11.08.12 - Grand Funk Railroad's Mark Farner, Warren Haynes, Tre Williams Talk On-Stage Perspectives At Billboard Touring Conference
On The Road (from left to right): Tre Williams, Mark Farner, Warren Hayes, And Ray Waddell. (Photo: Michael Seto)For the Touring Conference's final presentation of Day 1 (Nov. 7), it was time to get out from behind the desks and see what things look like from the stage. Billboard's Ray Waddell led a lighthearted conversation with artists/road warriors Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad), Warren Haynes(Gov't Mule, Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead) and Tre Williams on the highlights and challenges of being a successful professional musician.
"I get a lot of 'Hardest Working Man' and that kind of stuff. My response to that is that housewives work harder than I do...."
- Warren Haynes
Waddell kicked things off by asking the panelists about their career beginnings, which Williams summed up well with a highly quotable anecdote. "There's no promise that a new artist won't hear. One day I was walking around and got a phone call, and the guy said 'Hey Tre, I'm a rep for Nas, and Nas wants you to join his label.' I hung up the phone immediately, because if it was real he'd call back. And he called right back. 'No, seriously, [Nas] wants you. He wants to meet you right now.' So I ask where he is. 'He's outside your house right now.' I told my wife 'I'm not going to work tomorrow.' That's what you need at that stage, confirmation."
Read all our Touring Conference Coverage HERE
While the three artists are rather pragmatic regarding the hardships of their lives, they came across here as endearing, down-to-earth and grateful for the chances they were given. "Traveling and eating bad food,and being away from our families... the payoff is walking on stage and playing music," said Haynes.
"I feel, whether its for 5 or 5,000, I'm going to do the same show. My problems are not your concern. I look at it as 'go out there and do the job,'" said Williams.
Haynes continued on that tack when asked about his prolificacy, balancing his time between the Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, and Gov't Mule, among others. "I get a lot of 'Hardest Working Man' and that kind of stuff. My response to that is that housewives work harder than I do. I don't consider what I do work. Doing what I do intensely is not an issue," he said. "No matter how bad you feel or what problems anybody in the band may have, at showtime people don't want to hear that. They paid money, they came a long way, and you have to deliver. There's something that happens when you walk on stage, and you're able to give it your best. I think that's something that drives all of us," he added.
"You put on your stage face. I don't are how sick you are, whatever. It's in our heart... there's something bigger than all of us that takes over," said Farner.
All Smiles: The discussion (featuring Williams, Farner, and Hayes) was an enjoyable ending to Day 1 of the conference. (Photo: Michael Seto)The conversation wasn't all reminiscence and funny tales, however. Waddell urged Haynes to elaborate on an aside he made that was critical of the current, generally arena-located, upward trend in ticket prices. "It doesn't have to be that way. I think we've reached a point, it's the same with sports, that the average person you want to appeal to can't afford to come to your show. We try to keep the cost down as much as possible. We'd rather have more people paying less than less people paying more. It's been an avalanche, a snowball effect, and it's kind of ridiculous."
Waddell then asked "What would you want venues promoters to know?" To which Farner offered, "I think, for me personally, I see class war going on in our country. I think it's horseshit. People are people. Kick us out into the street with no clothes on and we'll look the same. Music is for everybody; it's for the person who don't have a dime. It's going to bring that person up. They aren't gonna have to pay $150-200 to come and see me."
Closing the conversation, Haynes offered his advice for aspiring careerists in the music business. "Don't. What I tell people, and it may seem a little grim, is that if you're obsessed with it and you know that's what you want to do, then give it 110%. If you're not, then music is a great hobby, but don't depend on it to pay your bills. If you're not sure, then don't do it. The people that do it for the rest of their lives are the people who are driven to do it for the rest of their lives. Being a part of the actual music business is not for the lighthearted. I think that having music as part of your life is so wonderful, so why turn it into responsibility and pressure?"
11.07.12 - New York Billboard Touring Conference Magic!
