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INTREVIEW WITH MARK KNIGHT
The new solo CD is out soon.
I spent a great night back in August with the guys from Bang Tango Redux at Paladinos out in the valley. I had been in touch with Mark as soon as the two shows were announced and he and the guys made me feel completely at home from the moment I walked through the door. I think initially they were just surprised that someone was coming out from Australia to see the show! I cannot thank Mark enough for his hospitality; he’s a helluva cool guy.
We chatted over the next few hours before show-time just talking Bang Tango and finding out what else the guys had been up to since I last saw them back in the UK in 1992! The whole ‘Joe and Mark’ Redux saga was up an running of course after a couple of interviews on Sleaze Roxx and so it was interesting to hear of the very different takes on the whole thing from the band.
I had a wonderful long chat with Tigg (Ketler - Bang Tango drummer) that night that I will always remember. Tigg has to be one of the most down-to-earth nicest guys you could ever meet and he shared with me some wonderful stories about the old days of Bang Tango, trying to write songs with Andy McCoy, the UK tour I saw them on in 1992, playing with Dio and so much more. His story about visiting Dio’s grave brought a lump to my throat and when he told me about the concern he felt when he heard Joe Leste got ill last year you could see in his eyes he cared like a brother. Stood out by the pool tables the only thing the tape picked up was the support band playing in the next room That would be a great interview to re-do one day!
I also did a brief interview with Michael Demay that night that I will post in full later in the week so that you can get his perspective too. The enduring image I have of Michael and Tigg is of them head-banging to the support band ‘Hour of Trower’ and just enjoying the music!
To start with then, here is the Mark Knight interview I did last week after the shows were over and the dust had settled…
Photo by MarkRockpit
Mark: So how have things been since the Redux show?
Mark Knight: Things have been cool, we I got back in to the Worry Beads and got a few things rolling and a few gigs lined up. As far as Bang Tango Redux goes we’re just feeling out a bit more feedback.
Mark: When I spoke to you at Paladinos, you said that this whole Redux thing was something you all wanted to do, it was about having a bit of fun and getting to play some stuff off ‘Love After Death’ that you didn’t get chance to play first time around. Now that you’ve had a few weeks since that last show, the big question is did you enjoy it?
MK: Yeah, it was cool to revisit the old stuff. I really enjoyed that first Brixton show and the feeling of nostalgia that comes when you do songs that were written 15 or 20 years ago. I thought I wanted to get straight back to my own stuff, but I actually really enjoyed it.
Mark: I suppose you’ve had a break from those songs, it gives you some distance, it’s not like you’ve been playing them every week.
MK: Yeah, we had to relearn those songs, we haven’t played them in years, but once we’d done them we were like that stuff is really cool!!
Mark: What really surprised me was that you played the ‘Cowboy Song’ that was great.
MK: Yes, we used to do that back in the original line up, as an encore song, and we actually did a Thin Lizzy tribute around 1995/6.
Photo by MarkRockpit
Mark: You also told me that night that depending on how things went there may be more to come from Redux. Have you and the guys made any decisions yet as to whether there will be more shows?
MK: We were offered a couple of things, but we need to get a few more guarantees, and a little bit more money to make them worthwhile. We’ve had an offer to go overseas, but we are just negotiating with the other band members what’s worthwhile for us financially to be able to do this.
Mark: You did mention the possibility of a European tour.
MK: Yes, some stuff was thrown to us, but we can’t just spend 3 months across the ocean, we need to make it profitable.
Mark: For sure, it’s not like you are a new band with a new product that you just want exposure for, or that you are kids with no ties that can just up and go off on an adventure! You have to make it financially worthwhile for you all.
MK: Yeah, I mean the Worry Beads is a new band and new product, but we need to get a bit more money to be able to do this. We are still thinking it over, and seeing what our options are.
Mark: It’s good to see that there still is interest out there. The Redux shows pulled a good crowd and there were plenty of kids out in the audience. There’s a whole new generation of fans out there!
