Interview with Mark Lind on Sinners & Saints and The Warning Shots (part 2 of 3)

Alrighty, it’s been a short while coming, but this is the second installment (of three) of my interview with Mark Lind of the Warnming Shots, Sinners & Saints, The Ducky Boys, Dirty Water, the Unloved and Ebenezer Blood. This time around, we talk Sinners & Saints (including last year’s reunion show) and The Warning Shots. It’s been a real pleasure corresponding with Mark, who has recently opened an independent record store so, hit that

You can find part 1 of the interview here, where we talked about growing up in Charlestown and the Boston punk and hardcore scene, playing in Dirty Water and Ducky Boys. It’s a great read, so be sure to go on back and check that out too.

Part three will be coming soon (or at least when I get time to transcribe it!), as will an interview with Mark’s older brother, White Trash Rob. Watch this space…

Sinners & Saints

Tony: When and how did you and Rob come up with the idea for Sinners & Saints? What was the main sources of inspiration?

Mark: His band (Blood for Blood) was falling apart, and my band (Ducky Boys) was falling apart. His band didn’t want to tour. I didn’t want to tour, but that was because I didn’t want to tour with one of the guys that was in the band. Um, we all have things we might do over again. But, the other guys in Blood for Blood didn’t want to tour anymore so we (me and Rob) decided to start a band.

Originally, it was going to sound like Livin’ in Exile (Blood for Blood, Victory Records 1999). Gibby from The Trouble was gonna be the singer, James Lynch (at the time) from Ducky Boys was gonna be the guitar player, and um, at the time – God bless James, I love him – he still brings this up once in a while, he got an offer to join the US Bombs, because I believe Johnny Twobags had just been offered the slot with Social Distortion, and we had just come off the road with them, so they had seen James, and James is a rocker, man, he’s like he just has to rock n’roll hard. They offered him a job, and so did Dropkick Murphys, and we are like practising with this band that’s gonna sound like Livin’ in Exile, and he’s talking about how he was gonna stay with us. I said, “dude, go and join the fucking Dropkick Murphys. I’m kicking you out of this band, so you are going to have no choice but to join the Dropkick Murphys. But yeah, he still brings it up once in a while about how he was young and almost made a silly decision, but he’s gone a lot of places. I’m very proud of James.

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But that’s pretty much what started Sinners & Saints. Now, eventually Gibby fell off and James joined Dropkick Murphys (thanks be to God), so it ended being me and Rob and Dustin. We went and kind of changed the sound, because Rob and I, we started singing, which hadn’t been the original intent at all when it first started. We intended to have Gibby do like the Buddha parts, and Rob and I would do the barking back n’ forth. There would be a little bit of recognition of Ducky Boys, a little bit of White Trash Rob, and it would just kind of sound like Blood for Blood. Some Kind of Hate was one of our first songs and Hanging on the Corner was another one.

Tony: Do you feel like it opened up new possibilities in terms of the songs you were writing?

Mark: Um… yeah… in some ways. It pushed us a little bit. Sometimes it went to long, so that when Dirty Water and Three Chords & the Truth came around, so in reaction to that, it went very short.

Tony: How far were you expecting S&S to go at the time? It seems like The Sky Is Falling must have been a big deal at the time. I hear Victory Records had taken an interest but you guys turned them down?

Mark: I don’t know. At the time, we had a lot of people blowing smoke up our asses and telling us we should be on a major label and stuff like that. I don’t know what I really thought… I thought maybe somebody might be interested, but in the meantime I was gonna go work a job. I know I didn’t want to tour again. Maybe that wasn’t fair to Rob, because I think he did want to. But it was just such uncertainty. I dunno where I think it could’ve gone. I think if we’d had the chance to make some good decisions, or we had the chance to make those decisions over again, I think we would’ve landed ourselves a solid career. But I don’t know about it actually going anywhere – I mean, it’s one in a million…

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Tony: The Sky Is Falling was a big album for me when it was released. I still listen to it all the time, and hoped for new material. I was obviously overjoyed to be able to attend the reunion show at the Middle East in May 2015 – something I never thought I’d ever get to see. It was an emotional and life affirming experience for a lot of people as far as I can gather. How was it for you guys to get up there and play those songs after so long and get such an awesome reception from the crowd?