Mark is up and pacing...lol! He's doing great. We're here in New York for the Billboard touring conference. Last night we had the privilege of meeting John Ellison from the SOUL BROTHERS SIX. It was truly a "Some Kind of Wonderful night"! John wrote the original song SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL covered by GFR & Mark Farner. There was magic around the table!
From Back left...Dennis Waldman, Julie Lipsius, Steve Riskin, Lesia Farner, Mark Farner, John Ellison
Mark Farner & John Ellison
Left to right...Dennis Waldman, John Ellison Mark Farner , Bryan Wells
( Brian wrote hits like SOME DAY AT CHRISTMAS, YESTER ME YESTER YOU YESTERDAY & A PLACE IN THE SON)
Far right back John Ellison
10.27.12 - Update On Mark's Recovery
Hello everyone...we're back home now and settled in. Mark is doing well. He's very sore and has had the wind knocked out of his sails temporarily. Doc said don't baby him so he's been up and around a bit. He was outdoors for a awhile yesterday just putting around, in the barn with his buddies Sylvester & LD the cats. Today he repaired Jesse's over head lift and rested quit a bit. He's a trooper! Jes was so happy to have the lift fixed as were we all and Mark said it made him happy to be able to fix it. He's making a lot of effort to not let the stiffness set in so he doesn't loose range of motion. So he's up moving around and doing some light stretching. The plan is to finish out the calendar for the year, take it easy over the winter and come back strong for 2013. Right now were watching the TIGERS game rootin for our boys! We love you all and Thank-you for all your prayers. Much love....Mark & Lesia
10.23.12 - Mark's Before And After Surgery
All those prayers are commin on strong!! Mark is out of surgery and recovering well...in good spirits and still has that sense of humor about him. Says he ready to go home and eager to get back on stage. Doc says no problem he'll be back at it in no time! I know hes feelin better cause he gettin friskie already. Love to you all and Thank-U for all the comfort you bring knowing all your sweet souls are here w us....Lesia
Pacemakers On 11...Be Back with Even More N'rG Soon!!!
10.22.12 - From Mark
I know so many of you love Mark dearly so I just want to let u know that he doing good. He was diagnosed 8 or so years ago with a bundle branch block. They said eventually he would need a pacemaker. Well that time has come...today they put a temporary pace maker in and they have to do some tweaking to that pacemaker to keep up with the Hard Rocken Mark Farner pace! Thank you all for your love and prayers and Mark sends his love to all.
Lesia & the Entire Farner Family
10.19.12 - Mark Farner! "Welcome To The D" On TV!
::::WE NOW INTERRUPT THIS BROWSING FOR AN EMERGING FARNER EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT::::
Mark Farner D-ploys An Interview To Mark Kassa In Detroit/THE D'!
"Welcome To The D
" broadcasts in 23 states and stations with Mexico and Canada affiliates plus, International Dish...
::::THIS IS A SERIOUSLY COOL SITUATION, STAY TUNED FOR FURTHER STATIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS::::
10.03.12 - Mark With WKLT Radio Buddies
Rick Coates, Mark & Omelette
Mark Visits Radio Buddies
Mark visits the studio for the morning show to talk about the up coming show in Petoskey this Saturday at 8pm.
09.28.12 - Hit Channel Exclusive Interview
We had the great honour to talk with a legendary musician: Mark Farner. He was the frontman, lead singer, lead guitarist and songwriter of Grand Funk Railroad, one of the most successful American bands of all time. After the break-up of the original line-up, Mark started an acclaimed solo career and had been a member of Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band. His last solo album is the amazing "For The People" (2006). Read below the very interesting things he told us:
How did the North American summer tour go?
It was fantastic! The band, we came out and rocked and danced and we all had a good time.Are you satisfied with the final result of your latest solo album, "For The People" (2006)?As far as the music, yes I'm satisfied. As far as how many people have heard it, no (laughs). I want the world to hear my music, you know brother...Yes, that's why you tour. How close is new studio album?Very close. We were recording in Boston, Massachusetts as my good friend and agent, Joanna Codi helps me with the work to get these recordings done -a couple of songs- prior to the release of our movie, which is coming out on Public Television, PBS. Will you have any special guests in your solo album?At this point we are very open because of the schedules. However, I asked Rick Derringer (solo, Johnny Winter And), he 's quite busy right now, so we have to work out when somebody is available and I'm ready to get in the studio. But, I want to. I have many friends that I would like to play music with. In 2013 "I'm Your Captain: The Mark Farner Story" documentary will be released on PBS, and in theaters and film festivals worldwide. How much involvement do you have in its production?
