By Stephanie Stevens
The mastermind behind the band MGT, is the UK legend Mark Gemini Thwaite; the composer and guitarist of many bands through the years in the goth/rock scene; with bands like The Mission, Peter Murphy and the band HIM. He is also no secret in the industrial circle of the music world, with bands like the Revolting Cocks, Primitive Race and Gary Numan. His talent and creativity have been intertwined with many legends of the music industry, through the years, but in 2016 he set free into the world of the solo artist, and released a desired album in VOLUMES. Getting massive acceptance for his first solo debut, he also found Ashton Nyte, who would become a partner and brother in the music works of his future.
Fast forward to 2018 and the guys known as MGT are on the verge of releasing a 2nd album in GEMINI NYTE. Somber, gothic, eccentric and driving, are just a few words to describe the new songs and music. It brings you on an emotional and soundscape adventure. I had the pleasure to ask the guys about what inspires them, working together, tour plans and much more. ENJOY!!
GROWING UP IN BRIMINGHAM, CAN U REMEMBER THE FIRST ACTUALLY MOMENT YOU REALIZED YOU HAD SOMETHING TO SAY MUSICALLY, AND HOW OLD WERE YOU?
Mark: Funny enough one of my first memories of doing something musical was learning how to play ‘Are Friends Electric’ by Gary Numan and Tubeway Army when I was 13 or 14 years old, on an electric Bontempi organ I had in my bedroom.. was quite a trip to fast forward 30 years later and be playing that same song live with Gary Numan on tour a few years ago! As for when I had something to say musically, I eventually got hold of a guitar when I was aged 15 and my best friend at school Paul ‘Paddy’ Bryan had already gotten a Les Paul copy from a catalogue.. not to be outdone, I got one too and thus started my love affair with the guitar.. original compositions and riffs soon followed!
WHAT KIND OF MUSIC OR ARTISTS INSPIRED YOU GROWING UP?
Mark: Initially, back when I was a teenager I was heavily influenced by the emergence of the punk rock scene in the UK.. bands such as Generation X, the Sex Pistols, The Skids, and Tubeway Army etc.. also hard rock bands such as Motorhead and Rush, and also listened to stuff like Pink Floyd and alternative rock. As I progressed, I started listening to more alternative rock such as the Cure, Killing Joke, U2, Simple Minds, XTC and Siouxsie and the Banshees to name a few.. as I got older I became more influenced by classic rock bands such as Zeppelin, The Who, Bowie and The Beatles, plus blues, dub and rock ‘n’ roll.
Ashton: Elvis Presley was the first to captivate my imagination at around the age of 5. I think I discovered David Bowie 2 years later and asked my Dad to buy a “Best of Bowie” album rather urgently. I have remained a faithful fan of both throughout my life and would add Kate Bush, Cat Stevens and Neil Diamond to a list of artists who inspired me as a child and still do today. Having said that, my tastes are extremely diverse and have most of what Mark has mentioned in my early record or CD collection, along with other essentials like Lou Reed, The Doors, Nick Cave, T-Rex, early U2, Bryan Ferry, Queen, Nina Simone, The Damned, Duran Duran, Billy Idol, Fad Gadget, Bauhaus, Sisters and so many more.
YOU HAVE WORKED AND BEEN IN BANDS WITH SOME REALLY LEGENDARY, CLASSIC AND STOIC PEOPLE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY. WORKING WITH THOSE SAID PEOPLE, WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST GROWTH PERSONALLY, IN YOUR MUSIC CRAFT?
Mark: Probably being in a band with Wayne Hussey and The Mission fairly early on in my professional music career was a real lesson in guitar and song craft, I learned from Wayne how to approach recording guitars, how to interact and apply my creativity to the band, blending our guitar parts together, how to get better tones, learn when not to play and the importance of space – something I still struggle with! And to see how Wayne’s songs would come together in the studio, building and layering the structure and instrumentation.. a masterclass in recording and writing, Wayne’s influences were Zeppelin and Bowie and T-Rex and Beatles so great source material.
