Feature interview with Mark Alexander of 3 Quarters Dead, discussing the band’s new album ‘The Cycle of Dust’ that just came out with Turkey Vultures Records, the new videos, excting future plans and why their fans are the best!
The Wilkesboro, North Carolina quintet known as 3 Quarters Dead has worked tirelessly to become a highly respected band in the heavy music scene today. By the time this article hits the RockRevolt™Magazine site, the band’s latest hard rock/metal gem, which is the band’s first for Turkey Vulture Records entitled The Cycle of Dust, will have made its way to all the national music buying outlets and begun its assault on heavy music fans worldwide. With that stellar completed album and new label deal in hand; both appear to be just what the doctor ordered to elevate the band in the current competitive music environment. The sense of heightened enthusiasm and drive are evident in the conversation we had with one of the band’s founding members, guitarist Mark Alexander. Read on and we are confident you will feel the same sense of excitement about the band’s music and future.
Interview with Mark Alexander:
Rick/RR: Mark, it is a pleasure to speak with you.
Mark/3QD: Thanks Rick. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Rick/RR: For those new to the world of 3 Quarters Dead, can you tell us a little of what the band is all about?
Mark/3QD: 3QD is a symbol. It is the soul that keeps going on and on, even after we are dead and gone. Just like music, it’s an endless bond between generations. We just want to leave our mark in people’s hearts. We’ve been going since 1999 and I see no end in sight.
Rick/RR: You recently released your newest effort, The Cycle of Dust. Quite a collection of heavy hitting songs to get excited about and get your rock fists in the air for!
Mark/3QD: Yes, it is album number three. It’s taken some time, but we feel we’ve grown quite well together. It’s always a pleasure to hear people enjoy what you’ve worked hard to create. The Cycle of Dust features 11 new 3QD songs, two songs off a prior album that we spiced up a bit and one older song we had from way back in the day that we completely reworked entitled “Cutting Myself.” Each song stands out and has its own power and all in all it has a real “album” feel to it. We’re all very proud of this one.
Rick/RR: The band has been together in one form or another for a few years now as you stated. Has the song writing or approach changed with the newest effort?
Mark/3QD: This band, as in the current line-up, has been together for a tad over five years (Mark – Guitar, Sam Rhodes – Guitar, Jason Sain – Vocals, Matt Staley – Bass, Kenny Wyatt – Drums). As I said before, we have grown and changed so much since our first album. It’s completely night and day. Instead of trying to write like who we want to be like, we started to find a way to get what was inside of us out. Let’s be honest, everyone starts a band at first to be “like” someone else. It’s all about finding who you are. The five of us have such a clash of styles that we decided to use that to our advantage and it made for something very unique and stylish.
Rick/RR: This new release starts a new venture for the band as it is issued via Turkey Vulture Records. Talk about how your relationship formed with TVR as well as what the partnership will do for the band.
Mark/3QD: Yeah, our relationship with TVR is very new. We are registered on an industry site called musicxray.com. I was scrolling through the submissions page one day and ran across TVR’s page. I actually submitted to them because I thought their name was so out there. (Laughs) Jason Zarnowski got back with me after a few days and well, now here we are. We now have distribution through Universal Music and we’re currently running a national PR campaign through DMI Entertainment. With a team like that in place, we will hopefully be able to get the music out to the masses at a much faster pace than what we could have done by ourselves.
Rick/RR: Your current single from the album “Sometimes” is a killer song that is heavy yet thought provoking; vocally catchy and full of emotional peaks and valleys. This was a great song choice to promote the band and showcase the band’s talents.
Mark/3QD: Thank you Rick, surprisingly enough this was the first song written for the album. We had this done right after we finished recording our second album, Once Upon This Broken Glass. “Sometimes” has a little bit of everything in it. It’s soft and melodic, yet energetic and dirt heavy at its peak.
Rick/RR: Lyrically, the song is also one that I’m sure a lot of people will relate to. It seems to be a very introspective song about self-doubt and the inner turmoil many folks struggle with at some point.
Mark/3QD: If my memory serves me correctly Rick, I remember Jason saying something about this song being about “Finding out you are doing things for the wrong reasons.” How you get confused, sad, and angry. I agree with what you said before; this song is full of emotional peaks and valleys.
Rick/RR: The video you recently completed for the song drives the theme home as well; in fact the treatment for the shot is pretty dramatic like the song. In addition, the band performance and energy adds to the overall vibe as well. Talk about the video and how the band came up with the theme here.
