StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-113338487213186.jpg’, ‘Photo by Jonathon Hicks’, ‘Chicago pop-punk-rock group Spitalfield perform Saturday, Nov. 26 at Chubby Rain House of Tunes in Poplar Grove. Spitalfield teamed with The Audition and Daylight Dropping to open for the Plain White Ts.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-113338492513275.jpg’, ‘Photo by Jonathon Hicks’, ‘We werent expecting that it would go through the roof, we just wanted to make sure that we didnt slow downand we really havent," said Spitalfield lead singer Mark Rose (pictured) about the groups latest album, Stop Doing Bad Things. ‘);
Lead singer of Chicago group sits down with TRRT to discuss life as a pop-punk rocker
A tour bus can teach you a lot about a band. The van that Chicago punks Spitalfield travel the country in was no exception. The worn tires and messy-but-organized interior reveal a simple fact: Spitalfield is one of the hardest-touring bands youll ever see.
Mark Rose (vocals), Dan Lowder (guitar), T.J. Minich (bass) and J.D. Romero (drums) are living proof that even the toughest jobs arent work if you love what you do. They have spent the bulk of the last four years either in their touring van or in a recording studio.
During their stop at Chubby Rain House of Tunes in Poplar Grove Saturday, Nov. 26the second night of their Midwest/East Coast tour with the Plain White TsRose invited us aboard that well-traveled white van for a chat.
With a unique potpourri flooding our nostrils, Rose, a die-hard Bears fan, wore his heart on his sleeve and allowed us a rarely seen view of a band thats journeyed a long way but knows that progress isnt always measured by an odometer.
Jonathan Hicks, The Rock River Times (TRRT): You and the Plain White Ts have both been around a while. Youve obviously played shows with these guys before, but how cool is it to go and spend a month with them on the road?
Mark Rose, Spitalfield (MR): Its going to be great. Weve played with them countless times in the Chicagoland or Midwest area, but its fun to finally be out and have a good time with them and play with them everywhere.
TRRT: Youve played tours with countless bands, everyone from Fall Out Boy, to Poison the Well and The Early November. You were on the road for almost two years leading up to the release of the last record, and have been there constantly since. What is the best part about being on the road?
MR: For starters, performing every night is still exciting to us. Were not burnt out on that at all. Its still fun. The opportunity to be in different cities with different kids, and then to be able to come back to cities and come back to those kidsits one of those things you hope to be able to do. Then, when youre actually able to do it, its a good feeling. Youre doing your best to build a fan base and to carry yourself financially. But past all that, were still just four guys who used to play in basements and VFW halls on the weekends. Now, we get to do this all the time. Schools on hold, jobs are on holdthis is what we do. Thats something that weve all wanted to do for a while, and weve been able to do it now for a few years straight.
TRRT: To dedicate yourself to it like this To say Look, this is what were going to do. What is that decision-making process like when you decide everything else is going to be secondary?
MR: Weve gotten to that point where its easier for us to stay on tour, and not be paying rent on an apartment and not be working part-time jobs on the side. Its easier for us to focus on the band all of the time. And were still young enough that we can do that. None of us have families yet. None of us are at that point, where our parents are like Youre out of here. Everyones still pretty supportive, and were at a label that we know can make things happen. Weve seen bands go from point A to point B. Were somewhere in the middle of all that, and I think the decision-making process was just us saying Lets do it. Week by week, the record is still selling on some level, and were doing a show in Rockford tonight that looks like its going to be pretty good. And thats enough fuel for us to say sweet. Because who knows how many people would love to be in this situation and how many young bands there are that just really want to break to that next level? Thats where were at, and theres so many more levels to go, so well see what happens.
TRRT: Another Chicago band that is certainly pushing up to different levels is Fall Out Boy. Theyre getting Chicago talked about for the first time in a while, even though bands like yours and the Ts and Allister have been around forever. Does their blowing up have an impact on the Chicago scene?
