Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

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Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by 7th_son »

A big THANK YOU to Mark for his participation in the White Swirl Q&A!!!~

And a big thank you to Nicole for taking the lead on the latest edition.


1. What is your favorite instrument that your have played?

• I had a “Magical Musical Thing” when I was two that I took everywhere with me.

2. What is the next instrument you would like to take a stab at?

• It’s a draw. Pedal Steel seems more practical in my life, but French Horn is where it’s at.

3. What is the one musical phenomenon big or small that changed your life?

• The 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story.

4. Who were the musicians that influenced you early on and made you want to become a musician yourself? Favorite band/artist of all time?

• It was just a given in my household that you were going to play an instrument, so I never had much choice in the matter. My parents are both big classical and musical theater fans, so my first favorites were West Side Story and Sweeney Todd (I’m still afraid of the steam whistle in the Len Cairou/Angela Lansbury recording)…My dad, however, bought me Bark At The Moon when I was maybe three…I was so proud and terrified of it, and then one day it just disappeared from my room. My mom still denies she had anything to do with that.

5. What is playing on your turntable/cd player/iPod right now?

• In the last week:

Burt Bacharach – After The Fox (on repeat)

Vampire Weekend – Contra

Black Crowes – Lions/Southern Harmony & Musical Companion

Brian Eno – Here Come The Warm Jets/Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy

Pleasure Club – Here Comes The Trick

Mu Meson – Blue LP/Green LP

Julian Casablancas – Phrazes For The Young

6. Any plans to record at TMR in the future?

• I plan on saying yes should anyone offer.

7. What musician past or present would you most like to play with?

• There’s a singer in Seattle named Marc Olsen (Not to be confused with Mark Olson from the Jayhawks). My first show ever was opening up for his band “Sage” in about ’93 and I’ve loved his songs ever since then. I fell in love with Gretsch guitars because of him. I don’t know what he’s up to these days but if he’s reading this, “MARC! LET’S DO SOME SHOWS, MAN!”

If you can find him online, check out: Marc Olsen – Didn’t Ever…Hasn’t Since… (Essential cuts: Rosaleen, Your Day, Martian Romance)

8. What is your most prized collectible and why?

• I live in New York where there really isn’t room to collect much but my brother, who is an aspiring luthier, built me a guitar for my 24th birthday and I guard it with my life.

9. What is a perfect day for Mark Watrous?

• 9am: Coffee & two eggs

10am: Three episodes of LOST

1pm: Lunch at El Centro

3pm: Practice guitar solos from Pink Floyd - The Wall

6pm: Three episodes of LOST

9pm: Dinner at El Centro (Burrito Oaxaqueno & 1¼ margaritas. Frozen w/ salt)

11pm: ½ bottle of Wine and three episodes of LOST.

10. What will the Raconteur's legacy be ten years from now?

• Are we in a DeLorean? Is my name Doc?

11. How do you like your steak burnt to a crisp or bloody as hell?

• Give it to us raw and wriggling…you keep nasty chips.

12. How did you get into graphic design?

• I went to WWU with the intention of pursuing it until my band Loudermilk signed in 1998, so it got put on hold. I stayed interested until 2003 when a designer friend of mine offered to hire me at his company in WA and basically mentor me. I still do one-off jobs for him now and then…in fact I’m working on a couple things for him this week.

13. What is your favorite design by yourself or another artist?

• Hard to say…I might like the type treatment on a design but not the illustration, or the overall texture but none of the content. I think I more or less just like the elements themselves. I can’t think of a print right now that sums it all up for me.

14. What was it like playing with the Racs at Eden Fest?

• And I shall answer you with another question: “Did you say BIODOMES!?”

15. How did you get the opportunity to work with The Raconteurs?

• I think I read somewhere that I was doing some gardening for Jack…

16. Do you prefer being a solo artist or would you rather be a part of a full band? Is it better for you to collaborate with others, or do you like putting your music together on your own? (I guess I mean, how much control do you need in writing & arranging your music?)

• I like both processes equally. I like being able to get out what I want to get out the way I want to get it out, but I also enjoy working with people who are invested in bettering the end result. I just read an interview with Sean Lennon where he talked about the need to have partners to filter your ideas through and make them better. I believe in that 100%.

