Mind-War (Punk/Core)

Written by Jonny Havoc

Posted Jul 5, 2006

What do you do in Mindwar? I’m Mark, and I play guitar and sing.

What would you say your genre of music is? Uh... mayhem!

What does your band name mean? Mindwar means like, trying to keep concentration. Its a real simple answer, but I think I've never really told anybody but my real close friends because everyone takes it the wrong way. I just kind of came to a point where I discovered that the main thing screwing up my life, and just the cause of all my unhappiness was basically my own selfishness. All the problems I have with my own mind, like how I see things, if I see them negatively I'm going to see bad things. I kind of just decided instead of blaming all my problems on the outside world, I saw that it was in my own head. How we've all been brainwashed to some extent because of the culture we grew up in, I turned that into a war in my own mind, my own selfishness. It's a real internal thing, like its a daily battle. I'll be having a good day, and be super positive and all of a sudden, some little thought of judgment just pops up and I’ll see it and try to let it go, realize that it doesn't come from me. I've made a lot of progress, it’s been like seven years, day to day it’s just like going at my own selfishness because the less selfish I become, the happier I am. I kind of get a kick out of it, when people read this and they see the intense graphics of it. Its like "Mindwar!!! The governments against us..." but its not like that at all. It actually has depth to it.

What other bands were you in? That's a good one...Let’s see. The first band I was in was in 1994, I was in college and it was a couple other older hick guys and we didn't even have a name. They rocked pretty good and everything, but it was like nothing special; I learned how to play better. Then I was in a band called the Style Kings and we were just like, super good punk. It doesn't matter how good you are out there, there's no where to play, nobody cares, and everyone's just packing the warrant show. Then I moved back out here in 1996 and I was in a band called Peggy Suicide with my older brother. He played guitar and sang, and I played drums and sang... we ripped man. That song, Doctor Dealers was actually a song I wrote while in that band in 1996 and that was the one thing that carried over. Then I was like "Well alright, I'm a really good musician and I don't want to have a normal job, Im going to make money with this.", and started a band with my friend Chris who was this super good hip hop singer and a couple other guys from different genres. Our only goal was to like, make money, and we were really good but man, I saw the devils - that whole world of music business that was so unbelievably filthy that I just dropped out of it. When the manager told me I had to cut my hair, I flipped a lid and was like screw this! So after that, I wasn't doing anything. I didn't want to be in a band again. I met this drummer at a party and there was some equipment set up there and we jammed for like two minutes and were like "Dude, we got to be in a band together." But our whole goal this time was different because he had the same experience, he was actually a pretty decent paid drummer. He saw all the same things and was sick of it too so we started this to help out our homeless friends that live in Fullerton. You know, play a couple shows for them, bring them food, make some money for them, bring them cigarettes, give them clothes, but mostly bring them hope. To me, they symbolize the people that are real punkers. They know every band, they don't work and they live under the bridges, and I give them props. In San Francisco, in the late 80's, there was a big hardcore music scene and they were all homeless punk rockers from Oakland. Bands like Neurosis and Grimple and some bands from here like Dystopia. They came from the gutter and were making good albums that were influencing, so for me its like a big thank you to them. I feel like I’m a second generation punker trying to take it one step further and actually hook them up. They're the ones that tell everybody about this stuff. You'll see these people and they're so down for you, they were the ones that got us off our feet by talking to everybody. We had a show after being together for about four months, we put out flyers the day before hand for this free show, and there were like 200 homeless punks that showed up. It was awesome.

Why do you play music? It’s an aggressive release. I have a real need for expression, like I have to express myself. For so long, I traveled the world, met all these people and learned all these things that other people didn't or hadn't experienced and I had them all to myself. The bad and good things I saw in the world, but I hadn't really matured yet I was just happy to be playing in a band. A lot of it is just that I have so many strong feelings and emotions, and I wish I could just tell people but it doesn't work that way. When I write songs and the music goes along with it, people get a little piece of the reality I see. All the things going on make me want to create an alternative reality where people can be whoever they want, there's no rules or limits. Of course there's ethics, because you have to be an ethical person to learn a lot. I do it cause its fun, the main reason we started this band was like a format to just get ideas out there. Give people another option of a way to see things.

Where do you want your band to be in 5 years? I think in about 3 month increments, I can’t see 5 years from now.

What do you think the worst thing about music is, nowadays? I think that the worst thing is how it’s not about the music, it’s about something else. Whether we're playing music to get the girls and have people like us, or playing all dance numbers, rappers talking about their bling-bling... the content has just become completely stale. Besides punk and metal, there's not many bands you wont hear before MTV because if you don't look a certain way, you're not going to be played. It’s the egos that go along with it, people that think they're going to be a star and stabbing people in the back, really, the huge lack of originality that made this music fun in the first place has just gotten real, real stale.

What do you want to happen through music in the future? I want to see more people just play the kind of music they want to play, like pure expression. They won’t be worried that people won’t like it, or that they won’t get a girl with it, they don't care if its retarded and sound like ducks. I think good bands come out of that. People are so afraid to step out of the lines because they think that if you play “hardcore punk” you have to stay within those bounds. That's not what it was about to begin with, it was to not be like everybody else but That's how its become. People worried about their fashion, at least around here, the punks have to make sure everything looks right. More creativity, more diversity, expressing what they want to express. Not playing for money. A lot of these people prey on that though, they know that people want fame, money and girls. It's not something that exists anymore, it’s really corporate run. Music played on the radio is all corporate bought. A kid told me once after a show that he didn't want to play video games all day, he wanted to start a band. Four months later I saw him and he DID start a band.

