The Mark Inside
Gig Seeker Pro

The Mark Inside

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band Rock Punk




"The Mark Inside: Local guitar rockers survive label politics and find their voice"

Toronto garage-rockers the Mark Inside have verged on mainstream success for over a decade, enjoying breakthroughs but suffering soul-crushing adversity in equal measure. They’re finally about to release their long-awaited second full-length, Nothing To Admit, on MetalBox, with support from Sony.

“Three years after [finishing it], this record is finally seeing the light of day,” says singer/guitarist Chris Levoir.

In 2008, the band tracked the follow-up to their 2004 indie smash, Static/Crash, with producer Jim Abbiss in the UK on his dime, but label politics kept the fantastic blast of bluesy garage mayhem in limbo.

Rolling with punches that would have knocked most bands out of the ring, TMI persevered through all the label stalling that occurred when powerful industry supporters got the axe. They learned the business side of label life and even booked their own tours.

“The struggle has been finding our own voice and speaking from the heart,” says Levoir. “Bill Hicks once said, ‘When I go up onstage I talk to people like they’re my friends, because if I present an idea of myself that I think they want to hear, it’s condescending.’ I’ve taken that to heart for playing music and doing business. This is what I put 10 years of my life on the fucking line for. I really believe all the words I’m singing.”

Thanks to intense, unpredictable, ear-shredding shows, the band’s had a UK tour with the Hold Steady, a stadium slot supporting Velvet Revolver and a role as themselves on Ken Finkleman’s 2006 CBC series At The Hotel. Even Gang of Four’s Andy Gill is a fan.

On the heels of Nothing To Admit, they’ll debut a music video filmed in Memphis by director Michael Maxxis, embark on another UK tour and release a series of 7-inches.

“I drank all night, leaning over the gates of Graceland,” recalls Levoir. “They opened the gates at 7:30 am, and I went and touched Elvis’s gravestone and got his blessing.”

- NOW Magazine Toronto

"Sound Advice: False Flag by The Mark Inside"

The Mark Inside are a born-again rock band. After amassing local cred with their considerably bananas live shows and releasing their debut Static/Crash via MapleMusic Recordings in ‘06, these Whitby boogie chillun found themselves in major label limbo, their sophomore disc scrubbed. But, by the great beard of Zeus, they’ve resurrected, inking a new deal with UK’s MetalBox Recordings. Helmed by MetalBox owner and Arctic Monkeys producer Jim Abbiss, False Flag (available via MapleMusic) is a six-song EP meant to whet our appetites until their long-awaited follow-up, Nothing To Admit, is released internationally in the spring of 2011 (via a licensing deal with Sony).
It’s fitting that this album was recorded in a converted Lancashire chapel from the 1700s, as retro-fetishism is a consistent trend here. Mechanically-paced opener “There Is Nothing To Admit” (streaming right) is half Stones-y swagger, half Stooges-y muscle with frontman Chris Levoir channeling Mark E. Smith’s strung-out talk-singing over top. Elsewhere, “House of Cards” lays down a bluesy slab of MC5-esque proto-punk, while “Lime Green Monkeys” is an angular, funky twitcher in the same vein as Gang of Four’s dance-rock. Despite the many nods to the past, the boys manage to put their own (ahem) mark on the sound with noisy, swelling breakdowns that increasingly unhinge as Levoir screams till his larynx bleeds.
At other points on the EP, however, The Mark Inside clean up the garage rawk grime to do the minty fresh, grown and sexy thang. First single “Can’t Take Her With You (When It’s Over)” is pure Oasis-esque Britpop—sunny melodies, strummy acoustics, sentimental gushiness and all; it’s a make-up-sex-provoking, springtime radio hit waiting to happen. Nonetheless, to avoid straying too far into diabetic territory, the band follows it up with “Shots From A Broken Bottle,” a spaghetti western–style slow-burner marrying reverb-laden whammy twang with Levoir’s howling, heartbroken-on-drugs diatribe.
False Flag is a well-rounded, well-rockin’ teaser proving that these dudes are anything but a bunch of marks. When Nothing To Admit drops in 2011, expect their efforts to finally pay big, loud dividends—good thing they didn’t roll over and get real jobs.


"The Mark Inside — False Flag"

It makes a whole lot of sense that a back-from-the-dead The Mark Inside would sign to a U.K. label and get the same guy who produced Arctic Monkeys and Kasbian records to work with them. This, because their new False Flags EP might possibly be the most "British" sounding record ever made by a colonial.

And we're not talking foppy Blur-sounding Brit-pop, either. This is the sort of ruthless rock 'n' roll that throws back to when to be in an English band meant you had to be a guitar hero who knew how to throw a right proper windmill.

First track "There Is Nothing To Admit" establishes this unlikely Cream-meets-The Fall party straight away with vocalist Chris Levoir alternately talk-singing and screaming his way through a conspiricist's rant involving the Avro Arrow and stabbing someone "in the fuckin' eye!"

"House Of Cards" is the sort of speedy rave-up an idealized fantasy version of The Libertines might be responsible for, and the intro to drugventure "Lime Green Monkeys" will set off your deja vu alarm — solved by a dose of Led Zeppelin's "What Is And What Will Never Be" — before it devolves into something closer to Supergrass disco rock.

The pulsating "Questions" is probably one deviation from the Brit-isms. It feels more Santana than Small Faces, particularly in the work by the rhythm section of bassist Geoff Bennett and drummer Reade Ollivier. Still, in a stretch you could probably argue it could fit somewhere on The Who's expanded-expanded version of Live At Leeds.