WHEN YOU RELEASED VOLUMES; THIS WAS YOUR FIRST AS A SOLO ARTIST. WAS THEIR PRESSURE ON THE ALBUM? HOW DO YOU VIEW LOOKING BACK AT YOUR MINDSET, GOING INTO THE PROCESS OF WRITING FOR THAT ALBUM?
Mark: No pressure really, I decided to record and release some solo material in 2015 – I’d played on and contributed to over 25 commercially released albums by various bands over the years, I had some down time in 2015 and after I’d recorded and mixed a bunch of the Primitive Race album in my home studio – which involved composing, arranging, importing various different vocal parts from different singers, and mixing it.. I realized, why don’t I get my friends to sing on some of my musical compositions and mix it in my home studio and self-release a few Eps? Seemed like a good idea, I’d previously seen the guitarist’s solo album’ as a self-indulgent guitar fest, something that didn’t appeal to me, and I hate singing.. but once we finished the first few songs, including my ABBA cover with Ville Valo – I realized the project was going to be great and Ville insisted he help me find a label to release it properly on CD, get a budget for a video etc. I’m glad he did! It was relatively little pressure, although once you involve a record label it does create demands and time constraints.
WORKING WITH ASHTON NYTE, IN YOUR LAST ALBUM, YOU SEEM TO HAVE FOUND SOMETHING IN HIM YOU LIKED. WITH THE NEW ALBUM COMING OUT, HE IS A PROMINENT SHOWCASE ON IT. WHAT DID YOU SEE IN HIM PROFESSIONALLY AND PERSONALLY, THAT MADE YOU WANT TO DIG INTO THIS NEW ALBUM?
Mark: Ashton and I were first introduced back in mid 2015, by a mutual friend Adrian Skirrow, we chatted on the phone and shared some demos and ended up collaborating on two of my musical demos, which Ashton added his lyrics and vocals to – namely ‘The Reaping’ and ‘Jesamine’, which both featured on my first album ‘Volumes’ released in summer 2016. We hit it off as a songwriting team, and after that we just kept on writing from then on.. I’d send Ashton more of my demos and he’s keep firing back with excellent vocals on each one, it was very fluid and easy… Ashton had the perfect vocal and approach to the music I was sending him, a great blend of Bowie and Eldritch influences and his own touch.. that was a couple years ago now. In fact we had most of this new album in the can over the last year.
Ashton: It was certainly something that developed very quickly. The original thinking was to have me write lyrics and sing on a song or 2 and I think we had 5 or 6 down before Volumes was even mixed! I found Mark’s music easy to write lyrics to. I’d honestly never collaborated in that way before as I usually write and play everything myself, but it was rather liberating. It also forces you to really focus on what you’re bringing to the party (and then argue about the mixes for weeks, haha). Jokes aside, I think the speed and ease in which we assembled the album speaks for itself.
TELL YOUR FANS HOW THIS NEW ALBUM, MGT: GEMINI NYTE STRAYS FROM THE LAST PROJECT, VOLUMES AND ANY SURPRISES YOU THINK THEY WILL BE HAPPY ABOUT IT?
Mark: I think the obvious difference is I’ve written and recorded the whole new album with Ashton, and we’ve taken the template set by songs like “The Reaping” and “Jesamine” and created a whole album of that sound…
Ashton: Yeah, it was a very organic evolution. Where “Volumes” was an eclectic blend of Mark’s music with a range of singers / lyricists, “Gemini Nyte” sees MGT becoming a band with 2 artists writing and producing together. Like with any partnership, things work best when the partnership is balanced and I think we found our groove early on. This album is certainly more focused and has grown beautifully on the foundation laid by “The Reaping” and “Jesamine”.
FOR YOU, WHAT DOES THE ALBUM TITLE MEAN TO YOU?
