” has us toying within the parameters that we built a little bit…. still energetic but also less attack at times. This new record, which we’re calling “Chasing the Ghost”, follows our last album by 5 years. There was also a 5+ year gap between “Dark Days” and “Three Chords and the Truth”. I think people will agree after hearing this that when we come out of hibernation we come out of it hungry. There is also some return to our oldest styles on this record in ways that may not be apparent upon first listen. With the last two albums we took our time and crafted the songs. Some of them followed a very Beatles-esque pop formula that bands like Weezer and Green Day follow. This time out I let the songs lead me to where they were going. There are many songs on this record that have no bridges or key changes or anything like that. They just blast through from start to finish in the ways we did on our first demo and on “No Gettin Out”. I really think there’s something on there for people that have liked any of our previous records. But we’re also acting our age and not trying to be 18 again. You just can’t turn back the clock like that.
LD: You have been posting vlogs via YouTube entitled the “Mother Goose Sessions” where you talk about the origins of your songs. I’ve noticed authors do this for marketing purposes, do you do this for the same reason? Or is it another way to connect with fans on a personal level? Or both?
ML: Well after 25 songs I changed the name of it to War-Storyville” which is both a pun on me having War Stories to tell and a tribute to the US bombs who had a song by that name. I guess that came about in a couple of ways. I did an interview where the person wanted to know what two songs, “On the Outside” and “Nothing At All”, were about. I didn’t really want to answer that question because I thought it might color his perspective of the songs or reveal it to be about something to me that it wasn’t about to me. The more I thought about it after the fact I realized that there was no harm in sharing those stories as long as I was clear that these were the stories that inspired me at the time but that the songs don’t belong to me anymore and people can assign any meaning they see fit for themselves. The other event that came up happened at work. A woman I work with heard about the music I make outside of work and she searched for me on Google and found all this info about me including the music videos for “Everything Falls Apart” and “New Years Day”. She approached me and asked me how I did it because she had no concept of how songwriting is done. I found myself telling her something very similar to what Bruce Springsteen tells the audience on his Storytellers DVD about the song “Devils & Dust”. Just watching the visual queues on her face as I explained it made me realize that a lot of people didn’t have or understand this limited ability that I’ve been given the chance to indulge myself in. So I thought I would revisit that interviewer’s request to explain a couple of the songs. And that’s pretty much the history of that. I do also enjoy the interaction with the people that follow my page on Facebook and YouTube and all of those sites. What used to take 6 months to share with people through the recording process and the release process can now be shared in minutes and you get immediate feedback. And, believe me, that sort of feedback is what keeps people like me doing this crap after all these years. It certainly ain’t for the money.
LD: I know you have been very outspoken before about your appreciation towards Bruce Springsteen. What it is about “the Boss” that you find appealing as a musician?
ML: I had the “Born in the USA” cassette back in 1984 or 1985 and I rediscovered it in 1997 after my brother, Rob, mentioned listening to it the night before while having a few drinks. He really sold me on checking it out again and it was all downhill from there. Bruce’s sound is just in my wheelhouse in some ways. He sings like a dude that doesn’t know how to sing but has to because if he doesn’t then no one else will sing his tunes. And he writes the most simple songs at times but just decorates the hell out of them with the virtuoso musicianship of his band mates. Don’t get me wrong…. some of that stuff is very complex and way over my head but some of it is deceptively simple. I’ve seen him live about a dozen times and the last time I saw him was August 2009. I had pit tickets with my girlfriend at the time. What I mean by pit tickets is that there was an area up front where about 200 people had general admission and we were lucky enough to get tickets for that section. She made a sign that requested the song “I’m Going Down”. Bruce saw her sign and made the crowd part so she could walk up and hand it to him. And she was tiny so I was holding her up and had to carry her through the crowd. He collected a few more signs but then pulled hers out and showed it to the band and the crowd and the place went bananas for her request. Then he launched into it. Since he had told the crowd to move for us we were then right up front. A few songs later Bruce invited Ken Casey out on stage to sing a duet of “American Land” with him. Ken and I made eye contact but I was in complete disbelief. There was a guy I had known for 15 years singing a duet with my musical idol. When I was a kid I would have been jealous and envious but at that moment I just felt like Ken was representing the musical ambitions of every small time rock n’ roller I knew. The whole night was so surreal to me and this just capped it off. Ken walked off stage and I immediately got a text message from him that said something like “as if I wasn’t shitting enough bricks I had to stare at your judging face the whole time”. haha. I really wasn’t judging him. Ken was my hero for those 5 minutes and the whole night was so amazing that I didn’t even put on another Bruce record for almost 2 years. I mean…. what could beat that night? It wasn’t until I recently went through a break up that I reconnected with Bruce’s music on a more personal level. No matter what happens to me in life…. no matter where I go….. no matter what kind of music I’m playing…. I will always have a huge spot in my heart for that guy’s music. He just understands the human condition in ways that he may not even fully be aware of consciously. And I think that’s why people like me and so many millions of more people love what he does.
LD: Can you tell me what has been your biggest “rock star” moment?
ML: I’ve had many moments of great fortune but I guess the biggest rock star moment happened at Suffolk Downs about 12 years ago. Dropkick Murphys were on tour supporting “The Gang’s All Here” and they were co-headlining the second stage along with Shane MacGowan at an Irish Festival. Of course, they would be headlining it now but this was a long way back. They allowed me to tag along and I was out in the crowd walking around and enjoying the sights in the company of one Dicky Barrett of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ fame. This was 1999 when the Bosstones were the undisputed kings of Boston music. I mean… their success spilled over onto Dropkick Murphys which spilled over onto us other local bands so it all circled back to the Bosstones at the time. Anyway, Dicky and I were walking and these two or three kids freaked out and came running over to us. Assuming that they recognized Dicky I just stopped to politely wait while he did his thing. But the hilarious part was that they didn’t even recognize Dicky and they wanted me to sign their tickets. It was very strange and I remember looking over their shoulder seeing Dicky smiling from ear to ear either at them for being kids or me for being like a deer in headlights. After they left we walked the rest of the way to the DKM area and he just gave me shit all the way there. In a good way. Dicky is one of the good guys and I have a lot of love and respect for that dude. But he had himself a good laugh that day and I’m still here to remind him of it. Ha.
LD: Are you reading anything at the moment?
ML: From a Buick 8by Stephen King but I haven’t been doing a ton of reading lately.
LD: So my book, Flour City Blues is about a 17-year old who start his senior year of high school in a new town. He starts a band, crushes on the French girl and basically loads of teenage hijinks occur. What were you like at 17-18?
ML: I remember it like it was yesterday. The age of 17 was exactly half my lifetime ago but it feels like yesterday. I was a dork. I was really into bands like Rancid and Green Day, the Bruisers and the Anti-Heros and I was just starting to think about starting my own band. I remember that “Dookie” was all the rage then and it had a song that said “Seventeen and strung out on confusion” and I remember thinking Green Day were geniuses that could see into the minds of everyone my age.
LD: What’s ahead for Mark Lind?
ML: God only knows. Better days I hope.