Well, I have a lot so far. It's about my life and my story. You know, I'm from a middle class family, I started a garage band which became very successful worldwide. It's basically my story. I have a lot of involvement, but we are going to have other testimony from people who are friends of mine, people that I worked with, just to tell their story, to get the whole perspective. Can you tell us the names of some of the musicians who will participate in?Rick Derringer, Edgar Winter (solo, Johnny Winter And), Felix Cavaliere (The Rascals, Ringo Starr), Randy Bachman from Bachman-Turner Overdrive... There are a lot of people. It's just as I said: logistics. There are a lot of people who would like to tell their story and to be a part of this. I think one hour it's not enough time, but we have to do it in one hour.
Did Grand Funk Railroad feel part of the broader Michigan music scene of that time, along with MC5, The Stooges and Mitch Ryder?
Yes, absolutely. We were out at the same time, we were around Michigan at the same time, but Grand Funk had more than national fame, a worldwide one; the other bands had mostly regional.
Even the classic Grand Funk Railroad albums received some negative reviews when they were released. How much impact had criticism on your career?
It didn't impact our career negatively. It was an inspiration for us to go and play more music because we had read some of that and we said: "This person definitely wasn't in our show (laughs). They must had sent someone else in that show, because the audience was going nuts". We had a very special relationship with the audience because of the lyrics of my songs. In the early days I wrote "People, Let's Stop The War", "Save the Land" and I wrote a lot of songs that people would have thought that would have written the same, by themselves.
What do you remember the most from the Shea Stadium show, when you broke The Beatles attendance record by selling out in just 72 hours?
When we flew over the stadium in the helicopter, we looked down and Humble Pie was on stage, which was on the second place, and the crowd was bouncing, bouncing. And I could see it from the helicopter and I said "Wow, we will be playing for 5 hours and they won't let us quit!" because they were rocking hard. That was very exciting to see. And as we were landed in the parking lot with the helicopter, limousines should have been there to pick us up. There was no limousine. So, a gentleman who was riding with us went to the corner and got on a pay phone, in a phone booth and in about three minutes we had cop cars all over the place. So, the police took us at the Shea Stadium with the lights of the sirens going. When we got out of the police cars, the audience went nuts! They went crazy, they were so good! Why the film from the Shea Stadium has not been released yet?
Don (ed: Brewer, drummer and vocalist of Grand Funk Railroad) and Mel (ed: Schacher, bassist of GFR) control that film. They are trying to present a different Grand Funk to the world, right now. But, I feel sad for them because they didn't tell the fans that I wasn't in the band, that it's a different band. They just advertise it as Grand Funk which is a bad form, because many fans don't know that.
It's very sad. They just have the brand name, but the main songwriter isn't there. Just like Pink Floyd in the '80s and '90s, when Roger Waters wasn't in the band.
That's the very same kind of politics and I feel sorry about that. A year ago, I wanted to put the band together for the fans. We all are going to die. We live now and let's give fans the real thing. But they passed on it. They don't want to be a part of their show. It's just like getting a divorce: hard for the woman, hard for the man too.
Do you think the "Live Album" is the best way for a fan to understand the true spirit of Grand Funk Railroad's music?
Yeah, I believe so. Mainly, because you get involvement from the fans. You feel the emotion that has been released, you hear that because when you were in our concerts, you became more familiar with our music.
Do you like today "Good Singin', Good Playin' " album?
Very much. I like the way Frank Zappa did the production.How was Frank Zappa as a producer?