MK: Oh I agree that was cool. I’ve been doing the Worry beads band for about 10 years now so it came as a surprise that since we’ve put it all (Bang Tango Redux) back together again, there’s been all this interest. Old fans and press coming back and talking to us; some have been negative about it; without Joe; but we thought: “Hey why not?”, “We’re doing it anyway!” We convinced the fans that it’s pretty cool, the original guys, doing the music right, the way it was recorded and the original guys who played on it, adds some value.
Mark: Yes, I think anyone who saw it couldn’t help feel that way, it was a great night, and I wish I’d been there for the other show at the Brixton.
Photo by MarkRockpit
Mark: Just to bury the hatchet, do you have any final thoughts on Joe’s reaction to the whole thing? I was kind of surprised at first as I thought it seemed pretty clear this was a one off thing, but I can understand where he’s coming from to a degree. The way I see it is that it’s good publicity for you all, at least people are talking about you!
MK: Yeah right! (laughing) I guess we should keep it going as long as we can! Last time I spoke to him, he tried to reach out to me, and give me his number, I didn’t really talk to him, I don’t really have much interest. I would’ve thought he’d come around since he saw the band out there doing it again.
Mark: It would be nice if he came around and just said ‘Hi’, and you called a truce. But I get the feeling you are both pretty strong-willed! I mean you played those reunion shows a few years back, that went down pretty well, and then this whole thing blew up. Tigg was telling me he sat in on ‘Someone Like You’ back in March, when Joe’s Bang Tango was in town.
MK: He never told me that. I only found out after reading your review!
Mark: The take on things from different members of the band does seem to be slightly different. From your point of view you’re saying there were attempts to contact Joe, and he’s saying no one attempted to contact him. But I thought it was odd that there was no mention of his playing with Tigg.
MK: Yeah, when I heard that I was like “What!” In all reality this is what kind of went down and what I told Skid. We tried to get hold of him in 2009 to do a reunion, for the sake of our fans; it was 20 years since the first album. Kyle and Kyle had put up a myspace page, asking the original members back. Joe claims I called him about some Rolling Stone interview he did, well, we might have talked around that time, and that was probably the last time I talked to him. I sent him some e-mails on myspace and said “the fans are nagging us to do this so why don’t we just do this?” So, we tried calling him on his phone, Kyle tried to contact him, and everything we did, his phones were disconnected! It’s not like we’re making this stuff up, because we have no reason to!
Mark: Yes, when I spoke to you, your attitude was so calm; you just seemed to be bemused by the whole thing, like you were surprised at Joe’s reaction.
MK: His response was passive aggressive, he would say two great things about us and three things negative!
Mark: I suppose we could just say that some people’s memories are better than others.
MK: That’s probably where we are at! I’ve got nothing against the guy, I never did, it just let’s get out there and play again! People want to see the original line up, and we’re here ready to do it. He’s right in his interview, what he said, we can’t go out and play for minimal money and tour around for nothing, we have substantial lives, and if we do it as the original line up, it has to be for more money, your guarantees go up, you know?
Mark: Yes, of course; I’m not gonna be paying the same to see Vince Neil as I would Motley Crue. I think, as I said to you before there’s a place for you both, and a one off reunion tour is not going to tread on anyone’s toes as far as I can see. Hell I’d go see both for sure.
Photo by MarkRockpit
MK: Some of the guys in the band didn’t want to do it with a different singer, and I understand that, if it doesn’t feel right. At one point we reneged on doing it completely, it was no loss for me. But the guys said if there’s only one of us who doesn’t want to do it, we can’t let everyone else down. So, I said yeah you’re right, let’s do it! It turns out we got all the original guys to do it after all. We really wanted Joe to do it, do a couple of shows, but I don’t know!!
