Mark Davis Talks New Album, Eclectic Side-Projects

Mark Davis Talks New Album, Eclectic Side-Projects
"I don't think I've ever been bored in my life," laughs Mark Davis, "but sometimes I bite off a little more than I can chew."

With his third solo album out this week and two other recording projects underway, this appears to be one of those times. Speaking to Exclaim! from a youth songwriting workshop in Olds, AB, the Edmonton-based musician explains the new sound that dominates his new album, Eliminate the Toxins.

"I wanted to make a record that was a little more eclectic," he says of the blend of roots and electronic experimentation. "On my last two, there wasn't as much variety. They were very different from one another, but Don't You Think We Should Be Closer was pretty uniform throughout, as was Mistakes I Meant to Make. I wanted to make a record with a lot more variety."

Variety, it seems, is the name of Davis's game these days. The former frontman for Edmonton country band Old Reliable spends his working hours at the Robin Hood Association for Developmentally Delayed Adults in Sherwood Park, AB. Recently, he's managed to turn this day job into a recording project, too.

"I run a pretty comprehensive arts program there, visual arts and music," he says. "And we took the songs that we wrote in the songwriting class into the studio with members of the singing class and the rhythm class and we made a CD."

When asked to describe the sound of the new album, titled New Day Dawning, Davis says, "I guess it's folk. But it's pretty unusual. It's quirky, but it's highly listenable. That was our objective: to create a professionally packaged, well-recorded, listenable, marketable product to accurately represent the talents of some of the individuals attending the program. I think we achieved that."

But Davis isn't content with simply creating the recording. "We have a band, too," he adds. "Now that we have a CD I figure we should have a band. And I have every intention of getting this band out in the public for some performances."

And that's not all, either. Davis's urge towards eclecticism led to the formation of another new band last year: a duo called Concealer, with Edmonton DJ Sean Picard (aka DJ Miss Mannered).

"It's sort of a drum machine-driven, trance, dance, rock band," Davis says. "I don't even play guitar, I play a sort of overdriven, effected bass guitar. And it's funny because I'm not a bass player. I'm barely a guitar player. I'm a musician fundamentally, but I'm more of a creator of songs than I am an instrumentalist. And Sean's playing keyboards and he doesn't know how to play keyboards, either."

Concealer's rare live performances around Edmonton over the past few months have garnered rave reviews and the project's first album is tentatively scheduled for release in early 2012.

"We're having a lot of fun with it and we're getting a lot of really, really positive response," says Davis. "It's fun to be playing to a younger audience for once, because for so many years I've been categorized as this country rock guy, this alt-country guy. And it's hard to shake once you're labelled something, anything."

Eliminate the Toxins is out now via Saved by Radio. Several tour dates for Alberta and Ontario are scheduled, with more dates to be announced. You can see the live schedule below and get a preview of Eliminate the Toxins in the SoundCloud player at the bottom of the page.

Tour dates:

6/17 Edmonton, AB - The Blue Chair *
6/23 Red Deer, AB - The Hideout ^
6/24 Edmonton, AB - The Artery ^
6/25 Calgary, AB - The Palamino ^~
7/23 Toronto, ON - The Local &
7/24 Ottawa, ON - The Manx &#
7/29 Wakefield, QC - Kaffe 1870 &#

* with Trevor Tchir
^ with Camp Radio
~ with Rae Spoon, C'Mon
& with Sarah Wheeler
# with Chris Page