The interview with Hudson Falcons frontman Mark Linskey was in the works for a long time due busy schedules. But with the result just in, I definitely think it was worth the wait as much as it is worth your time to read it, especially if you want some background information on how the latest album "Peace Of Mind" came together!
Hi Mark, first of all thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! You just came back from yet another European tour, how did it go? The last time you extensively toured Europe wasn’t that long ago I believe, I think 2012? Does it feel good to back on the European continent again? A lot of your fans seem to reside here.
Hey, thanks for the interview. The European tour went well. We had a real good time. We regretfully didn’t hit too many new places this time out, but we got to see a lot of old friends we hadn’t seen in awhile. Yeah, it’s been a couple of years since we were over. I love being on the road wherever I am, but there is still something special about being overseas. A poor kid from Jersey driving around Europe playing rock ‘n’ roll every night, I have no complaints! It’s especially strange doing some Eastern European shows - being a little older and growing up during the Cold War. I never thought I’d ever be in Poland or Czech Republic let alone playing rock ‘n’ roll there!
The tour is in support of the (European) release of your brand new album “Peace Of Mind”, how has the album been received so far by both fanzines and fans? How does the crowd respond to the new songs?
So far, so good. We generally do 3 or 4 new songs a night. I hate when I go see a band and all they play is the new record, so we mix them in. It’s our 6th full-length, so we try to do some songs off each record. The song “We’ll Fight Back” has been going over real well; a lot of people have requested “Tires Never Leave the Ground,” so it’s a good mix. Most of the reviews have been pretty positive. If someone is expecting an Oi record they’ll be disappointed, but if you’re looking for straight up, honest rock ‘n’ roll, hopefully they’ll dig it.
“Peace of Mind” was recorded thanks to the help of dozens of loyal fans who ‘donated’ through a Kickstarter project to fund the recordings. What did it do to you that you had to ask your fans for money to fund the studio time? Was it something you didn’t had a problem with or was it a cross you had to bear?
I’d rather not do it in this way. If it was something I could afford myself, I obviously wouldn’t have done it in this manner, but there are a lot of people who offered and want to help. Nowadays most DIY and small Indie labels can’t help out with any money for the recording. They are getting killed by illegal downloading and lack of CD sales, and we understand that, but I don’t have the money to foot the bill myself, so we started doing the crowd funding thing. We have done it for a few records now, and it’s gone well. If people can’t or don’t want to help out – that’s completely cool with us. But we really appreciate anything anyone has contributed over the years – be it money to help out with recording, letting us crash at their place after a show, setting up a show, mechanics who have helped us fix our van, or just showed support by coming to a show.
And what did it do to you emotionally when there was enough fund raised by the fans to make the recording of “Peace Of Mind” happen? Does this give you hope for future releases?
Yeah, it’s an amazing feeling to receive that kind of support. We know we’re not just banging our head against the wall for nothing - we're lucky to have such supportive fans and friends. As far as the next Falcons record, I didn’t even start writing it yet, so we’ll figure it out when the time comes. Hopefully the music business will change by then, and a label can help defray costs. But I’m gonna keep writing songs, and if people want to hear the songs, we’ll figure out a way to get it done.
You have been a recording artist with the Hudson Falcons since 1997. What has changed over the years in the ‘music industry’ that bands, because you’re not the only one, have to fund their recording, or even release, through crowdfunding projects?
As I mentioned earlier, CD sales are down dramatically across the board. A lot of people download songs illegally – and there’s really not much a band can do about it. You just hope that some of these folks like it, and come out and support the band in other ways – tell their friends, come down to a show, pick up a shirt, etc. I know a lot of people who will download the CD and then if they like it, come out and buy the physical CD or LP. Bottom line, we’re happy when they music gets out there and people hear it – no matter how is happens. But if the label is not making money on it, they can’t afford to pay for the recording, so bands need to get creative and do what they can to get the music out to people.
Was it therefor a relief that there were labels interested in releasing “Peace Of Mind” and that you could give that part of releasing the record out of your hands? Are you satisfied with the release as a whole?