Mark: We originally intended to release this album as a new separate entity, a new band formed by myself and Ash called ‘Gemini Nyte,’ our label preferred the idea of us capitalizing on the brand I had created the year before, with the MGT ‘Volumes’ release and the success of the ABBA cover, with over 2.2M views on Youtube, over quarter of a million plays on Spotify etc.. so we relented and agreed to make ‘MGT’ a band, and call the album :”Gemini Nyte’ instead…
Ashton: As Mark said, we created this album together, with the intention of releasing it as a new band called Gemini Nyte, following on from his first “solo” album and my various solo albums and releases as The Awakening. In any event, we succumbed to the desires of our label and still have a wonderful album that we’re both proud of! We are very fortunate to have a label believe in our work and ultimately, we need to trust that their advice was / is the right advice.
FAVORITE SONG OFF THE NEW ALBUM AND WHY?
Ashton: If I had to choose one I would have to go with “ASSEMBLY LINE”. I love the mood and atmosphere of that song. One of Mark’s most inventive chord progressions made painting a rather other-worldy picture easy. It also lent itself well to writing one of my favourite vocal melodies, along with some of my favourite lyrics. The light and shade on that song is very pleasing to me.
Mark: This one is difficult for me, as they are all our babies… I have different favourites for each mood, it changes each day. I love “ALL THE BROKEN THINGS” and “EVERY LITTLE DREAM” as they are a great blend of our signature goth rock sound and killer songs to boot. Also love ‘ARMAGEDDONS SIDESHOW”, “ASSEMBLY LINE”, “TRADING FACES”, the list goes on.
YOU RELEASED A VIDEO FOR ALL THE BROKEN THINGS, DO YOU THINK THE FINISHED PRODUCT CAPTURES THE ESSENCE OF THE SONG?
Mark: I think director Vicente Cordero did an amazing job, Ashton had a dystopian vision for the video, somewhat akin to one of Suede’s video’s back in the 90’s, both myself and Ashton are big fans of Suede…
Ashton: Yeah, thematically THE BROKEN THINGS, along with many other songs on the album have a dystopian subtext. It was difficult for them not to, with all our planet continues to go through. I had sent Vicente Suede’s video for We Are the Pigs as a reference, as they had done a fabulous job reflecting some of the Orwellian references I felt tied in with All the Broken Things. I think Vicente took that “mood board” and created something of his own that still pays homage to those various elements. He is a lovely, talented person and very easy to work with too.
WHAT DO YOU WANT FANS TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS FIRST SINGLE?
Mark: We’ve released a couple of singles in advance of the album already – “ALL THE BROKEN THINGS” and “EVERY LITTLE DREAM”. Both encompass the vibe and sound of ‘GEMINI NYTE’ as a sound and as a band, ‘BROKEN THINGS’ with its strident goth rock tension and ‘EVERY LITTLE DREAM” with its upbeat post punk sensibilities and singalong chorus.. we want the fans to get up and dance!
Ashton: I think both singles help set the stage for the upcoming album and hopefully communicate the album’s diversity as well. It also gives people time to absorb them before we hit the road in March!
ANY TOUR PLANS COMING UP, AND WILL YOU BE HITTING THE STATES ON ANY LENGTHY TOURS?
Mark: Yes we are touring the US in March with fellow labelmate JYRKI69, frontman for Finnish multi-platinum goth n rollers The 69 Eyes, we are both signed to the same label.
Ashton: I’m excited to hear this album played loud! Touring with the lovely Jyrki69 should be dandy. Also looking forward to being on stage with Mark again, as well as our dear friend Rich Vernon, joining us on bass again and Gary Sullivan joining us on drums for his first MGT tour. Finishing the tour at the legendary Whisky A Go Go, is also something of a dream for a long time Doors fan like myself ;-).
ANY LAST COMMENTS?
Ashton: Thank you for listening to our album and we’ll hopefully see you on the road soon!
Mark: Looking forward to playing these songs live and seeing the response to the new album.