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Five Questions with Mark Scudder

Fans of THE RIGHT HOOK are very familiar with conservative singer/songwriter Mark Scudder. He’s joined the show as both a commentator and an artist, plus we debuted his single “Her God” which drops this Thursday on March 26th.

Since “Her God” debuted on The Right Hook, how has the feedback
been towards it?

There’s been very little feedback, actually. We’re fighting for every mention we get. I’m a back-end guy, I’m a technical guy. I don’t know much about marketing. I’m also putting fairly cerebral stuff out, and it doesn’t go viral like funny videos or pictures of cats. I have limited capital due to the economy up here and that also doesn’t help. We do not live in a meritocracy, a lot of times there’s so much lowest-common-denominator stuff going around that people don’t have the time to get into anything more complex.

Where did the idea for the song come about?
My songs are autobiographical. I was raised Catholic. The generation that raised my generation were essentially told that their own souls were on the line if they didn’t raise their children Catholic, and it affected the way the faith was presented to us. It was urgent, it was one-sided, and we felt like we were following orders without having a relationship with God or with the faith. Now, I don’t know if it was just because I was conservative all my life, but I was sort of disgusted by how my generation reacted to this. It was a sort of “trendy” rejection of the faith, as you’d reject anything your parents wanted you to do. I thought this was a bit more important than something you just throw under the bus to impress your friends, and as the years went on, I put my effort in trying to have a relationship with God instead of doing God-related things to have a relationship with another human being.

What would you like listeners to get from in?
I want to provide a voice for people who struggle with this, who are surrounded by people who are at extremes. Maybe they feel like they’re the only one who isn’t either blindly devoted or acting out a vulgar rejection to impress their friends or because they misunderstand the concept of God. I want people to think it’s a beautiful song, I want it to be a song that is rewarding to listen to with a good pair of headphones, which is one of the reasons I try to make my music a little “atmospheric” even when it’s got a traditional guitar/bass/drums/vocal setup.

Who are some of your musical influences?
My parents listened to country superstars growing up – Glen Campbell, Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle. My mom also listened to ABBA. I listen to ABBA now and think, you know, I get why people think this is all cheese but at the heart of it there was some great songwriting. I’m definitely not a country artist, but I was influenced at an early age by classic country songwriting. I’m a fan of incredible songwriting and exceptional musicians – Rush, Dream Theater, Devin Townsend; and during the 90s I got into some of the acoustic-based alternative – Live, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Tonic, bands like that. Because of my fascination with technology and synthesizers when I was a kid and in my early teens, I am also a fan of some stuff that could be considered “new age” – Steve Roach, Tangerine Dream, Jean Michel Jarre, among others. I’m a fan of production as well, the way things “sound” when they’re recorded and mixed. Devin Townsend is again a good example of this, he finds a way to make his songs sound huge and punishing and thick, but still very clear. I also love stuff that rewards the listener for multiple listens. I love hearing a song I’ve been listening to for twenty years and hearing something I’ve never heard before.

I am very picky when it comes to music. I can’t tell you that I like one particular genre, and I listen to it all, it’s very much an all-or-nothing thing on a per-artist basis for me. I like Coldplay, but I don’t like Snow Patrol, Travis, or Keane. I like Sigur Ros but not Mogwai. I like Dream Theater but not Symphony X. I like Toad, but not Gin Blossoms. So, like, my iTunes library is so weird. Most people would think there are so many holes where there logically should be other bands. But I think it’s because I’ve found so much good stuff in so many different genres, over so many years, that unless they all do what they do in a specific way that gives me goosebumps, I just don’t have the time or the energy to care.

What comes next after the release of “Her God?”
My intention is to keep releasing single songs in the same sort of cycle that I did with “Her God” – first, involve fans in “sneak previews” as the recording and production is finished and tweaked; then announce a release date and start building social media and web presence and PR; and hopefully be able to create some media around it like the interview videos we did for “Her God,” and then release the track. I don’t have the resources right now to disappear for 18 months and singlehandedly write and record and album, however I do have some songs I would love to get in people’s hands and do the best job producing them that I can, but social media has changed things – if something happened 5 minutes ago it might as well have happened 5 years ago – and I can’t release an album and then ride the wave for a year as I appear on Leno, Letterman, The View, etc. – I’m just not there yet. So it’s important to keep putting out content in a way that keeps people engaged.

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