Mark Eitzel’s new record, Don’t Be a Stranger, will be released by by Décor Records
in Europe/Australia/NZ on Sept 24th and Merge Records in the US on October 2.
After a string of bad luck that included a heart attack that set him back several
months and the implosion of his band American Music Club, Mark Eitzel fortuitously
found himself in the studio with celebrated producer Sheldon Gomberg (Rickie Lee
Jones, Ron Sexsmith, Ben Harper), thanks to the generosity of a an old friend. The
result is Eitzel’s finest solo album in over a decade.
Mark began writing and recording the songs that would become Don’t Be a Stranger
in early 2010. Initially planned as the next American Music Club album, it quickly
became evident that the new songs would work better as a solo album. He visited
the UK for a few months to play the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival and to help
launch Marine Parade, the musical he co-wrote with Simon Stephens, which
premiered at the Brighton Festival and has gone on to be produced in Germany.
Then in May of 2011, Mark suffered a serious heart attack that kept him flat on
his back and out of circulation until the following October, he had to seriously re-
evaluate his lifestyle and habits and take a step back from the recording. Good
luck suddenly appeared in the form of a friend who had just won the lottery and
offered to fund his recording in a professional studio. Producer Sheldon Gomberg
put together a band that included Attraction’s drummer Pete Thomas and American
Music Club guitarist Vudi on a few songs, as well as a full string section and many
Los Angeles musical luminaries. The collaboration between Mark and Sheldon had
an organic sound resulting in a generous and beautiful record, about which Mark
says, “I wanted to make an album more reminiscent of records like Harvest by Neil
Young or Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake than anything I’ve previously done.”
Inspired by his experience writing a musical, Mark’s songwriting is simpler on this
record and lyrically reflects a more straight-ahead approach. There is a haunted
quality to tracks like “I Love You But You’re Dead” (a song based on seeing the punk
band Destroy All Monsters) and “The Bill Is Due,” which are about broken promises,
leftover people, the desperation one feels when time and cash are running out, and
ultimately, the feeling of not knowing what comes next. “Break the Champagne”
and “Nowhere to Run” were written in a fit of creativity just days before the album
Mark Eitzel has released over 15 albums of original material with his band American
Music Club and as a solo artist. The Guardian has called him “America’s Greatest Living
Lyricist” and Rolling Stone once gave him their Songwriter of the Year award. Originally
formed in 1983, American Music Club released seven albums before breaking up in
1995 and finally reuniting in 2004 for two more albums.
Mark plans to tour Europe in early 2013 and the US later this year with his band
Mark Eitzel’s Warm Gentle Rain. His live set consists of a mixture of songs from
his rich catalog, including selections from American Music Club as well as newer
material. Mark’s touring band will consist of piano, bass, and drums in the classic
lounge style, but he also plans to “bring the chaos” in the form of his electric guitar.
Renowned for his self-deprecating sense of humor, Mark’s live shows are always
unique and unpredictable in the best possible way.