The marriage of visual art with that of music has become essentially non-existent. That riff, which currently divides the two mediums, is something Francis Mark hopes to remedy with a new band that fuses the visual with the aural in a way that hasn’t really been done since The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol formed a cohesive unit in the 1960s.
Will this discontent breed progression or insanity? –Sophisdecay
Mark, popularly recognized as the vocalist and drummer of From Autumn to Ashes, has taken his dissatisfaction with the current state of music and catalyzed it into the creation of a band that is also an art collective. “I think somewhere along the line the word ‘art’ became a dirty word,” explains Mark, who has been painting since he was 15. “I want to raise people’s awareness on that.”
His method of raising people’s awareness is unique and wholly unconventional in today’s musical landscape. Rather than follow the normative pattern of rock shows, Mark hopes to introduce a new visual level to the experience with a traveling art gallery, costumes, set pieces and even an eight-foot robot the group has constructed. “I want to have it look a little more theatrical than just five guys in ripped jeans, holding guitars,” he explains.
The collective will consist of artists as well as the musicians in the band, mostly friends of Mark. “I feel the art collective is just as big of a part of it as the music,” he says. “The art contributors are just as important as whoever’s playing bass or playing drums.”
I’m feeling dreadfully honest/ and I might give too much away. –Damaged Goods
The formation of Biology was not only a direct reaction to Mark’s discontent with the divide between art and music, but also as a way to express emotions and lyrics he was unable to let out through From Autumn To Ashes songs. After spending a summer playing an acoustic guitar every night (“because of course you’re not going to set up and play drums at that hour and have the police on your doorstep”), Mark played some songs for FATA’s manager. On that same faithful day, with words of encouragement ringing in his ears, Mark ran into a friend from high school who runs a recording studio on Long Island. “That’s what really prompted me to do it,” Mark says of Biology’s birth. “That I had that outlet with the studio.”
Mark cemented a lineup of guitarist Josh Newton (FATA’s current bassist) and drummer Cornbread Compton (of Engine Down) to back his guitar and vocal stylings, and recorded a debut, entitled Making Moves, that Mark calls “the most honest thing:” he’s ever done. Influenced by Sonic Youth, Violent Femmes, Interpol and You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Biology’s music howls with the energy and candor of seminal bands like The Smashing Pumpkins and Quicksand while forging their own path through the soundscape of rock.
It may seem scripted like a movie/ how they pay me to sing about what moves me. –New English
Biology offers Mark a chance to write the songs he wants to write without compromise. “The beautiful thing about this is I’m free to do anything,” he says, explaining that his attraction to the hardcore scene has always been less about the music and more about the energy and that, musically, Biology makes just as much sense to him. “Nobody knows anything about it as of right now. It’s liberating, really.”