The Backdrop

The majestic pyramid of cans, et al., ca. '88     Mark's principal musical activity growing up was playing the upright bass in school orchestras, delivering Pachabell's canon and "White Christmas" some five kajillion times.  He really didn't discover "rock" (though he was too snobby to call it that) until around age 11, and the music he really tuned into was heavily orchestrated, e.g. "Heartbeat City"-era Cars, Genesis's "Invisible Touch," and "Chicago 17."  Albums like these tend to feature an average of five synthesizers playing at any given time, plus at least eight vocal parts.

        From '87-'89, Mark tried his damnedest to overproduce in this manner, armed only with the crudest of technology and a bunch of musicians that basically couldn't play (himself, on electric bass, included).  The Backdrop was a loosely-formed unit made up of mainly of Mark, a guy named Brian Greenfield who is now a veterinarian (I think), and Brian's Casio CZ-5000, the bits of which litter Mark's closet to this day (long, ugly story...).  It was formed as an attempt to play the Glenbrook North (a high school recently cited for its swellness by President Clinton, and not-so-recently attended by John Hughes, who lambasted the experience in movies like "The Breakfast Club," and "16 Candles") variety show, and featured (to name a few) Sanjiv Ghogale (who's best man at Mark's wedding) on saxophone, a guy named Ishak, a guitarist named Mike (who played Chuck Berry riffs over everything), and (usually) a drum machine.

        After a year of attempting to play only songs by the Cars, the Backdrop finally did make the variety show with a song Mark wrote (called "Run Away," later re-recorded for the second MayTricks album) that sounded exactly like something by the Cars.  He recruited NINE vocalists (no exaggeration this time) for the performance, forced a drummer to play along with the drum machine, and made his glorious public access TV debut.

        After this, things only went downhill for the band: After playing maybe three shows total, recording a bunch of tunes by the tedious and ugly method of tape deck to tape deck dubbing (usually with Mark playing all the instruments), Mark graduated to better things.

Listen to the Backdrop:

The final version (Spring '89) of Run Away.

Our first recording (possibly the first song I ever wrote): Venus on Earth.

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