The Anglophilia is back once again for first single and totally Noel-fronting Oasis jangler "Can't Take Her With You (When It's Over)." This one lacks the rest of the EP's spiky punch, but it can't all be fistfights and hooligans, can it? Sometimes you just want to sing along with your mates.

The best is probably saved for last in the sprawling, dueling guitar workout "Shots From A Broken Bottle." It feels a little closer to home — like, say, when The Dears' Patrick Krief and Murray Lightburn spend 10 minutes making guitar faces at each other while jamming on something — but the vibe is classic nonetheless.

If there's a quibble, it's The Mark Inside never let economy get in the way of a good, long groove, which is wonderful when you're watching the band bang away live, but they need to keep in mind The Yardbirds version of "Train Kept A-Rollin'" logged in at 3:28 and it's as rock 'n' roll as fuck. With a few shorter bombers in their arsenal The Mark Inside's upcoming full-length record might be a cross-continental conqueror.


"The Mark Inside"

Canadian indie-rock band The Mark Inside is made up of Geoff Bennett, Gus Harris, Chris Levoir and Reade Ollivier. Since they formed back in 2000, with a different drummer, they released their debut album in 2004 and were quickly picked up by MapleMusic. In 2008, they got out of their contract with Maple and went to record their second full-length, that should be released in the near future, in the UK with Jim Abbyss. In the meantime, you can check out their latest release, their 12-inch EP “False Flag”.

When the band stopped in Montreal as part of their summer tour, I sat down with the band to discuss their history, their sound and their thoughts on today’s music industry, among other things. They also gave me some advice for starting bands.

CONFRONT: So can I have a little history about the band?

GEOFF: In a nutshell? I was born in 1981, stormy night…*laughter* We started in 2000, believe it or not. 11 years ago. Moved to Toronto a few years after that and for the past 5 or 6 years, we’ve been trying to make a living playing music. And a year and a half ago, our original drummer took off so we found Reade here. He’s been rocking it ever since. And that’s the rough history.

CHRIS: We released one full-length on Maple Music, released a 7-inch for a label in Toronto called Magnificent Sevens and this EP is out now after we recorded a full record, which is supposed to come out at the end of summer, in England with Jim Abbiss to whose label we are now signed. It’s called MetalBox.

CONFRONT: And how was the transition between the drummers?

GEOFF: Very quick! I think we’ve always played intuitively with each other anyway and it just clicked right away so it was good. It was actually a fairly sudden turn of events

CONFRONT: How did you guys meet?

READE: I served Chris a few beers in my day. He used to come to the bar I used to work at. I didn’t know Gus, I didn’t know GEOFF, I just knew Chris. I was with a friend of mine in the market one night.

GEOFF: One dark and stormy night!

CHRIS: Basically, after our drummer left, we took a show without a drummer and decided to find one afterwards for another show. So I went desperately into a bar to a different bartender who was also a drummer. I ran in there and I said : “We booked this show already, you have to play this for us. Just help us out!” At which point, I was talking to another friend, a mutual friend of all of us, and she said she knew Reade who would be great for us so we started talking to him then.

READE: So he sent me some mp3s that day that I walked into the rehearsal studio, like three hours before.

CHRIS: And he pretty much nailed the first song that we played.

READE: Nailed it!


CONFRONT: That’s cool and you’ve continued with this lineup ever since! And since your first album, a lot has happened other than the drummer change. You got radio plays, videos on MuchMusic so how was all of that for you guys?

GEOFF: It was cool! We were sort of dormant for a while after that. We didn’t really keep the ball going as much as we would’ve liked to.

CHRIS: I think a lot of the stuff we were walked into at first. Our manager kind of walked us into a lot of things and we eventually got rid of him and we had to figure out exactly our own handle. I think we’ve done a lot of stuff that’s been really fun but we’re doing all of our management these days and it’s working out really well.

GEOFF: Dormancy done! *laughter*

CONFRONT: Yeah despite those years of dormancy, you guys didn’t give up, when did you realize that music was what you wanted to pursue?

GEOFF: The first time I touched a guitar?

READE: Basically, I knew it in grade 9, when I was 14 or 13 and I would listen to Buddy Rich on a vinyl that I took from my band teacher. I would listen to it 4-5 times straight. And I [thought] I wanted to be a drummer, a professional drummer. I actually wanted to be a big band drummer at first. I still kind of want to be a big band drummer. *laugh*

CONFRONT: Who knows? This could lead you there.

CHRIS: He actually has this university degree for music.

READE: I try not to tell everybody that.

GEOFF: He’s the most musical out of all of us! This is supposed to be about punk rock, man!

READE: I’m not supposed to know how to read music! *laughter*

GUS: I don’t think there was one moment. It’s just always been around. There’s always been a guitar. It’s not something I can ever just give up. I’ve always wanted to play music. Some people in my family have been musicians so I think it might be bred.

CONFRONT: Yeah that probably helps; to have your family support you.

CHRIS: First time I got to have time alone with a guitar was because my dad bought a guitar when he was probably around 40. He decided to buy an acoustic and rang some country songs. I was just watching him [thinking] I could do that! So I grabbed it from him and started playing.

CONFRONT: Nice! Now, you guys have recently released your EP. And your full-length album was supposed to come out in spring but now it’s not sure anymore.

GEOFF: Yeah it’s been pushed back a gazillion times. We were just happy to put the vinyl out that we have now. The problem is there is so much up in the air with the music industry in general. The business of playing live and writing and recording hasn’t changed so much but as far as putting out the music, it’s so unstable right now so there’s a lot of sense of making it up as you go.

