Journey of a Frontman

On The Line with Mark Crozer

Mark Crozer is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who started out in the UK, but has since moved to Brooklyn, NY. Not only is he the touring with The Jesus and Mary Chain, but he delivered a huge hit with Broken Out In Love by Mark Crozer and The Rels. The song can be heard every week on WWE programming, as it is the entrance theme for WWE superstar, Bray Wyatt. After performing the song live at Wrestlemania XXX earlier this month, I spoke with Mark to find out what that was like, to get to know his music tastes, and much more.

Alex Obert: You have a real throwback voice to the days of The Beatles, which is an influence of yours, who are some of your favorite singers?

Mark Crozer: Definitely The Beatles were the huge influence since I was a tiny kid. I really like Thom Yorke as a vocalist, I really dig the earlier years of Radiohead. Robert Smith of The Cure, I think he has a very, very original voice. Definitely an influence on me, been listening to them since I was a teenager. I love Morrissey too. And Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen.

Alex Obert: What was life like for you in the eighties when several of those singers were making it big?

Mark Crozer: I was only a teenager in the eighties, but I was playing in bands then. My first band came about in the early eighties. But it was still more of a dream at that point in time, in regards to doing it professionally.

Alex Obert: Do you recall your first gig?

Mark Crozer: The first ever gig I did was with a band that was cobbled together at twelve years old. It was with friends at a church. But the first proper gig that I remember was when I was fourteen and it was put on by a local music promoter named Pete Ward, who was also my guitar teacher at the time.   He organized these local music nights and I played with my first proper band. I was singing and we were playing songs that I’d written. It was amazing when the guy introduced us as “Oxford’s answer to New Order.” I had no idea who they were. (laughs) It was a lot of fun. It was a thrill.

Alex Obert: What is writing and recording for your solo material like?

I have my own home studio and I write and I have a lot of recording going on. Whatever it turns out like just is what it is. I don’t necessarily have any kind of particular idea. Sometimes I’ll have an idea for what I want it to sound like, but most of the time, I just like messing around with it coming out a certain way. My first album, Mark Crozer and The Rels, is pretty much just me playing everything. I had a ton of songs and I just picked the ones that worked together in a specific way. And I definitely went in more of a jangled pop sixties way, but I never really have any specific plan when I sit down.

Alex Obert: Where did the band name “Mark Crozer and The Rels” come from?

Mark Crozer: It’s a geeky Doctor Who reference. In Doctor Who, there’s his archenemy, The Daleks, and they measure their time using rels. And it’s more of a reference to the 1960’s Doctor Who movies with Peter Cushing. I’m pretty sure my brother came up with that name about ten years ago when we were inventing bands we might play in.

Alex Obert: With this band, where did the song title “Dig That Funky Meat” come from?

Mark Crozer: (laughs) Well it comes from me being a vegetarian. I wrote it when I was living in Charlotte, North Carolina. And it seemed like everyday, everywhere, people were having cookouts. It’s tongue in cheek about the amount of slabs of meat these people were frying up all the time. And it’s just a pun on dig that funky beat, a cheesy phrase.

Alex Obert: Was your introduction to wrestling having your song as Bray Wyatt’s entrance theme or do you have a history watching it before that?

Mark Crozer: I used to watch the British version of the WWE, I don’t know what they called it back when I was a kid. It was on TV on Saturdays on World of Sport. My brother and I used to sit and watch that every Saturday. And then it got taken off the air around the early to mid 1980’s. I kind of just forgot about it until this song reintroduced me to that world.

Alex Obert: What’s the story behind Bray Wyatt using your music as his entrance theme?

Mark Crozer: Ages ago, between 1999 and 2000, I found out about this idea that you could, as an independent artist, get your music into TV shows. It was the organization called Taxi based in LA. I joined and it was completely new to me. You’re always looking for ways to get your music heard by different people. It’s very difficult to get record deals, so I gave this a shot. Then I guess around 2005-2007, this was just one of those songs that I wrote at that time. I put that and other songs into this one music library and I guess they had a deal with another library that was servicing the WWE. Bray Wyatt was searching for a song for his theme music and he came across my song. I think he spent six hours or so listening to songs, that’s what he told me. And when he heard mine, right away, he just thought it was gonna be good for his character. They tried it out and it worked. And that was that. So I didn’t actually hear about it right away until a couple of months later when a guy named Steve, whose a wrestling fan, tracked me down online to find out if it was my song. And that was actually when I found out about it.

Alex Obert: How did you tell your friends and family that your music was being featured weekly on WWE programming?

Mark Crozer: When it happened, it took me by surprise. When I first heard my song’s being used by a professional wrestler, I thought to myself, “That’s impossible.” (laughs) He couldn’t have been using my song because I couldn’t imagine any song that I had that would possibly work in conjunction with a wrestling entrance. But when I checked it out, I could see why he picked it. I told people and everybody went, “That’s the weirdest thing I’ve heard. Out of all the things you could’ve written music for, getting picked for wrestling would be the last thing you could imagine. It’s just one of those surreal things. (laughs)

Alex Obert: Why did WWE change the song title from Broken Out In Love to Live In Fear?