Mark: We’ll just wait and see what the next line of the saga will be! I made a few calls and I hope that I end up talking to Joe soon, I really hope so, but I’m worried that I might be seen to be in the ‘Redux Camp’ when I post this! I’m not in any camp, I just love the music Bang Tango makes.
MK: It is funny and it’s great that people like you and Skid (from Sleaze Roxx) are so passionate about this music and just want to see us make up and do it again. Skid sent me an e-mail after he’d interviewed Joe and said here’s his number, he really wants to talk to you. And, I know everyone wants to see us do it again, you know, and I don’t want to talk bad about him, but there’s a lot of things about the way he lives his life, and the things that he does, he’s been playing with these pick up bands, for the last 12-15 years, and if you want to go out and make your living doing things like that… I don’t know what he’s paying these guys and when he goes on the interview and says “I can’t afford to pay Mark Knight what he needs to be paid”. First of all it’s my band just as much as it’s his band, I wrote this shit, and he goes out and he’s acting like he’s hiring me to be in my own band! I can’t pay him! What gives him the right to pay me anything, I don’t work for you!! We did this thing together and I wrote 90% of the stuff with him and he’s acting like he can’t afford to pay me to be in my own band! Because he needs to make his money doing it, so that’s the reality of it!
Mark: It sounds like that is the real bone of contention between you.
MK: It’s ridiculous, me and Joe wrote all the music, with the collaboration of the band, as 5 members we put it together, he was right on that, but the fact is he can’t pay me, it’s like come on man, you get these pick-up musicians to go up and butcher the stuff, for 12,15 years. I’d kind of had enough of it, so I put back the band and said let the fans decide who’s doing it the right way! We don’t have the singer to represent Joe Leste, and get captured in the Bang Tango vibe, but at least we went out and did it!
Mark: The good thing about the media these days is that you do get your things out on You Tube, so if someone out there wanted to know what you guys sounded like, they can listen to a couple of songs, and listen to Joe’s band and make there own decisions.
MK: Yeah, leave it up to the fans. A lot of people paid out on us, especially on me, when that first interview came out, and got mad with me, they were saying you could have got hold of him at a gig, you didn’t call him, and all this bullshit! I didn’t go out and plan all this to spite Joe, and say “hey man I’m going to show you how it’s done right!” We just felt like doing it. My priorities are my solo record I have coming out, and my Worry Beads band. I have some world class players that play on my solo record Mat Abts from Gov’t Mule and Toni Marsico. I got two of them just to do a small tour in the South.
Photo by MarkRockpit
Mark: So talking of the Worry Beads then. You formed back in 2003?
MK: Yes Mark Tremalgia, the guitar player, and I put a band called Gravy together, and we basically became the Worry Beads. But I was in a band called Worry Beads, straight after I came out of Bang Tango in 1995, and in 2001, me and Mark got together and formed Gravy, but then went back to Worry Beads. We’ve been at it for years; we’ve played the south and the L.A. area for a long time.
Mark: I heard that before the Redux shows you’d been on a solo tour of the South for a few weeks, how did that go?
MK: Let me tell you about the whole South thing. We got some pretty good airplay out there for the Worry Beads, back about 4 or 5 years ago. So, we started going out there 2 or 3 times a year, and then from there they’d fly me out to do acoustic solo shows, and then me and Mark would go out and do a duet. We built up a following out in Kentucky, Nashville and North Carolina, because that’s more the sound of the band. We continue to go out there, we have a hook up, it’s sort of a money making job for us.
Mark: So, how would you describe the Worry Beads sound to someone who hasn’t heard them? You get obviously, Black Crowes, Government Mule, out of it. I had some friends around the other day, and I played the ‘Iron Spitting Horse’ CD, and when White Cloud came on, people were saying is this 70’s Stones?
MK: I’m a huge Keith Richards fan! He’s like my number one!
Mark: There’s even a tiny bit of Mick Jagger in your voice on that song!