Mark: I can’t believe you came over for that show. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

It was an emotional show, even for me. Specifically because my brother never gets the respect he deserves. He’s always like the bridesmaid and never the bride, y’know? I mean, I’ve played the same role, as far as in Boston anyways. Dropkick Murphys were always bigger, and Ducky Boys were always kind of second tier. And… then Street Dogs were always bigger, and Ducky Boys were kinda second tier. Hahaha and then Darkbuster was really big and Ducky Boys were kinda second tier. And, that’s fine with me, I’ve never stopped playing music, I just keep going.
On the other hand, Rob went away for about ten years

What I really liked about that Sinners & Saints reunion show was not just the fact that we played well and that people enjoyed it – they knew all the words. In fact they knew the words better than I knew some of the words, but um, I told Rob beforehand, um, I had a security guard working Rob at all times. It was a long story, but (laughs) part of it was just for showmanship. But, I’d hired a security guard that would just stand guard of Rob, and then you probably saw him when he came on stage, the guy who wasn’t letting anybody crowd-ride anywhere near Rob. The reality of that is that I didn’t want anybody accidentally kicking the microphone stand and knocking out any more of his teeth. That’s how that happened. It shouldn’t happen to anybody. I mean I’ve dodged a few of those bullets. But, um, we put the security guard on him, and I tuned Rob’s guitar. Then we started playing When We Were Young and Bobby (Bobaloo Belzano, the new guy in Sinners & Saints, who was unbelievably incredible in collaborating on the songs for the Ramallah split. I’m really looking forward to hopefully doing a new album with Bob…), but Bobaloo started playing the intro to When We Were Young and I’m down picking on the bass because it makes the drums feel like they’re going faster… As I said, I’d pre-tuned Rob’s guitar, and I said (to Rob) “you do not walk out on that fucking stage until we are rippin’ that song!” because I just wanted him to have that ‘rock star’ experience. And people went beserk when he walked out on stage, because he’d defied the odds – he should have been dead several times over. He’d defied the odds – he came back, and there he was about to perform again and people were thrilled. The reaction that the crowd gave that night actually made me feel good for Rob.

When we were younger, before Sinners & Saints started, people didn’t actually know we were brothers. They didn’t know until Sinners & Saints. We were very competitive, and y’know, nothing malicious, just sibling rivalry, y’know, it’s good, it makes for better music. But, when I was younger I wouldn’t have wanted to share the spotlight with Rob like that, but I was so happy to do that reunion show, because it made people happy. I’d been out on stage weekly, monthly for about ten years and he wasn’t there, so he deserved to have that moment, and that made me pretty psyched.

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Tony: It was also great that you gave us three new songs on the Back From The Land of Nod split with Ramallah. There was talk a little while back about a new album and more shows… what’s going on in the S&S camp?

Mark: Will there be more? Hmm… maybe. We’ll have to leave it at that…

The Warning Shots

Tony: At the moment, your latest project, The Warning Shots seems to be your main musical focus. As this seems to pretty much be a Ducky Boys line-up, what’s the story of how TWS came to be?

Mark: OK. You’re not wrong about that. There’s a couple of things that happened. So, the Ducky Boys is me and Doug and Jay and Rich… and Doug couldn’t play a couple of shows so he suggested that our friend Nick Repasse (sp?) sit in – and he did – we went down and we played with The Pietasters in Baltimore, we played with the Pietasters again, and the Cro-mags and all these great bands like Patriot, The Antagonisers down in Atlanta. Nick filled in and he did a wonderful job.

There was also a moment when we played the House of Blues (venue in Atlanta, Georgia), and somebody played the bass for Stand By Me (which Ducky Boys covered on Three Chords & The Truth – Tony) and I just did the vocals, and my ability to actually sing is about a million times better when I’m not holding an instrument in my hands! So, we started to get the idea of maybe doing a new band. We knew that Doug didn’t want to play a lot, and I didn’t really want to do the ‘scab’ Ducky Boys – to me, (and things can always change) the Ducky Boys are always me, Doug, Jay and Rich – that’s the way it’s gotta be. I understood what Doug was doing, he was encouraging us to substitute in Nick so we could go out and support the album, and that was very gracious of him. But to me we became a new band. We could leave the Ducky Boys just being pure, and when the time’s right, maybe we’ll do it again. That’s how the Warning Shots started. I didn’t want to play the bass, I wanted to do a free-hand vocal.