Mark Crozer: I’m not sure exactly. Someone in the WWE, I don’t think it was Bray Wyatt, they must have wanted a song title that would be better suited for his character. There’s something about having the word love in the title that they didn’t like, maybe that it was soft-sounding. They wanted something a bit tougher. I didn’t really know that until after they’d done it, but I know that songs do get re-titled. When I found out afterwards, it was a bit of a surprise, but you just go with it.

Alex Obert: I’d love to break down the song a bit. How was the “Ahhh” chorus developed that starts a little over a minute into the song?

Mark Crozer: I’m a big, big fan of layering tracks and a number of songs that I was writing at the time had a similar choir of Beatle-esque kind of harmonies. I just wanted to try it out, six different tracks of vocals and on each track, I go higher. (laughs) It was just an experiment.

Alex Obert: How was the bassline for that song developed?

Mark Crozer: Well that was actually how the whole song came about. When that song is performed live, it is played on the bass, but it’s actually written on the keyboard. I was just messing around with a sample of a standup bass, it just came about and I’m not really a keyboard player. I was just goofing around with it and I thought it sounded good. That bassline is what sparked the whole song and everything else just kind of followed from that. That’s the part that seems to get people’s attention, that makes sense because it really is the heart of the song.

Alex Obert: Who approached who for you to perform Bray Wyatt’s theme live at Wrestlemania XXX?

Mark Crozer: They asked me to do it. I’d really been following the whole Bray Wyatt development over the last couple years. I knew that there was a good chance that he was gonna do Wrestlemania this year. I’d heard that they’d had bands occasionally to perform. I e-mailed my guy at WWE around Christmas time saying, “I’d love to do it.” And then they got in touch with me a couple months later to ask me to play.

Alex Obert: Backstage at the event, was that the first time you met Bray Wyatt?

Mark Crozer: I’d met him a few weeks before because RAW was in Brooklyn a couple weeks before Wrestlemania, which is where I live, so I got to meet him then. There was a lot of mutual respect, we were both really happy to meet each other. We’d been in touch a little bit by e-mail before that. We’d tried to meet up previously, but it never worked out. It was great, we really just talked about music. He found out around that time that I was gonna be performing at Wrestlemania, so he was very nice to me.

Alex Obert: What are your thoughts on the intro to the song on TV?

Mark Crozer: I love it. I think it’s great. I really do. The whole thing in the dark and the lantern and his catchphrase, “We’re here.” I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s a really good example of how music and images work together to compliment each other. To me before, I thought it was a song that was quite good, but I didn’t really give it that much thought, to be honest. But coupled with his whole entrance and character, it really gives that song more depth. For him and his entrance, the music gives him his whole image. The two things work really well, in that respect.

Alex Obert: Would you consider doing more gigs in the attire that you had at Wrestlemania?

Mark Crozer: Yeah, definitely! (laughs) I’ve been performing for years and years and years getting dressed up in regular clothes. Wrestlemania was the first time I’d ever done anything involving any kind of make up or costume. Looking back afterwards, it’s just like, “Wow, the performance is so much more interesting, seeing a character on stage.” I’m not much of a performer or a frontman, so to have that as a character, or a mask to hide behind, it makes it a little easier to be a performer. I think it makes it way more interesting for people to watch as well. When they see a show, they want to see the theatrics. It just makes it more fun.

Alex Obert: Did WWE let you keep the headpieces that your bandmates wore?

Mark Crozer: Yeah, we got to take everything away.

Alex Obert: Were they hard to play in?

Mark Crozer: The other guys found it a little bit difficult because it was very hot under those masks. Couldn’t really see much! (laughs) But they did pretty well.

Alex Obert: Would they consider wearing them again?

Mark Crozer: Yeah, I think we’d do something similar. For sure.

Alex Obert: You posted on Facebook recently and asked where fans would want to see you play in the states, where do you hope to play?

Mark Crozer: I’d love to play everywhere and anywhere that there’s enough of a demand. Just trying to figure out now where there’s gonna be enough people who will come to see us. We played Wrestlemania in front of seventy five thousand people and you think that hopefully a good chunk of them would come and see a full set. I have people helping us out, but we don’t have an agent or a way to reach people so they know that we’re playing, making sure we get people to come along. I’d love to work out some kind of East Coast tour for this year, maybe seven or eight shows. I’d love to play on the West Coast as well. If there’s enough demand, we’ll play anywhere.

Alex Obert: If you had to name five bands at the moment that are your absolute favorite, who would they be?

Mark Crozer: Most of the bands that I still really love and listen to are bands from my teenage years. The Cure, The Smiths, I listen to them all the time, even though they haven’t put out anything new in a long time. I still listen to The Beatles all the time. I really like Jacques Brel, the Belgian singer, I listen to him a lot. One artist that I’ve been listening to quite a lot is Bat for Lashes, a U.K. female singer/songwriter.

Alex Obert: In closing, what are your social media plugs at the moment?

Mark Crozer: I have MarkCrozer.com, that’s a brand new website that’s been up for a couple of weeks. There’s albums you can buy on there and a promo video on the main page. There’s Facebook, Facebook.com/MarkCrozerandtheRels, that’s my official Facebook page. I also have a Twitter page which is @MarkCrozer, I don’t use it as much as Facebook. But it’s out there.

Alex Obert: Alright! Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it!

Mark Crozer: Yeah! No problem!

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12 comments

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