You guys did a protest a while back. Have you done anything to progress that? For now, nothing focused or centralized. Im just trying to get as much knowledge out as possible. I think I was really negative back then, now I think I have to be a lot more sneaky like that. Those people don't read the kind of magazines you put out. Back then I still had a lot more anger, but after writing a bunch of songs and playing them, I got a lot of it out. I was a lot more aggressive and just starting out, I had these huge ideas and didn't know how to tackle it. Now, through knowledge and people who have more of a head on their shoulders it’s like a big team. It’s not just me, going to lead some protest that's going to change everything. A lot of the reasons I probably did that too was shameless self promotion, but I don't get that now.

How do you think your religious beliefs affect your music? It’s kind of beyond beliefs now, it’s like, experiences now. The things that I experience I write about in my songs, the experience allows me to play guitar the way I do. I’m able to express feelings through the music that other people can vibe on too. The new songs [by more popular bands] have positive lyrics and common sense but for me it’s like, experience and beliefs. I think in a lot of ways that if you attach to a certain set of beliefs that it can kind of be a trap or force it to fit in to your system. What I do is try to break down the system, by severing my thought stream so that there's no thoughts, you're just watching. There's more deeper things going on, and you can see things without judging them. You can see them for what they are but you can’t really explain it because unless someone has had a similar experience you can't talk to them about it. If I didn't know certain kinds of music, I couldn't tell people stuff like that. The way people react to things sometimes makes others feel stupid, it’s hard to think clearly that are real judgmental. When I’m around that type of person, it’s all acting because its pointless to try to teach them anything by what I'm saying. By just being who I am, its an example that you don't have to be thin or tall or good looking and still be successful.

Can you tell me an interesting story from one of your shows? The last show we had at Etnies Skate Park in Lake Forest, there were some skin head guys that stole the money box. You kind of have to be there to understand that there's always going to be a level of craziness and openness. I've had people convulsing on the ground to our beats, or all of sudden it’s totally alright to body slam each other in the pit but its all fair. It’s such a blur that it’s hard to remember things afterwards. The energy and intensity from these people fires me up. Remembering that hole I put in a wall, having a party with people in the pit chicken fighting... it’s crazy every time. You don't know what to expect, you just go out there and do it. When you hear it live, the vibe is positive and good. These people have pent up whatever and at shows they can just let it all out. I'm up there going crazy too, just like a conductor of an orchestra.

What were some of your favorite bands growing up? Definitely Jawbreaker, Gwar, Slayer, Guttermouth... I actually learned how to play guitar from the original drummer of Guttermouth because he lived next door. I really liked Metallica when I was younger and then the early 90's started and my brother was a first generation punkers and he got me into the Oakland punk and crust that was just so raw. There's a bunch of bands from up there, and the older I got the more bands I got into. I was exposed to it all, and a lot of it wasn't crazy enough. Then I heard Metallica and Slayer, and the whole early underground punk scene there was so much good music that came out. A lot of the punkers now have all the right patches from bands, but a lot of them are from like, 1984 and then there's this gap in the 90's that people don't know about but That's when a lot of really good bands got big.

How old were you when you started playing music? When I was a kid I played piano, but when I was about 10 my brother would have his whole band playing in our house. There would be guitars and drums laying around and I could bust a couple riffs and they would show me things. They'd have a good time and I would be having a great time, then the lead singer of Guttermouth would knock me over and hit my head on the concrete and I would cry all day... I had the perfect exposure. I saw what they [Guttermouth] did, within a year everyone knew who they were and I have never seen a band promote like they did. They were crap at the end of their career but when they first started out and threw live shows it was really inspiring. If I didn't have that exposure and if my brother wasn't giving me CD's it would've been much later that I heard all that stuff. When I was pretty young I heard some great music and I knew there was more out there than what was played on the radio.

Is the sound of your music today the same as when you started Mindwar? On a certain level it is, with certain things you can hear it come through on the intensity but a lot has changed. Growth and evolving is part of expression. The more I play, the more I learn, and when I hear my older song lyrics I realize that Im not living up to a lot of it. I got into more different styles, I learned from my own lyrics and developed change. I've been making some stuff, just screwing around with electronic music and if people dig it and buy it on the internet, that's going to help us do a whole professional album with all the new songs we have. I go anywhere from playing acoustic guitar and bongos to this total mayhem that we are now. I guess I’m a lot more broad, we've come into our own sound and into our own stuff that gets us going. I try to make every song I write to be a total different thing. I think there's always been a decent amount of diversity in our songs. That one thing you see at shows, the mayhem. Even if its just being retarded and singing to a stupid beat.

Do you plan on touring in the near future? I will go on yours as soon as the music is supporting me. A year from now we should have a good enough fan base to be able to tour, making a living out of this. Im not in it for the money but if we can make a living off this we can spend our time making new music, helping people. Even if it’s just hanging out with a homeless person for 10 minutes, whatever it is, as soon as we can get away with it financially I am down for it. We've been promoting pretty hard.

What's your latest CD? We've released a lot of things, a few songs here and there. Our first real CD was called Inner Enemy and we’re giving it out last January. I didn't write any songs after that for about 8 months but now I'm feeling these new vibes and we've recorded half a new album already. We're doing it all as a digital album and we haven't named it yet.

Did you get a good response from your last CD? A lot of the time I cant hear what people say about it, but that's the reason we do it for fun. Just to be able to give it away for free and people were going nuts for it. People that don't even listen to that kind of music were able to interested, and they weren't afraid of it. The response is what got things going, I was at some house and there were a bunch of people there freaking out about our 3 song CD. Mostly, I base it off of shows.

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