Interview with Mark Gardener

Ray Dickaty, left; Mark Gardener, right - Photo Credit: Pawel Jozwiak

Ray Dickaty, left; Mark Gardener, right – Photo Credit: Pawel Jozwiak

During the past year, youve been involved in the Pure Phase Ensemble music project which is overseen by Ray Dickaty and includes some top talent from Poland.  You are part of the 4th iteration of the project, where each year a new co-director is invited to lead an ensemble of artists.  Who contacted you to join Pure Phase Ensemble 4? 

Anna Szynwelska of CSW Łaźnia and Karol Schwarz of Nasiono Records.

The goal of Pure Phase Ensemble is to create music to perform live at the SpaceFest! Music festival that is held each year in Gdansk, Poland, and that live performance is recorded and made available for purchase.  The SpaceFest! you took part in occurred in the first week of December of 2014, soon after the announcement of the Ride reunion.  It must have been a really hectic time for you.  What was it like to jump from Ride-related music press and fan flurry to the whirlwind workshops at SpaceFest!?

It was a hectic time, but it was an exciting time for me. There was lots of press and work to be done with Ride, so it was really nice to take a week out far away from all of this and concentrate on creating new music with new people.

Was there any time for you to prepare material before you arrived in Poland and joined Pure Phase Ensemble 4?  Or is it frowned upon to bring in any previously thought-out compositions?

I came to Poland with nothing. The whole point for me was to react and write, keep it fresh and spontaneous, and make it all about that week in Gdansk and working with those musicians.

What was it like to work with the 6 other musicians to create your resulting 7 songs? 

It was a great week!  I really enjoyed the warmth of the studio and working with those guys as it was so cold outside! The atmosphere was fun and that was important for me, because what’s the point of making music with people if it’s not a fun and relaxed process?

Who had the final say for if a song was done and passed muster? 

Ray and I kind of directed the process, but it was more about getting everybody enjoying the week and we all kind of knew when the songs were finished. We knew we had an hour to play so it was just about making that hour into an interesting musical journey for us and then hopefully for the audience.

How did the lyrics-writing go?  Usually in a band theres a main songwriter, so Im thinking that maybe you, or Ray, were guiding the lyrics-writing process.

I wrote the lyrics as the songs were formed in the mornings, but even towards the end of the week, we kept the compositions pretty loose and not too set in stone.

Was there any time for sight-seeing or enjoying the nightlife (and/or daylife) during the song-crafting production?

We went out on a few evenings into Gdansk, which was cold, but great, and a few late night drinks at one of the bars as that was also a good time to get to know the boys and take that back into the rehearsal room the next day.  All work and no play doesn’t make for good music!!

What was the experience like for you performing all these new songs on stage at SpaceFest!?

I loved the night of the festival and the show. It was a great night.

From what I understand, you actually performed at SpaceFest! before as a solo artist, in 2012 to be exact.  What was the vibe like back then compared to the Pure Phase Ensemble experience?

It was very different as playing solo acoustic is completely different to playing with a band. I like the differences, but it’s easier and more fun for me to play with a band. I did not understand the whole workshop approach of SpaceFest! at first, but as soon as I understood it and met the people, I then thought I would love to be a part of that in later years.

Ride headlined the OFF Festival in Poland on August 8th, the same day that the Live At SpaceFest! album was released.  How was the show?

OFF Festival is a fantastic festival. I was very happy and proud to headline this festival with Ride. I hope we can come back and play it again one day.

It looks like youre booked solid through the end of November with Ride European, US, and UK tours.  What are your anticipation and expectation levels for the upcoming globe-trotting and stage-performing?  Are you prepared for the travel and changeable destinations? 

I’m as prepared as I’ll ever be! I’m prepared for the show tonight anyway! I never have big expectations about anything as this always leads to disappointment. Tonight we play Flow festival in Helsinki. The festivals and our own shows have been amazing for me. Ride has a special voodoo and I’m loving feeling that feeling again with the boys.

Are there any plans for a future Ride album or is that something to address when you return from touring? 

We’ll address that when we return from touring.  Bands and plans never work out, so I’m enjoying living and being in the moment right now and taking in all these festivals we’re playing around the world.