Reetsy's Rogues: The Original Mark Edwards

A satifactory definition of rogue: "Operating outside normal controls."

photo swiped from Princess Records.

I'd say The Original Mark Edwards is an envelope pusher - a rogue.

And when Conan O'Brien says he will "bow" to OME (or anyone else for that matter), that means something, cuz Conan is tall, so his bow is big!

Edwards, the former Domo Sound frontman now spends a fair share of time in his basement in a 6x12 room where he makes some truly amazing music, inspired by the Beatles and Lou Reed, among others. You might have read about him in CityPages. You might have heard him on the local show earlier this month. In addition to his jobby-job, husbanditude, and fatherdom, Edwards makes interesting beat box loops and serves them up on a pop-style plate with harmony and guitar on the side...not traditional, but still tasty!

So first of all, take a listen to OME. You can hear "The Doom Loop" from The Doom Loop album on his website. You can hear even more on his MySpace page.

I have no intention of covering the same ground that Chuck Terhark adequately covered in his In the Mood for Doom piece for CityPages. He covers Edwards' history with the Domo Sound and his progression to his current solo act...something Edwards truly enjoys.

Terhark might have left you with the impression that Edwards is anti-social...or that he has an aversion to crowds. I think it was a joke, but in case you didn't get that, it was not the case, in my experience. I checked out OME's cd release show at the Varsity Theater on February 17 (other acts included Jeremy Messersmith and Ghost in the Water). Edwards' performance featured the rhythm section of duluth's Cloud Cult. It was no doubt OME's show, but I did have a fondness for the cheesemaking Cloud Cult drummer, Dan Greenwood (of course, I'm biased; anyone who know me knows about my fondness for beat makers). Tinderbox folks provided support, merch, and smiles.

Edwards played several tunes with the band including "Cool as Color" with the utilization of "the big drum". OME wrapped up with what was my favorite part of the show...solo performances, one of "Sleepy Memories" (my FAVORITE OME song).
Before and after his performace, Edwards chatted with fans and friends - not at all the hermit one might suppose of a solo act musician who works in his basement. Pleasant, kind, goofy...these are words I would use to describe Edwards.

Before I saw him perform at the Varsity, gerg introduced me to Edwards. After I saw him perform at the Varsity, I ran some questions by Edwards. I wanted to know more about "looping" and more about what lubes his brain. His responses were articulate and revealing.

Me: When/how did you discover looping?
OME: I think I first recognized the potential of looping early in my life when I was listening to 'Tomorrow Never Knows' by the Beatles (which we also heard at the OME show). The drum loop is infectious. I'm sure there were people doing more experimental things even then, but they put it together with their great pop sensibilities. When I started doing looping shows, I knew I needed to create a cover of that tune.

As far as my own style of looping---I was in a full band and when we broke up, I thought to myself that it would be cool to look around and see if there were any guitar pedals that would allow for looping. This was in 2001, before several of the modern boss loopers were available etc. So, the choices were more limited. I decided on getting a 'Boomerang' and set out to start doing a fully looped show. At that point, I hadn't heard of Joseph Arthur or Andrew Bird or anyone else doing similar things. I wanted to create a looped show that still focused on the songwriting and less on the gadgetry. It grew from there where I eventually set up to have guitars, vocals, and various toys sent through the looper. I beatbox to create drums...use other aux percussion (tamborines, shakers, etc) and loop a crazy amount of harmonies on top. It took awhile to work out all of the kinks due to feedback, poor sound quality (b/c all of the channels were eventually boiled down to one channel into the looper), etc. but I was eventually able to work out most things.

You mentioned the Beatles; if you could perform with anyone, who would it be (living or dead)?
OME: Ooh, tough question. There are a bunch of them ... here are today's top 5. (Most of these artists I can hardly even listen to now b/c I've worn out their welcome by overplaying them for years...)

Brian Wilson
John Lennon
Johnny Cash
David Bowie

Me: So when you're looping...why do you set up and sit on the floor?
OME: Mostly out of convenience, I guess! I haven't really thought about it much before. When I'm looping, I need the pedals on the floor so I can use my feet to start/stop the taping. Sometimes, though, I ditch the guitars early in the song and then sit on the floor to create the rest of the noises via knob-turning and various vocal ideas. So, I sit close to all of the knobs out of necessity. If I have video work being done, they can focus in on me as I sit on the floor. But, in the smaller clubs, it probably seems like I disappear a little ... maybe not the best way to put on a show, but hopefully the sounds being made can capture the attention more than watching me!

Editor's note: For the record, I liked watching OME. And I think his posture on the floor ingratiated somehow I developed a little love for the man crawling around on the floor twisting knobs and singing.

Me: What is your favorite strange sound? - for instance, I love the sound of jet engines starting before takeoff.
OME: Oh - I have many. It depends on the day. I love the natural rhythm created by machinery, for instance. I've used beats from some obscure the sound of a video tape ejecting from a VCR. There is hardly a sound I wouldn't want to use in some way, to be honest. Maybe the sound of chewing...that one I don't like!

Are there any performers/benders/shops/gadgets you'd recommend to my readers?
OME: I would recommend Beatrix*Jar. They are very innovative with their circuit bending. I'd also recommend picking up ANY gadget that makes noise (electric or not, bent or not) and store it away for a tracking day or for use on stage. As many sound artists do, I've used just about everything sitting around my house or studio just to see if it creates a usable sound. You never know!

The coolest sound gadget I've seen in a long time is not on the market. It has been developed by scientists. It's called the 'Reactable' ... I'd love to get my hands on one of these! Here is is!

Editor's note: Isn't that thing WIKKED COOL!?!?!

Me: I'm relatively new the the circuit bending underworld. I've heard Beatrix*Jar on MySpace, but that's it. I see they've got some upcoming shows in March, so I'll check them out fo sho!
If you want to kill 2 should check out beatrix*jar with OME at the Nomad on March 22nd! they open, we're second and Ice Palace headlines....
Me: The March 22 show is on my calendar.

Me: Are you willing to help me steal that reactable?
OME: seriously!! i'm in. develop a plan and get back to me :)
me: Sweet. We can borrow gerg's motorcycle for a speedy getaway. I also think zip lines will be in order
OME: zip lines, even if unnecessary, are too fun to leave out of the plan. i agree...bring 'em along.

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