Mark Stoermer of The Killers Talks "Another Life"
Mon, 30 Jan 2012 07:53:08
Mark Stoermer's solo debut, Another Life, is dusty alt country at its finest.
The Killers' bassist ruminates upon broken love and new beginnings over the course of ten hypnotically honest cuts. Another Life bristles with subtle power hearkening back to when country could get a little raw without sacrificing melody. Pensive, poetic, and powerful, Stoermer is primed to make waves with his first solo offering. He may very well turn Las Vegas into the new Nashville West while he's at it…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino, The Killers' bass maestro Mark Stoermer opens up about Another Life, talks some favorite movies, and sheds some light on the future of The Killers.
What's your take on Another Life as a whole? Did you approach it with one particular vision?
A vibe developed as I kept writing. I chose the songs that made the record. As I was writing, I wasn't really sure where it was going. At first, I didn't even know I was making a record. I was just making demos and playing with ideas. It all came one step at a time without any clear direction initially. I worked on the songs off and on for about a year and a half. Some of the songs started to develop at the end of 2009, but some weren't written until the beginning of last year. At the end of the last Killers tour, I was writing in hotel rooms with a laptop and GarageBand. I'd hum little melodies and lyrical ideas into a Dictaphone. I spent a good deal of our break figuring out how to write and record these songs. I never even sang before. It took a long time to figure out how to sing it, and if I was even going to sing. I thought I was going to start a side project and perhaps have someone else sing. It seemed to make more sense to do it all on my own.
It would be tough for anyone else to sing the songs though.
Yeah, that's what I felt when I started developing everything. I wasn't sure if I wanted to sing or put something out with me singing. As I got the songs to a place where I wasn't embarrassed by them and could be okay with other people hearing them, it made sense that me singing was the only way it could have been done for these songs anyway.
What's the story behind the title track, "Another Life"?
It's about when a relationship goes bad and it fails, but it also has other meanings too. It's a true story, but it also has the implications of other past lives, karma, and what we bring to the life we're currently living. Does it come from another life? Those are ideas that I was playing with combined with the real story we've all experienced with something that doesn't work out.
Does that theme carry through the rest of the record?
There are a few songs, but it's not the entire record. Every song has its own story, but there are a couple that share a similar feel.
Was it always a significant title for you?
There's a double meaning to the title. This actually is another life for me, and the song is the title track. It's related to both my life away from the band I'm in and letting go of past personal things that I went through at the time I was writing this.
Is it important for you to paint visual pictures with the songs?
I guess I was going for that. I never wrote any lyrics before. I'd written melodies and riffs. As I started writing lyrics, it only made sense to tell stories and paint pictures. That's the only way I could do. A lot of these songs started with lyrics first.
Outside of music, where do you cull inspiration?
It's everything—personal experiences, books, and films. Sometimes, it's just daily life. I'll write down something that catches my ear such as a phrase.
If you were to compare Another Life to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Sometimes, I had different films in mind for songs like "The Haunts". I was watching a lot of Akira Kurosawa movies, especially The Hidden Fortress which is like an adaptation of Macbeth. "The Haunts" is sort of based on a real experience. After I watched that film—there are elements of the supernatural in it—some of the lines inspired me for that song. Something like "The Way We Were Before" is totally different, and I don't know where I'd place that as far as a film goes. In my head, for "Agne" which is an iTunes bonus track, I was trying to write a song that would fit the movie El Topo. It's a psychedelic Spaghetti Western. I didn't do that for every song, but you're making me think of it. "King of the Mountain" was inspired by Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo.
Was this more difficult than writing a Killers album since all responsibility falls on you?
It makes it easier and harder as you can imagine. Having full control is a blessing and a curse. You can do whatever you want, but you never have anyone to tell you when to keep going or when to stop which is why I enlisted friends to help me produce. Jason Hill and I got a couple of songs done, but we couldn't finish recording in Laurel Canyon. After I produced The Howling Bells record here in Las Vegas, Joel Stein and Glenn Moule stuck around to help me finish the record and produce it. I felt like I needed another ear on it, and that's I didn't produce it all myself. When you have a band, they're already telling you what they like and don't like. When it's just you by yourself, having an outside opinion as far as production is almost more necessary.
Has this process inspired more music?
Lately, I've been in full-on Killers mode. We played a couple of shows here and there. We've been writing and recording a lot. My mind has been on that, so I haven't been writing my own stuff. Ideas usually come to me when my mind is clear for a week or two. Because I released this online, it's creating an avenue where I can post a song here and there. Everything's in place for me to have that freedom. I'm looking forward to using the platform created because of this project.
Have you heard Another Life yet?