Monday Motivation: Mark Rose

If you’re anything like me, you probably started the day by recognizing that the start of a new work week had indeed arrived and then immediately began shaking your fists at the sky in anger. Monday is rarely anyone’s favorite day, and from what I have seen firsthand it feels safe to say it’s the one day of the week some people outright hate. I guess to them the arrival of the work week symbolizes the end of their quote/unquote freedom, and as a result they head into the office/factory/restaurant/store with a negative outlook already on their mind. This leads to bad attitudes, which only makes the experience of being at work worse, and for some reason it also seems to make time slow to a crawl. We’re not about that life, and we hope this post can do the same you that the song contained within it did for us.

I grew up in home where alternative christian music was the main form of audio entertainment in our home. Groups like DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline, and Newsboys were the first rock stars I knew, and I nearly made it into my teens years thinking the were amongst biggest acts in the world. I knew there was music outside the stuff my parents allowed in our home, of course, but I had no idea how niche the market I considered my entire world was when considered against music as a whole. That is, not until we could afford cable, which in turn exposed me to MTV.

Talking about MTV as an introductory point to the world of mainstream music sounds as old fashioned to kids today as relying on phones that were attached to a wall in your home for communication to people born after 1985, but when I was preparing to enter middle school MTV was still something special. I would rush home from school every single day to see Carson Daly host TRL, otherwise known as Total Request Live, a top ten countdown featuring the most popular music videos of the moment. It was through this program I was introduced to hundreds of artists who would later become staples of my life, including Blink-182, Eminem, TLC, Kid Rock, and many more.

As much as I loved watching videos on MTV and, by then, listening to top 40 on the radio whenever my parents allowed it, I was still prohibited from seeing the secular artists I enjoyed in concert. I know not everyone is taken to concerts at the age of 10 or 11, but this was a common occurrence in our home. My parents raised me in the alternative christian community. We traveled to concerts all over Northwest Ohio when I was in elementary school, and when I was a little older we even attended a few multi-day festivals. I saw everyone I heard on the radio, as well as dozens of up and comers who supported them. To me, this was how everyone experienced the music they enjoyed. If you liked the artists you heard on the radio, you bought a copy to own and saw the artist live when time and finances allowed. That remains my belief to this day.

The first secular concert I was ever able to attend was a single day festival at The Intersection in Grand Rapids, MI. Over a dozen bands performed on what I later learned was an ‘off day’ for those traveling on Van’s Warped Tour. I was fifteen at the time, and my driver was my sixteen year old girlfriend, Amy. Her parents were equally, if not more strict than mine. We saw Less Than Jake, My Chemical Romance, The Bled, Senses Fail, and others whose importance in my life would not be clear for years to come. It was fun, but looking back now it’s largely a blur. A Joyous blur, but a blur nonetheless. The thing I remember the most is that people could smoke indoors then, and when you had 9-plus hours of music the smoke would get thick. The Intersection would periodically open their giant loading doors to vent the venue, which in turn exposed an audience who had otherwise been packed like tuna in a dark room too bright lights and cool, fresh air.

My second secular concert has gone on to have far more meaning for me, and it has very little to do with the reason I attended the show in the first place. Amy and I waited six months to ask for permission to attend another show, and we chose Hawthorne Heights’ headlining run for The Silence In Black And White as our target. We bought our tickets early, drove from our tiny Southwest Michigan farming town to Grand Rapids in the January snow, and found our way to what can best be described as the row behind the people fighting each other for a barrier spot. No drinks, no smokes. This was just two teens ready to sing along with a band whose heartache had been repurposed to define the brief periods between interaction they experienced in their short time together. They called it love.

Then it happened. Before the headlining act, a band called Spitalfield took the stage. I had no idea who they were at the time, but something about their pop rock fueled perspective on growing up in the suburbs of Chicago grabbed my midwest soul with and refused to let go. Amy felt the same, and we left with a copy of their debut album, Remember Right Now, on CD. I don’t think we spoke with a member of the band, but if we did it was brief. We did, however, lose our voices during Hawthorne Heights. Mission: Accomplished.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that set would become something I would talk about for the rest of my life. Not often, but every few years, whenever Mark Rose-vocalist for Spitalfield-comes through town. More than ten years have passed since that night, and in that time I’ve pursued a career in music while Mark has continued to develop his career in music. Spitalfield eventually came to a close, but Mark reemerged with a solo career that found him experimenting with a different side of the rock music spectrum. Gone were the days of pop rock anthems and present was something far more akin to an eighties influenced version of John Mayer, only with more heart and better hooks. Also, no relationship with Katy Perry (that I know of).

To be honest, it took me a while to come around to Mark’s new sound, and I think it took him a while to be comfortable sharing it with the world. His first recordings were good, and you could sense where he wanted to go, but it was clear a part of him felt compelled to pander in some way to those who had given him years of support through his previous project. I didn’t mind, as I was one of those supporters, but I got the sense Mark knew he could create something the more closely resembled the music he heard in his head with time. There was a fire in his eyes every time he spoke of the future. The things he had planned, the things he wanted to accomplish, and the things he thought he could do once the next level was reached. It was never about tomorrow with Mark, it was about next month or next year. Sustaining his dream over the longterm had become his career, and he was back at the beginning. This time, however, he knew what needed to be done.

This Friday, Mark will release his new album, The Wild Type, through InVogue Records. I had the opportunity to hear the majority of the record for the first time several months ago, and I’ve been itching for the opportunity to share my favorite songs with the rest of the world. The hopes and ideas Mark spoke of over the last half decade have come full circle, and he’s finally creating the kind of art I believe he has been chasing his entire life. There is a sincerity to every song that can only come from someone creating out of pure joy for the craft. Radio play and licensing are nice, and they can certainly help facilitate future tours or albums, but Rose is focused first and foremost to being true to himself. The same unique perspective that gave Spitalfield its defining characteristic has evolved into a man who still sees the world with wide-eyed wonder, and the music he’s creating is a reflection of that change.

We don’t call Monday Motivation posts reviews because there is almost always an incredible bias, but I had to tell you this long story in order to help you understand just what you’re hearing when The Wild Type plays. Mark Rose is an amazing talented singer-songwriter with a knack for hooks and melodies who is second to none in what I like to call the ‘modern soft rock’ genre, yes, but he’s also so much more. He’s a testament to staying true to that little voice in your heart, soul, mind, or whatever you want to call it that tell you compels you to create. He listens to that thing that propels us to be unique and is unique in a way that brings people together. In some cases, he makes people smile. In others, he comforts them while they weep. Whatever the situation, he’s doing that while sharing an honest part of himself with the world solely because it’s what he wants to do. It’s not about the money or the exposure, but rather the art itself. It’s pure.

I encourage you to set aside and extra thirty minute when listening to The Wild Type this week. Find a place to enjoy the album in full, then grab a sheet of paper and write down the thing you really want to do with your life. Don’t worry about the costs or how impossible it may seem in relation to your life today, just write down the thing you wish to pursue the most and be honest when doing it. Look at it. Say it out loud. Commit it to memory and repeat it to yourself over and over until you find a way to take steps to make that dream your reality. It won’t come overnight. It might not come for the next several years, in fact, but if you stay true to yourself, focus on your pursuit, and good things will come in time. When you feel like the world is getting you down, put The Wild Type and find the strength to fight another day.

James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder of Antique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him on Twitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.