CHRIS: I would think that anyone who’s sticking it out with music now has to be truly passionate about it because it’s not leisurely to do it. It is leisurely to play it but to actually make it functional as some sort of money-making source or at least not losing money when you’re out there playing, it’s tough. No one really buys records anymore; people are ripping them off torrent sites and whatever. But yeah we did a 12-inch with 6 songs. We did a limited run of it and I think we’re just about out of the first press. We’re going to do another one before the full-length is released. But we’re in talks to do another video for MuchMusic right now and it’s one of the songs off the EP.

CONFRONT: Which song is it?

CHRIS: It’s called ‘Shots From A Broken Bottle’. And this song, for whatever reason, the producer really loved it too and he was always joking about how he would love to be able to just put it out on the radio. It’s kind of a longer blues song but it’s a dramatic song that seems to go on very well live. Everybody’s basically been sold on it. For our live show, it’s what people talk about.

CONFRONT: You guys are known for your live shows, what do you think makes them so special?

READE: All right here in the face.

GEOFF: We all have a lot of energy. I’m not making any sense. *laughter*

READE: Really sweaty performances. Really heated energy and kind of no-holds kind of performance.

GUS: Loud and rowdy!

CHRIS: Yeah loud and rowdy is good.

CONFRONT: And you can recreate your album’s sounds really well live from what I’ve heard. Can you actually describe your sound?

CHRIS: People ask if I’m in a band and then they ask what type of music I play. The usual toss off line for me is: garage-y rock. But it’s so much more.

GEOFF: I think it’s loud.

GUS: It’s pretty basic setup but we push it pretty hard for some of the songs.

CHRIS: Just pulling from a lot of different corners. If you watch our set, I do truly think that we change genres, if you have an ear for that kind of thing. It’s not just going from quieter songs to louder ones; it’s different feels. We try to play entertaining sets that are a soundtrack to drinking, basically. *laughter*

CONFRONT: I see! And you recorded your next album in an old transformed chapel, how was that?

GUS: That was awesome.

GEOFF: One of the pinnacles for this band, for sure. It was fun.

CHRIS: We were held up for months in Lincolnshire at Chapel Studios. It’s a studio that’s been used for The Arctic Monkeys’ first record I think. Our producer did the first Arctic Monkeys record. Jim was a great producer. He really did as best as he could to capture largely what happens on stage for us, a lot of different tricks. There’s a lot of good stuff on the record that people will never notice but we know it’s there.

CONFRONT: And were you guys in contact with Jim before sending out your demos to different people?

GEOFF: No! We sent them out to a short list of 10 or 12 producers that generally worked on bands that we really liked.

CHRIS: Yeah like the sounds of the records they had done, you know? Basically, at the time, we were with Maple Music and they were encouraging our next record to kind of go with a big producer. And we were pretty much ready to go and record it ourselves again like we did our first one. So from Maple, we sent out about 30 songs.

GUS: We had 30 or 40 recorded demos by that point. I don’t think we were sending that many.

CHRIS: It was like a 2-disk thing we were sending them, I’m pretty sure. A bunch of producers got back to us and it came right down to Jim Abbiss; he talked to us on the phone, he described how he’d record us and how he really liked the music. The other guy was Andy Gill from the band Gang of Four, which was just really cool for us to be able to talk to, being big Gang of Four fans. But at which point, Maple said that we’d have to record it ourselves so they pulled back their budget; I think they had a rough year or something. So we asked requested to leave our contract, trying to get a handle on how we want to do things because this wasn’t working out.

CONFRONT: Was it easy to achieve that?

CHRIS: I think it was ballsy for us to do it. I just don’t think we fully understood what we were involved with at the time. But Jim Abbiss stuck around and paid for the whole recording and said we’d figure it out afterwards so we went over to England on his dime. It was pretty awesome.

CONFRONT: That is pretty awesome. Earlier, you guys were talking about the decline in music sales. So you basically turned to touring to go up against that.

GEOFF: Yeah most bands these days; it’s pretty much what you have to do. It’s cool because there’s way more avenues to hear new music so there’s opportunities for bands to just spring up almost out of nowhere it seems. But the flipside to that is people aren’t selling millions of records anymore. I think you just have to accept it. Even radio is getting so fragmented. You’ve got satellite or whatever else. There’s no central rounding point anymore.

CHRIS: I think to be playing these days, you just kind of have to accept that you’re a troubadour and you make never make money.

CONFRONT: The reason the music industry is so scattered now is because of the internet. How do you think it affected it?

GEOFF: It’s basically decentralized all power within the actual business part of it. Labels don’t hold nearly as much power as they used to. One of the things now is there’s such a massive sort of flood of music out there that’s available that it could be tough to wade through and I get the sense that people’s attention spans are shifting too. Teenagers now, I don’t think they grow up listening to a record front to back. Even our generation, it used to be side A, side B of a record; we grew up with CDs so that kind of changed. It’s just interesting how it changes.

CHRIS: I think it’s cool how you can hear so much music. There are a lot of great bands touring around these days, there are a lot of great Canadian bands happening. Most people’s playlists go from a hardcore band to a hip hop track to an old soul tune.

GUS: A lot of boundaries are put aside.

CHRIS: Everyone kind of listens to everything kind of in a mash. It’s a composite picture of who you are as a person to have one mix that covers it all.

CONFRONT: Well I think now, bands don’t have to feel like they need to stick to one genre because everyone kind of listens to everything. It’s possible to incorporate different sounds into your music.

