Mark McGuire Talks His 'Young Person's Guide,' New Solo LP and Emeralds' Future
Published May 09, 2011For Mark McGuire, 2010 couldn't have been bigger. Not only did his day job, the Kraut-minded Cleveland, OH trio Emeralds, score critical praise and multiple year-end honours with the sonic wizardry of Does It Look Like I'm Here?, but the 24-year-old guitarist saw the release of his stellar Editions Mego debut, Living with Yourself. Now in 2011, McGuire tells Exclaim! he's looking to close one chapter in his career and start another, both with his solo work and with Emeralds.
First off, the prolific kosmisch explorer -- who has amassed well over 30 solo releases since his start in 2007 -- is doing some serious house cleaning with the upcoming A Young Person's Guide to Mark McGuire, a mammoth retrospective comp due out Tuesday (May 10) on Editions Mego. With much of his work previously available only in very limited runs, often on cassette and CD-R, the collection is some welcomed relief. And as McGuire explains, that's exactly the point.
"This whole thing is to just get the music out there to the people, not just the real heads who were there when it happened and the merch fiends that buy all the stuff right away," McGuire tells Exclaim! from his new home of Portland, OR. "Because there are so many people who don't operate that way but still enjoy the music. And I want everyone to be able to hear it."
And with two CDs, 20 tracks and nearly two and a half hours of looped, layered and intricately played guitar-scapes, A Young Person's Guide has a lot to offer.
"I picked all the songs [from past releases] that were checkpoints or stepping stones from the past few years and put them altogether [with the help of Mego label head Peter Rehberg]," McGuire says. "For the comp, so much of the stuff I have released is so limited and no one really has it, so I wanted it to start being out there in a more accessible format. I think the double CD is going to be really cool because it packs a lot of punch for two discs and it's not some big, ridiculous LP box set that people have to spend a bunch of money on."
McGuire goes on to explain that his output has slowed since the wave of hype that followed Emeralds' Does It Look Like I'm Here? -- which included the band scoring a prime opening slot on Caribou's 2010 North American tour -- but much of the slowdown is due to him "trying to hone in certain things I want to do and certain ideas, and bring them to the next level."
McGuire explains, "I'm not going to be putting out ten cassettes and CD-Rs in a year anymore. I'm probably not going to be going at that speed anymore. So I think it was cool to wrap that up [on A Young Person's Guide] -- that period before I released a major record when I was putting out all this stuff in smaller runs."
But even though McGuire insists he's slowing down, he has more than a few projects lined up for 2011, including a follow-up to Living with Yourself.
"I've been working on a new solo record since last summer. It should be out soon but I've been having some issues," McGuire says. "I record on a PC, which is the worst thing anyone can do. And I've just had so many computer problems over the last few months that I've had to stop the recording process for my new one. I was going to have it out by the summer because the vibes of the album are super summertime, but it probably won't be out until September or maybe even October or later. I've been spending a lot of time on it, and even though I'm not recording every day, I'm working on the album in my head."
Despite the technological difficulties, McGuire already has a working title for the new album, as well as an in-the-works story progression.
"Well, as of right now, the record is going to be called Get Lost. I feel that that's a title can be interpreted in a lot of different ways, and I like to do that with the titles and imagery in my music. I think when the album comes out, it will kind of unfold like a story. Kind of like how Living with Yourself did. But I can't really say exactly what that's going to mean yet."
Unfortunately, while McGuire has a clear idea of his next solo move, his plans with Emeralds are not so well-defined, partly due to the guitar player's recent relocation to Portland from the trio's home base of Cleveland.
"I live in Oregon now and those guys are still in Ohio. I know [Emeralds'] John [Elliott] and Steve [Hauschildt] have been working on stuff, and I've been working on stuff. And we're getting ready to get together to start throwing out new ideas for the new Emeralds pretty soon, but it's not something we've set in stone. We don't want to rush our record out at all. With the last one, we spent more time on that than we spent on any of our other stuff. And to us, it was the most rewarding because we worked so hard on it."
When the next Emeralds does arrive, McGuire says to expect some changes, though he's not exactly sure what those will be yet.
"We've been incorporating a lot of new elements in our sound. People who were at our [shows recently] noticed there were some percussive sounds coming out of John's sequencer. But I don't think we're specifically trying to go in any certain direction, because that's what our music has always kind been about. With the new stuff, it will just happen the way it does. The three of us just get together and that ends up making the Emeralds sound. We just end up jamming and things will happen, and we'll just steer the ship as it's moving. I can't really tell you where we're going to be at, and that's the really exciting thing about working with those guys because who knows what it's going to be like."
A Young Person's Guide to Mark McGuire is due out on Tuesday (May 10) via Editions Mego. Below you will find details McGuire gave us on some more upcoming projects to look forward to.
What: As-yet-untitled joint album with Nate Scheible
When: Spring/Summer 2011
What to expect: "It's going to be out on that label Music Fellowship from Connecticut in a few months. It's drum and guitar. But it's not like the last song on Living with Yourself [which features Scheible on drums]; it's more polyrhythmic and atmospheric."
What: As-yet-untitled Amazing Births album
When: "Really soon"
What to expect: "There is the band I have with Julian Gulyas, who runs the Cylindrical Habitats Module label, called Amazing Births, which has another album that's being pressed right now. That will be out really soon on his label. The first cassette we did was all tape manipulations, and the second was all guitar and synths. So the third mixes those two styles."
What: Mark McGuire's Inner Tube
When: Summer 2011
What to expect: "I've been working with Spencer Clark from Monopoly Child, Skaters and all that. We recorded an album last summer that's a surf album. It's like a tribute to old new wave/soft rock/surf bands from Australia and New Zealand. It's honouring that style in a new light. It's called Mark McGuire's Inner Tube, which is kinda the name of the project and album. I'm really stoked for that one because it's way out-of-left-field style and really different than a lot of stuff I've been doing, and I think people are going to respond. But I don't know if it will be a good response or bad response. We're even going to try to do a tour in Australia next year to support it."
What: Joint album with Trouble Books, Trouble Books & Mark McGuire
When: Late May/Early June
What to expect: "I have elements of doing vocals, but it's never stuff where I'm singing words. They have kind of the opposite style with their vocals, where there is no reverb or delay and it's really straight signing. So I feel it's a cool contrast with my style and theirs coming together... It is a bit more song-based but the music were working with is a style where it's more free and based on textures than pop structures... It's going to be a different style than I've done before, which I think people might be into."
What: New Skyramps album with Oneohtrix Point Never's Dan Lopatin
When: "Sooner or later"
What to expect: "If we did make a new one, we wouldn't want it to be sending tracks back and forth like we did on the CD-R . We would want it to have a more "we were actually working together" kind of vibe. But never say never. We've been talking about doing another one almost non-stop since the other one came out."