MR: Yeah, it does. Its like a double-sided sword, but the positives outweigh the negatives. On the negative side, of course, a lot of people who are part of a scene when it becomes more commercialized have really ill feelings to something that was theirs, or it was something that they were part of exclusively. Then, to hear your favorite band on MTV and to see them with hundreds of thousands of other fans, you feel like youve lost something. But from a musicians standpoint, its really unfortunate that a lot of kids are like that. And I can see when a band legitimately sells out, or really changes who they are or what they sound like, but a band like Fall Out Boy, theyre still the same guys spinning around and playing music. And if anything, were more inspired by the fact that they did make it as far as they have, and theyve opened the door for a lot of bands to get some exposure from them and to play shows with them and be associated with them in different ways.
TRRT: Is that level of popularity something that you aspire to reach?
MR: Honestly, the level theyre at, I dont even dream about it. Theyre at a whole new level. I definitely aspire to draw more kids and have more sway and be heard by more people, but the level theyre at is so far out there theyve surpassed every expectation, I think. And theyre still going.
TRRT: AP (Alternative Press magazine) called your latest record Stop Doing Bad Things an 11-song melting pot. What do you call it?
MR: I call it Spitalfield two years later, two years more mature, two years wiser (laughs). Youve got to learn something while youre out there. From our first record to this record, the main difference is that wed spent two years together on the road. Wed been out with a countless number of bands, and weve picked up on a lot of things and learned a lot about ourselves. Theres nothing better than playing with each other every night to really help develop your sound and help read each other better than you have ever before. Theres a lot of different feelings and emotions going into it, and we took a different approach, worked with a different producer, strived for a slightly different sound, and I think it came together for us. We werent expecting that it would go through the roof, we just wanted to make sure that we didnt slow downand we really havent. I think that for every window that we close, we open a couple of new doors with it.
TRRT: Are you guys writing while youre on the road?
MR: Yeah, were always writing. By nature, I know that I am a songwriter. I do solo stuff all the time thats just for me, and I do tons of stuff that I would never even think about actually recording for Spitalfield. Music is always on my mind. I was actually going to school for music composition, specifically for films, score writing. I love all types of music. I love orchestral, I love jazz, I love rock, I love metal, I love popyou give me a genre, and Ill name you a band I like. I dont limit myself to what we do.
TRRT: You mention the way that people group things into genres. Its fans, its writers like mewere always looking for a way to group bands together. I see it all the time with punk bands, and even more specifically with Chicago punk bands. What separates you guys from everybody else?
MR: Its kind of a tough call, because we know that we have influences. We cant argue that, and we never would. We know that at the core of everything were a rock/pop band. We know that were not breaking new boundaries, but we like to think that at least the blend that weve come up with is unique to us. We try to have a lot of energy, but so do a lot of bands. We try to convey a positive message and t
ry to stay focused. I think a lot of bands have done that, and I think a lot of bands will do that. Were just happy to be a part of it.
TRRT: Have you come to terms with the idea that youve been around for seven years, and youre starting to influence the next generation of musicians coming up?
MR: Thats something Ive real recently had to come to terms with, and its really flattering more than anything else. Its a little bit scary. I remember early on for us, the bands that we looked up to and that really impacted us to make us do what we want to do. And to think that was in 97 and 98 when we were looking up to these bands. Here we are in 2005, and there are bands that are starting every day that when they think of what influences them, they think of bands from our era. And Im kind of shocked by that. Its almost like I dont want to accept that. Were still learning, so how can they be taking stuff from us? But I guess its like that for everybody, for every generation.
TRRT: This tour takes you up until Christmas. Whats going on after that?
MR: Were going to be home for most of January, just taking some time off and working on some demos and furthering the writing process that weve already started since the last record came out. Our goal is to be out in February, in March, be back in the studio by late spring and tour all summer long with a new record in the fall.
TRRT: Anything I left out? Anything that people in the Rockford area should know about your band?
MR: If theyve read this far, I appreciate them taking the time, and Im flattered that anyone cares what I have to say. If anyone has heard us, thats awesome. If they havent, there are definitely outlets for music all over the place: PureVolume, MySpace, VictoryRecords.com. We appreciate anyone who takes the time to listen.
Stop Doing Bad Things is available now on Victory Records. For more information about Spitalfield, including upcoming tour dates, visit www.spitalfield.net.
From the Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2005, issue