GEOFF: Exactly. From our perspective, we never [try to push for a specific sound to come across]. It’s just how you write and I think the best bands, it’s probably what they do as well. That’s how it comes across as sounding unique to them. As soon as you have any conceits about it, it starts to fall apart.

CHRIS: Yeah trying to formulate how you wish to appear, I think you should just try to approach things as innocently as possible to have fun. That’s music at its best anyway; when it comes across the most sincerely.

CONFRONT: And what other advice would you give to starting bands nowadays?

GEOFF: Get away, there’s too much competition!


GUS: Don’t sign a record contract.

GEOFF: Yeah just be very careful.

CHRIS: Stick to your own guns.

GEOFF: The music’s first. The music and the live show. You can’t put on your cool clothes and get up on stage if you suck.

CHRIS: People will see through it.

GEOFF: Yeah exactly. Write good music, give it your all on stage. Beyond that, that’s when you start to see if you want to make it a career.

READE: You got to have the raw songs.

CHRIS: Always keep it fun. As long as it’s fun, you’re going to keep doing it.

CONFRONT: Good advice! And now I’m going to ask you to draw something that represents you.

GEOFF: It’s me, it’s a hamburger. I like hamburgers.

READE: It’s a small line and a dot. I’m the dot. The line is…I don’t know.

GUS: It’s morse code!


GUS: Today, I need to go to sleep after the show. I’m really tired.

CHRIS: It’s my tattoo. It’s also the cover of our first EP that we ever released. It’s also from the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull, it’s a really good book.

READE: You should’ve drawn a left hand because you’re a left-handed guitar player.

GUS: A Left-handed guitar player who plays the damn thing upside down! *laughter*

CONFRONT: Well I think that’s it, any last words?

CHRIS: Have fun, play safe!

READE: I can put my arm back on, you can’t! (reference to the “Play Safe” ad)


"A Reason to Live: The Mark Inside, Nothing to Admit (Metalbox/Sony)"

“Strike while the iron is hot,” goes the adage. So why, you say, has it taken the Mark Inside seven freakin’ years to follow up its ultra-promising debut?

Ah, the vagaries of the music industry. The Whitby-born rockers actually recorded a successor to their well-traveled first release, Static/Crash, in 2008 – in a converted 16th-century chapel in Lincolnshire, no less, under the tutelage of noted U.K. producer Jim Abbiss, who’s worked with the likes of Ladytron, Kasabian, the Arctic Monkeys and Adele – but the thing’s been tied up in one of those interminable record-label horror shows you’re always reading about ever since. Heaven knows why, because Nothing to Admit is pretty damn hot, a nice year-end addendum to the “best Canadian albums of 2011” list.

Head and shoulders above Static/Crash – which was, make no mistake, pretty good – in terms of both songwriting and truly ripping musicianship, Nothing to Admit sounds much like you wish all those overrated records by this or that hot British guitar band of the moment would actually sound. “Can’t Take Her With You (When it’s Over)” has enough easy-drinkin’, Gallagher-esque melody going for it that one could easily imagine hearing it on the radio, as is the case with the bouncy, corporation-baiting working man’s anthem “The Bottom Line,” wherein singer/guitarist Chris Levoir gets off some of the most acerbic sneers (“Support the pyramid from the bottom with a grin”) on a record not exactly wanting for acerbic sneers. “Our Days Underneath the Sun” is rather lovely, too, recalling the recent, sun-kissed, post-Swervedriver output of Adam Franklin.

There’s always the threat of bug-eyed psychosis lurking beneath the surface, though. You get the feeling Levoir – who really comes into his own here as a singer and a dispenser of biting (often self-lacerating) wit – is singing the title through clenched teeth on the deceptively bright and jangly “So Happy to be Here” as he imagines the suburbs being leveled. And, sure enough, all that Iggy-worthy rage and frustration comes bubbling out in deliciously nasty form on “House of Cards,” “Questions” and the simmering, bluesy tangle of “Shots from a Broken Bottle,” all of which are attacked with appropriate ferocity by this incredibly talented band. It’s just stupid that this wasn’t released sooner because it’s a total winner.

See the violent video for "Shots from a Broken Bottle" -- already banned by MuchMusic! -- below, along with a couple of choice live performances from a recent session on XM Radio's The Verge.

- Ben Rayner / The Toronto Star

"Call & Response: The Mark Inside"

Call & Response is a series of Q&As with bands, artists and random people we dig that live in Montreal, visit here, or have some dubious connection to the city.

Hailing from the musical and bucolic Ontarian metropolis of Whitby, The Mark Inside is a four-piece band that brings the noise, but in the good way. Young Rival-esque in flavour, the quartet will be playing in our dear old town this Friday. But in order for our readers (and listeners) to become more acquainted with the band, we caught up with guitar-and-voice guy Chris Levoir to give us a glimpse into the window of his soul, or at least the brief answers to 10 question's worth.

Who is your favorite Canadian artist?

Ernie Coombs, a.k.a. Mr. Dressup. Fuck Sharon, Lois and Bram. [Ed. note: No, thanks. I'll opt to Skinnamarink until the cows come home]

Besides family, friends, other music, and long walks on the beach, what influences your music the most?

Sheep, Shepherds and Wolves. [Ed. note: Not sure if those capitalizations were intended. Guess that's where the 'bucolic' bit plays in]

Where is the best place to listen to your music?

Live in a cramped and sweaty club while under the influence of a cornucopia of available substances on a night that you know you're going to get laid. Beneath a full moon, as well; why not?

