STAYING POSITIVE Mulcahy.
In many ways, Mark Mulcahy comes off as a throwback, a musician whose time has come and, for all intents and purposes, gone. But no one told him. Since he debuted in the mid-’80s with his band Miracle Legion, times have changed dramatically. Like, completely twice over. Yet here he is, in today’s musical world, making records, playing shows.
“I try to stay on the positive side,” he says. “I guess that makes me some kind of Don Quixote. Either that or I’m one of those guys on Dumb and Dumber. I just like making records.”
His latest batch of music, Dear Mark J. Mulcahy I Love You, proves that there will, in fact, always be a place for Mulcahy’s music. The record, his first in nearly eight years, has been hailed by esteemed journals like Mojo and Uncut as his best, proving that you can indeed get better with age. “I went into this record with the idea that I would do 11 days of recording and come out of it with one song each day. I vowed that I wouldn’t go back and fix it, fix anything, and it turned out to be a good thing.”
Produced by Paul Kolderie at Rub Wrongways Records in Northampton, MA (not far from his home in Springfield) with multi-instrumentalist (and touring partner) Henning Ohlenbusch, it hinges on the ever-present Mulcahy signatures: solid Epiphone guitar sound, true and basic pop-rock hooks, quirky wit, and a rickety but endearing vocal style. His music resonates with the sound of bands he came of age with: the Pixies, Yo La Tengo, R.E.M.
“I still have a lot to learn,” he admits, speaking about his style. “I don’t feel like I really know how to do it right yet. I still look at music as a challenge. I probably write the same type of thing I’ve always written. I’m just glad it means something to the people that care about it.”
Mulcahy’s album has seen wider distribution in the US via Fire Records, joining the ranks of illustrious Fire artists (Pere Ubu, Mission of Burma, the Chills, Giant Sand, and Half Japanese). The relationship with Fire has given Mulcahy’s profile a real boost, something he’s always managed to get at just the right time. After his Miracle Legion debut and subsequent recordings, he and his new “band” Polaris stumbled on a great opportunity to develop and play music for The Adventures of Pete & Pete, a popular kids’ show on Nickelodeon. “I’m still surprised by the success of that show,” he says. “Lots of people heard of that and tuned into the music; there was a ton of great music on the show. It was a lucky turn of events for me. I invented a fake band, and so had this great band without any of the headaches. That was a fantasy moment that lasted quite a long time.”