A few very cool labels offered to release it, and we’re very thankful. We had worked with Claas from Ring of Fire when he did the artwork for our compilation “Sleep, Drive, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Repeat” on I Hate People. A year or so later, he offered to put out something for us if we wanted. He had a great reputation and gave us a nice offer in terms of the release. In the US, I met Mike Voldeck from East Grand Record at a solo acoustic show I did outside of Detroit a few years back, and then again at a Falcons show in Grand Rapids a couple years later, and he said to keep them in mind when we wanted to release a new record. Mike and his brother Mark are real good guys with strong working class roots who had a good plan, so we were happy to work with them. I am very satisfied with how everything came out. There is nothing I would change on it either musically or otherwise.
Despite the change in the music business atmosphere, there is a resurgence in solid labels run by good people. It reminds me of the late 90s/early 2000s when GMM, TKO, Outsider, Cyclone et al were all out there working together and helped the scene flourish. Nowadays besides East Grand and Ring of Fire there is Altercation out of Austin, TX/Kingston, NY; Oi the Boat from Lafayette, IN (which is run by long-time Falcons’ guitarist – Max Campbell); Contra Records from Germany; Last Punk Rocker Records also out of Germany, and a bunch of others I don’t know as much about but have good reputations like Randale, Crowd Control Media, Jailhouse (and of course Chapter Eleven Records in Northern Cal headed by the legend Ian Clark.) I know I’m missing some, but you get the point.
In the past you have worked with both the ‘big’ Oi! and streetpunk labels such as GMM and Knock Out Records as well as the smaller ones like Cosa Nostra and City Rat Records, while “Peace Of Mind” is released in Europe through Ring Of Fire Records and is going to be released in the States by the East Grand Record Company. Is there a big difference between the labels now and then?
The landscape has changed as I put earlier, so what labels can and can’t do has changed. But when all is said and done, we always try to work with good people, and people who believe in what we’re doing. No matter the size of the label, and we’ve always been fortunate to find that regardless of the economic predicament some labels have found themselves. When we were on GMM it was also the height of the “street punk” scene. When we were on Street Anthem and I Hate People the scene was at some of its lower points which hurt both of those labels a lot – especially with distribution companies collapsing. Hopefully everything is on an upswing again as far as a few labels putting out music and a lot of bands touring. So despite the problems with the music business everyone will continue to work together for the scene and music community to flourish again. We’re very happy to ride this wave with labels like Ring of Fire and East Grand.
Although the message never changed, the sound of the Hudson Falcons shifted from streetpunk to a more rock and rock ‘n’ roll sound, with the new album as the perfect example. Is ‘going back to the roots’ of where it all started with the Hudson Falcons something you ever would consider for a next release or do you wan’t to keep developing your sound?
It’s not a conscious decision. I write what I write at any given time. I’ve never tried to write according to some sort of formula – the music wouldn’t be honest then. A lot of “punk” bands have moved away from harder music as time goes by. The difference with us, is that I didn’t start out playing in and writing for a punk band. The style of music I’m writing now is closer stylistically to what I wrote in my 20s. Besides the Clash and NY Dolls I didn’t get into punk until my mid 20s. I know there are some people who like the harder punkier stuff, and others like the more rock ‘n’ roll sound, we mix it up every night so there’s a little of both. But no matter what songs we’re playing we’ll do it with integrity, intensity and passion. When those traits are missing, we’ll stop doing this.
Okay, I am about to round this up and let you focus on the road again. You mentioned before the interview your wife is with you on tour, do you consider it as a tour or as a little (well, a month ain’t that little haha) holiday together? You got any tourist activities planned?
No, we really don’t have any time for touristy/holiday activities. I keep my 2 day jobs when I’m on the road, and that leaves no time for much besides driving to the show, playing the show, working after the show then doing it all over again, and again, and again. Luckily my wife always comes out on tour with us. She likes the road even more than I do. I took 2 days off when then band had a couple of shows falls through when we were in Italy. Since both of us are of Italian decent (and our bass player, Guido Suave was born in Sicily) we spent some time walking around the little town we were in, and ate some excellent food. It was a real good day!