What do you love most about Montreal?

It might be that you can buy booze in the convenience stores, which are everywhere -- god bless the Couche-Tard. And Pop Montreal.

What do you love most about poutine?

The fact that gravy is involved.

What do you hate most about poutine?

The congealed leftovers. [Ed. note: Leftovers?]

What was the first live concert you attended? Was it everything you had ever imagined?

I saw Sloan at Varsity Arena. The Deadly Snakes played first, a band that I would come to love in the following years. Geoff and I went to it together; he was certainly a bigger East Coast music fan than I was, but it was still a great show. The Super Friendz went on before Sloan and they were pretty badass, too.

If your music was a famous historical figure, who would it be and why?

Blackbeard the pirate, because our music aims to conquer the unsuspecting and live the good life of excess. We're one collective scallywag.

What's the best way to spend one million dollars in 10 minutes?

Give me a million dollars first and then I'll show you...

What's the best place you've ever been to?

The stage. [Ed. note: Readers can use their imaginations to picture the most ideal, beautiful and best stage in the world]

What's the worst place you've ever been to?

The gutter. [Ed. note: Same comment as above]

How did you spend your 16th birthday?

I can't quite remember really, my birthday is actually on Halloween, so I suppose it was spent in costume with some friends and my then-girlfriend, but memory has been faded with time and other things.


"The Mark Inside are too much for Much"

In the dimly lit Dundas West bar The Garrison, The Mark Inside’s Chris Levoir and Reade Ollivier are aglow with pre-performance jitters. We’re at the release party for the Toronto garage-rockers’ new album, Nothing to Admit, and, despite the six-year gap between this record and their previous full-length, the band have picked up right where they left off thanks to copious college-radio airplay, a busy tour schedule and mounting international acclaim.

But if The Mark Inside are on a roll, they’ve also hit a little speed bump: A suddenly deflated Levoir tells me that the band recently found out that their new music video won’t be aired on any of MuchMusic’s TV or online platforms—even though the station’s auxiliary organization, MuchFACT, gave the band a $20,000 grant to make it.

“They thought it was too violent,” Levoir says blankly.

Levoir admits that their video for “Shots from a Broken Bottle” does ooze with a fair amount of bloodshed, but the singer/guitarist wanted creative license to take ultimate precedent. “Shots from a Broken Bottle” sets Levoir’s tortured screams and the band’s bluesy grind to graphic footage shot in Memphis’ Earnestine & Hazel’s Bar and Grill, a former brothel that inspired the lyrics to The Rolling Stones classic “Brown Sugar.” The main character is seen reading letters from an ex, before he goes on a killing spree with the kind of precision you’d see on an episode of Dexter.

“I was put in touch with five directors that do well for MuchMusic,” Levoir says. “I knew what we wanted—no edits, nothing. I told them I wanted it to be dark, almost like a bad acid trip.”

It’s not suprising the video was red-flagged for its depictions of violence towards women, but its troubled protagonist is more complicated than he appears to be on the surface.

“The killer in the video is trying to get back his lost love—he’s killing people that are triggering his OCD and superstitions.”

“[Director] Michael [Maxxis] added in the homicidal mania, and we just let it roll,” says Ollivier. “We wanted a video that had a sort of Memento-type shadowiness, integrated with an obsessive-compulsive maniac who is trapped in a love from the past. [The violence is] not [there] because we view women as being inferior and easy targets. If you look deep enough, it just so happens that these first victims were women who disrupted this guy’s obsessive-compulsive patterns. As the video plays out, you’ll notice that the victims are no longer shown, but the intentions are there. It could be a man or woman being murdered.”

But if The Mark Inside’s video treatment indicated the end result would be ultra-violent, why did MuchFACT dole out thousands of dollars for production in the first place? As station Vice President Neil Staite explains, just because MuchMusic adminsters MuchFACT—a grant system that facilitates domestic video production—does not guarantee the funded videos will get airplay on the network.

“I would say, that 20, 30, 40, videos [that get grants] don’t run,” says Staite. “[MuchFACT beneficiaries] aren’t supposed to automatically assume they’ll get airplay.” However, even without the benefit of being broadcast, “bands get a larger awareness regardless with the web, press kits, bookers, distributors, on top of the exposure they may or may not get on MuchMusic.”

Staite has worked at MuchMusic for some 20 years; he started as a unit assistant, or as he describes it, being “a coffee-runner.” He has watched MuchMusic morph from an eccentric music-video channel into a slick, teen-targeted lifestyle hub. And this, he explains, is a by-product of the online/social-media frenzy that defines this era. When there is so much room on the web for music and videos of every style, it’s more advantageous for a national network like MuchMusic to focus on mainstream-oriented programming that will attract the coveted youth audience and advertising revenue—especially when programs like MuchFACT can simultaneously provide support to under-the-radar bands like The Mark Inside. (Since 1984, MuchFACT has allocated over $60 million to music-video production, and $3.4 million in 2010 alone.)

As for videos that are deemed to be too much for Much, Staite says that, while there have always been defined limits on what can kind of content can be aired (based on rules put in place by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council), MuchMusic is actually far more liberal-minded than they used to be. (For example, Staite recalls how, in 1991, MuchMusic viewers were outraged when they first saw Michael Jackson’s crotch-grabbing, window-smashing video for “Black or White”—“Viewers were up in arms,” Staite says, laughing.)

Still, even with looser morals at play, director Micheal Maxxis wasn’t the least bit surprised that his “Shots From a Broken Bottle” video was banned.

