Mark Mallman
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Mark Mallman

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1998 | INDIE

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1998
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter





Why can’t piano players catch a break in rock’n’roll these days? There is no limit to the number of guitar-based bands and solo artists that the music world will accept with open arms. But a guy with a piano? He hits a glass ceiling that seems to say, “Whoa, whoa! We’ve already got the piano rock covered, with Ben Folds and that guy from Scissor Sisters.”

Mark Mallman refuses to be held back by the ghettoization of his instrument, and he’s not content to rub elbows with the Billy Joels and Norah Joneses of the world. He is determined to rock you, and if he must prove he’s completely insane in the process, so be it.

To the uninitiated, the Minneapolis-based troubador comes off as a novelty act – it’s hard to know what to make of that hair, that name, that penchant for marathon shows where he attempts to break records for the longest pop performance (52.5 hours is his personal best, which also happens to be the world record) After all that, Mr. Serious, Mallman’s first effort for Badman Recording Co., comes as a surprise. Sure, the opening track “I Just Want to Play Piano” gives listeners what they might expect from the scruffy-haired guy with the ghetto-blaster CD artwork: quirky lyrics, a gravelly voice that recalls the Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano.

Mallman has said of this album in interviews “If I ever made my ’80’s record, then this is it.” And he certainly has bombastic arena-rock mastered, with anthems like “Midnight Man,” “Anesthesia” and “Still Wasted” – but his brand of theatricality is participatory and accessible. Come on, you know you want to stomp around with your lighter and your sweatbands and join in the chorus of “They won’t take me alive/There isn’t gonna be anesthesia!”

“Hardcore Romantics” and “True Love” reveal Mallman’s genuine sensitive side, not just an ironic white-guy come-on ala Har Mar Superstar or Beck’s “Deborah.” He starts to win you over as the lovable loser who still believes in love no matter what.

The highlight of this arc is the failed-relationship tune “Hard Night.” Mallman is at his best here when his lyrical simplicity manages to convey real regret and self-awareness that resonates with the listener. “So I blamed it on my father/and I blamed it on my friends/I blamed it on my lovers/for the way it always ends”, he sings, and in the same breath, breaks down the wall of eccentricity he’s worked so hard to erect, making him just one of us.

Mr. Serious ends with “I Work Here, I Grew Up Here”, a stark, almost stream-of-consciousness elegy about home, family, generations, and the push and pull of ambition and stagnation. It is the barest bones of a song, and it is beautiful. After the roller-coaster ride of personas explored on Mr.Serious, the simple wish is that Mallman would lay off the crazy and just make music. There may be no one else like him in the indie rock world, but it’s not the quirk or the 52-hour performances that set him apart. Here’s hoping the glass ceiling shatters for Mark Mallman and his piano. - AVERSION.COM


"I just want to play piano," Minneapolis-bred keyboard guy Mark Mallman proclaims on his fourth effort, Mr. Serious. And he does it well on an album that has its share of engaging ballads and forceful pop tunes. But the disc isn't just about the eighty-eight keys -- even if they're a predominant feature -- and it's not always that serious, either, as Mallman goes for the roar on "Still Wasted," a bright-eyed ode to aimlessness. While "Simply in the Distance" validates the early-Elton John comparisons that his songcraft has earned over the past five years, Mallman's theatrical, Freddie Mercury-like delivery sounds pretty distinct in 2004. Mallman wrote some seventy songs over a year and a half in pursuit of this top-notch song-cycle, and -- as emotive numbers like "Heart Is a Loaded Weapon" and the swooning "True Love" affirm -- the hard work shows. - Rolling


On Mr. Serious, the criminally underappreciated Mark Mallman takes his love of Ziggy-era David Bowie and T. Rex to new heights. "I Just Want to Play Piano" is as glittery and cocksure as anything on Electric Warrior, and if Mr. Serious isn't quite as consistently mind-blowing as that glam staple -- well, what is? There are a few lackluster tunes like the trudging "Executioner, but for the most part, Mr. Serious is a euphoria-inducing slab of rock. "True Love" is an epic three-and-a-half-minutes of rock bombast, and the piano ballad "Simply in the Distance" enlists a melody familiar enough that listeners will swear it's from a lost, late-'70s Elton John collaboration. Mallman has never marched in step with any trends, and Mr. Serious hardly meshes with any contemporaneous releases. But Minneapolis' own glam superstar has more heart than Interpol, less pretense than Franz Ferdinand, and a sense of retro that seems entirely genuine and anything but simply nostalgic. - AMG


Minneapolis pop songsmith Mark Mallman's The Red Bedroom is a captivating collection of tireless pop. It is hook-laden and lyrically strong containing the kind of songs you get stuck in your head, and love it when it happens, because you can take the songs with you in places where your CD player just can't go. And when you end up singing the songs out loud, you're not embarrassed, because they're from a quality artist that will surely leave a mark on his respective genre. If The Red Bedroom is any indication, Mallman will leave his mark on pop within a few years.