17. While I'm sure touring with the various bands & musicians has been amazing for you, do you feel that this puts your own music on hold? Like it is a day-job necessary to support your own endeavors? Or does it still satisfy your creative needs and append your career nicely? Are you able to work on your own music while touring with others, or do you need to focus on the job at hand?

• I’d say it’s helped me. Left alone in a room I can’t get past the initial spark stage. I always come off of tour with a good idea of what to do with the batch of ideas from 6 months ago. I guess I’m saying I like to let things simmer. We make a mean chili around here too.

18. Seeing as you play just about every instrument out there, is there one that is your favorite? Or does that change with different moods?

• I always like playing the ones I haven’t brought out in a while. Right now I’m enjoying playing guitar, but I kinda can’t wait to play drums or pick up the violin again.

19. Can we expect to see you play out as a solo artist more in the future? (Because I think we'd all like to see more of this!)


20. Which was the first instrument you learned & how and at what age were you introduced to it?

• My parents put me in violin when I was 3. I suppose I’d taken an interest in their piano sometime before that? I spent the first year learning to hold a cigar box with a ruler taped to it to make sure I didn’t break the real thing when I graduated to it.

21. Do you plan on trying to approach Jack White when you look to do your solo album, I hear he has a knack for producing vinyl rather quickly.

• So I’ve heard! I’m about 80% done with something right now. As of yet, there’s no plan for how or where to put it out. I’d love to get it out there though.

22. To what far ends of the earth has your career taken you? What was your favorite and why?

• Poland’s as far as I’ve been. It was pretty wonderful. The people were all really pleasant, the food was incredible, and I saw Roman Polanski at our Hotel.

23. Who's a better guitarist....Brendan or Jack?

• You know, I never thought to ask.

24. When you played on the rooftop in New York, did you think of jumping? I hope not, and if not, did you want to throw someone off the edge?

• I nearly lost my sunglasses off the side that day…and we don’t have a Target here in NYC so I don’t know what I would have done.

26. How long did it take to plan your wedding? What was the worst part about planning it? I'm at the beginning of such a journey myself and want to know what I'm in for.

• We did it in about 7 months I think? …And when I say “we” I mean my wife. The real headache was figuring out where everyone was going to stay, and then once we thought we had it figured out, someone would drop out or someone who hadn’t been able to come would write to say they’d be there. We’re gonna be so good at tetris the next time we play.

27. What is the worst sounding instrument that you can think of? (kazoo? bagpipes? theremin?)

• Theremin played with bagpipes. Kazoo is great though…I got no problems there.

28. How do you pronounce your last name?

• Wa•ter•house – n. | wô̇-tər-hau̇s |

• Wa•ters – n. | wô̇-tərs |

• Wa•trous – n. |wô̇-triss |

• Wa•ter•hau•sen – n. |vô̇-tər-hau̇ -zen|

29. What is the one thing you miss about living in Washington?

• The days of Grunge

30. At what age did you start playing music or take an interest in music?

• See #20

31. What was your "big break" that got you into "the industry"?

• I was in a band called “Loudermilk” back in Washington. We signed to American Recordings in the late 90’s and then to Dreamworks after that. We made a few records and a lot of mistakes, and then Dreamworks fell apart so we changed the name of the band to “Gosling” and I grew a beard.

32. Which band do you like better; The White Stripes, The Raconteurs or The Dead Weather?

• They all seem like pretty nice people to me.

33. What is your favorite White Stripes song?

• “You Belong To Me” has been one of my all time favorites since I was about 15 so I’ve gotta give them props for covering it.

34. Out of all the bands you have toured with, who had the best tour bus?

• Well I don’t get to see the busses much. It’s pretty much mandatory that I stay in my bunk all the time to think about how badly I’m screwing everything up.

35. Does learning to play an instrument come easy to you, like an instinct that you just pick up on or has it been a struggle with them all? Which was the easiest to learn?

• I don’t know. When I get focused on something I tend to just tune out everything else until I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. I’d like to say learning a new instrument comes easy, but in the end I really couldn’t tell you if it took me two hours or 24. I’ll say that keys have been the easiest to put down and come back to. The keyboard is by nature the simplest of all instruments.

36. If/When you do a solo album, do you plan on just doing a single instrument at a time, or playing a variety and putting it all together so you are a "digital" 3,4,5,6...man band?