“MuchMusic plays a certain type of video, a certain type of song,” Maxxis says. “Our song is six-minutes long and doesn’t have a dance beat. Maybe if David Guetta was in the video, or Pitbull [it would get played]. But this video is over their heads; being banned by them doesn’t mean anything.”

Fortunately, the “Shots from a Broken Bottle” video is currently reaching audiences through Daily Motion, YouTube and other online streaming sites. And the blacklisting puts The Mark Inside in good company—lest we forget, earlier this year, Broken Social Scene’s equally violent “Sweetest Kill” video was also rejected by MuchMusic, even though it too was funded by MUCHFact. Evidently, being banned by Much—on their own dime, no less—is where it’s at.

- The Grid

"The Mark Inside 'False Flag' Music Review"

Some bands demand to be heard live, and The Mark Inside is a damned splendid example of that. We don’t hesitate to say ‘damned splendid’ even though the band tweeted a short time ago that they would never use the word ‘splendid’ in any circumstances. You see, their live performances are so rocked out that you wonder how in creation any record producer is ever going to capture that. Well, their sophomore release ‘False Flag’ comes close. It’s electrifying to hear what a great band can make happen in the right setting – so often that setting is late night in a tavern when all bets are off and everyone is intoxicated in one fashion or another. Such excitement seldom takes place inside a studio. It’s something like The Rolling Stones playing at the Horseshoe Tavern. Or The Black Keys live at The Crystal Ballroom.

‘False Flag’ will compel devotees of rock and roll to audition the vinyl, even if it means going out to buy a turntable. You see, ‘False Flag’ consists of just six songs, but the digital version hardly compares to the physical reality of this EP, which is exhilarating to look at in all respects – a plain cover with a rude picture, a thick black lacquer and some deep grooves. For convenience, the digital download is included when you order the vinyl. Take a look at this marvellous cover:

The Mark Inside is an Ontario band, composed of Geoff Bennett – bass, Gus Harris – guitar, Chris Levoir – vocals, guitar and Reade Ollivier – drums. The band’s name orginates from a quote taken from William S. Burroughs, who wrote the indispensable pyschedelic masterpiece ‘Naked Lunch’.

“Hustlers of the world, there is one Mark you cannot beat: The Mark Inside.”

They had some notable success with their first album, Static/Crash, back in 2006. Differences with their record company led to a parting of the ways and a refocus on the group’s strength: straight-ahead rock with an emphasis on natural audio and sonic purity.

In an interview recently with VanMusic the band’s frontman Christ Levoir spoke about the recording, which was produced by Jim Abbiss (The Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian), who signed the band to his own Metalbox Recordings.

“Jim captured the essence of The Mark Inside, working with us to interpret what became the best recorded representation of the band and our songs. Long days and focused nights drenched in the joy and catharsis of playing the new songs permeates the recording. The heart and soul of our band can be heard throughout and this is what we had always aimed to achieve”.

Great stuff from a fine Canadian band. A full length LP is currently in the works, but until then don’t miss ‘False Flag’. It’s f****ing splendid.


"The Mark Inside Versus The World"

Sure, playing music with your best buds could bring anyone to a state of euphoria; however, bands like The Mark Inside prove that it’s not all fun and games. These four troopers have experienced the highs and lows of being in a band and recording music. Is the grass greener now that they’ve overcome major obstacles? Chris Levoir (guitar, vocals) spoke to me before the band’s set at Parts & Labour last week about the trials and tribulations of getting on the right path.

Not one for label politics, the band got out of their contracts with MapleMusic Recordings about 5 years ago and kept writing new material until finally scoring a rad deal with MetalBox Recordings – their silver lining.

The band knows the motto “you win some, you lose some” far too well, with the recent departure of original drummer Geordie Dynes. The newly recruited Reade Ollivier certainly looks promising – just check him out at live shows.

“Reade’s kicking ass.” Levoir says, adding the band is in a better place now. What doesn’t kill ‘em made ‘em stronger, we suppose.

“Every once in a while, we had to sit together and say ‘guys, is this still fun for us?’”

Levoir now manages the band on his own, taking the power back and holding destiny in his own hands. He says it’s important for the band to keep their integrity throughout obstacles.

“I’m certainly more responsible now. This is what I’m making my life about,” says Levoir.

With Levoir’s positive attitude and the band’s determination, they soon found themselves in England. Recorded two and a half years ago now, at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire England, False Flags is compromised of good ol’ rock n roll songs that will get your heart pumping. The band stayed in the small town of what Levoir says “had 50 people”, for one month to record with Jim Abbiss, who’s also produced for The Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian.

“He really knows gear and he really knows what good music sounds like. He was pretty hard on us,” Levoir says, agreeing that Abbiss brought the guys out of their comfort zone.

Compared to previous recordings, Levoir’s songwriting has matured in False Flags, which is evident in songs like “Shots from a Broken Bottle”. Levoir, formerly from Whitby, says Toronto is a good city for music and discovering new bands. He learned he wanted to more accurately paint the world as he saw it.

“Because of all the label shit that we went through, we kept writing and waiting for somebody to give us the green light,” says Levoir. “It’s going to keep us feeling like we’re a God honest band still kicking and screaming.”

The band recorded 50 demos amidst the label hardships to keep productive. Now that The Mark Inside have teased fans with 6 new songs, anticipation for their spring 2011 full length release Nothing To Admit should continue to grow. Levoir even says music videos are on the horizon.

It’s admirable when, in a world of post-modern sounding bands (that all sound the same), The Mark Inside keep it to the root of rock ‘n roll.

