"Let's go Down To Memphis"... with Mark Arnell!
By: Michele Mannis
How did you get the Memphis Beat gig and how has it impacted your career?
Mark - I got a phone call from a music supervisor who told me about the show. I found out it was produced by George Clooney which I was excited about. They asked me to send a MP3 of any song so he could listen to my voice, as I was recommended by another music agent that I had worked with in the past.
I decided to send an Otis Reading song “That’s How Strong My Love Is”. He rang me back immediately and asked me to audition in the studio the next day. I went in and recorded the pilot which was two Elvis songs “If I Can Dream” and “Heartbreak Hotel” The producers of the show thought I was a perfect match to Jason Lee’s speaking voice.
Since the airing of the first season I have accumulated many fans which has boosted downloads of my original music with my band i94.
RME - What's it like working with the cast and crew of the show?
Mark - The cast and crew have been very supportive and complimentary of my performances and the producers have been really easy to work with.
RME - To date what's been your favorite Memphis Beat song that you sang?
Mark - “Hold On I’m Coming” Season 2 episode 9. I love this 60’s Sam and Dave classic and I think it suits my voice really well. RME - What's your favorite Mark Arnell Memphis Beat moment?
Mark - When I saw Jason Lee’s character ‘Dwight’ singing ‘If I Can Dream’ which I thought he’d lip synced really well.
RME - I know Keb Mo is the show's composer but do you have any creative say when it comes to the music YOU sing?
Mark - Yes I do have some creative input and I work along side the music supervisor and musicians who play the pre-records.
RME - I think the one thing fans have been waiting for is a CD of your Memphis Beat tracks. I know you are about to release a Memphis Beat album, can you tell us how that came about, the release date and what tracks we might hear?
Mark - I decided to release an album of a mixture of songs from both seasons of the show due to fan demand. The release date will be late August, early September, as these songs are re-records of the pre-records. Some tracks include “If I Can Dream” “Heartbreak Hotel” “One Night” “Don’t Be Cruel” “I Want To Be Free” “Knock On Wood” “Always On My Mind” “Hold On I’m Coming” - that’s just to name a few.
RME - What other musicians are on the album?
Mark - There are no other singers on the album but I have some great musicians that have come in and recorded with me.
RME - I know I haven't heard it yet but what's your favorite track off the album and why?
Mark - I actually have two favorite tracks: “Hold On I’m Coming” and “I Want To Be Free”. They both cover different moods really well, one being up beat and energetic and the other being melancholy and tender.
RME - You wrote "Let's Go Down to Memphis". What a great song. It captures the heart, soul and rhythm of the city. Tell me have you ever been to Memphis?
Mark - Yes I went to visit a couple of years ago and loved the place! I also went to Graceland; loved the whole southern vibe and soul.
RME - You are such a talented musician, can you tell us what bands or musicians helped shape your own personal style?
Mark - I love anything from The Beatles, Elvis, Led Zepplin, Marvin Gaye, to blues music.
RME -I know Elvis is one of your influences. How does it feel to be able to put your own spin on all the great Elvis classics?
Mark - It feels pretty good to experiment with such classic songs such as “Don’t Be Cruel” where we gave it a west-coast surf yet more minor feel, it kind of reminds me of a Chris Isaac song.
RME - If I went through your music files or CD collection, name one album or artist I might be really surprised to find.
Mark - Slipknot as I do have a soft spot for Hardcore screaming metal!
RME - What was the first song you ever sung?
Mark - “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd at a karaoke bar.
RME - What instruments do you play?
Mark - Guitar, bass, piano and percussion.
RME - Thanks to you I recently discovered the music of I-94. (Waterfall & Against the World are two of my favorites) Now I would like Memphis Beat fans and other music lovers to discover it as well. So tell me, is the band still together and if so are there any plans to tour here in the States?
Mark - Yes, the band are still together although we took a break for a year to do solo projects. We do plan to tour early next year.
The bands last CD was 2008, can fans expect a new one soon?
Mark - We have been working on new material since 2008 and have about 30 songs/ideas, so we will be focusing on those this fall.
RME - You have such an impressive resume. Are you surprised at how many of your songs have been featured in major films and TV shows and is that something you think about when writing a new song?
Mark - Actually yes and no, as some songs are written specifically for certain movie scenes or adverts etc. However, we write in the moment with what is inspiring and exciting as a band.
RME -If you could do a duet with anyone (male or female) who would it be and why?
Mark - I’d like a duet with Scotty McCreery as I love his voice and it would guarantee a lot of downloads!
RME -What are you goals as far as your music career?
Mark - World Domination.
RME - Besides music what else does Mark Arnell enjoy?
Mark - Family time and outdoor activities.
RME - One final question... If you could be an M&M what color would you be?