Interview :: Fractures
December 19th 2013
Meet Mark Zito – also known as Fractures. From being relatively unknown at the start of 2013 to a sell-out official debut show only weeks ago, his smooth melodies and longing tales are attracting some well-deserved attention. Speaking on the phone to Mark, it seems strange to think that he has only just re-entered the musical world – six months ago he suffered a fall resulting in a fractured (yes) vertebrae in his neck. It probably hasn’t been the year Fractures expected, but he is very much back on the music radar, having just announced tour dates in both Melbourne and Sydney for early 2014.
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Before the History of Music decides that your moniker Fractures was born out of your unfortunate accident, how did the name Fractures really come about?
Well it’s not an interesting story unfortunately. It’s just a word that in my mind tended to capture the kind of music I was making; it was a bit dark, fractured relationships are often the topic, things like that. But it is pretty kind of disconnected in a way, there was no kind of grand origin story, it was just a word I liked that seemed to fit.
What effect did that accident have on you and your music?
It definitely wasn’t a positive effect! It wasn’t restrictive in the sense that I couldn’t play guitar, I couldn’t play a keyboard, or whatever, but mentally I just didn’t kind of… it was more of a challenge. I just decided not to do anything serious, I’m not sure if anything really came of that whole period, maybe one of those remixes I did, but I wasn’t able to sing properly. It stalled me too much and caused a bit of a hiatus I guess.
But you’ve made a full recovery and are ready to tour. Congratulations on playing your official debut gig in Melbourne recently! How do you think it went?
It was a debut performance in the sense that it was a public one, I had done maybe one or two family and friends-type ones to get a bit of experience under my belt. From my point of view, I thought it was largely successful. I was pretty happy with how it all came out and that set was maybe a one-off in that it was a lot longer than what I’d usually do in a night – a bit more expansive. I think I’m going to be a bit more selective in the songs that I choose and hopefully the show will have a bit more flow than it would have had that night. But I was kind of treating it like a showcase, to give everyone a look-in.
Reviews of that performance commented on how your live sound is a lot fuller and a bit different from what your fans have been accustomed to hearing on SoundCloud. Was that to be expected?
I always intended for a band to be playing the songs – anything I’ve written has been in mind for a five-piece band – so in that sense, I suppose I have been gearing towards it. You’ve got to arrange certain things and be aware of restrictions on what your drummer can physically do because some of the beats are more or less impossible to replicate (that was just me being inconsiderate). It was always going to be a bit of a surprise for people and the two singles I’ve put forward are probably the more electronic— it’s not the most electronic stuff I’ve got but it’s more in that realm than a lot of the other stuff. It’s going to jump all over the place but hopefully people are on board!
How did preparing and playing live with a band compare to working by yourself with your musical output thus far? Did you need much readjusting?
It was interesting; I’m still getting my head around being a band-leader. I’ve always just been a player in a band, I haven’t really had to pull focus or pull rank on certain things. But I’ve got four guys in my band that I’m really comfortable with and they’re great musos. Getting them to learn songs and let them do their thing; I’m not so sentimental about the songs that I don’t want them changed or anything like that so from that point of view, I’m not that protective. But there was a bit of a jump from the studio to here. You have to get used to the fact that they’re not playing like I play which is what I’m used to hearing… it’s a bit of a mental jump but I think I’m on board now. I’m kind of looking forward to getting out of Melbourne and seeing if people are keen.
‘Twisted’ was your first hugely popular single, garnering all sorts of attention, and ‘Cadence’ is your most recent single which is proving to be just as popular, even though it sounds quite different. How would you explain the different sounds?
They are pretty vastly different I suppose in terms of their make-up; one’s kind of a slow burner, a bit groovy or whatever you what to say. It’s never a conscious effort. I didn’t go out of my way to make a polar opposite. I think I came up with that initial key chord riff that leads the song, it gave off a certain vibe and I kind of went from there. Very rarely have I gone into a song with an idea … whatever comes out comes out! They weren’t written all that far apart so I don’t think it was so much a mindset thing, but yea, I guess days of the week, different things come out.
Is the music you’re making something that you would listen to? What sort of music did you listen to growing up?
Growing up I was a bit of tragic really! I mean your music is formed as much by your older brothers and stuff. I listened to a lot of what they listened to and I was a huge Toto fan back in the day… if I was making music like Toto though I wouldn’t be getting much attention. I played in a bluegrass band for 4 years on the bass and things like that so I dunno, maybe in my head the music I’m making is the kind of stuff I’d like to hear more of… I suppose that’s how I’d look at it. I like a lot of electronic stuff and a lot of pop rock. I am hard to please but I’m pretty generous as far as genres are concerned, but yeah, it’s really a mixed bag.
Tell us more about the bluegrass band…
I was in another guy’s band, John Flanagan, and he recorded an album. I was the bass player initially, and throughout my teens, but then I switched to guitar and now that’s kind of my main thing. But he recorded an album, I jumped on board and played on that and then it turned into a tour thing where we were playing live and so that was pretty interesting experience!
And when can we expect Fractures’ first EP?
As the industry people keep saying, first quarter March-ish – but don’t hold me to it! It’s just a matter of fine-tuning what I’ve got. I assume all the songs that are going to be on it have been written and any other ones that pop up will be considered but it’s just a matter of getting the wheels in motion as far as getting mixed and making it cohesive. And then there’s putting it out and seeing what happens, and then touring off the back of that.
So you’re the type of musician who’s writing all the time?
Yea, coming up with little tid-bits of songs. As far as writing for myself, a song can be months in between: I’ll end up writing a whole track and then I’ll think ‘this just doesn’t fit me’ but I’ll keep it on hand for someone else who it might suit … I spend most of my time twiddling around seeing what comes out.
You’ve done a few remixes too, for the likes of Whitley and Snakadaktal. Do you enjoy that side of things?
Initially, I was a bit hesitant to do the remixes because I didn’t know how to do them and I’m not really one of those guys who will do a remix and chop up the vocals and make it sound like a robot; it’s not my cup of tea. But I do enjoy them. Sometimes I don’t want to be pigeonholed into the kind of producer realm of things, because it’s not the whole story. I’ll definitely be doing some again soon but maybe cooling off a bit for the time being just so I can spread my wings if you like and start showing people what else I can offer.
What does the future hold for Fractures? Any steadfast plans after the EP and that set of touring?
I really like to expand and I like to collaborate and all those sorts of things… maybe when it’s not my stuff I’d probably expand a bit more, but for my own music, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. It changes song to song; it’s constantly evolving without me finding this ‘new’ sound, it’s kind of just always going to be a variation… yea so a continual evolution. Nothing set in stone, but definitely looking forward to that and more creative opportunities popping up.
Is there anyone you’d die to collaborate with?
Ahh I dunno, putting me under pressure now! There are so many good Aussie artists coming up, I’m very happy to be under the same banner. Guys like Chet Faker would be pretty amazing… Willow Beats are great. I’d be interested to see what happens, but I’ll let them come to me… hopefully!
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WHO :: Fractures
WHERE :: Brighton Up Bar
WHEN :: 1 February 2014
HOW MUCH :: $10 on the door