MK: Thank you, I appreciate that! Yes, Bernard Fowler, he’s a background singer for the Stones, he’s the big dreadlocked guy, he actually produced a record for The Worry Beads in 2001, and he taught me how to sing. I like Tom Petty a lot too.
Mark: Yes I definitely get Tom Petty out of there too, just the phrasing of the songs I think. The CD went down very well.
Mark: I was surprised you didn’t sing one of the songs with Redux, one of the older songs, and get Michael on guitar for a while!
Mark: When is your solo album likely to come out? You said it was finished and you were shopping it around a few labels.
MK: Yeah it should be out this fall, it’s done! Matt Abts from Gov’t Mule who plays drums on it, he’s sort of taken it under his wing to like push it to ‘Mule connections’! Warren Hayes’s wife actually has a label, and he’s gonna see what we can get out of it. He committed to doing a tour as of last week! They’re doing really well in the States, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the band.
Mark: Yes, I love Gov’t Mule, I discovered them years ago on a site where people shared Black Crowes live recordings, and everyone raved about them, so I picked up some Government Mule and loved it: since then I’ve bought all the CD’s! I like the whole jam band, southern rock type vibe.
MK: Yeah that’s the sort of fan base we’re trying to build on, that’s the stuff they like in the south. Do you know The Drive by Truckers?
Mark: Yes, I love them, their new CD is great. To me, it sounds as good as anything they’ve done. Anyone who loves that sort of music is definitely going to love the Worry Beads. There’s also a bit of a West Coast vibe going through your songs as well. Like a laid back Eagles!
MK: Yeah, we get that a lot. Wait till you hear my solo stuff! I grew up surfing in Malibu so there’s a big laid back Southern California swing to it.
Mark: Do you get a chance to listen to a lot of music these days? What sort of thing are you listening to?
MK: I’m always listening out for new stuff. I love The Drive By Truckers, The Mule, I love Jason Isbell, the whole Appalachian sound, folk rock, all kinds of things. I also listen to the Stereophonics and Richard Ashcroft, I like him a lot, I like singer/songwriter kinda guys. Drive by Truckers though for me, they just have that kind of hard-working, earthy, pay-your-dues, honest sound and lyrics: Patterson Hood is considered a poet legend out there now!
Mark: I was hoping you’d throw something controversial in there like some disco band or some Death Metal or something!
MK: No, God, no! I wish I could say I did but the only time I hear that is when my daughter is in the car and I’m taking her to school!
Mark: Touching on influences for while, if you’d had the chance to be involved in any sort of musical project or album at any time, in the history of music, what would it have been and why?
MK: Oh, man, it would have to have been ‘Exile on Main Street’ the Stones record.
Mark: It’s still a classic album and they’ve just re released it as well, with all the bonus tracks.
MK: Yeah, it’s one of my all time favourites. I mean there would’ve been an amazing energy there! Just hanging out even as a fly on the wall, and kicking it with those guys. Yeah, that would be the album.
Mark: The final question we ask everyone is ‘What is the meaning of life?’ It’s an easy one!!
MK: What is the meaning of life! Oh man, ha!
MK: The meaning of life would be probably… that’s a tough one! To treat others as you would treat yourself. Try and have good energy with every other human on the planet.
Mark: That’s cool, nice answer. Finally, we should tell everyone where they can keep up to date with what you’re up to.
MK: There’s the Bang Tango Redux myspace, the Worry Beads site and I have a new web site out, that I just launched called music by Mark Knight, just type that in and you’ll get it. Basically it’s got all my music and all the links to everything.
Mark: I really appreciate your time, Mark, and I have no doubt we will catch up with you again sometime in the future. Thank you.
MK: Right on Mark, thanks a lot man, take care.
Thanks to: Mark Knight for taking the time to talk to theRockpit.net; the entire Bang Tango Redux band for a great night out in the valley; and to Mark, Tigg, Michael (and Dean) for looking after me all afternoon! You guys rock.