LoneStation’s Mark Garner Talks With Torched On New Project Fast Radio Burst

Fast Radio Burst is the newest project of musician and music producer,  Mark Garner, who is also one half of Lonestation with Glenn Campling (Tones On Tail). Fast Radio Burst’s debut album ‘Gods And Monsters’ continues in the Lonestation tradition as it pours out dark and expressive flavours, twisting and turning melodies, along with deep bass and unnerving atmospheres.

“Gods and Monsters is a project that once again strives to approach music and sound from a very different perspective – with little attachment to any particular style, genre or cultural placement, the music is allowed to be expressive, dark, light, uptempo, downtempo, hints of ‘others’ sometimes, and sometimes, no definition at all,” Mark explains.

Torched is honored to talk with Mark about his new project Fast Radio Burst.. where he goes into details about the albums production, inspiration, cover art and so much more! ‘Gods And Monsters’ is now available for purchase on bandcamp HERE.

Your new album ‘Gods And Monsters’, from your new project Fast Radio Burst, is yet another experimental and different perspective from you as an artist. Can you go into a few details on your inspiration behind ‘Gods And Monsters’? And also on your creative process? 

With our 3rd album in the bag (Dark Matter, Machine and now Altered State – Lonestation), and sales of the new vinyl release underway, I kind of thought I’d neglected personal work and almost had to make an effort to go into my studio and begin something. It’s not a good sign when it’s an effort but once in the zone – I decided that there was a new album struggling to get out! So, treating it as a conscious project to be completed and culminate into an album– Gods and Monsters came to fruition.

There is never any pre-planning, pre-conception of how the tracks will eventually sound. In fact, the songs evolve over weeks and months with tweaking and amends – mainly to melodies and lyrics. There is an immediate tone/flavour and feel that I get when I’m auditioning loops, samples and live instruments – and when it sounds right – it kind of just builds and expands into what you hear as finished articles. In a similar process to writing with Glenn, I often have a rough idea of a bass line and rythm that I would like to experiment with – or it may be a particular lyric that lends itself to a particular approach. As with Lonestation – I never discount anything, no matter what instrument, musical genre or how anything ‘should’ sound.

Lyrically, I have always, intentionally, written with layers of ambiguity. It’s a private process and meaning that I bring to the songs and I would rather the listener form their own story – I of course offer clues, including the titles, but from there on – your’re on your own!! I get inspired by movies, global events (good and bad), personal experiences and emotions/moods, new music discoveries (old music discoveries!), headlines, a phrase – word or point of view, if that makes sense. There are echoes of tracks I wrote nearly 20 years ago too –  and having never forgotten them, I gave them new life and meaning. Lyrics more often than not enter at the tail end of the process – but occasionally I write around them – establishing a story in my head, a scene/place or actually visualising myself in a situation that either has affected me or I can imagine having an affect on me. Its almost an out of body experience – without sounding too deep or poncey! One can exist in any time, place, with anyone or anything and the music is a record of that – it makes it very real, and surreal.

Glenn Campling and Mark Garner photo by Andrew Brooksbank

What would a typical day in the studio look like for you?

Its usually a typical evening rather than day – as I’m an Asst. Professor of Graphic Design, so the day-job more than occupies my creative soul. However, once in the studio, time has little meaning or inference and I will work on 2 or 3 tracks simultaneously, revisiting each in turn as ideas begin to allocate themselves to the tracks. Some I ditch and welcome back to the world months later, others just begin to have a mind of their own and simply feel right to focus on and give a little extra love! 

What is the most interesting or odd instrument/object that you’ve used to create sounds with? 

I guess in terms of instruments it’s a relatively ‘traditional’ family. It really what you do with them and how you integrate with other musical landscapes and instruments. I have found that brass instruments offer such vibrancy and punch to a track so, although not that odd, it wouldn’t be something when I started that I thought would gradually become the go-to section of the orchestra!

Are there any differences or similarities between LoneStation, your collaboration with Glenn Campling (Tones On Tail) and your new project Fast Radio Burst? 

By its very nature, working collaboratively brings with it a very different dynamic. There is consolidation, exasperation and exhaultation! The process often delivers a quicker ‘turnaround’ in my experience – with the marriage of ideas and direction embedding quite rapidly. Working on solo projects plants that decision making firmly in one’s lap and there is no other way to travel than through your own judgment and perspective. In equal measure, the two processes continue to be fluid, creative and productive in their own way – and result in a distinctive ‘sound’, arrangement and over all ‘feel’ of the tracks. Independently you only have your own experiences, outlook and vision – but as with graphic design, one learns to be proactively critical, in a positive way. 

With graphic design, a meaningful, successful and communicative project is complete when there is nothing left to takeaway……..with music, it’s when there is nothing left to add.

Glenn Campling and Mark Garner

I’m intrigued by ‘Gods And Monsters’ album cover art/photograph.. What is the meaning behind this image? 

Im glad you asked. As a designer, it’s the hardest thing giving a visual voice and identity to the music you have created. But nonetheless, as important as the music itself. To summarise an album, film or book in a single image is most definitely the highest challenge and many do it so brilliantly (Vaughan Oliver, Jonathan Barnbrook, Malcolm Garrett, David Carson, Chriss Bigg, Peter Saville …to name only a few). I did try many options but the image you see just summed up the music, approach, emotions and character of the project – the elements of ambiguity, intrigue, anonymity, unease, discomfort, searching for answers or a way forward/way out, reality and imagination. I want the viewer/listener to be enquiring as to the story, background and what happens next?! (or, what happened before…) The image is by someone called ‘Redd’ who I discovered on the internet, and with a bit of adjustment, it fitted perfectly. 

I cannot honestly remember where the title ‘Gods and Monsters’ came from (definitely not the film of the same name) but once it popped into my head I couldn’t shake it and once again it just fitted and I guess in the most simplest terms it’s related to good and evil? The two things that dominate us all in so many ways.

When and where did it all start for you? Did you grow up in a musical environment?

A short answer to this. I remember hearing ‘Pretty Vacant’ when I was about 11 and after my best friend gave me a cassette of the Sex Pistols – I was hooked. From then it was the predictable journey of school bands, then cover bands, gigging in the Midlands in (mainly) pubs, and after a while (a long while) a more concerted effort and approach with Lonestation.

Who or what are some of your musical/creative inspirations? 

It would be easier to list the music genres I have never been able to latch onto – so northern soul, most rap and most of the rave material. I was into (and still am) punk, goth, glam, metal, rock, grunge, ska, dub, reggae and everything associated with ALL that. (I must admit some mainstream pop too – I think we would all admit to some of that secretly!?)., love chillout/ambient material and indie/shoegaze (hate that term). So, honestly the list is very, very long. Key bands have to be Sex Pistols/PiL, Bauhaus, Cult, Cocteau Twins, Hanoi Rocks/Mike Monroe, Fields of the Nephilim, Massive Attack, Catherine Wheel, Damned, (obv. Love & Rockets +Tones on Tail), Dead Can Dance, Metallica, The Doors, Placebo, Elbow, Urban Voodoo Machine, Muse, Bowie, White Lies, Interpol, Dead Kennedys etc etc……..and breathe!

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