Mallman's lyrics shine through as he offers up reflections of personal and universal truths, singing them with his sweet, tender voice, paving the way for hook after hook. The songs are easy and calm, but aren't afraid to branch off into rock.

Though softer pop is Mallman's specialty, when he spices the numbers up with a dash of rock he still sounds damn good. Nothing can beat him when he's on with a pop song. I'll give this an A. - IN MUSIC WE TRUST


#1 Local album of 2004. Mark Mallman, "Mr. Serious" (Badman)

As tempting as it is to write off Mallman as a nutty novelty — he played a 52-hour gig over Labor Day weekend at the Turf Club — this guy is insanely talented. "Hardcore Romantics" sounds like prime-era Todd Rundgren, David Bowie and Elton John morphed into one piano-pounding maniac, while "I Work Here, I Grew Up Here" is a gorgeous ode to home and family. - ST PAUL PIONEER PRESS


The Midwest has always held the short end of the piano-pop shtick. The genre's hallowed veterans—Billy, Barry and Elton—all hail from parts well east of America's spinach-dip-filled bread bowl, as do new-schoolers Rufus, Norah and Nellie McKay. At least the South and West have Ben Folds and Van Dyke Parks. Sure, Chicagoan Rachael Yamagata fills an important slot for folks who simply can't get enough Carole King—both of them.

Luckily, Mark Mallman tinkles to the beat of a far more turbulent inner conductor. Mr. Serious, the Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter's fourth album, finds him sporting a dark streak wider than the Wisconsin pastures that decorated his youth. "I am your executioner / They pay me very well / To put a bullet in you / And send you back to hell," he intones free of irony on the minor-key murder dirge "Executioner," before having his protagonist find pleasure in accidental sparrowcide.

Such is Mallman's propensity for fucking with eternal '70s verities that album opener "I Just Want to Play Piano" revolves as much around Ryan Smith's distorted guitar as around its titular instrument. Like the eccentric Mallman's high salt-to-schmaltz ratio, his raggedy pipes set him off from honey-voiced antecedents. When he yelps, "Life is a three-ring circus / Where everything I see reverses," you can't help but suspect that a few connections, and the right fuzzy alter ego, could bring him a promising future with the Jim Henson Company.—Rod Smith - TIME OUT NEW YORK


If Nick Cave were less absorbed in his own bombast, or if Shane MacGowan were less drunk, perhaps each would be the sort of songwriter Mark Mallman is--a post-punk balladeer with sandpapered vocals and lyrical turns of phrase. On "Four Letter World," a lovesick narrator sings over spacious instrumentation: "After nights in the gutter/Will I finally wash these sheets?/Tell me, tell me where do I go/In this library of illiterate men?" only to later quip, "I've learned that depression gets better with undressin'." Mallman's vision is clear on each of these songs, performed by the songwriter himself (vocals, piano, harmonica) and supplemented by Vermont, the excellent project of Davey Von Bohlen and Dan Didier (the Promise Ring) and Chris Roseneau (Loomis, Pelé). Von Bohlen lends his own unique vocals to "Too Hot," a poppy, gorgeous bitch about the sweltering heat, and "We Only Have Each Other in the Night (revisited)." But Mallman is the focus here. From the brainy opener, "Dear Glory," to the sad, blurred "Romeo Daze" (in which he bemoans his own romanticism), and the slicker, indie-er "We Only Have Each Other..." which gets treated with a wash of robotic background vocals à la Herbie Hancock--sweet bedroom records don't get much better than this. JEFF DeROCHE - SEATTLE STRANGER


Double Silhouette - 2013 - (EGT)

Invincible Criminal - 2009 - (Badman)

Between the Devil and Middle C - 2006 (Badman)

Mr. Serious - 2004 - (Badman)

Live From First Avenue - 2003 - (Susstones)

The Red Bedroom - 2002 - (GRP)

Who's Gonna Save You Now? EP - 2002 - (GRP)

How I Lost My Life and Lived to Tell About It - (EGT)

The Tourist (EGT)



There is a line between insanity and genius that indie superhero, Mark Mallman has built a career on. His solid songwriting and wild stage persona have seen over 30 U.S. Tours and earned him opening spots on stages with artists from Andrew WK to Cat Power to to Guided by Voices to name a fraction. The Mark Mallman expansive catalog of infinitely catchy and masterfully orchestrated, boot stomping pop songs has rocked the airwaves of MTV, VH1, NPR,  and dozens of major motion picture trailers and video games. 

He is continually blurring the lines between performance art and rock concert with his non stop 3 day Marathon concerts, as a fore runner in EEG USB Brainwave music in "Road Rogue" (the worlds first transcontinental musical web concert), and most recently with "MALLBORG" the groundbreaking remote rock show via BeamPro robotics.

While media outlets from Time Out New York to the LA Weekly have herald Mallman as the second coming of arena rock, this leather booted songwriter remains a man out of time. Mallman mesmerizes audiences, blending the broadway showmanship of bands like Ariel Pink with the classic songwriting styles of Queen and The Killers.