“You should only be playing in this day and age if you truly like to play,” he concludes.


"Interview: The Mark Inside"

Before playing a rockin’ set at The Garrison, I was able to sit down with The Mark Inside for a chat. If you’re unfamiliar with the band, The Mark Inside has been a band for over 10 years, with only one recent lineup change, losing an original member but gaining a new member, Reade Ollivier on drums. Their brand of punk-influenced rock and roll is rowdy, boozy and a lot of fun.

Having been around so long, Chris Levoir (vocals, guitar) addresses how their sound and the band itself has evolved. “A lot of the first music we were writing we were still writing when we were in high school. Even the first four years of the band, we were still pretty much only playing in one club in Oshawa. Really for us to be a full-fledged band playing outside of one town, it took us four years. We moved to Toronto in 2003.

Geoff Bennett (guitar) elaborates on their evolution. “The earlier music – there was a lot of bluesiness to it that we kind of got away from. I think we found it a bit almost cheesy after a while.”

As for how a band can last so long, Chris says, “We’re all artists of our own accord, always strumming on something or scribbling or doodling on a piece of paper. The band is always going to be together as long as we enjoy doing that kind of stuff together.”

Growing up in a small town has certainly influenced the band. Geoff says, “There’s probably a little bit more of an ‘us vs. them’ mentality in a smaller town. In a smaller town, particularly in Whitby, we were ruthlessly mocked for having slightly longer hair back then.”

Sporting a shorter haircut, he then adds, “I conformed now. I sold out.”

As for their songwriting process, Chris says, “Whatever is brought into our rehearsal space, we have some beers, get a little stoned and play it loud in the room and see where it goes from there. That’s pretty much how most things are sorted out naturally.”

This gets a laugh from the group and Reade says, “It’s called natural selection.”

Their False Flag EP and forthcoming full-length were recorded at Chapel Studios, which is, as the name suggests, a chapel that was converted into a studio. Chris indicates that it was producer Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian) that brought them to the studio. “It’s a really cool vibe. It’s in a pretty rural part of England, like 3 hours northeast of London. Literally, it was one strip of 20 houses with a bar at the end of the road.”

The band is a little familiar with England, having toured there for two weeks opening for The Hold Steady.

On the subject of touring, Chris says, “If you could condense all our touring into a 2-year period it would seem pretty impressive, but some of our stretches have been pretty far between and we’re trying to change that moreso now.”

Continuing with the topic of touring, Chris emphasizes the importance of touring. “You have to be playing and you have to be out there meeting people more and more now. It has to be a real human experience or it just won’t matter at all anymore, I don’t think. Record sales don’t really count as much anymore, but if you can throw a great party in some city where everyone talks about it for months, that will carry you into the next show and if you keep doing that and keep doing that, then that will build.”

Geoff adds, “I can’t remember where I heard it, but it was put that it used to be that when you toured, you made a record and you toured to support the record. Now it’s you make a record as a reason to tour, basically.”

Geoff credits The Phog Lounge in Windsor as favourite place to play on tour. Chris cites The Roundhouse in London, “where Jimi Hendrix played his last show ever, where The Ramones played their first UK show ever,” as a favourite touring memory.

As for how they would sell their live show to get people out, Bennett says, “In small baggies.”

Everyone laughs, but then Chris answers a bit more seriously. “I ultimately hope that people take away that we’re not manufactured in any way, that we’re trying to project what we want to hear from other people and, by that extent, we try to carry on a certain continuity of all the bands we’ve respected through rock and roll/punk rock. So hopefully, at the best, we’re just carrying a torch of sincere, really good bands who really play aggressively to people and really try to change it up.”

The name “The Mark Inside” actually comes from William S. Burroughs’ The Naked Lunch. As for other non-musical influences, Chris is quick to name comedian Bill Hicks. “Bill Hicks talked a lot about him being the rock and roll comedian. I would like to be a rock and roll musician like he was a comedian. He had guns pulled on him and stuff like that just because of content he was saying. He was trying to talk about real human issues without borders, without prejudice, like ideology held up.”

Geoff then says, “Chris and I when we were kids got into drawing and painting and stuff, so that was probably the early catalyst.”

Chris also acknowledges some musical influences. “Certainly there’s a lot of great bands in Toronto and elsewhere that are influencing us a lot these days. Reade’s big on METZ right now. Kurt Vile [points at Gus].

Gus Harris (guitar) agrees, “Yeah, my two favourite records as of late are Kurt Vile and the new Caribou.”

Chris and Geoff cite their current favourites, Wavves and Panda Bear, respectively.
Chris also credits friends for their influence. “It’s nice to be able to go to your friends’ places and be able to go through their record collections and see a lot of good records being played.”

As for drunken stories, the guys seem to be full of them. Chris indicates that they’ve almost been kicked out of their jamspace for throwing parties after shows. He also credits Geoff as being one of the bigger partiers, having “chucked a cymbal out the window 2 storeys up onto the road at like 4 in the morning” or that they once found him asleep on top of Young Rival’s van. The guys also like to go to the casino after shows in Windsor, but the last time they tried, they were too drunk to be let in.

However, the full story they decide to share is one about Gus. Gus is actually the one to bring it up and Geoff says, “Gus had a little too much Southern Comfort.”

Chris tells the story. “We were touring with C’Mon at the time, big party band, drinking band. In Thunder Bay, the club we were playing at, they have this room upstairs with a bunch of pretty wobbly bunk beds and we were all kind of in one room and Gus is on the top one. So Gus all night had been crawling down this thing and going to puke somewhere. In the morning we woke up and Gus was just sleeping it off. We all knew to just leave him to the last minute. We packed up all the gear and put it all in and basically at the last possible minute we could wait, we had to go up and get Gus from sleeping upstairs.”

