I’ve just realised that I need to get out more. There once was a time when musically speaking not too much escaped my attention. Suddenly I realise that living in a French farmhouse can be therapeutic but also disconnect you in a way that is quite alarming. So forgive me for writing this as though I am the first person to discover Mark Geary.
If you live in New York City or Ireland you are no doubt light years ahead of me. Irish-born Mark was one of eight siblings. He quotes a piece of graffiti on a toilet wall in Dublin as one of the inspirations to do something almost radical. It read, 'would the last person out of Ireland please turn out the light'.
He emigrated to New York at the age of nineteen via a brief spell in London in the early nineties. It was at his brother’s venue Café Sin e, in New York that he began to perform his music in front of a live audience.
It was a tough introduction at a venue that boasted the likes of Jeff Buckley, and Sinead O’Connor. He found the experience ‘terrifying’ and quickly found out that, for that particular time, he just ‘wasn’t good enough’.
It made him realise that the drug problem he had brought with him had to go and that he desperately wanted to return to his drug of choice, music. He moved up the New York scene with more assured performances that led to slots supporting Elvis Costello, Coldplay, and the late Joe Strummer.
His first self titled album appeared in 1999. 33 1/3 Grand Street followed in 2002. By 2004 he had released the excellent Ghosts an album that Mark describes on his Myspace page as, ‘stepping down from the attic, over some skeletons and bones and into the daylight’. In 2005 Mark wrote the soundtrack to the film Loggerheads.
Meanwhile Ghosts, which includes the superb title track, along with “Beautiful”, “Morphine”, and “Mid-nite Sun”, all tracks rich with quality, had turned gold.
During 2008, Mark released his latest album, Opium (Independent Records Ireland). Among his list of influences are The Beatles, Nick Drake, JJ Cale, Arcade Fire, and Radiohead. There is also a certain Bob Dylan another musician who had moved to New York and did rather well for himself.
There is a remarkable honesty to Mark’s lyrics which combine with a moving vulnerability to draw me towards making another comparison this time to Elliot Smith.
On his Myspace, Mark displays that vulnerability by saying, ‘had I been on a major label I would have been dropped by now, or shot in the head or whatever happens to those poor bands who don’t make money for their labels’.