• So far I prefer to layer things the way a band would in the hopes that I’ll have one to play the parts one day. If that fails I guess I could always strap a marching drum on my back…

I tend to be the kind of person that works something over and over and over, so inevitably songs that might be fine as just a guitar and vocal turn into full band kinds of things. It was the role I took in my previous bands and I guess that knack for complicating rather than simplifying followed me.

37. When touring with a band, have you ever thought, "man, this song sucks, I wish I didn't have to play it."?

• I’ve been fortunate to have the freedom to only tour with people I REALLY want to tour with… so the answer is no. I don’t think there’s ever been a point (knock on wood) that I’ve dreaded playing something and in fact I’ve turned down offers I knew I’d have that response to. I try to remind myself that what’s good for the band is good for me, and that all art deserves the respect of being created by people who are passionate about it. I wouldn’t want someone gritting their teeth through any of my tunes just to get a paycheck at the end of the week.

38. How was it working on the set of Charmed? (imdb has you listed on an episode)Would you ever consider taking up acting and putting music on the backburner?

• It hurts Uncle Waterhouse when you bring up his past.

39. What was/is your favorite memory from the Rac's tour? Was it something on stage or behind the scenes?

• The night of the Montreaux festival we had dinner up in the Swiss Alps overlooking Lake Geneva. At this dinner they served some strange kind of rotisserie cooked gouda which they’d shave off onto a plate with a giant knife. I dream I’ll one day make enough money in showbiz to fund time-travel research so that I may ultimately go back and be with that cheese forever.

40. Who is your most inspirational artist and how does that reflect in your personal style now as an artist?

• I really can’t pin down a particular source. It comes from all over the place and rarely any of it gets channeled right back into the same medium. My friend Mat turned me on to http://www.butdoesitfloat.com which I’m sadly addicted to now. Visually and sonically I love imperfections (or the illusion therof) and I love art that can make a point without taking itself too seriously.

41. Your keyboard and violin were vital in many of the Raconteurs songs from Consolers of the Lonely (Old Enough, for example, is transformed by your fiddle.) When you are brought in to round out a pre-existing troupe of musicians, how does the creative process work?

• It’s different with everyone. Some people are very hands on with what they expect you to re-create and others leave you to it. Luckily I like having guidance as much as I like being left to my own devices. Also, it was kind of a stroke of luck since no one knew I played fiddle when I was brought in.

42. Being the Renaissance Man that you are (writing/performing/directing et al) your options as an artist seem endless. Looking ahead, what kind of project titillates your imagination the most?

• I’ve wanted to score films as long as I can remember actually. I blame E.T.

43. Can you tell us about the epic mustaches you & Brendan grew? i recall seeing a few crew members w/ the stache as well, whose idea was it, was there a bet involved?

• One of these is true and the other two are false:

- Mine was the same fake mustache worn by Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood.

- They were grown in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Paul McCartney’s mustache.

- It made sense at the time.

44. What is hands down the greatest thing in the world?

• An army of robots riding sabretooth tigers into battle.

45. If you could eat any fruit only for the rest of your life, what would it be?

• Pomegranate

46. Touring around the world, what's the best beer you've ever had?

• Atomic Ale in my home town does a pretty effing insane Dunkelweizen...Just sayin.

47. Who would win in a fight, Patrick Keeler or Jack White?

• Well it all depends on _,T!+_>p 9Qg Cµπ˙Qgi`Z),'Er 0QmF5\< R&]FoWO"FoWApF8u :A%PU]I !!FE,&i<X6 ,J\gG5V,ZY&'/o/D udfX6k'/,j= YgbR /t)uE @P<V !!"4.!$F r\!rr<D5s,^i!aQlL>s,^ i!aQl L>U&<m)@<c fi*©∑ˆƒ¨©çH6q G)A C!MKDE 4l5sI LHPZFoW3. FoWB#F8 uRer 'I;+c[ Zi"Ql oB6&<%& !m[umsD? <FATAL SYNTAX ERROR> oU *7gg3m^l/9tSC"nK!" ],`A0 (dQM ]<j"<"oBZ:3@\)`T K6!V'>Q>6 ^+>3]t jbV= "+:o_M!!j]uquT gu$3]IA+> ß =W˜∆©ƒ4:3BtF"œƒç8 5FhnkB, P9`XHQ! 9QuUi_9F 09`WmA !7jjEd S0_e9 `W=1!6. _5_G∫∂ E9`Vb!! 4GTå ˆ∫¥ %Z:t>%9`V1f!2 `HjU.k WZ9`UVV!1$=ZP"b q:9`U&F!/= 2JJkZ5o9 :E_QOO9`Sp&!˜ˆ®+nq*@SHi/9`S?k!*2eo; G@d9`R ≥ d[!(KZ_6;7GD9`R4K! > &dOO1/ ≤ .a$9`QY; and then he’d say “That was wicked. Let’s grab a pizza” and off they’d go.