Mark/3QD: Well, the band didn’t really come up with the theme. Jason sat down with Justin Reich of The Antimatter Studios, and discussed some of what he was going through at the time. The band agreed to let Mr. Reich direct everything and use his creative mind and everything turned out great. We filmed the band shots in an old hosiery in Winston-Salem, NC and the story line was filmed inside the Antimatter studio building. Hopefully every video in the future turns out as well as this video.
Rick/RR: Are there plans for additional singles down the road? Another song that demands big attention as an example is “Plaything”, which did get some push before the release.
Mark/3QD: Yes, “Plaything” was actually the first song we pushed before we released the album. I think we played it for every label rep on the East coast. (Laughs) It’s definitely a fan favorite. We’ve tossed around ideas for videos for “Arsenic” and possibly a “fan footage” video for “The Cycle of Dust.” All in good time I suppose.
Rick/RR: Beyond singles; the song “Divinity” is one that stands out from a guitar solo standpoint and another in “Pinebox” from an overall riff and vibe perspective (especially at about the 1:45 mark for that one). Talk about those songs in particular, as well as your guitar influences that find their way into your song-writing overall.
Mark/3QD: “Divinity” is all Sam Rhodes. We have a habit of writing a song that reminds us of an old song we like and just going with it and making it our own. We thought some riffs in “Divinity” sounded kind of like a Queensryche song so that gave us a foundation to go on. The solo is my personal favorite on the album. The first bends of it sound like a pissed off heavenly choir. (Laughs) Sam and our producer Jamie King worked together on it and it came out fantastic! I had a lot to do with “Pinebox.” The solo and the verse riffs are my concoctions. If a riff sounds weird and southern it’s usually mine. I didn’t even have the solo written before we got into the studio. Sam wanted me to do it, so Jamie and I sat down and came up with it. The wah sounds great on it. I’m a huge fan of Ace Frehley (KISS), Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), Jason Beiler (Saigon Kick) and Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains). The list can go on. Sam is influenced by guitarists like Dimebag Darrell (Pantera), Rob Flynn (Machine Head), Peter Wichers (Soilwork), etc.
Rick/RR: On average, how long does it take you to create a song?
Mark/3QD: It depends. Sometimes we come in and we can have one written in a night and sometimes it can take months. Most of the time if we are trying to write something it never comes. It’s usually the times when we are goofing off that we write our best material.
Rick/RR: You make a point in your album credits to first and foremost thank the fans. I think it is pretty cool as many bands thank the fans, but it is at the end and almost feels like an afterthought or an obligation. What does this mean to you as an artist?
Mark/3QD: This band has been around a lot longer than the five years that this line-up has seen. Kenny and myself are the remaining founding members. We’ve definitely had fans come and go, and loyal fans that have been there every step of the way. These people may never know how much it means to us to have their everlasting support. We could never quit making music; they know where we live. (Laughs) Seriously though, it’s a great feeling to hear cheers from a crowd of people you’ve never met before, it’s surely a feeling that will never get old.
Rick/RR: Many bands in the heavy rock and metal scenes record music basically as an excuse to hit the road and play live. Does that feeling resonate with 3QD as well to some level?
Mark/3QD: 3QD would love to hit the road, see new cities, and people. But is that why we record? No… We record because we love to make music. It’s pretty obvious since we have three albums and have yet to do a full tour. (Laughs)
Rick/RR: What are the more extended plans for touring in the near future?
Mark/3QD: I’d say there are none, at least not in the near, near future. The band has other endeavors to pursue for the time being. While we are pushing our newest release, we are busy trying to get a few steps ahead. If we could land a tour package where we would be taken care of and put in front of people every night, I think we would explode. I’m game, just show me the way.
Rick/RR: A big Turkey Vulture Records traveling label festival tour would be epic!
Mark/3QD: Indeed it would Rick. If the people at TVR set it all up, 3QD would be more than happy to go out and make some new friends.
Rick/RR: Do you or the other guys have any fun pre-show rituals or good luck routines that fans would find interesting?
Mark/3QD: The only thing I can think of is the clown doll that we put on Kenny’s bass drum. We have yet to play a show without that doll on his bass drum. He hates it. (Laughs)
Rick/RR: Mark, it has been great. I’ll let you wrap this bad boy up from here. Oh, let’s make sure we let the fans know where to find your tunes!
Mark/3QD: Thanks, so much for having me. I’ll be glad to comeback any time as will the rest of the band. You can find our music on CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody and many others. I’d also like to give a big shout out to Crow and Blackbird Productions for always being there for us and supplying us with all the alcohol we need to succeed. (Laughs) Support ALL live music and for God’s sake buy some band merch…it’s what keeps us going. Thanks everyone!!
~ Rick Lindner, Journalist – RockRevolt™Magazine