One On One with Mark Wells of
TWENTY TWO HUNDRED
Interview by The Dedicated Rocker Society
Twenty Two Hundred is an Australian Rock band from Melbourne, Victoria, who formed in 2010. The band was founded by songwriter, musician and producer Mark Wells (ex member of The Ronnie Wood Band). Their music incorporates elements of hard rock, classic rock, funk and groove. In April 2010, the band released their debut EP Eleven .
Twenty Two Hundred were personally invited by Slash to open for his concert at Fort Canning Park, Singapore on 2 August 2010 as part of the Slash 2010 World Tour. American rock band Coheed and Cambria also performed. Twenty Two Hundred consequently opened for Slash in Singapore, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong from 14-22 March 2011.
Following the Slash tour, the band have recruited new vocalist Tony Cardenas-Montana (Slash/Great White). Twenty Two Hundred recorded their debut album “Carnaval De Vénus” in Melbourne and Los Angeles in 2012. The album was produced by Mark Wells and mixed by Grammy® award winning mix engineer Andrew Scheps. Andrew also signed the band to his label Tonequake Records. The album was release on Tonequake Records on February 19, 2013.
Throughout 2013, Twenty Two Hundred focused on making their own music videos, with the band acting as film crew and post production crew, while they scoured Australia for a vocalist. Late 2013 the guys found Cam Brown, a Brisbane based rock singer, who has the range to meet Tony's incredible vocals on the album.
Mark Wells forming member gave us the lowdown on his band Twenty Two Hundred. Here is what shared with us..
Q: How long has the band been together? What's the story behind the name of the band?
Mark Wells: "We've been together about 4 years now. Twenty Two Hundred is the highest number any of us can count to. haha. Twenty Two is actually one of those numbers that seems to crop up a lot."
Q: Your debut, 'Carnaval De Vénus' was released last year. Are you satisfied with the response you guys have received since it's release? What is like working with Multiple Grammy Award winning mix engineer Andrew Scheps? Any memorable moments in the making of the album, good or bad, that you can share?
Mark Wells: "The album has had a great response, from those who have heard it. That's the hardest part, getting it out there. We've definitely gained some long term fans from it, so we're stoked about that.
Andrew Scheps is absolutely world class and a total pleasure to work with. He is completely passionate about music and honesty in music. We share the same love of analogue recording for the way it makes you feel. It was absolutely humbling to work with a guy whose mixes are so good, one or two tracks were not even mastered. Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman in Hollywood mastered the album, and for those tracks he shrugged his shoulders and said, "this doesn't need anything at all". I've never heard of that before. Also, Andrew was doing our mixes every other day that he wasn't mixing the Red Hot Chili Peppers album. We all thought that was pretty cool.
Memorable moments... well the entire process was pretty memorable. In Melbourne, we tracked live instruments to 48 channels of 2" tape through a vintage Neve console, and overdubbed from there. That was such a luxurious way to record, old school. It just sounds better, especially for this type of music. We flew to Los Angeles to record vocals and mix it. Tony Cardenas-Montana sang on the record, he's just such a great musician and a really nice dude.
In LA, the three of us from Australia were living in a pretty dodgy neighbourhood. Between the hookers and police choppers outside our door, to Steven Tyler bursting into our rehearsal in Hollywood, the entire thing was a total adventure! "Q: In 2010 Slash invited you guys to open for him. What was that like, getting a personal invite from Him?
Mark Wells: "It's awesome getting a personal invite from Slash! It's also a little scary. You want to play your best on those shows, because Slash has invited you, and it's such a privilege, so you REALLY don't want to f**k it up. Slash is a really nice guy, and I guess he digs what we do, because we've just been invited to open for him again, this time in the UK. Can't wait for those shows!"Q: You guys have played Los Angeles already. Any plans on coming back to do more shows in 2014? Who would you guys like to tour with if you do?
Mark Wells: "We would love to come back and play in the States again. We absolutely love it over there. We'd move there if we could. With the UK tour in November 2014, we won't be in the US this year. Maybe we can get something happening for 2015. We'd be happy to tour with anyone, really, so long as they rocked!"Q: What is the songwriting process for you guys? Is it a group effort or individual? As far as musical influences, who are some of yours?
Mark Wells: "Songwriting has been, for the most part, an individual effort. I've written most of the songs myself, but there are no rules about that. I guess the other guys will start writing when the inspiration takes them. We do share a lot of the same influences. Lots of blues influences, to classic rock and heavy rock, including Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, Rage Against The Machine, Clutch, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primus and even a lot of funk bands. So many bands, it's impossible to list them all."Q: Have you started work on your follow up to 'Carnaval De Vénus'? If so, what can your fans expect to hear?
Mark Wells: "Yes, I've started writing the next album. I have no idea when we will hit the studio again, but when we do, fans can expect to hear more of what they already like from us. Big riffs, blues, groove and rock'n'roll."Q: As far as music videos, the two we've seen for "Hitman" and "Why Can't You Love Me" were shot really well. Who came up with the concepts for those videos?
Mark Wells: "The concepts are usually one or two people's ideas, and it kind of builds from there. Everyone has some input into them. I usually end up directing and editing them, and my wife Macushla is a photographer, so she's in charge of that side of it. The production is a big team effort, and we get a lot of our friends together, pull favours, and we try to make mini-movies, just for the fun of it. I guess we are closet film makers, we don't want to just film the band playing the songs. We want to entertain."Q: Gene Simmons of KISS has stated that, "Rock Is Dead". What would you say to that?
Mark Wells: "Well, I think Gene's quote has been taken out of context in many ways. What he was saying is quite accurate, rock has no funding or industry support anymore. Meanwhile, pop, country, hip hop all get full funding, publicity budgets, touring budgets, PR budgets, album budgets, and so on. It is really tough out there for new rock bands. We have to try to fund everything ourselves (somehow), and it takes funding to make the public aware of you in any industry. However, the art form is certainly not dead, the spirit of rock'n'roll is alive and well. The rock audience is definitely there as much as it ever was. I think the public are starved for great new rock bands, but the rock media tends to focus on the older stars who came up when the industry was much easier. It's not dead, it's just been exiled by the industry and media. Things will change. They always do."Q: Complete this sentence: You should check out Twenty Two Hundred because........
Mark Wells: "It ROCKS and it's good for your soul."Q: Any comments or messages you'd like to pass along?
Mark Wells: "Just a huge thanks to our fans out there, and a big thank you to you, Tony, for supporting our music!"
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