After they get Gus, the band starts making their way to the next venue. It is at this point that the retelling of the following exchange gets a laugh from everyone:

Gus: Bag.
Everyone else: What are you talking about, man?
Gus: Bag.
Everyone else: Gus, there’s no bag here. We got nothing.
Gus: Bag, please. Bag, please.

“So Gus just starts scrambling for the side door of the van, which is one of those pull open sliding doors. So we pull over to the side of the road just as Gus is yanking at the side of the tour van, grabs on with one arm and swings out like he’s swinging from a pole and pukes all over the road and the side of the van, right in front of a family basically walking from Church or something.”

Gus adds the final touch to the story. “They later bought me a bucket for like $5 or something.”

As for their shot of choice, the band easily agrees on Jameson.

They don’t have any upcoming Toronto dates yet, but they’ve got a mini-tour at the end of June. They’ll also be going back to their roots and will be playing a hometown show on July 9th. Catch this band live and look out for their full-length. For now, enjoy their EP, False Flag.

- Buying Shots For Bands

"The honesty in The Mark Inside"

Toronto band The Mark Inside are an honest bunch of fellas. While I’m sure they would gladly return your wallet if they found it on the street, this same honesty can be heard in every note of their fantastic new record Nothing To Admit. Released this past November, the record glides through emotional peaks and valleys. Produced by Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian) Nothing To Admit is a significant leap forward in the band’s career. Recorded in Lincolnshire, England at Chapel Studios, Abbiss did an astute job at capturing the band’s raw energy.

The Mark Inside’s Chris Levoir recently chatted with The MusicNerd Chronicles. Be sure to check out the band’s powerful video for their song “Shots From A Broken Bottle” below.

Over the past year or so, it seems as though the tide is turning towards people embracing bands like The Mark Inside, The Sheepdogs, etc – bands that are playing real music, real rock n roll. Do you feel this is accurate?

Levoir: I certainly hope so, it would bode well for us. We’ve been sticking it out a long time because we enjoy what we’re doing. It satisfies us deeply and we feel we are communicating most honestly this way. In our music we feel we have put our best foot forward as humans hoping to leave behind something true and that matters more than fitting a definition per se; hopefully that is obvious. Real music should mean that it came from a real place, not someone doing what they think will be received well. The next level to that would be there is genius in every genre, but all genres get watered down by people fishing in those ponds hoping to feel ownership to things that they react to from others work/art; I feel time has tested us and proven we own what we say and do, we know our motives and what we do comes from our hearts.

Bands that are fantastic live acts sometimes have difficulty capturing that live feeling when it comes to the record. How important of a role did Jim Abbiss play in making this happen?

Levoir: We were sold on Jim because he described his intent to record us as we sound live, leaving all instrumentation set-up and ready to go at once throughout the entire recording, we recorded most live off the floor, focusing on the rhythm section and then Gus and I would overdub or replace bits that we felt weren’t quite up to snuff, some songs on the record are truly off the floor, ‘Shots from a Broken Bottle’ being one, I did all vocals afterwards. We have heart when we play so I think the focus was to keep the live focus and make it feel that way on playback. After all the time we sat on the record we all feel very proud of it and have great memories of the whole process. Jim was awesome. We are forever in debt to him and his partner in MetalBox, Sandy Dworniak who took a chance on us footing the bill for a month of recording and signing us to their label afterwards.

Given how the music industry has been in free-fall over the past decade-plus, how important is spreading the word of The Mark Inside via live shows?

Levoir: We get the most satisfaction playing live, it is an immediate and a true proving ground. There is no higher level to music than doing it live in front of people, the feeling of a full room of people who are with you and singing along to words because they understand your meaning makes you humble and so fucking ecstatic and appreciative. In the face of the ever changing landscape its actually sustainable. Shooting videos and doing press and knowing the stories that go into a band recording or going through hardships informs anticipation for ultimately seeing it played out live in front of you. Speaking about it is foreplay playing it live is the act.

- The Music Nerd Chronicles


"Nothing To Admit" - Sophomore LP
"False Flag" - EP
"Shots From a Broken Bottle" - Single
"Liar!" b/w "Circling The Drain" - 7" single
"Static/Crash" - Debut LP
"Carousel" - Single



The Mark Inside has been making music for longer than many highly established bands exist in their entirety. After years of seclusion squirreling their music away on demo tapes and hard-drives they have finally offered up some new material. The meaning is important; the hammered notes chosen; the drums exploding and the words spoken.

Their sophomore LP 'Nothing to Admit' exposes the root of the band both intentionally and unintentionally. The tracks were recorded in Lincolnshire, England at Chapel Studios (a converted Chapel from the 1700's) with Grammy Award-winning producer Jim Abbiss (Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys, Adele) at the helm, aiming to capture the band's live-energy. It's loud, it's sexy and it's well-plotted rock and roll filtered through punk and still comfortable being played by the band in a garage, drunk on six-packs of tall cans with smoke filling the room. They explode onto crowds when they play in this 'year of our lord', 2012.

The vinyl/digital 'Nothing to Admit' LP is out through Abbiss' MetalBox label & Sony Music Canada in the Great White North. Enjoy it with compliments from a band that has lived for nearly a decade in small clubs, drunken nights and rock and roll revelations. To quote Bill Hicks, TMI 'play from [their] fucking heart!!'