48. You have the choice to cliff dive in Brazil or bungee jump off a helicopter for 1 million dollars, what do you do?

• I’ll do Brazil, but Imma need you to do a sweep for piranha and sharp rocks before I jump. K? Thx.

50. Favorite album, movie and book?

• First of all, my opinion of greatest anything changes on a daily basis. This morning the list looks like this:

Queen – Flash Gordon Soundtrack

Dune (the David Lynch version)

Mike Mulligan and his Steamshovel

51. Favorite venue?

• The Hoedown in Kennewick, WA.

52. Favorite breakfast cereal?

• I used to mix the Golden Grahams with the Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I hear it’s the cereal equivalent of a speedball.

53. Favorite pro sport?

• Kitten Jousting

54. Favourite flavour of ice cream?

• Vanilla goes with everything and I like to keep my options open.

55. Favorite beer?

• See #46.

56. What is your favorite flavor of poptart?

• Butter & Olive

57. Congratulations on your recent wedding in Mexico, did you drink the water?

• Thanks! I don’t know what you’re getting at.
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Re: Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by harvestgirl »

thanks adam! AND again... mark! :)

aaron/orangshoekid won for best question " what's your fav poptart flavor?" mark sent his prize out to me via usps & as soon as it arrives, i'll be shipping to aaron w/ an additional goodie from me, congrats aaron!!!
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Re: Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by higherlimits »

holy shit that's a long Q&A, I'm only halfway through, I'll have to finish the rest of it later, I need to take a break for work..
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Re: Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by harvestgirl »

:lol: sorry ~ that wasn't even all the questions submitted.
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Re: Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by love_islander »

higherlimits wrote:holy shit that's a long Q&A, I'm only halfway through, I'll have to finish the rest of it later, I need to take a break for work..
That WAS an epic interview - thanks for organising that!
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Re: Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by anonymousbrunette »

Many thanks to Mark. Wonderful to get a peek inside the artists mind (no matter how scarry - olive and butter, eh?) ;)
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Re: Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by KaseyLS »

Excellent Q&A! Well done Nicole! And thanks to Mark for being to gracious! His answers just made me like him more (& not just because he answered some of my questions). Can't wait to hear more from him!

& congrats to Aaron!
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Re: Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by barrowc »

Thanks for this :)
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Re: Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by WanderingStranger »

That was a great q&a! Hilarious. Thanks Mark and Nicole!
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Re: Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by cheriebobbins »

thanks for that, It was a lot of questions, I laughed half of the way through that, mark is a funny fella...

I like to keep my icecream options open too, lol
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Re: Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by FaytLJake »

Thanks for answers to questions 12, 13, and 14, Mark!

Really insightful interview, as I plan to major in Graphic Design after high school, starting college in the fall. Many thanks to Mark and W/S for this interview!!!
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Re: Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by love_islander »

cheriebobbins wrote:thanks for that, It was a lot of questions, I laughed half of the way through that, mark is a funny fella...

I like to keep my icecream options open too, lol
welcome, welcome - I was wondering when you'd come over this way...
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Re: Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by harvestgirl »

glad you all like it! :)
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Re: Full Q&A with Mark Watrous

Post by ak1nney »

This was a great read. Mark is a funny guy. He kept getting a kick out of me filming him on my camera at a gig in Indy. He had some sound difficulties during one of his solos and Brendan saw me look at him, I wasn't like doing it in a mean way or anything, but Brendan laughed at me and it was a good time. Great guys to see live in the front row, make you feel like they are just hanging out with you.
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