He was so good. He drank a lot of coffee. Every time you turned around, he was sending the engineer to make more coffee, more coffee (laughs). But he never did drugs, he didn't get drunk, he was a very sober individual. He was a genius, a musical genius. He very much liked what we were doing and I think that production is definitely the most unique Grand Funk Railroad production of all time.Did you enjoy the '90s reunion of Grand Funk Railroad?
Yes, as a matter of fact. I did really enjoy it. I enjoyed being on stage with the original line-up, the founding members.
In 1995 you joined Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band. Did you feel a bit surreal being in a band with Ringo and other great musicians like John Entwistle (The Who), Billy Preston and Randy Bachman?It was a high point for me because I had to play music with the people that I enjoy listening to their things, apart of just being with them. But I got to learn how to play the songs from the guys that wrote them (laughs). So, Randy Bachman taught me some guitar chords, thing that I will appreciate till the day that I die. He helped me be better. He helped me learn more about my guitar, I'm always open for that. I want to learn more things about my guitar.
Pink Floyd opened for Grand Funk Railroad at the State Fair Music Hall in Dallas TX May 23 1970 (look the poster)!! Do you any memories from that show and those guys?No. I don't remember anything that I heard. I remember the audience was enduring force that night and I love that, when a band is close to the audience.
Is there anyone you would like to play with and hasn't happened yet?
Not really on the top of my mind. Outside of, Bobby Kimball from Toto asked me to tour around USA with Peter Rivera from Rare Earth, the singer and some other guys. "Voices of Rock" that was going to be the name of the tour. But somehow, it didn't work out. That was something I really wanted to do because all of them have good voices.
Did you finally tour with them?No, it didn't happen ..
Would you like to add something?At www.markfarner.com the merchandising is all made in the United States. I still believe in the freedom, not only for the United States, but for the world. Someone who is free, is free at ease. So I help my country, by selling that stuff on my website, but I also support my brothers and sisters who are in our family. Together we seek the freedom and we seek the peace. There are a lot more peace-seekers than those who want the war. We have consciousness and we must oppress that evil. We will rise up and we will do it with our music.
Some months ago your friend Ronnie Montrose committed suicide. Did you have good time playing together?
Yes, as a matter of fact. He had a good-hearted soul. I miss him. I talked with his wife, Lisa, two weeks ago and we had good time on the phone just remembering him, recalling the good spirits in Ronnie. And I know that when I pass out of this own suit, when my spirit leaves the bones, I will be playing music with Ronnie Montrose.
How do you feel that Grand Funk Railroad is Homer Simpson's favourite band?
I think because it's such a big show and so many people watch it, I have many people who are waiting after the show and tell me "Did you know that Homer Simpson likes your music?" , I say "Yeah" (laughs). People keep telling me about this because so many people watch this show.
What kind of music are you listening to this period?I don't listen too much. I only hear what my son is playing in the other room, because he's still paraplegic and he's down in the elevator, on a life support system, two years now. And he listens to music. When I 'm going in there, I 'm listening to whatever he's listening. Other than that, I keep my mind open for the songs that haven't come out of me yet. Are you proud of the cover to the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter"? It's one of the best!Oh, yes!! I love it. I like the version and it rocks! How possible is to play soon in Greece?As soon as somebody ask me. That's always the reason. If there is a promoter, I'd love to play in Greece. We will do a big show.
A huge "THANK YOU" to Mr Mark Farner for his time and to Lesia Farner and Joanne Codi for her help.
Please check http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mark-Farner/113234608777984?ref=ts
07.14.12 - Bluesfest International~Windsor
Mark joined Alto Reed for the BluesFest International series in Windsor and London, Ontario this Summer. The results were sizzlin'!
[Photo Credit: Arnie Goodman]
06.20.12 - R.E.S.P.E.C.T Benefit For Scott Morgan
Singing the hit's when illness hits closer to home. The R.E.S.P.E.C.T Benefit for fellow musician Scott Morgan(Rationals) took place in Ann Arbor, Michigan in June. Raffles and donated art items were auctioned with the proceeds going towards Scott Morgan's medical bills.
Long-time brother Stephan Graff, part of the team effort in The R.E.S.P.E.C.T Benefit