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We brought in Julia Two-times to play bass, but she moved to Austin, Texas. So we brought in D-Low, who is a ‘bass player’. That’s no disrespect to Julie, she is too, but, um, I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some of the best bass players in Boston in my career. Rob (laughs) thinks I’m the best bass player in Boston, which is pretty funny, but, I’ve played with John Davidian in Dirty Water – he’s fantastic. I’ve played with Mike Savitkas from Death & Taxes, who played with me in The Unloved – he’s absolutely gifted. And D-Low. They are real bass players. They ‘play’ the bass. They don’t play it for the purposes of anything but the song, and it’s just perfect.

So yeah, the Warning Shots are pretty much the main focus. Jay left the band, actually. So, Jay has two children and he’s married, and he wants to come back eventually… time moves on. We’ve got a new kid playing with us. I don’t know if he’ll come back. Frankly, I don’t want him to come back – not for personal reasons – I’d like him to focus on his family. This is just fuckin’ rock n’roll – his family is more important, and they are going to continue to be more important down the road. We’ve made a lot of great albums together and a lot of great memories, so if Jay didn’t come back, I’d actually applaud him if he didn’t come back. Now we’ve got Luke Mancini playing drums, so it’s really just me and Rich from the Ducky Boys now.

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Tony: It seems to me that TWS picks up where the Ducky Boys left off. Do you have a particular theme in mind when it comes to TWS that differs from stuff you’ve previously done, or do you feel more like you are combining key elements from past projects for TWS sound?

Mark: Actually… I disagree. The Warning Shots to me feel like a cross between Rancid (Life Won’t Wait era) and Appetite for Destruction by Guns n’ Roses – I don’t mean that we are as good as either one of those records, because we certainly aren’t. But, those records are very diverse, and yet, they work great together.

With GnR, you had Duff writing songs like It’s So Easy and Paradise City. You had Slash writing the riff to Sweet Child O’mine and Welcome to the Jungle. You had Izzy Stradlin writing songs like Think About You and Mr Brownstone, and Axl contributing to all of it. There were different captains on that ship – oddly enough, it worked, and it usually doesn’t. Most bands that decide to work collaboratively do it very poorly. The Warning Shots are doing it very well. As long as that lasts, we’re gonna keep doing it that way. It is a very collaborative band. It just throws out the window what Ducky Boys did. Because I’m not writing the songs. It’s not that I’m writing no songs, but I’m not writing all of them.

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Tony: Thus far you’ve released two EPs for TWS, and it’s pretty decent stuff and sounds both quite relevant and as if it could have an enduring appeal. I’d be pretty excited to hear a full length – so any plans for one soon?

Mark: We have I think 22 recorded songs, and I think I initiated about eight of them. But – intiating a song, and finishing it with the Warning Shots are two very, very different things. That band could not be what it is without all five of the members. Nick and Rich write very well. And very different. So it’s been challenging and educating to me. It’s funny to be almost 40 years old and to have somebody push you to that next level, especially where I’m just doing vocals right now. They’ve been great and I really, really enjoy working with them. And that’s no comment on any of the working partnerships with any of the other musicians I’ve worked with – they’ve always been great – it’s just that the Warning Shots have been very different… and very much what I want to be doing right now.

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Tony: What are the main influences on TWS sound and where do you see the influences / style going in the future?

Mark: Rancid and Guns n’ Roses are the main influences to me, but if you ask Rich, or ask Nick, they might say something different. The same with Luke, the same with D-Low. But to me, it’s Guns n’ Roses meets Rancid. That’s what I want it to be. Those are my two favourite bands.

My new favourite band is Off With Their Heads. I’d love to work in some of that, because, the thing is, I stopped writing songs for a long time, because I didn’t think that anybody would want to hear what I have to say anymore. Now, I heard those OWTH albums and I realised that somebody is already telling the world exactly what I want to be telling them, and they might become an influence. Not necessarily something I’d “copy”, but they’ve given me the blessing or the go ahead to talk about the things that are really important to me.

Tony of Nurgle is a true child of the North, currently living in exile in Croydon, South East London. He used to co-run a specialist record store in Manchester (Roadkill Records), and also spent a couple of years as a promoter, and put on shows for the likes of Leatherface, the Loved Ones, Lucero, Minus The Bear, These Arms Are Snakes, Spy vs Spy, Latterman etc. He also spent several years DJing at shady rock clubs in Manchester, and started the infamous Thursday night “punk room” at Jilly’s Rockworld. Also responsible for Middle Finger Response, and collaborated with a couple of friends on a monthly night called Refuse to Lose, which will still occasionally reunite the original DJ line-up – hopefully in the not too distant future.
Apart from that, it’s all bitterness and a jaundiced view of human nature, rarely skateboarding, often reading books with maps in the front.

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