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Published: 2009/07/31
by Brian Robbins

Mark Karan: Tempered By The Fire

BR: Why don’t we start ticking off the tracks on the album and talking about how things came together. “Annie Don’t Lie” kicks things off – that’s one of the songs with the basic lineup, right?

MK: That’s right – that was one of the original tracks we laid down.

BR: Glenn Hartman plays some wicked accordion on that cut.

MK: Oh, yeah. Glenn is a friend of mine. He plays in the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars – that’s kind of his main squeeze band – along with a bunch of other stuff. Glenn’s just a really sweet guy who’s an accomplished accordion player. His stuff adds a kind of New Orleansy-Cajuny flavor to it.

BR: It’s a cool song – I remember hearing it on the first JP album. It’s a see-ya-later tune, but it’s still got this joyous, upbeat vibe to it.

MK: Absolutely – that’s one of the reasons I’ve always liked the song: it has this sense of irreverence to it along with a very playful “go-fuck-yourself.” (laughs)

BR: Exactly – that’s it! (laughter) The addition of the Persuasions on vocals gives the song another layer that I’ve never heard on past versions …

MK: Oh, yeah; having those guys on both that song and “Rock Your Papa” was a ball – a real kick in the pants to both songs. I was a fan of the Persuasions from my childhood days. I grew up listening to KSAN and KMPX in the Haight – they were like the first underground hippie stations out here – and they played a lot of Persuasions back in the day. It was a real thrill to have them on the RatDog tour with us a few years ago … just a great group of warm, talented guys. I knew I wanted that kind of old 50s/60s doo-wop-meets-soul kind of thing and they were perfect for that. With the wonders of technology (laughs) we did it all over the internet – it’s pretty amazing.

BR: Don’t tell me that – I want to imagine you guys all in one room … (laughter)

MK: Well, there was a lot of that on the album, too, but I have to tell you – it’s pretty exciting to be talking to these guys on the phone and kind of playfully banter back and forth with ideas and stuff … and then all of a sudden you open up your e-mail and there’s a link – and you go to it, and there’s your track! It’s like, “I’ve never heard this before and I’m dropping it into my song … it’s like magic, you know? (laughs)

BR: I know “Leave A Light On” was written a long time ago and about a totally different place in life than where you are now, but still … what a powerful piece of music … The weaving of your guitar and the Rowan Brothers’ voices at the end is really beautiful.

MK: Well, thank you …

BR: Hey, that’s not a compliment – that’s a statement of fact. (laughter)

MK: It was fun to layer all those parts in there.

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